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The Cryptozoologicon (Volume I): here, at last

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Conway, Kosemen & Naish (2013), front cover.

My newest book – Cryptozoologicon Volume I, co-authored with John Conway and C. M. “Memo” Kosemen – is now available (alternatively, it can be ordered here from amazon) (Conway et al. 2013) [an ebook version is also available]. The launch event happens this Friday (December 6th) at Conway Hall, London: it will feature talks from all three of us, and tickets are still available should you wish to book and attend.

The basic premise of the Cryptozoologicon will be familiar if you’re a regular Tet Zoo reader. Inspired by the numerous exercises in speculative zoology that have long been typical of the cryptozoological literature, we’ve taken a bunch of mystery creatures (some reasonable, some silly, some ridiculous and disproven) and have devised our own visions of them; our own speculations on their evolutionary history, ecology and biology. The overall take is sceptical (god, how I so hate the fact that some cryptozoologists regard this as a bad thing…): we provide a historical review and evaluation of the mystery creature concerned (there’s a lot more text here than in All Yesterdays) (Conway et al. 2013).

The Cryptozoologicon has cladograms. Yes, I know it's too small... Image by John Conway.

What sort of things do we feature? Much as I’d like to give away a whole load of juicy details, I’ll try and contain my excitement since, duh, I want you to buy the book. But I will say that the cryptids covered include Gambo, the Row, De Loy’s ape, the Beast of Gévaudan, Mbielu-Mbielu-Mbielu, Dingonek, Buru, Ahool, Con Rit and Mngwa. Remember: we’re coming up with our own speculative interpretations of these creatures, and some of our ideas might surprise you. Some won’t, since (in places) our speculations are consistent with the general ideas discussed elsewhere in the cryptozoology literature. It’s difficult to reasonably argue, for example, that Yeti and Bigfoot are anything but hominids. By the way, if they are hominids, could they be pongines that might have a major impact on our views about the evolution of terrestriality and bipedalism? Ha ha, all is revealed… err, in the book.

If Gambo isn't a 'prehistoric survivor', what is it? I've opted not to show Memo Kosemen's illustration from the book... Gambo illustrations above by Cameron McCormick, Mesozoic marine reptiles by Darren Naish.

As with All Yesterdays, the volume is picture-led: beautiful, full-colour illustrations by John and Memo lead each entry. If you’ve enjoyed the material produced by John [go here] and Memo [go here] before, you’ll love this book. A few of my own illustrations appear throughout as well, but they’re not quite as eye-catching.

While the main part of the book is devoted to discussion of specific cryptids, a lengthy Introduction discusses the history of cryptozoology, the role and contribution of Heuvelmans and other key cryptozoologists, the rise and fall of the ISC, and the interplay between science, scepticism and speculation. As has been stated before in other critical overviews of cryptozoological research (Meurger & Gagnon 1988, Magin 1996, Naish 2000, 2001, Loxton & Prothero 2013), many of the ideas of the cryptozoology literature – promoted by Heuvelmans, Ivan Sanderson, Roy Mackal and other prominent authors in the field – are inherently illogical, poorly founded, erroneous and weak: I’m afraid that these individuals were not exactly shining beacons of brilliant scholarship, but guilty of sloppy research, of coming up with ridiculous ideas, and of being very much out of date with respect to the things they wrote about.

Great example of gratuitous speculation and weak logic in the cryptozoology literature: Bernard Heuvelmans combined all the accounts you see here (and others) to 'create' the concept of Cetioscolopendra, the armour-plated 'Many-finned sea serpent'.

However, as I’ve said on previous occasions, the main takehome about sceptical approaches to cryptozoology is that scepticism does not demand a rubbishing or dismissal of cryptozoology: if, as many of us think, cryptozoology is as much about culture, folklore, psychology, eyewitness behaviour and so on as it is about ‘mystery creatures’, an interest in cryptozoology does not demand an acceptance of the actual existence of cryptids. I like animals, but the cultural and psychological dimensions to cryptozoology are still fascinating and very much worthy of investigation.

2013 has already seen the appearance of a very important volume on cryptozoology: Daniel Loxton and Donald Prothero’s also sceptical Abominable Science! (Loxton & Prothero 2013)*. Of course, we have no real idea yet how Cryptozoologicon Volume I will be received (though a few very positive reviews are already online), but here’s hoping. If you like it and have read it or looked at it, please consider posting a brief review at amazon. And, yes, Volume II is on the way real soon. Until then, I’m sure the launch event will be fun – speaking of which, yikes… back to preparation.

