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Sunday, 18 December 2011

Finding Lost Letters From the Mailbag

In cleaning out my google email account, I discovered to my horror that several of my emails from several months back had all gone astray and were missed by me for those several months until I discovered their folder. Today I am trying to air out some of the more interesting messages that I had found there. And once again, I apologise if this seems really too tardy to make any sort of a reply at all!

(Ganges?) Makara Depicted as a Standard Oriental Dragon, Presumably as a Buru in this case.

Saw your blog entry on Makara
 and tried to post a comment, not sure if it worked.
I encountered statues of "makara" in Kerala (south India) and they're on the coat of arms of the modern Indian state of Karnataka. People I spoke to suggested they're heraldic devices or architectural flourishes going back no further than the 18th century. And they are LAND ANIMALS combining elephants with bits of lions, horses and possibly eagles' claws, with tufts, manes or crests. Guides described them to me as "unicorns" or "elephant dragons."
See my blog entry on "makara" (photos towards the end of the post).
Attached are two photos, copyright Matt Salusbury, which I license "Frontiers of Zoology" blog to reproduce without cost on the blog only.

The big stone carving is from the porch of Trivandrum's ancient main temple, probably added early 18th century, about the same date as the smaller painted wooden white and yellow makara, from the Maharaja of Travencore's palace opposite. (Trivandrum is Kerala's state capital.)

Sincerely, Matt Salusbury

Now in this case, Matt is speaking of Heraldric-composites called "Makaras" and he says they are not very old. Indeed they are not very old. HOWEVER, that is not the oldest meaning of "Makaras" nor yet the oldeast kind of "Makaras" that there are. Makaras in different forms have been artistic decoration for thousands of years and the creature is much older as a mount for various Gods and Goddesses, particularly the Goddess of the Ganges.
Different Makaras (A Water Horse is depicted at Right)
Now for my usage I was interested solely in the kind of Makara that is an Elephant-headed Water-Monster. I never said the term was not used to name anything else, it is simply that the other creatures being called Makaras have no relevance to the discussion of a specific sort of Water-Monster. As a matter of fact some of these "Land-Makaras" are very interesting because they could be representations of The Big Unicorn Elasmotherium, the one Pliny described as having "Elephant-feet". But that is a separate discussion on Unicorns, don't you see?
Best Wishes, Dale D.


While we are on the topic of Makaras and Water-Elephants, I did come across the photo of Karl Shuker holding a cast of a "3-Toes" track from Africa, said to be from a "Dinosaur" type there and probably the same as the Gambian Water-Elephant. It is probably the trach made by an elephant seal's flipper when the toes are widely spread out. And before you go saying the idea is ridiculous, please look back at some of my old blog postings on the matter:

This illustration of Arkansas "Critters" is interesting for several reasons. One thing is that it shows the White River Monster and Gowrow together (they are sometimes thought of as being synonymous) but the White River monster is a kind of turtle here. Roy Mackal identified it as an Elephant seal and used the 3-toed-track argument as part of his case. And in fact some Elephant seasl-SeaMonsters are also described as having the heads of gigantic turtles. These creatures are also locally called "Gollywampus" evidently a variant for "Grampus", a fat porpoise or seal. And the last thing I would like to mention is that the "Giasticutus" looks very much like the "Thunderchick" illustrated from elsewhere...which would thend to indicate that the Ozarks area, as well as the Black Forest PA, is another nesting ground for Thunderbirds.

Hello Dale, My name is Brea Tisdale, I am writing you from the Travel Channel Special "Legends of the Ozarks." I saw a blog you posted on "The Ozark Howler" and I was wanting to talk to you a bit more about this. We are looking for people that have had sightings or experiences with the Ozark Howler and was wondering if you had any contacts for people that have had such an experience or if you knew of a good place for me to ask around. Thank you in advance for your time and I look forward to speaking with you soon. Best, Brea Tisdale Associate Producer "Legends of the Ozarks"- Travel Channel O

Unfortunately I got that message also several months late and I replied as soon as I saw the message, I do not know if Brea is still going to want my information although I have communicated with witnesses. The artwork is my creation, BTW, as is much of the stuff you see on my blogs. It is also free for public use also as the other such items I put up in my blogs.

Hi Dale,
I saw some of you blog on the Dobar-chu and it is a creature that interests me...I keep finding that newspaper snippet about the man named Patel from Pittsburgh who was attacked by one at Lake you know where I can find the whole article? did anyone ever go back and talk to him (Patel)? his case and the wound on his arm seemed pretty solid to me!
anyhow when I was in Sligo sometime back (maybe six years back) I talked with a wood carver who just brought up the tale of the Dobar-chu to me as a sort of totem -as when I walked in -he had just heard of a sighting there in Leitrim or roundabouts (Ireland)...he was quite sincere about it and apparently this thing is taken seriously as the men standing about the shop maintained a serious countenance...the general feeling about this creature was that it was both real and dangerous...anyhow more grist for your mill!

