Wednesday 7 December 2011

Florida "NeoDinos" And NW "NeoDino" Recap

Reconstruction of Tarpie, the Tarpon Springs (Florida) Water Monster, and below it, a supposed witness' sketch of it. However, Tarpie seems to be mostly a bogie creature created to go along with the Florida tracks of "Old 3-Toes" and the reconstruction mostly after some sightings supposedly of "3-Toes" at the time. Reports included a series supposedly existing previously in Cuba in the region of Moro Castle, and added to the "3-Toes" dossier through the circulation of the reports by a Cuban correspondant.
The "Tarpie" site says that the creature is a kind of small-bipedal dinosaur and includes the illustration at the left as a reconstruction based on witnesses' description. Witnesses are not named and their descriptions are not given. This does nothing to substantiate the idea there is a small-dinosaur "Water Monster" involved. Possibly we are dealing with a mammal instead.
Bearing this in mind, it is at least possible that the description does apply to a large Groundsloth surviving late in Cuba and related to the North American genus Megalonx (Florida version shown below)
At least three species (and probably more) of Groundsloths survived in the West Indies up to the time of Spanish colonization, at large, medium and small sizes. But they would NOT be leaving "3-Toes" tracks.

The Tarpon Springs water monster or "Tarpie" still has a website going for it but disturbingly there are more suggestions that the whole thing could be a put-on while nearly all of the "Factual" supporting evidence of witnesses' descriptions and possible tracks have now been removed. This does not inspire any more confidence in the allegations.

There ARE some recent photos, some of which could be genuine. This could be the body of a large seal-like creature lying on the bottom and awash in shallow water, or it could be simply a boat overturned in shallow water in order to represent "The Creature"

So while there is a chance for "Small dinosaur" reports from the Lake Tarpon region and along the lines of the Reptillian "Chupacabras" otherwise reported, we actually cannot even say that much for certain.

Another location said to harbour small-dinosaur reports is from the St. John River area where a series of fairly recent reports were categorised by Mark A. Hall as "Pinky" and said to be evidence of a surviving small-dinosaur Thescolosaurus (More or less equivalent to the "Camptosaurus" seen in Sounth America)

Here is a piece about Florida Water Monsters that is floating around the internet in several different sites and both Lindsay Selby and Cryptomundo have printed variations on it. I got it off an internet reference site:

Between 1955 and 1961, there were numerous reports in Florida newspapers, of a monster in the St. Johns River. The sightings came from a variety of witnesses, some native commercial fishermen, and others from new transplants to Florida. All reported seeing a giant creature, which descriptions fit either a brontosaurus or big manatee-like thing, depending on who is doing the reporting. Most sightings occurred between Astor Park and Lake Monroe, with the center of the alleged sightings around the Blue Springs area. The Blue Springs area is a prime manatee habitat. One Lake County man claimed to have seen the monster on land grazing on plants. He reported that the monster left a wide, mashed-down, path through the bushes. The animal's skin was described as gray and elephant-like and very leather-looking. [It was also said to be 30 feet long with a neck 5 to 10 feet long and three feet thick,with a head like a cow, pig, rhinoceros or tapir-DD]A couple of bass fisherman claimed that the monster had almost tipped over their boat. No reports have surfaced since the early 1960s, but a related story is very curious. In 1975, a group of pleasure boaters on the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, claimed to have seen a dragon-like [or dinosaur-like] creature, that reared its head from the river, then disappeared into the deep water. It was described as having a head like a giant snail, with two horns[and to be pink in colour]. In an old 1891 newspaper report, a sea-serpent chased bathers from the ocean on Jacksonville beach. That marine monster was said to have had a dog-like head and a long skinny neck. The most bizarre story of Florida sea-serpents was reported by some scuba divers in 1962, off the Gulf coast near Pensacola. In that incident, the alleged monster attacked the divers and over-turned their small boat, and allegedly killed all but one of the men. The surviving victim claimed that the creature had a long, rigid, ten foot neck, like a telephone pole. It had a head with small eyes, but a very wide mouth and whipped about like a large snake.[This case is also very untrustworthy since there is no record of a mass funeral for the alleged victims at the time, and in fact no concern shown in the newspapers at the time over any presumed tragedy at sea. Moreover, the account disagrees with weather reports at that time. it is now generally assumed to have been a hoax-DD] Evidence of a Florida marine monster was hauled up in 1885, from the New River Inlet. A ship's anchor brought up the carcass of a creature with a long neck which resembled an extinct plesiosaur, very much like the descriptions given for the infamous Lock Ness monster.[Almost certainly a decayed shark and a case also mentioned on this blog before-DD] Who knows what lurks beneath Florida's waters, something to think about on your next swimming trip.
Read more:

