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Thursday, 9 January 2014

Champ compilation

Jay Cooney just republished Scott Mardis' report from Lake Champlain previously posted here but in this case Id like to draw attention to another one of Thomas Finlay's illustrations for the Bizarre Zoology blog. There was a poster to illustrate Lake Champlain and its monster that Id like to mention here.

First off, Samuel de Champlain never described Champ, he spoke of a monstrous fish that was most likely a large gar. The name he used was like the native name for the Long-nosed gar in the region, but he gave the dimensions of an Alligator gar. Since in either event this giant gar has become extinct more recently, it is probably a moot point as to which species the fish originally belonged to.

Now Id like to reproduce two sections off of Thomas Finlay's work, but only the second one is what the discussion shall be about:

Right hand panel which contains the background information and Thomas' original copyright notice

And the bottom which has the reconstructions. The scientific name is irrelevant and means nothing. It presupposes an unproven and I think highly unlikely relationship for the creature.

The pointed fin on the back of the one model obviously corresponds to the hump on the back of the other creature model, and in the majority of the reports this is referred to as a hump.

In comparing the two versions of Champ it is obvious that one has a much larger head than the other and in fact this corresponds to certain reported creatures from Lake Champlain that have fairly big, horse-shaped heads (Indicated by the inset below) this corresponds to a series of reports which are distinguished not only by having large heads with horselike freatures (Including the typical placement of the eyes far back and near the top of the head, and the nostrils at the tip of the blunted snout which dialate to a large size, but also noticeable ears at the back of the head, and an overall coating of rough shaggy hairs, which can include the mane. Typically the neck is thickish and not especially long , and in such cases as David Miller's sighting off of British Columbia, there is a good cause for assuming the scale and distance have been misjudged (I the Miller case, going by the scale the creatures's head is six feet long and three feet thick going by the scale, which are figures that contradict most of the similar sightings by a wide margin)Since several such sightings on Lake Champlain even include Moose antlers, it would seem these sightings ordinarily refer to swimming moose. The Olsen videotape at Lake Champlain is evidently one of these and the shape of the head does appear to indicate antlers with the head turning at different angles and thus "Changing shape" (in the bad focus)
Stills from the Olsen video together with the most likely culprit, a swimming moose.

But then I noticed something odd about the "Tanstropheus" model for Champ: the proportions are approximately the same as in Oudemans' model for the Great Sea Serpent in the later 1800s, but with the neck and tail swapped;  Even the belly contour and limbs are of a similar profile.

And in fact the changeover from Model A to Model B for Champ would seem to be a change in perceptions in the public mind or the conceptions of witnesses rather than a real change in creatures. The changeover from sightings which agreed with Oudemans' model and the more recently common more Plesiosaurian reports has a direct parallel in the perceptions shown in Sea Serpent reports (See link below to blog article discussing the change in Sea Serpent popular peceptions following after the Daedalus sighting)
And this can be demonstrated in the "Caddy" witness' drawings from British Columbia in about the early 1930s for one specific example.

Now the really interesting part is hat the more recent, more Plesiosaurian series of descriptions follows closely after the model of Ivan Sanderson (And the Loch Ness Monster models of Gould and Dinsdale, which are both very close to Sanderson's version)

When the length of the neck of the one larger-Champ model is shortened to be more in line with the majority of reports, the proportions overall are much more like the other model for champ. Furthermore it seems that the both the size of the head and the length of the tail in the smaller creature model should actually be modified to be more like the larger creature model (which has both a smaller head and a smaller tail.)

This eliminates the obvious source of confusion with the swimming moose reports and provides us with the overall composite below
 (Three humps on the back is the most common variation reported both at Lake Champlain and at Loch Ness. My analysis of the Champ reports was done out of the reports included in Zazinsky's book, with additional later information included, and I have indicated several of the reports on this blog before)

This compares very well also with Dinsdale's composite for the Loch Ness Monster as noted (Versions of Dinsdale's composite included both two-humped and three-humped back, and in the version copied below I opted to leave them off which Dinsdale also indicated was a option) And it is also very much in line with my own Longneck statistical composites shown in different revisions below. The black and grey diagrams are most recent and probably the most precise, leaving aside the question of the humps on the back for another discussion another time.

It is important to emphasize that the various reconstructions done by Sanderson, Dinsdale, myself and the other were all done separately and yet they all match up pretty closely: and these composites were variously done for Sea Serpents in general, Loch Ness, Caddy, the Patagonian Plesiosaurs and Australian Longneck sightings each separately and yet they alll match up very closely. I consider that Thomas Finley's reconstructions for Champ show the same general agreement, allowing for the fact that the reports are also becoming more precise over time and so the older reports are less accurate than the newer ones are.

Former blog postings touching on the shubject of Longneck reconstructions outside of Lake Champlain are as follows:


  1. My apologies Dale! I agree that there is no evidence for tanystropheus-like longnecks. I simply posted it as a nice review of some Lake Champlain information. I'll take it down though, as it could misinform some people.


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