Allen Pittman

--Yes, I frequently see the first-page-only for that Lake Erie encounter and in fact that is the page which is reproduced below. I have never heard any more about the matter than that, but the creature is supposed to inhabit scattered locations all over New England and the Great Lakes region. People have (hopefully?) said it must be extinct in both Ireland and the USA and yet the reports continue. I quote some additional information from other websites below:

WaterHound or Master Otter, The Irish Version

Mishipizhiw or Water Panther, The American Version

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Doyarchu, The Irish Crocodile

The Doyarchu is described as an animal that is about the size of a crocodile or a big dog, but resembles a cross between a dog and an otter. It either has sleek black fur that fits very snugly to the body, or it has smooth, slimy black skin with no fur at all. The hindquarters are bigger than the forequarters and resemble a dog, especially a powerfully-built greyhound. The paws are big in proportion to the rest of the body, the same as most aquatic mammals. The head is sleek, the neck is long, and the tail is long and slender. A few individuals are described as having one or more patches of white, especially a large patch in the middle of the chest. It goes by various monikers, ex. dobhar-chu, anchu, water dog and Irish crocodile.

These creatures have been reported as living in Irish lakes from ancient times. They are highly aggressive towards people and dogs. They attack by grasping prey and dragging it into the water, and they are often a match for the fiercest dogs, especially when they get their opponents into the water. They are often found in pairs and hunt in tandem. One animal usually stays hidden while the other attacks, but it will appear if the first animal has trouble. If one of these is killed, the other becomes extremely angry and will risk its own life to get revenge, suggesting that these animals may have monogamous pair-bonds of exceptional strength. One report tells of a doyarchu that pursued the men who had killed its mate for twenty miles, even though it was at a disadvantage on land.

Some cryptozoologists acknowledge it could be a new species of giant otter since descriptions of the creature are consistent. Others favor the view that it is a variety of immature 'Loch Ness Monster' evenly though Loch Ness is in Scotland. Another possibility is that is represents a link between seals and their landbound ancestors. Seals are most closely related to the bear family and the dog family and a primitive ancestor of modern seals may have resembled the doyarchu.

There has been a scarcity of modern sightings which seems to indicate that the doyarchu, if it ever existed, may be extinct today. The location in which the largest number of modern sightings has taken place is Achill Island, located just off the western coast of Ireland in County Mayo. The lake called Sraheens Lough is supposed to have a small population of doyarchu, but these creatures seem migratory, not occupying the lake all year. -

An early description of the Dobhar-chú appears in A Description of West Connaught (1684), by Roderick O'Flaherty. This story, originating from the area of Lough Mask:

There is one rarity more, which we may term the Irish crocodile, whereof one, as yet living, about ten years ago had sad experience. The man was passing the shore just by the waterside, and spyed far off the head of a beast swimming, which he took to be an otter, and took no more notice of it; but the beast it seems lifted up his head, to discern whereabouts the man was; then diving swam under the water till he struck ground: whereupon he run out of the water suddenly and took the man by the elbow whereby the man stooped down, and the beast fastened his teeth in his pate, and dragged him into the water; where the man took hold of a stone by chance in his way, and calling to mind he had a knife in his jacket, took it out and gave a thrust of it to the beast, which thereupon got away from him into the lake. The water about him was all bloody, whether from the beast's blood, or his own, or from both he knows not. It was the pitch of an ordinary greyhound, of a black slimey skin, without hair as he imagines. Old men acquainted with the lake do tell there is such a beast in it, and that a stout fellow with a wolf dog along with him met the like there once; which after a long struggling went away in spite of the man and his dog, and was a long time after found rotten in a rocky cave of the lake when the waters decreased. The like they say is seen in other lakes in Ireland, they call it doyarchu, i.e. water-dog, or anchu which is the same.

In 2003 Irish Artist Sean Corcoran and his wife claim to have witnessed a Dobhar-Chú on Omey Island in Connemara, County Galway. In his description the large dark creature made a haunting screech, could swim fast and had orange flipper like feet. “What a shock!” he says, recalling the next few moments. “A vicious snarl right below us, like a loud hiss, followed immediately by a huge splash. The creature, if that is what it was, swam the width of the lake from west to east in “what seemed like a matter of seconds”, leaving a “fairly big wake”, Corcoran remembers when it reached shore, it clambered up onto a boulder, he swears, and gave “the most haunting screech”. My wife's account of the incident is give or takes the same as mine. Its body was dark, and I'd say it was about the size of a large Labrador, and about five foot tall when standing. It turned and disappeared into the darkness of the area I call the Heart.