See Also

Thescolosaurus neglectus reconstruction

The Cryptomundo site had a series about an expedition to Florida to look for "Pinky" in several parts a few years back. The series started out with the rather surprised realisation that nobody in the area was using the term "Pinky" but then later stated that the locals were playing "The Name Game" because they were calling it "The St. Johns River Monster" instead. Naturally they WOULD be doing that since the term "Pinky" was only in use among certain Cryptozoologists, there was no reason why the locals should be using a name that the Cryptozoologists had made up without asking anyone or telling anyone in the area the reports were coming from. However, Loren Coleman did make some pertininent enquiries in the area that did turn up some probably very important results after getting past the initial difficulties.
Above, stated to represent "Pinky" according to Cryptomundo.

Cryptomundo did make the useful statement that the St. John's River monster should be the same as the Altama-ha father to the Noth and that Standard Longnecks could be discerned in the reports. One report of a "Serpent" from 1888 in a different part of Florida sounded like the Loch Ness Monster type: other reports are more likely different kinds of very large seals. It does not seem that any of the reports are especially strong indicators of small-biped dinosaurs in the area. I am pretty much OK with all of these statements and also to the idea that mistaken observations  of both manatees and alligators are also represented in the mix.

Another site gives a different identity for "Pinky":

Giant Mudpuppies?

There seems to exist on the North American continent an as-of-yet unidentified species of gigantic amphibian.   The amphibian seems to closely resemble the mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) [Or to the hellbender Cryptobranchus allegeniensis. The hellbender] is closely related to two species of giant salamander native to Asia, the salamanders Andrias
[Megalobatrachus] davidianus of China and A. japonicus, native to the islands of Japan.
The first report of what may be a giant mudpuppy comes from Scippo Creek in Ohio (a tributary of the Scioto River).  In the early 1800s, settlers there saw a number of animals, measuring between 6 and 7 feet in length, that were pink in color.  These pink, water-dwelling lizards had moose-like horns [alleged once only-DD].  Sometime around 1820, a drought struck the area, drying up numerous streams and creating brush fires which destroyed the local ecology even further.  It is generally believed that the animals, whatever they were, were wiped out in these two disasters.

In 1928, author Herbert Sass was boating in the Goose Creek Lagoon north of Charleston, South Carolina.  Seeing something moving under the water, he used an oar to fish it out - and found a thick-bodied creature which was a pinkish-red color, with a smooth tail and two [four?]short legs.  The creature dove back into the water.

In a 1968 article in Argosy, Ivan T. Sanderson reported how he received a letter from a young woman named Mary Lou Richardson, who said that while hunting with her father she had seen some sort of pinkish animal.  The creature had a flattened head and a smaller neck.

A similarly-colored animal was seen in the 1970s by Ivan Sanderson in a swamp near his home in Warren County, New Jersey.  The animal was described as worm-like, and was some two feet long - even though only a portion of the creature was seen.

A strange creature has been seen in this river since the 1950s.  Mary Lou Richardson might have seen the same creature.  1975 gave us the most detailed sighting of the creature. On May 10, five people set out on a fishing trip.  One of the five, Brenda Langley, saw a strange thing in the water, something with a long neck, horns, a downturned mouth, and "flaps" hanging from the sides of its head. The creature was also a pinkish, "boiled shrimp" color.  Popular theories held that the creature was a sturgeon, a manatee, or even a tree stump.

In discussing the animals, Dr. Karl Shuker states that many species of animal have actually decreased in average size since the advent of man, which hunted certain species; therefore he suggests that the
American giant hellbenders may be scientifically identical to Cryptobranchus alleganiensis.  The hellbender's skin has a high number of blood vessels; this, combined with the transparent skin of an albinistic specimen, would create a noticably pink or even reddish skin color.  The length traditionally attributed to the cryptic hellbenders is within the realm of possibility, given the size of the related Megalobatrachus species.

One attribute that does not tally with the simple hellbender explanation is the "horns" of some of the animals.  Although these horns could be easily explained as external gill structures, the hellbender has no such structures - it loses its external gills when it reaches adulthood. Shuker speculates that these animals may still be identified as hellbenders which are existing in a neotenous state. Probably the most famous neotene is the Mexican axolotl.  Normally, the salamander matures into the Mexican tiger salamander.  However, if it is in a low-iodine environment, its maturation is halted and the animal retains its gill structures.  If these proposed giant hellbenders exist in low-iodine environments, possibly they could become neotenic, retaining their gills?