* A book that I have now read and want to review as soon as time allows.

I will likely have more to say about the book in the near future, but that’ll do for now.

For previous articles on the Cryptozoologicon and its contents, see…

Refs – -

Conway, J., Kosemen, C. M. & Naish, D. 2013. Cryptozoologicon Volume I. Irregular Books.

Loxton, D. & Prothero, D. R. 2013. Abominable Science! Columbia University Press, New York.

Magin, U. 1996. St George without a dragon: Bernard Heuvelmans and the sea serpent. In Moore, S. (ed) Fortean Studies Volume 3. John Brown Publishing (London), pp. 223-234.

Meurger, M. & Gagnon, C. 1988. Lake Monster Traditions: A Cross-Cultural Analysis. Fortean Times, London.

Naish, D. 2000. Where be monsters? Fortean Times 132, 40-44.

- . 2001. Sea serpents, seals and coelacanths: an attempt at a holistic approach to the identity of large aquatic cryptids. In Simmons, I. & Quin, M. (eds) Fortean Studies Volume 7. John Brown Publishing (London), pp. 75-94.

Darren Naish About the Author: Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at darrennaish.wordpress.com. He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at tetzoo.com!

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The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Cameron McCormick 3:35 pm 12/4/2013

    Argh, that illustration of Gambo will never stop haunting me. It’s 7 years old, basically juvenilia.

    I love the St. Olaf illustration so much. The swellings around the dorsal fins make it particularly obvious this is a creatively interpreted group of small cetaceans… but Oudemans thought it was a hoax and Heuvelmans a genuine cryptid! Oy vey.

    BTW, the Cryptozoologicon erroneously implies there are reports of round-headed many-finned creatures from the South China Sea. There are none. Tran Van Con’s story makes no mention of a head, one (Avalanche 1898) mentions “several” fins with no description of the head, and another (La Décidée 1904) specified *no* fins were seen!

    Link to this
  2. 2. ekocak 3:39 pm 12/4/2013

    Can’t wait to get my copy.

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  3. 3. naishd 4:34 pm 12/4/2013

    Cameron: regarding the Gambo illustration, I don’t think you have anything to be ashamed of – it’s perfectly serviceable, even today. As for Cetioscolopendra sightings and the South China Sea — I’ll have to check what we said. My recollection is that we were simply generalising about Heuvelmans’s, err, generalisations.

    Darren

    Link to this
  4. 4. Halbred 5:58 pm 12/4/2013

    Well isn’t this convenient: I just got an Amazon gift card for my birthday.

    Link to this
  5. 5. Cameron McCormick 7:07 pm 12/4/2013

    No worries Darren, it’s an exceedingly minor point and I still stand by my review. Well, unless I use the same reasoning as some select Abominable Science reviewers, in which case this invalidates your entire “sceptical” approach and means CRYPTIDZ ARE TOTALLY REAL11!!!!!11! Including both the cetaceous and scolopendrous Con Rit… somehow.

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  6. 6. Dartian 11:18 pm 12/4/2013

    Re: the cladogram… Orang pendek is a pongine (and even the sister taxon of Pongo!) instead of a hominine? The yeti and bigfoot are not sister species? How did you arrive at these results?

    Link to this
  7. 7. naishd 5:47 am 12/5/2013

    Dartian: ha ha, yes, our peer-reviewed article on the phylogenetics of crypto-hominids is still in press :)

    Actually, we were predominantly inspired by what’s already in the literature. The concept of Orang pendek as a pongine, and even as part of Pongo, has been popular for a while in the material produced by Debbie Martyr and Richard Freeman (there is even a provisional species name kicking around that has the creature as a new Pongo species). As discussed in the Cryptozoologicon, there are reasons for thinking that things are more complicated, however.

    As for bigfoot and yeti not being sister-species: our hypothesis here is that the more human-like bigfoot is outside the more orangutan-like clade that includes the yeti. The evidence for this contention is overwhelming.

    Darren

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  8. 8. Dartian 6:25 am 12/5/2013

    Darren:
    our peer-reviewed article on the phylogenetics of crypto-hominids is still in press

    I’d be happy to read even an unpublished draft version on that subject! ;)

    The concept of Orang pendek as a pongine, and even as part of Pongo, has been popular for a while in the material produced by Debbie Martyr and Richard Freeman

    But how can that be reconciled with the idea that orang pendek might be closely related to Homo floresiensis (which may or may not have belonged to Homo, but which certainly was a hominin)?

    our hypothesis here is that the more human-like bigfoot is outside the more orangutan-like clade that includes the yeti

    That suggests that being morphologically more ‘human-like’ is a primitive trait in Hominidae. Interesting. ;)

    The evidence for this contention is overwhelming.”