We scrambled back to our tent, completely stunned. This was something very strange, it wasn't a swan or an otter or a badger. The next day we went across to Sweeney’s bar. Malachy served us and there were a few lads at the counter. I casually explained about the creature and there was nervous chuckling." -

The Kinlough Stone is claimed to be the headstone of a grave of a woman killed by the Dobhar-chú in the 17th century and shows an old drawing of the creature. Her name was supposedly Gráinne. Her husband supposedly heard her scream as she was washing clothes down at the Glenade lough and came to her aid. When he got there she was already dead, with the Dobhar-chú upon her bloody and mutilated body. The man killed the Dobhar-chú, stabbing it in the heart. As it died, it made a whistling noise, and its mate arose from the lough. Its mate chased the man but, after a long and bloody battle, he killed it as well. The Glenade Stone, found in Conwall cemetery in Glenade, Co. Leitrim also depicts the Dobhar-chú and is related to the same incident.

The Legend of the Dobharchú (Water hound) was written by Joe McGowan and stems from the bestial murder of Grainne Ni Conalai at Glenade Lake, Co. Leitrim on September 24th 1722:

The details were well known one time and the ballad sung at fairs on the streets of nearby Kinlough. Some say she went to the lake to wash clothes; the ballad tells she went to bathe. It is no matter. When she failed to return, her husband Traolach Mac Lochlainn went to look for her. He was aghast when he found her body lying by the lake with the 'beast lying asleep on her mangled breast'! The words of the following poem, written around the time of the incident, form part of the legend surrounding an event which excites discussion and controversy to the present day. The ballad, a lengthy one, was skilfully composed by a hedge schoolmaster of the time. An abbreviated version below brings the story vividly to life. Beginning with a description of the locality it goes on to record the dreadful occurrence:

…And whilst this gorgeous way of life in beauty did abound, From out the vastness of the lake stole forth the water hound, And seized for victim her who shared McGloughlan's bed and board; His loving wife, his more than life, whom almost he adored.

She, having gone to bathe, it seems, within the water clear, And not having returned when she might, her husband, fraught with fear, Hasting to where he her might find, when oh, to his surprise, Her mangled form, still bleeding warm, lay stretched before his eyes.

Upon her bosom, snow white once, but now besmeared with gore, The Dobharchú reposing was, his surfeiting being o'er. Her bowels and entrails all around tinged with a reddish hue: 'Oh, God', he cried, 'tis hard to bear but what am I to do?'

He prayed for strength, the fiend lay still, he tottered like a child, The blood of life within his veins surged rapidly and wild. One long lost glance at her he loved, then fast his footstps turned To home, while all his pent up rage and passion fiercely burned.

He reached his house, he grasped his gun, which clenched with nerves of steel, He backwards sped, upraising his arm and then one piercing, dying, squeal Was heard upon the balmy air. But hark! What's that that came One moment next from out of its depth as if revenge to claim!

The comrade of the dying fiend with whistles long and loud Came nigh and nigher to the spot. McGloughlin, growing cowed Rushed to his home. His neighbours called, their counsel asked, And flight was what they bade him do at once, and not to wait till night.

He and his brother, a sturdy pair, as brothers true when tried, Their horses took, their homes forsook and westward fast they did ride. One dagger sharp and long each man had for protection too Fast pursued by that fierce brute, the Whistling Dobharchú.

The rocks and dells rang with its yells, the eagles screamed in dread. The ploughman left his horses alone, the fishes too, 'tis said, Away from the mountain streams though far, went rushing to the sea; And nature's laws did almost pause, for death or victory.

For twenty miles the gallant steeds the riders proudly bore With mighty strain o'er hill and dale that ne'er was seen before. The fiend, fast closing on their tracks, his dreaded cry more shrill; 'Twas brothers try, we'll do or die on Cashelgarron Hill.

Dismounting from their panting steeds they placed them one by one Across the path in lengthways formed within the ancient dún, And standing by the outermost horse awaiting for their foe Their daggers raised, their nerves they braced to strike that fatal blow.

Not long to wait, for nose on trail the scenting hound arrived And through the horses with a plunge to force himself he tried, And just as through the outermost horse he plunged his head and foremost part, Mc Gloughlans dagger to the hilt lay buried in his heart.

"Thank God, thank God", the brothers cried in wildness and delight, Our humble home by Glenade lake shall shelter us tonight. Be any doubt to what I write, go visit old Conwell, There see the grave where sleeps the brave whose epitaph can tell.'