But rather than speculate that these creatures are hellbenders retaining neotenic characteristics throughout their life, would it not be easier to identify these animals as extremely large specimens of mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus)?  The mudpuppy, after all, is a full neotene and retains the gill structures throughout its life.   Admittedly, the average mudpuppy is smaller than the average hellbender - an average specimen measures only about a foot long, as opposed to the two-foot length of the hellbender.

Certain peculiarities of the animals in question tally more readily with a mudpuppy explanation, for example the prominent horns of the Scippo Creek animals.  In warm, slow-moving or stagnant water, the gills of the mudpuppy expand and become much more noticeable. In addition, the largest mudpuppies have been recorded from the southern United States, specifically North and South Carolina - the same general area which has given us several reports of these creatures.  The possibility of the existence of such large mudpuppies is an enticing one, although in my opinion, these giant salamanders will probably turn out to be extremely large specimens of N. maculosus, rather than a completely new species.

[On the other hand, only TWO sightings actually specify "horns" and then they do so in completely different ways. Hall was overstating the case when he suggested these structures might be external gills: there is no reason to worry about them at all and thus the creatures could really just be giant salamanders. Japanese giant salamanders DO have an established pink colour morph, BTW; Please see photo below.-DD]

HALL, Mark A.
    1991            Natural Mysteries: Monster Lizards, English Dragons, and Other Puzzling Animals (2nd ed.).  Minneapolis: Privately Published.
    1992a         Pinky, the Forgotten Dinosaur.  Wonders 1:4 (December).
    1992b         Sobering Sights of Pink Unknowns.  Wonders 1:4 (December).
SHUKER, Dr. Karl P.N.
    1995            In Search of Prehistoric Survivors: Do Giant "Extinct" Creatures Still Exist?.  London: Blandford.

Above, Japanese Giant Salamander in pink morph, [ Karl Shuker's candidate for "Pinky"]

Below, Thescolosaurus neglectus [Mark Hall's candidate for "Pinky"] to scale with a human being according to the Wikipedia entry.

In an Earlier posting I quoted the letter column of the group Frontiers of Zoology about the situation we have in the various "New World Living Dinosaurs" and "Unknown Iguanid Lizards" sightings as to how many species they represent. I shall repeat that again because now I have made up an accompanying graphic for it:

Frontiers of Zoology yahoo group. message 3954 of 7445, April 2009 
As far as the New World Big Lizard reports go, from the SW of the USA to
N Argentina and Chile we consistently get three types of reports:

1) A large lizard, frequently described as a small dinosaur, which can stand and
run erect and which is easily identifiable as an iguanid (horns on the head are
alleged but not consistently reported. A spiky back crest is reported but not
usually so dramatically as in the corresponding Chupacabras descriptions)
2) An even larger lizard ordinarily reported as standing solidly on all four
legs. It is also clearly an iguanid but as large as a crocodile or a Komodo
dragon; it is not so heavy as a croc or the dragon since it has a much longer
tail for the length. This is reported from Mexico to Brazil and is regularly
represented in PreColumbian art over all of that area.
3) A type of Water Monster reported with an exaggerated row of spines which
stick up out of the water and which also might be a large iguana. There is once
again the suggestion that it has horns on its head but it is uncertain whether
the trait properly belongs with this category or with a similar reported unknown
Alligator category. There are clear reports of this in the Ozarks, Texas,
California, Arizona and Mexico, with less clear reports from South America.

All three of these MIGHT be one species. Emphasis on the MIGHT, there are enough
contradictions to cause some doubt. And although it is tempting to include
Puerto Rico in the range of the reports, so far all reports of all three types
are confined to the continents of North and South America, and to the warmer
parts of them. Reports from Florida and Puerto Rico definitely include common iguanas.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

This chart shows the types of reports in increasing length and bulk. The largest cattegory of animals alleged are the "Water Monsters" of the series, although they live around water and go into it to swim away from humans at ALL sizes down to the smallest. The very largest report is from South America, and is very long and thin (20 foot long "Snake with legs", the "Snake with legs" description is also repeated at smaller sizes) but the large "Water Monsters" are commonly said to be 12-13 feet long and a yard wide, so they are also fairly fat for their length.The crest of spines also tends to become bigger and more exaggerated at the largest size. All of these COULD be one species, but there is a lot of variation going on in there.

A special consideration of the "Water Monsters" big-iguana category follows. Creatures in this category can also be reported from the American Southwest to Argentina but they are also comparatively rare while the littler ones are reported much more commonly.

 Lake Elsinore Monster:


The creature is colorfully referred to as Elsie, a play on Nessie, and occasionally "Hamlet" because of the name of the lake.


