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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Titanoconger, The REAL Super-Eel and the REAL Sea-Serpent

Scale Mock-Up For the Gargantuan Eel-shaped Fish "Titanoconger" (Centre), representing it alongside some old engravings meant to show it and with a scale comparison between it, a sperm whale (Physeter) and a killer whale (Orca) The Titanoconger is presumably a carnivore feeding on medium-sized sea creatures, and probably including smaller sharks, dolphins, porpoises, seals and squids. It is a notch below Dr. Shuker's Leviathan on the feeding chain and the Leviathan regularly feeds on notably larger prey items including young whales and even adults of moderately large whales such as pilot whales.

"Heuvelmans' Super-Eel" by Pristichampsus AKA Tim Morris, on Deviant Art. Tim notes on this copy that this is his scond version of the Super-eel having heard in the interrim that he needed to make it thicker, among other things. The differences he has made place this version squarely in the "Titanoconger" category, except the back can be much darker and the belly paler. This probably compares fairly to the scale mockup I have made above. Titanoconger is not only much longer than Megaconger (by two or three times the length), it is also proportionately slimmer and more elongated-although in both types the biggest ones in length can also be the fattest ones propotionately as measuring thickness to length. A big Megaconger can be thirty feet long and a yard thick (As thick as a horse), and hence the thickness is 1/10 of the length. In Titanoconger the proportion would seem to be thickness is 1/12 to 1/15 the length.

The fin along the back is possibly also much longer, beginning a little bit behind the head on the spine. A typical Titanoconger might be 75-80 feet long, perhaps even longer, and perhaps six to seven feet thick. The body also seems to be more or less tubular with a circular cross-section much the same thickness througout (but with the tail laterally flattened)

What makes it seem to fall in the "Conger" category is again that it has pectoral fins or flippers that are sometimes seen and described. One clear case might be the July 23, 1925 sighting off Australia by the Baween, and another case might be the "Attack" upon the US ship Sally, as commemorated in the etching incorported far right in the paste-up at the top of the page (Heuvelmans counts this as a hoax but there were several cases where sailors said they fired on Sea-serpents in the period, and that is all the engraving really shows) From a comparison of these and a couple of other sketchy accpounts we can make these estimates: The creature is about 75 feet long in all, of which 1/3 of the front part sticks out of the water in front. The head is about ten feet long and five feet thick in front, with a mouth possibly six feet across that is opening and closing (This may be a threat and not 'gasping for air')and about another five feet back, the pectoral fin sticks out and it is also about ten feet long. Increase the size of the creature to 80 or even 90 feet long in all and then increase these measurements proportionately, and all of the various measurements from the different cases fall into line. The pectoral fins and back fins are both clearly RAYED fins and they frequently have jagged or ragged edges.

A Maori Taniwha in the shape of a whale-sized dragon-eel. The Maoris also seem to represent both a medium-sized eel that can move inland and then again the much larger kind of Giant eels that live in the sea and which they classify as "Sea Monsters"

One Sea-serpent sighting near British Columbia was of a large black "Eel" with "Horns" killing seals, and this is usually interpreted as being the neck of a Long-necked Sea-serpent.. On the other hand, the "Horns"could be a reference to the pectoral fins close to the back of the head.

The Kyushu Maru Sea-Serpent shown fighting with a whale, presumably a baleen whale, off of Japan. Heuvelmans describes it as looking like "A sort of Conger-eel" but then chooses to call it a tentacle from a giant squid: on the contrary, I find it much too thick to be a squid's tentacle and it actually would be a Giant eel latched on by its jaws on the whale's forefin, despite Heuvelmans' denial that this is what is represented.

Heuvelmans contended that we have had a specimen of the Super-eels on the books as collected on a scientific expedition for many decades. This was the giant Leptocephalus collected by the Dana. The Dana Leptocephalus was collected in thousand-foot-deep water off of South Africa in 1930, the last year of the expedition, and it was actually lost (washed overboard) shortly after preliminary description (only) had been made of it. Another giant leptocephalus of half the length was dredged up off New Zealand in 1959 and was named "Leptocephalus giganteus". The Dana leptocephalus was retroactively assigned to the same species (by Ichtyologist Dr. David G. Smith without actually examining the specimen) and all subsequent discussion hinges on the inclusion within the same species. Initially the leptocephali were described as being conger-like fishes with prominent pectoral fins and a continuous fin wrapping around from back to bottom over the tip of the tail.