The story still survives in local tradition. A local man of Glenade, Patrick Doherty, now deceased, told me some years ago that the chase, which started at Frank Mc Sharry's of Glenade, faltered at Cashelgarron stone fort in Co. Sligo when Mac Lochlainn was forced to stop with the blacksmith there to replace a lost horseshoe. His version differs very little from the ballad. Acording to Patrick, when the enraged monster caught up with them the horses were hurriedly drawn across the entrance to form a barrier. Giving the terrified man a sword the blacksmith advised him, 'When the creature charges he'll put his head right out through the horse. As soon as he does this you be quick and cut his head off.'

The story is given credence today by the carved image engraved on Grace Connolly's tombstone in Conwell cemetery, Co. Leitrim. Cashelgarron stone fort, near where the chase ended and the Dobharchú met its gory end, still stands today nestled on a height under the sheltering prow of bare Benbulben's head. Both monster and horse lie buried nearby. - “Echoes of a Savage Land” by Joe McGowan

Because of its aquatic life style we usually associate the otter with a variety of watery places but not readily with bog. Otters are found in streams, rivers, marshes, lakes, estuaries, lagoons and on the coast. There are no sea otters in Ireland, nor is there such a thing as a bog otter. There is the river otter in Ireland (Lutra lutra), which exploits a range wetlands.

Otter, Lutra lutra (Ireland)

A clipping that references an encounter at Lake Erie, PA

Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren - "Cryptozoology A-Z" - 1999
McGowan, Joe - “Echoes of a Savage Land”
Shuker, Karl - "The Beasts That Hide From Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals" - 2003

Master-Otter reconstruction from Morelock on Deviant Art.


  1. FWIW, the Dobhar Chu seems to be a seal, especially the leopard seal. Theyy can be nasty, vicious stalkers. Not huggable harbor pups, that's for sure...

  2. NO, They are NOT seals when the Master-otters have such obviously NON-seal-like features as upstanding pointed ears and a long tail with a sort of a fin on it. Roy Mackal makes a similar error when he calls Steller's sea ape a seal like a leopar seal when it has those same features. Once again, long tail with a fin and obvious external ears exclude any possibility of the creature being a leopard seal. On the other hand, the fact that both creatures differ from the leopard seal in the same features tends to suggest they might be the same or similar creatures in the first place.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  3. That black and white drawing of the critter right after the Corcoran story and map of Ireland looks real seal-ish to me.

  4. Doesn't signify. That illustration is meant to be a "mood picture" and not a detailed depiction of the anatomy. The defining characteristics of the creature still are supposed to be that it has pricked-up external ears and a long tail. And you have something like a half a dozen other photos here which show that as opposed to the one purposefully vague depiction. And there are the clear sightings of the creature on land on Achill Island that also say the same thing.

    In this game we load the bets toward the candidates which actually match the descriptions of the Cryptids in question. Candidates which are not good matches are ordinarily dropped without much need for consideration. When you are trying to use an earless seal to explain a creature with obvious external ears you simply do not have a good candidate. You, or Roy Mackal either, for that matter.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  5. And sorry if I sounded misleading when I said "Photos" there-I should have said "Illustrations."

    When you upload them to Blogger, they are all called "Photos."


    Actually it doesn't matter if the animal is a cryptid or not for this to be true. Where I live in California a gopher may be a rodent or a turtle and a tiger could be a striped big cat, a spotted big cat, or an appaloosa-like breed of horse. Common names for animals often are used for different critters depending on region or culture.

  7. That very well might be true. But the point that I am forever trying to impress upon people is that the situation works the way I have worded it for the subjects of Cryptozoology in particular. In other words, I intended the statements I made to be statements made about subjects of Cryptozoology in particular when I phrased the statement to mean Cryptozoological subjects. When I used the word "Cryptids" I was speaking only within the realm of Cryptozoology and therefore not meant to apply outside of that area of study. I am sorry to have to quibble about the legalism of what I had intended to say but one must be careful not to leave the wrong impression because then one DOES tend to be misquoted forever afterward.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  8. Only to true. I did not mean quibble I was just pointing out that the problem is found in known animals as well and that common names are just that and have no scientific basis. Which I thought was your point.

  9. Close enough.

    Actually, I am starting to get more than a little annoyed that all these comments are coming in under "Anonymous" lately. Doesn't anybody use their NAMES any more? A little while back, I got an anonymous comment I could swear was coming from Karl Shuker. I didn't think anything of it at the time and I could have been mistaken, but is Blogger just not letting people use their regular account to post comments any more? or what, hey??

    Sometimes I just like to know who it is I'm talking to. It's definitely a more potentially hostile stance from somebody who posts a comment anonymously. If I see an Anonymous comment any more, my first instinct is not even to read the thing.

    Sorry for the rant but it does seem a pretty one-sided conversation at times.


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