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Monday, 4 July 2011

Tyler Tries For Merhorses Next

[The Merhorse Reconstruction Drawings are the Work of Tyler Stone]

I've attached a couple versions of a drawing I made of a Merhorse in full
breeding array, based off information you have given me and information from the
FOZ Group. Please let me know if there are any changes you want to make and I
will send you a corrected version.
The first file is the original black and white sketch. The second is colored in
the mahogany phase. The third has been edited for the green color phase.
If you're okay with it, I would love to add these to the plesiosaur and/or
sea-serpent albums in the photos section.
Hope everything is going well with you. You did a great job on the radio
broadcast the other night!
Best wishes,
Tyler Stone

And then my reply was:
Thanks for the boost, and it's OK to add the photos.
I was going over your drawings and checking the reports. The manes are a highly variable feature which is one thing in favour of saying the males rip them out of each other and they grow back again. One place where the mane is said to be longer and more noticeable, and to float freely at the sides, is at the "Shoulder" or the base of the neck. Costello in fact says that the mane is most notable on the rearward half of the neck and not so much nearer to the head: Oudemans says it is longest near the head and decreases from there on back to the start of the tail. Most of the manes never attain as much as one third the thickness of the neck and most of them are stiff and upright; they do not turn over at the top and flow loosely. the looser-flowing mane reports are often half the thickness of the neck and includes a "Ruffle" at the back of the head and all around the back of the head; possibly this can extend under the jaws where there is otherwise said to be a pouch of loose skin. Oudemans mentions this, too. For the most part, "Manes" are not usually so developed as to be a foot in length. We might not ordinarily be getting reports of their full development though.

A thought just struck me when I was viewing the Corinthian "Merhorse" illustration (1913) that the "moustache" does not seem to be in the proper position to be whiskers on the side of the snout, but they are lying down and hanging from the mouth area . It looks almost as if the "Whiskers" are being held IN the mouth [like a cartoon drawing of a horse with a mouth full of hay] and not dependant from the nose: almost every description of the "Whiskers" where the details are given (reports are few and details are rare) mention them as drooping. I suspect we are catching battling males in the act, and the victors, being the more aggressive ones, are more likely to stand up to the witness and thereby show the remnants of the loser's mane in his mouth. The "Ears" of the Corinthian Sea-serpent would be that "Frill" at the back of the head, going around and under the jaws from the back, and this spunky fellow in full mating array has a clear upstanding mane as far as it can be told from the back. He is a big male, too, and so the longer parts of that mane might be a foot high. It might be possible to figure the size of the mane using Oudeman's table for Sea-Serpent sizes and proportions (for which you should halve the given size of the tail and count the estimated length to be generous) I take this individual to have a head about a yard long and the neck about twenty feet long and eighteen inches thick. So you can see how a mane a foot long (high) would stack up to that.

I really think that the "Merhorses with Whiskers" were actually males in mating-ritual battles that got caught in the act. And if this is so, their opponents would probably already be beating a retreat when the observation was going on. I am only aware of a very few (less than six) observations of "Merhorses with whiskers" in the first place, and at least two of those are labelled as possible hoaxes by Heuvelmans already. And the first allegation of this is from Pontoppidian, who gives no reports which illustrate the feature (As Heuvelmans specified when the subject came up)..

Best Wishes, Dale D.

PS.My file in the group
Longneck Reconstruction.jpg

Is the same as the attachment I am sending and is one that I made up fot the SITU a looooooong time ago. This one[The big one at the bottom] has the "Whiskers" which would now be a rival's mane in its mouth. The "Ruffle" at the back of the head is probably not very well represented here, though.

Next message from Tyler:

Thank you for the information Dale. I'll work on an updated version and send it to you tonight or tomorrow, depending on when I get finished. I'll also make a sketch based off the theory that the Corinthian serpent is holding the mane of a rival.

That does bring me to another subject: in Coleman and Huyghe's field guide, the Corinthian merhorse was said to have a tail that was fluked like a whale's. And I remember this feature cropping up in the Hope On animals as well. And I can't help wondering what the explanation for this would be? What are your thoughts?