    :)

    By the way, why is the almas not included in your cladogram?

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  9. 9. naishd 6:57 am 12/5/2013

    Some of the answers you seek are in the book :) Orang pendek: inspired by the multi-species model of Coleman & Huyghe, we proposed that Sumatra is home to cryptic pongines and hominines and… inspired by the brilliant Ketchum et al. study, we also suggest that some eyewitness accounts might describe hybrids between the two (and… I really hope here that people are understanding the tongue-in-cheek nature of these speculations).

    And, yes, the shape of the cladogram – once crypto-hominids are incorporated – indicates that human-like bipedalism is primitive for Hominidae, and merely lost or substantially modified in lineages that took to arboreality and/or knuckle-walking.

    Why no Almas in the cladogram? Because we didn’t feature it in the book, that’s why.

    Darren

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  10. 10. Jerzy v. 3.0. 9:09 am 12/5/2013

    Those many-finned sea serpents are obviously swimming ankylosaurids. Ankylosaurids and other dinosaurs were obviously able to disperse long distances over the sea, with those air sacks etc. Just remember how often ankylosaurid fossils are found in sea sediments.

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  11. 11. Jerzy v. 3.0. 9:23 am 12/5/2013

    I think more likely, a lowland Asian stem gigantopithecine gave rise to an island dwarf form (orang pendek). Populations living in Himalayas and Tibet got adapted to the cold (yeti) and during the Ice Ages spread to Siberia (almas), Europe (woodwose and satyrs), and across Beringia to North America (bigfoot).

    It would nicely parallel the evolution of wooly rhinos and some other Pleistocene megafauna.

    A proof is total absence of ape fossils in North America. Obviously bigfoots appeared in North America very recently, only about the same time as first Americans. This also explains why bigfoot survived Pleistocene extinction – it is obviously well adapted to coexistence with the predatory hominins.

    Imagine epic battles between bigfoot and Arctodus simus! Not surprisingly, brain beats muscles.

    ;)

    Coming to think about it, a good sci-fi series could be made about a scientist trying to discover all these cryptids, and government agents trying to keep them secret. Think of Doctor Who crossed with the X-Files and Nigel Marven films.

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  12. 12. Jerzy v. 3.0. 9:29 am 12/5/2013

    @9
    Close contact and occasional hybridization between gigantopithecine pongines and hominins in Sumatra region makes perfect sense! That is how a group of animals obtained enough intelligence for raft building, or possibly traveled in a mixed-species group to Australia, giving rise to yowies. ;)

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  13. 13. Dartian 10:35 am 12/5/2013

    Jerzy:
    Imagine epic battles between bigfoot and Arctodus simus! Not surprisingly, brain beats muscles.

    In a fight between a gorilla and a bear (at weight parity), would you bet on the ape winning? I don’t think I would. (Although I quite agree that it could indeed be an epic battle.)

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  14. 14. Jerzy v. 3.0. 11:05 am 12/5/2013

    @Dartian
    Of course bigfoot wins. People found dead bears many times, but never a dead bigfoot!

    BTW, I wonder if any encounters between wild orangutans and sun bears were documented?

    Link to this
  15. 15. naishd 11:09 am 12/5/2013

    Orangutans vs sun bears? I saw a documentary once where a big gorilla fought some tyrannosaurs. The gorilla won!

    Darren

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  16. 16. Dartian 11:21 am 12/5/2013

    Darren:
    I saw a documentary once where a big gorilla fought some tyrannosaurs. The gorilla won!

    OK, you convinced me. ;) Although for the record, it wasn’t an entirely fair fight. Those tyrannosaurs had extra digits on their hands, and that additional weight probably slowed down their movements.

    Link to this
  17. 17. Yodelling Cyclist 11:36 am 12/5/2013

    Sorry Darren, Dartian, I think that footage was shown to be a hoax.

    Link to this
  18. 18. Heteromeles 2:29 pm 12/5/2013

    I still think that bigfoot is an stealth exoskeleton used by time travelers and/or aliens. That would explain why people are always able to see and hear them, but camera traps (which rely on sensors to trigger) never record them. Additionally, despite the reported stench, dogs have never been able to track them, which argues for sophisticated chemical cloaking technology as well.

