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Friday, 4 May 2012

'Little Gold Sea Monster' No Longer Alone

At one poit at the CFZ blog I showed my redrawing of a photograph from the book South American Indian Mythology (Larousse) from my local library: I redrew it because I could find no comparable photographs of the artifact anyplace else. The object was one of a pair cast in gold, said to represent the "Sea-serpent" ancestors of the local Indians at Lake Maricaibo, Venezuela (which is not a lake but is a very large bay.) At the time I published this at the CFZ originally, I had already identified this with the Huilla of those parts (because of its vertical undulation and three-toed track) and identified it as one of the "Water Horses" of the coastal regions of South America. I identified the creatures as the source of the Elephant seals reported by Roy Mackal to visit Florida and White River in Arkansas (leaving suppoedly three-toed tracks as incomplete prints of its flippers) and stated by him to come from the coasts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. (In Search of Hidden Animals, 1981)

Freshwater Monsterof the West Indies.
Etymology: Huilla is a common name for the
Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) in South America.
Physical  description:  Serpentine.  Length,
25–50 feet. gray or green. Scaly. Horselike head.
Behavior: Amphibious. Swims swiftly by flex-
ing  its  body  into  arches.  Migrates  from  one
body of water to another. Emits a high-pitched
Tracks: Three-toed.
Distribution: Ortoire River, Trinidad.
Sources: Edward L. Joseph, History of
Trinidad (London: A. K. Newman, 1838);
John O. Brathwaite (letter), Strange Magazine,
no. 18 (Summer 1997): 2.

SEA MONSTER of the coast of Central America.
Etymology: Mískito (Misumalpan) word.
Physical description: Horselike. Sharp teeth.
Behavior: Goes ashore in the summer.
Distribution: Atlantic coast of Nicaragua and
Source: Hubert Howe Bancroft, The Native
Races of the Pacific States of North America
(New York: D. Appleton, 1875), vol. 3.
[Three-toed tracks also reported in the region]

The original Little Gold Sea Monsters of Caribbean South America
As redrawn by Dale D as accurately as possible

Now while on a photo search I find this very odd artifact from Texas found while a dam project threatened an archaeological site with flooding, and it is obviously some sort of large blunt-nosed seal looking like a walrus or an Elephant seal (the latter more likely because it has no tusks). The only "Known" seal from the area was the Caribbean monk seal, which is much the same bodily conformation as the common seal and looks nothing like this:nor yet are there supposed to be any sea lions or fur seals in the area. This object was found in a child's collection of odd stones and bric-a-brac, presumably dating to the 1700s in a Spanish plantation known to have existed in the area at one time, but there were older Indian artifacts found in the area and among the child's collection. So there is no direct dating but it scarcely matters-there were supposed to be no large seals in Texas at the time or for any postglacial phase before that, nor yet any way of explaining how the people there ever came to know of such things as large seals that looked like this.

More recently there have been photographs which resembled elephant seals in the Caribbean, and in White River, Arkansas (the latter according to Mackal)

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