Best wishes,
Tyler Stone

Hi Tyler,

The composite's fluked tail is a matter of interpretation. Heuvelmans at first notices a string of reports which say the Merhorse has a "Snake's tail" and then in his conclusions supposes it must be a bilobate tail without any good reason.

Reread the Hope On account: it also had four OTHER limbs besides the supposedly fluked tail!
(Some plesiosaurs are thought to have had tail fins. I included that on my reconstruction mostly because of Mackal [This could account for descriptions such as stated by the Captain of the Corinthian])

Best Wishes, Dale D.

On Jul 3, 2011 7:41 PM, "Tyler Stone" wrote:
Perhaps the sightings with flukes are mistakes. The way Coleman, Huyghe, and
Costello simply say it must be rear flippers without looking at other
explanations is obvious pigeonholing on their part. And actually, sightings
of the type are so rare that they can probably be written off.

Best regards,
Tyler Stone

Here is the revised drawing of a merhorse. Please tell me if you have any corrections

Best wishes,
Tyler Stone

Dear Tyler,
Thank you for the revised version. Statistically, you have the proportion of the head to body, head to neck, and neck's thickness to its length about right: you also have the position of the eye and gape of the jaw relative to the position of the eye about right. Pontoppidian also had a few things to say about Merhorses that sounded odd when he collected them (and he said so) but they seem to have been repeated since then: the mouth and the eye might be encircled with darker-coloured skin which is in contrast with the rest of the hide BUT the circle around the eye is about the same color as the eye. Costello mentioned that as well (saying the color was perhaps lighter than the rest of the hide) as a marker of the males. And the male's more vivid coloration also makes the paler colour on the belly stand out more in contrast.

Oudemans also noted that the mane seems to be noted more in profiles as a ragged or jagged edge in poorer sightings where it might not be obvious otherwise.

I'm thinking of running our correspondance on Merhorses on the blog day-after-tomorrow, so please let me know if you have any reservations or concerns, or last-minute corrections you would want to make. This is probably a set of extractions from the reports that should have been specified long ago. I know Heuvelmans at one point says a mention of a mane could mean either a short stiff mane or a long and flowing one, but in his description he made it a flowing and drooping one. On the other hand, Oudemans had deduced enough to know that, with the relative narrowness of the neck, the mane would not stand out as extremely obvious in most observations since the bulk of the body would be so overwhelmingly larger and draw more attention. Indeed, Oudemans had no problem with the notion that a Sea-serpent could have a mane but that it might be missed by observers unless they had better viewing conditions. Indeed, the "mane" is ordinarily recognised as a continuous jagged crest along theneck and back such as is shown on the traditional Chinese dragon (Lung) and then some talk about a "Frill" framing the back of the head but reported only infrequently.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

And so Tyler's last word was:

I have nothing to add for the discussion. Feel free to post the drawings I sent too - all I ask is that I am given credit for them. Also, I can color the revised sketch and send that version to you if you want.

Best regards,
Tyler Stone

Neptune with Merhorses


  1. It is interesting to what extent some authors will go to be specific about what the mane is supposed to be made of. Roy Mackal in Searching for Hidden Animals mentions eight or nine types of scaly, hairy or fleshy crests or "Fins" when one category would have sufficed for all of them, given that the differences are solely due to the different impressions of the different observers.

    Also from the Pinneped Sea-serpent camp comes the rather remarkable statement that the mane as a strip along the spine and more prominent in the males is not characteristic of the Pinnepeds: Oudemans says the form of the mane is more like the spiky crest of the iguanas (more prominent in the males) and Heuvelmans agrees when discussing Oudemans' version of the Sea-serpent. To get around this he makes out the Merhorses and Longnecks to be of separate species rather than Male and Female of the same species.

    It is also interesting that Heuvemans does NOT think the mane is made up of hair but possibly of long cutaneous fibers, possibly highly vascularized. Critics have mentioned that this arrangement would be a major source of heat loss. My conception is that the cutaneous fibers are still just that, but dead rather than live tissue-ie, made up of partially-cornified epidermis rather than vascularized dermis layers.The range in cornification is what makes the apparent distinction between (soft) "Hairs" and (harder) "Scales" or "Spines" and I imagine older, vetran males have tougher manes (more attack-resistant)

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  2. Tyler said on his blog in a 2012 post that there were studies indicating smaller long-necked plesiosaurs like plesiosaurus could raise their necks vertically out of the water at an angle similar to what is shown in his revised sketch of a merhorse (and in his non-revised sketches) but cited no references to recent studies that could confirm this. (The source he did cite was outdated by decades.)
    Also, Dr. Adam S. Smith seems to make it very clear in his article on alleged living plesiosaurs that long-necked plesiosaurs could not raise their necks out of the water vertically at any angle, period.