From STRANGE Magazine's site, "Bring me the head of the Sea-serpent"
The case of the bottled sea serpent brings to attention another eel-shaped controversy. On January 31, 1930, while south of Africa's Cape of Good Hope, the Danish research vessel Dana captured what seemed to be an enormous leptocephalus (eel larva), which was duly preserved, bottled, and retained thereafter in Copenhagen University's Zoological Museum {Incorrect from my information, which is from Sanderson's files-DD] It was a truly extraordinary specimen, for whereas the leptocephalus of the common eel Anguilla anguilla measures a diminutive 3 in. long and metamorphoses into an adult eel generally around 4 ft., the Dana's monstrous leptocephalus was already 6 ft. 11/2 in. long!

Accordingly, ichthyologists speculated that if its species' rate of growth equalled that of the common eel, the unknown adult form of the Dana larva might well attain incredible lengths of 108-180 ft. ! [Incorrect, that is extrapolating from the growth rate of the congers and does not match the ratio for common eels just quoted-DD] The creature would be, in short, a super-eel, as postulated by cryptozoologist Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans when predicting identities for the types of beasts responsible for the voluminous collection of sea serpent reports on record. Sadly, however, it was not to be.

In 1970, University of Miami ichthyologist Dr. David G. Smith revealed that the Dana leptocephalus was not the larva of a true eel, but of a quite different eel-like fish known as a notacanthid or spiny eel. What makes this identification so devastating for its claim to fame as a bona fide sea serpent is that notacanthids undergo most of their growth before transformation of the larva into the adult, not after (as true eels do). That is to say, adult notacanthids are scarcely longer in length than their larvae--which means that the Dana larvae's length was nothing special at all, and would not have increased to any great extent if it had survived and transformed into an adult. Exit the bottled sea serpent!
Except that was never what the scientist said and none of the Cryptozoologists quoting him have ever read the original materials, which were firstly an article in COPEA and then in successive volumes NOT focusing on the gigantic leptocephali per se but actually talking about other things and only incidentally at the same time attempting to fit the giant Leptocephali into the theoretical framework. Dr. David Smith's 1970 paper in COPEA," Notacanthiform Leptocephali in the Western North Atlantic", he made the suggestion that the very large larvae were immature Notacanths or spiny sharks related to the halosaurs. Immediately there was a problem because the conformation of the fins did not match, and Smith stated specifically "L. giganteus cannot be identified as to family." In the 1989 Leptocephalus section of Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Smith says "Leptocephalus giganteus may represent a species group within the Notacanthidae or Halosauridae, or it may represent a [different] group as yet unknown as adults"
If the identification is so ambiguous that the family cannot be identified and the giant leptocephali might very well still be unidentified, then all discussion of their adult size being of moderate dimensions immediately becomes moot. In the normal freshwater eels of North America and Europe, adults are about a dozen times the size of their leptocephalus larvae: the adults of the "Leptocephalus giganteus" could still be at approximately thirty feet for the three-foot leptocephali and 72 feet for the 6-foot "Leptocephalus giganteus" And both species have "Conger" type fin conformation and had in the interrim been classified under the genus Coloconger (small, short-tailed deepsea eels) which are rather thick for their length and rather "Knife-shaped" That description might go for the thicker adult form of "Megaconger" which has a thickness about 1/10 the length (or "Thirty feet long and as big around as a horse") "Titanoconger" as the adult of the sadly lost six foot leptocephalus could well still be something which externally resembles a 70 to 75 foot long pelagic eel with the fins similar to a conger eel.

"Serpens Marinus" (Sea Serpent) redrawn off of the illustration at the top, and from a work on fishes dating to 1680.

The amazing part of this is that the illustration below it seems to be its outsized Leptocephalus phase. One of the evidences in support of the Titanoconger is the report of finding Leptocephalus larval eels six feet long-a finding subsequently disputed. But the illustration of the Dana 6-foot leptocephalus is much like this

If the relationship was known as far back as this "Three Musketeers" period, that would be truly amazing because the relationship between eels and leptocephali was not supposed to have been discovered until 150 years later, and the discovery of six-foot leptocephali thought to have been made only in the modern age.

From the same 1680 book: probably a mistaken drawing of an oarfish at top and a "Murena" (Moray Eel) below it. This is just possibly an illustration of Heuvelmans' "Camoflage" moray said to inhabit the Mediterranean and to be the especial "sea-serpent" of that region.



  1. Here's your giant Mediterranean eel in action

  2. It might have been, if it had not been faked.
    Unfortunately, you meant "Heuvelmans'" Giant Mediterranean eel and not "Mine"-and Heuvelmans specified a type of large spotted moray in that area. So, wrong on both counts, but a very good faked film.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  3. thanks for sharing.


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