Elsie is always noted as looking like a cross between a creature from the age of the dinosaurs, and a serpent.


In 1934, a C. B. Greenstreet along with his wife and children reported seeing it. He described it as 100 feet long [wave]with a thirty foot tail. He also stated that waves as high as light posts washed on the shore in its wake1. 1967 saw a family boating on the lake capturing a view of the monster. It supposedly rolled by them making dark high humps in the water. In 1970, Bonnie Play, a local resident reported seeing the creature twice. It was described as being roughly 12 feet long and about 3 feet wide. It had a series of humps and a long dinosaur like head.
After the 1970 sighting, 3 state park officals reported seeing the creature surface about 50 feet from their boat. [12 feet long, 3 feet thick and 3-4 low humps with spines on back would be the "Classic" description]


Lake Elsinore [California] was named after the Danish city, Elsinore, in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Besides a lake monster, Lake Elsinore is rumored to also have ghosts, UFO's, satanists, vampire cults, and even a group of ten citizens who claim to all have known each other in past lives and have all been mass reincarnated.
[The creature's description is very like those given in several other lakes in Southern California and Arizona]


  • The entire lake went completely dry in 1954, and no serpent was discovered or seen at this time. Those who argue Elsie's existence, claim the [amphibious] creature wandered into a nearby cave in the hills and resided there until the lake was refilled.
  • Some people believe that a rupture in the suplphur springs on the north shore of the lake produced a big enough black bulge of mud in the water that it was mistaken for a lake monster. [Greenstreet's 100-foot wave does sound more like an outgassing from such a rupture than a living creature]


Wikipedia-logo.png From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Illustration of Lake Powell Monster,
Obviously too much modelled after "Caddy"

Skin Fin: The sea monster of Lake Powell

[The term "Skin Fin" is obviously in reference to the dead shark and is in distinction to "Spinyfin" which I would suppose to be the older term and more the type of creature we are after. There are also photos of the row-of-spines showing at the waterline, but there is also a strong trend towards fakery in photos coming out of this area.Several "Spinyfin" reports are from post-2000 on the lake --Best Wishes, Dale D.]

Austin Whittall's site Patagonian Monsters mentions large dragonlike creatures known as "Culebron"
in Spanish and then in a variety of native terms such as "Futa Filu" (Big Snake) or "Calcha-Filu" (Hairy Snake). Whittall mentions it as having a row of stiff hairs or spines down the back and then mentions this is a trait of several of the Mapuche mythical animals (One of them is the "Winged serpent" Piwichen, also the Chini Filu which evidetly means Devil Bat. The Wikipedia entry compares this to the Chupacabras and indeed this would be the type of Chupacabras described as being like an enormous bat.) Austin Whittall follows his blog on the "Reptile-Chupa" like Maripill with the larger cave-living water-monster Culebron and notes some similarities. In my opinion the Maripill is merely the smaller size-variant of the larger Culebrons, both of them with a ridge of spines down the back described as stiff hairs or bristles. Whittall does mention that the modern myth of the Chupacabras is a recent introduction into Northern Chile and Peru, but he does not mention that it has older parallels in the region (the stiff hairs or spines down the back are also characteristic of the Cupacabras)

So when all is said and done, there are a few reports from Florida (and possibly even also South Carolina) which sound as if they might be in the same general unknown-iguanid series as the ones reported further to the West. It remains a marginal possibility but even less confirmed than the rest of the category. We DO seem to have a good confirmation of at least one species of outsized iguanid lizard that starts out as relatively small and active, including hiding up in trees, snooping around henhouses and the occasional animal corpse but most often seen dashing across roads or running away from people, and which ends up as huge sluggish vegetarians that spend most of the day in water but come out occasionally to graze, but which are still amphibious and retreat to caves when their ponds dry up. The smaller ones could have a higher proportion of animal matter in their diet (I expect eggs mostly, and also possibly carrion or stomach contents of dead sheep and goats along with some internal organs, both of which go swiftly through their systems and come out with a horrible smelly gas) and the males have red eyes. All of these things would be consistent with lizards in general and iguanas in specific, and they would also be a close enough analogue to Komodo dragons, their closest ecological parallels (although the Komodo dragons are more carnivorous) and none of these statements would be really unlikely from a zoological point of view. I would also estimate that the outlying populations furthest to the North and South (Western USA and Northern Chile& Argentina) are usually smaller on the average than the ones in the core area of the jungles in Cetral America, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. On the one hand the jungle habitat is different enough from the drier lands to argue for two distinct species, but the parallels of the creatures in size and shape in extreme North and South probably argues for the continuity of one species throughout the area in between.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