  3. Actually one of the sources was then-current and on a similar blog I quoted another current opinion. At the time the blogs were being published, Darren Naish was discussing the matter and he was one of the current sources. You must remember that only one opinion does not necessarily cover all views on a topic and the usual situation is that there is a RANGE of opnions on the matter.
    It just so happens I made a couple of remarks on the matter earlier in the evening so I'll say the same things over again: Plesiosaurs had different flexibilities for different necks. Otherwise there would not be any need for different lengths of neck. It is already well-accepted that longer necked Plesiosaurs have more flexible necks.And the shape of the plesiosaur vertebral discs in cross section is similar to the cross section through the vertebral discs in human beings. And yet we do not hear anybody insisting that human beings must necessarily have had stiff inflexible backbones.

    In this case I would say that the invoked authority does not carry the weight of authority. I would say that the matter remains controversial as even other matters about Plesiosaurs remain controversial, including how they swam or how fast they swam.
    Best Wishes, Dale D,

    PS, Tyler Stone's opinions as posted above are the opinons of a guest blogger and not necessarily my own views. I have subsequently come to allow that many "Merhorse" sightings were mistaken views of something else.

  4. By the way, they should rename the long-neck sea serpent (related to the "merhorse" supposedly) because "long-neck" is the same name given to sauropod dinosaurs in "the land before time" (you know, that cartoon about the baby dinosaurs.)

  5. The name "Long-Neck" is traditional in some places and it appears in the literature LONG before the movie "Land Before Time" ever came out. If anything, the franchise needs to drop the name owing to the confusion which they have caused by using the term. The scientific equivalent, Dolichodeires, has been used as a referring to the Long-Necked Plesiosaurs although it never became official: I made a proposal submitted to PURSUIT in 1980 that the genus of Longnecks should be called Dolichodeirus (as distinct from Megalotaria, which I wanted to restrict to Hoy/Conders Men type sightings) and that was a dozen years after In The Wake of Sea Serpents came out and eight years before The Land Before Time. The original to that document was returned to me in 1986 and I still have it.

  6. Thank you for correcting me, dale. Could you please tell me where Darren naish discusses the matter of plesiosaur neck flexibility?

  7. There were a series of articles referenced earlier in the discussion. The simpler answer is that the articles were cited in Tyler Stone's article summary of the situation, on his blog. And unfortunately that is all I can tell you now because Blogger has a technical error on just now and it hampers any use of the indexes among other things.

  8. Did generalized plesiosaurs like cryptoclidus and plesiosaurus have four rhomboid flippers as is shown in Tyler's sketches of merhorses in the above article?

  9. I believe Jay Cooney has just published information from Scott Mardis which asserts that to be the case. But we are also not speaking of the surviving Plesiosaurs as being of the same group as Crypticlidus, but as being descended from them. As of right now, the purported surviving Plesiosaur fossils we have identified on this blog are an unnamed genus, unnamed family; both the genus and family names given to them before being invalid.

  10. Thanks, Dale. Do you know where I could read this recently published information?
    P.S: I could not find any of the articles written by Tyler Stone about longnecked sea serpents on his blog. Do you know what happened to them?

  11. You seem to have no talent for doing research or for doing something so simple as looking things up by using an index. In this case, if you are trying to find information on Longnecks on Tyler's blog (or Plesiosaurs for that matter) you go to his blog and you look up the search term "Longnecks" in the index which is provided there for you. I have every reason to believe you have not tried and that you have not even looked at his blog to see if there even is such a thing as an index. You also have a history of not reading the material on my blog when it is right in front of you and otherwise ignoring what I am telling you anyway. I'm a patient man but I refuse to baby you along in this way. Kindly learn how to do it yourself, most people do, you know.


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