    Or, if you don’t buy that, how about Bigfoot is a Homo erectus that got trapped in Beringia by rising sea level, inherited hypertrichosis and insular gigantism through the resulting genetic bottleneck, and then invaded mainland US when sea levels fell again in the next ice age? It would explain why purported bigfoot DNA tests out as human: it is human, more or less.

    Um, yeah.

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  19. 19. Heteromeles 2:31 pm 12/5/2013

    Coming to think about it, a good sci-fi series could be made about a scientist trying to discover all these cryptids, and government agents trying to keep them secret. Think of Doctor Who crossed with the X-Files and Nigel Marven films.

    Haven’t seen Primeval, I take it? As I recall, Nigel Marvin got munched by a Giganotosaurus on that one.

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  20. 20. Cameron McCormick 4:48 pm 12/5/2013

    @ Jerzy, ankylosaurs are great and all, but is that nearly enough prehistoric survival? I think not. How about an aetosaur, say… Heliocanthus? It’s super-specific for no clear reason, which means I surely know what I’m talking about!

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  21. 21. Mike from Ottawa 8:35 pm 12/5/2013

    CLEARLY, MR MCCORMICK, YOU KNOW NOTHING OF CRYPTIDS OR YOU’D HAVE IT IDENTIFIED DOWN TO SPECIES! YOU ARE A PAID TOOL OF BIG SCIENCE ESTABLISHMENT FIGURES LIKE ‘DR’ NAISH!!!!!!!!!

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  22. 22. naishd 4:33 am 12/6/2013

    Having alluded (obliquely) to King Kong and fighting animals, I’m sure many people have heard the claim that Willis O’Brien’s original idea for the 1933 movie was — apparently — to fly some gorillas over to Komodo, then film them in pitched battle with Komodo dragons. What a shame this never happened (sarcasm). Wow. Anyone know if this is true?

    Darren

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  23. 23. Jerzy v. 3.0. 5:35 am 12/6/2013

    @Heteromeles
    I tried watching [i]Primeval[/i] but found it rather weak on the side of script and characters. And could not really be scared – sorry, I did not grow on British tradition of ghost stories.

    I was thinking about something more tongue in cheek, or over the top, given that the basic idea is ridiculous. And with exotic locations. And to pit the naturalist guy and animals against government agents.

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  24. 24. Jerzy v. 3.0. 5:47 am 12/6/2013

    @naishd
    Gorillas were very rare in zoos in 1930s and most were short-living infants. I think he could not expect to get them.

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  25. 25. Gigantala 6:18 am 12/6/2013

    “Coming to think about it, a good sci-fi series could be made about a scientist trying to discover all these cryptids, and government agents trying to keep them secret. Think of Doctor Who crossed with the X-Files and Nigel Marven films.”

    The Secret Saturdays.

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  26. 26. Dartian 6:48 am 12/6/2013

    Darren:
    I’m sure many people have heard the claim that Willis O’Brien’s original idea for the 1933 movie was — apparently — to fly some gorillas over to Komodo, then film them in pitched battle with Komodo dragons. What a shame this never happened (sarcasm). Wow. Anyone know if this is true?

    I’ve actually never heard that. But I very much suspect that this is just an urban legend. As Jerzy said, in the 1930ies there would realistically have been no gorillas (especially no adult gorillas) available for such a purpose, for any amount of money. Gorillas had an extremely poor survival record in zoos prior to the post-Second World War era. Very few individuals lived longer than a couple of years in captivity, and fewer still reached anything even approaching adulthood. For example, the famous Bobby who lived in Berlin Zoo, Germany, was captured in the wild at the aged of circa two years and brought to the zoo in 1928. He lived there until his death in 1935; at the time, this was considered an unusually long lifespan for a captive gorilla.

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  27. 27. AndreaCau 7:08 am 12/6/2013

    Any chance to see the Monongahela monster?
    I’ve speculated on it since I found it mentioned (and illustrated as a sort of deep skulled mosasauroid with a series of Stegosaurus plates starting from the nose) in a dinosaur book in the late ’80s.

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  28. 28. ekocak 11:21 am 12/6/2013

    Never heard that about O’Brien before either–and I kinda doubt it a lot. He basically independently invented stop-motion animation and then pitched it to various people as cutting edge VFX tech. It doesn’t make any sense that he’d do that.

    http://silentmoviemonsters.tripod.com/TheLostWorld/LWOBIE.html

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  29. 29. ekocak 11:22 am 12/6/2013

    Although who knows. :)

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  30. 30. Heteromeles 3:39 pm 12/6/2013

    Along with the Secret Saturdays and Primeval, I should also point out that the idea of keeping cryptids secret has popped out in the TV series Sanctuary and in fiction such as Jane Lindskold’s Changer (among, yes, many others).