NOTE: The "Cuban's" report associated with the 3-Toes affair is cited as being printed in the newspaper Clearwater Sun in late March 1948, in James Sweeny's A Pictoral History of Sea monsters And Other Dangrerous Marine Life (Crown Publishers 1972) on page 117.The "Critters" were supposed to live in the swamps adjacent to Moro Castle and Havannah harbour, were hairy, 15 feet tall when standing on their hind legs and at a weight of 2-3 tons. He said the head was like a crocodile but with a shorter jaw, and he specifically described them as being "[Ground] Slothlike." This was later assumed to have been part of one grand overall hoaxing scheme but it really sounds like some outsider had confused the case with another separate Cryptid. Ivan Sanderson heard of Groundsloths in Belize (British Honduras) called "Cave cows", being about the size as cows but hairy and living in caves: Eberhart's Mysterious Creatures does indicate Belize as another possible location of Groundsloth survival into modern times.


  1. One reader who rather flatteringly calls me "The Dean of Cryptozoologists" suggests that a population of relic groundsloths lives in Southern Appalachia, which I take to be Georgia. As a matter of fact there IS one allegation of groundsloths further north in the mountains, but I know little more about it than the fact that these allegations exist at this point, no specific details.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  2. Tyler Stone has informed me that not only was the second "Lake Powell Monster" photo a montage, the creature in it was not even originally supposed to have been in Lake Powell. That made it irrelevant and so I removed it entirely.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  3. Well, I once read a report of a raptor sighting, in Georgia. I think that this "raptor" might possibly be a large, bipedal iguanid lizard, which has independently evolved sickle-shaped second toe claws, like that of the prehistoric "raptors". The witness even described the animal as looking "lizard-like", in appearance, so I guess that might be a genuine possibility.

  4. What do you think the "Chupacabras"/"Timbo"/"Raptoroid"/"Zupay" is?

  5. Quote from last paragraph of the main body in blog above: "So when all is said and done, there are a few reports from Florida (and possibly even also South Carolina) which sound as if they might be in the same general unknown-iguanid series as the ones reported further to the West. It remains a marginal possibility but even less confirmed than the rest of the category. We DO seem to have a good confirmation of at least one species of outsized iguanid lizard that starts out as relatively small and active, including hiding up in trees, snooping around henhouses and the occasional animal corpse but most often seen dashing across roads or running away from people..." I am saying it is a large lizard, and I am saying that they could grow even bigger and account for a separate category of even larger lizards reported as "Water Monsters" but that part is problematical. I think we need more information to see how many species there actually are, but the fewer unknown species there are, the more economical the package will seem to Zoologists.

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  7. I think I have another explanation for why the creatures seen in the tropical regions of Central and South America are much larger than those seen further north and south. You see, I think that rainforests have much more food and water available than the desert regions, so that allows reptiles to get much bigger there. The same conditions that allow the larger type of lizard to exist there also allow the smaller type to remain completely hidden, which is why we don't have that many sightings of the smaller, bipedal lizards in those regions.

    I think we have two species, here. One of them, the smaller one, can be found from southern North America all the way down south to Argentina and Chile. The larger one can only be found in the more tropical regions of Central and South America.

  8. The Chupacabra/Timbo/Raptoroid/Zupay in the picture appears to be covered with fur. How come?

  9. That would have been the choice of the artist whose artwork was used and therefore nothing more than his personal preference. I do not know if the artist was assuming any pretense of authority when the representation was done that way.

    1. Well, the spines of iguanas can look very hair-like. And it's possible that these unknown iguanids might have spines on more parts of their body, which would make them appear hairy.

  10. In my opinion, the mountain boomers/river lizards/mini rexes and the larger Chupacabras/timbos/raptoroid/zupay are one species. They are specialized iguanid lizards that are mostly, if not completely, bipedal. They are active predators which are omnivorous, but eat more animals than plants.

    The large Komodo dragon-like quadrupedal iguanids are the juveniles of the larger water monsters. The water monsters might come on land to lay their eggs, like turtles, and the juveniles start out as terrestrial creatures, but become more aquatic as they grow up.

    Therefore, I would combine the first two animals on that graph into one species, and the last two as one more species. Therefore, we have two species. I know that this is mostly just speculation, but it's the best solution that I can come up with at the moment.

  11. Also, the juveniles of the water monsters and the adults of the Chupacabras/Raptoroids are about the same size, so that might be one reason for the possible confusion between the two. However, the juvenile water monsters are mostly quadrupedal, while the Chupacabras/Raptoroids are mostly bipedal.


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