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Thursday, 20 December 2012

Alternative Candidates for Loch Ness Monster

Some while back I made the observation that Roy Mackal's longnecked amphibian model for The Loch Ness Monster (the theory is merely a revival of one suggested by Rupert T Gould in the 1930s) has essentially the same outline as Maurice Burton's giant otter as presented in The Elusive Monster based on a Giant South American otter blown up to the same supposed size of 20 feet long (The otter has a broadened tail but it shows better when seen from above: see the photo provided below for comparison.) Because of this I suggested that the basic reason for Burton's giant otter and for these divergent reports with shorter, thicker necks and larger heads (at least twice the length and breadth in proportion as compared to the longer-necked creature reports) that Mackal insists on, are due to sightings of Master-Otters in the Loch, with the apparent size often doubled in the eyes of the witnesses. Strongly documented clear views of shorter-necked creatures, with webbed feet but individual clawed toes, are recorded from both Loch Ness and Loch Morar, and are also known historically. The reconstructions of the monster that tend to have head and neck 4-5 feet long, body 8-10 feet long and tail 8-10 feet long (which is roughly the proportions given by Gould, Mackal and Burton at the 20-25 foot long range)similar to the giant otter. However, going by the reports that include the longest necks and NOT averaging them in with the shorter-necked, bigger-headed reports, the proportions are reversed, with the head and neck 8-10 feet, body 8-10 feet and the tail 4-5 feet of the total length. Dinsdale's model comes out to this when the proportions are remeasured and it is much more like the proportions of a Plesiosaur.  Morar the reports seem to indicate many things, but the "Monster" reports show statistically outstanding and statistically distinct categories of giant otters (Master otters) and Plesiosaur-shaped animals, neither type common and neither type in permanent residence in the Loch. Over much of the rest of the British Isles, Master Otters are more often seen. There are also other, rarer categories such as the giant eels, salamanders and the traditional water horses (Elk). I the case of the Elk they are sources for the Folklore, but modern reports are almost all of them bunched together in the early part of the 20th century (and then again possibly earlier ones in the 1800s "Remembered" later.the Northern Hemisphere goes, swimming Elk (Moose) are clearly more dominant in Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia, Alaska and Canada: in Scandinavia and parts of Canada reports spill out to sea. LongNecks appear  in those same sea areas-as well as globally!-but their necks are much longer and they can displaty the "Upturned Boat" bulky body configuration at the same time. And Such photographic evidence as Scott Mardis has pointed out is clearly and unmistakenly Plesiosaurian. I actually doubt if Master-otters grow longer than 10-12 feet ordinarily, the size of a big cat used as a reference in other parts of the world. Reports of regular South American giant otters do run up to 20 feet also, so there is some precident for that)

Megalenhydris barbaricina by =avancna
The Giant Sardinian Otter, Megalenhydris barbaricina, of the Late Pleistocene of Sardinia. It was the largest otter known, at least six feet in length. Preyed primarily on fish, contrary to ~HodariNundu's interpretation [The length of six feet given here, as well as the slightly lesser figure given to the giant river otter of South America is the usual meaure of Snout-to-vent length, leaving the tail off]

Top skeleton drawing is Cryptoclidus_by_banchero from Deviant Art, using the common human (6 foot man) marker for scale. The reconstruction below is by deinonychusempire-on Deviant art and the combination was posted on an earlier blog. Cryptoclidus had a body size (bulk) equivalent to that of an elephant, or just about an elephant seal plus tail and long neck, which is in turn just about right to match sonar traces and most witness' size estimates for the Loch Ness Monster. One, two, or three basic humps on the back are possible by different reconstructions but I prefer the idea it is variable-contour following the LongNecked Sea Serpent reconstruction of Heuvelmans (See below). The average estimated total length is about thirty feet freshwater and sixty feet in the oceans, which is in itself cause to consider that the estimates made at sea are less accurate.(Ibid)

The fact that Scott Mardis' comparisons (and my own) consistently come out as close to Cryptoclidus
is likely to be singularly significant.

I have found Dinsdale's composite to be the most accurate reconstruction and applicable in most parallel cases such as in Lake Champlain and in Patagonia and Australia. A few of Heuvelmans' reconstructed Sea Serpent models from the next book are close to Dinsdales' but most likely falsely split off from it to form new and wrongly differentiated species of Sea Serpents:

Cryptoclidus_erect_necked_April-2010_Tetrapod Zoology. Notice the shape of the head as measured against the actual skull is not quite right in the reconstruction.
Needless to say, I dispute Darren's statements on the matter of prehistoric survivals and the availability of Coelacanths to provide a parallel example, but I also want no part of "Cadborosaurus willsi" as it has been defined, or any of the rest of the statements about Sea Monsters, which I consider to be misrepresentations of the database as well as being incorrect notions besides.


  1. "...I dispute Darren's statement on the matter of prehistoric survivals and the ability of coelacanths to provide a parallel example..."
    Why, exactly, do you dispute Dr. Naish's statement on the matter?

  2. Simply put, Darren Naish said that the mere continued survival of coelacanths undetected since the Mesozoic provides no reason to assume other undetected parallels examples could be forthcoming. The more common statement (the one most commonly made) is that is exactly what the continued existence of Coelacanths DOES do. I fail to see the logic of turning the statement the other way around. And simply because no fossils are found dating to the intervening strata is no reason to say that any given species necessarily is not or could not be present. In the case of Plesiosaurs, that is not actually even the issue, because in fact there ARE supposed finds of Post-Cretaceous Plesiosaur fossils.

  3. Darren Naish's wording was an attempt to state that you can guess or estimate what is going on in matters you do not actually know. And my standard stance is that you cannot begin to predict things which you do not know.

  4. actually, Dr. Naish said said that 1. Coelacanth bones are fragile and do not fossilize easily (unlike plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, and archaeocetes), 2. We HAVE found post-cretacious coelacanths from the paleocene and miocene and 3. The known fossil record of coelacanth differs a lot from the fossil record of large mesozoic marine reptiles (and archaeocetes, too.)

    1. Actually the point is moot because we also do have post-Cretaceous Plesiosaur remains, they were found and published quite early on by competent experts but "defused" subsequently so that their horrible implications would not cause a panic among the laymen or something like that. And le later fossil record of Plesiosaurs is similarly full of unexplained holes, possibly due to preservation problems, possibly simply because we have not found all the fossils yet. At any rater, the statement as it was made was incorrect and misleading.

  5. P.S. This article does not demomstrate why nessie can't be a giant, unknown amphibian instead of a plesiosaur (although I think the plesiosaur explanation is more likely because the same unknown animal has been seen out at sea too; an amphibian candidate cannot explain this.)

    1. That matter was dealt with earlier and separately on other blog articles. Basically the problem is that living and fossil amphibians do not develop long necks, and the anatomy of the joint between the head and the neck actually works against such a development. The joint at the base of a reptile's skull is different. And I fully endorse the idea that many lake monsters are giant amphibians, primarily as being like the Japanese giant salamanders but also possibly outsized amphiumas and caecelians. There also seems to be an upper size limit for amphibian monsters which falls far short of 20 feet and thus makes for a fairly paltry monster.


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