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  31. 31. llewelly 7:31 am 12/7/2013

    “Prehistoric Survivor Paradigm: just say no!”

    Actually this touches on an interesting phenomena in cryptozoology.
    When a cryptid is theorized to be a surviving Mesozoic creature, it’s often assumed (by both skeptics and believers) to closely resemble its Mesozoic ancestors.

    But birds and mammals have both changed quite a lot over the last 65 million years. So it seems strange to assume a surviving plesiosaur (for example) would closely resemble its Mesozoic ancestors.

    What would prevent a surviving plesiosaur lineage from evolving into a dolphin-like shape? Or seal-like shape?

    What would prevent a surviving pterosaur lineage from returning to the sea and evolving into a marine form? After all, birds have evolved marine forms at least twice since the end of the Mesozoic, and mammals at least three times.

    Why should a hypothetical Mesozoic survivor cryptid resemble its Mesozoic ancestors any more than an elephant resembles a Mesozoic eutherian?

    It is as if there is some sort of cultural force that encourages people to think of Mesozoic survivor cryptids as “living fossils” … a term many dislike due to its strong association with the perception that such lineages have undergone little or no evolution, when in fact they just happen to have some readily-identifiable-from-fossils features that have been conserved.

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  32. 32. Jerzy v. 3.0. 7:39 am 12/7/2013

    Multi-finned or segmented sea monsters (those that are not swimming ankylosaurids and aetosaurs, that is) could be also imagined as some giant deepwater, segmented crustacean occasionally coming to sea surface.

    It would also explain why one was shot in the head and survived = the “head” was either a clump of broken off tentacles (chomped by Architethuis, possibly) or an extension of the rostrum.

    BTW – is the part about yeti in the book the same as in your earlier blog post?

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  33. 33. Cameron McCormick 7:39 pm 12/7/2013

    llewelly:
    What would prevent a surviving plesiosaur lineage from evolving into a dolphin-like shape? Or seal-like shape?

    I have seen arguments that the “long-necked seal” cryptid is a pinniped-mimicking plesiosaur… as in, having hair, whiskers, and so forth.

    Jerzy:

    You really need to read the Cryptozoologicon!

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  34. 34. Heteromeles 8:00 pm 12/7/2013

    You mean, it’s not a plesiosaur-mimicking sea lion? I’m shocked!

    Personally, I think plesiosaurs may have been electrogenic, and I’d *really* like to see a sea lion develop that particular talent. :) )

    By the way, what did people see before plesiosaurs were dug out of the rock?

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  35. 35. Cameron McCormick 10:00 pm 12/7/2013

    Heteromeles:
    By the way, what did people see before plesiosaurs were dug out of the rock?

    Oh, that’s such a good question. Going through my In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents, it seems that in the early 19th century, the most common sightings were a series of humps/”coils” on the surface of the water. So, y’know, a standing wave. A few mention heads quite a ways out of the water (10 or 12 feet), but it appears the eyewitnesses were imagining giant snakes rather than anything plesiosaur-like. The first sighting that looks like a cartoon plesiosaur was by one Dr. Farquhar Matheson in 1893, and it seems like his eyewitness sketch is in fact cribbed from the more distant plesiosaur in this Heinrich Harder illustration.

    I suspect many “sea serpent” illustrations and reports have been heavily influenced by paleo-art, and it’s a shame this really hasn’t been discussed. I put most of Heuvelmans illustrations on my tumblr, so see if you can spot any more blatant (and outdated) influences.

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  36. 36. Lars Dietz 8:14 am 12/8/2013

    The Isle of Serpents sea-serpent looks like it was inspired by an illustration of a pentastomid.

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  37. 37. Jerzy v. 3.0. 8:29 am 12/8/2013

    “see if you can spot any more blatant (and outdated) influences.”

    Plesiosaurs able to swim with necks above water, for a start. :)

    Actually, seals and sealions have very long necks. Emaciated sealion or a seal maximally stretching it’s neck will look pretty sea-monster-like. Especially helped by a slight distortion due to heat haze.

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  38. 38. Yodelling Cyclist 10:30 am 12/8/2013

    I’ve often wondered, has anybody “seriously” suggested that some sea monsters are varanids that have re-returned to the oceans? Why does no one suggest giant sea snakes for these things? The Monongalela carcass sounds varanid/snakey.

    Assuming it’s not a hoax :-) .

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  39. 39. Cameron McCormick 10:39 am 12/8/2013

    @Lars Dietz:

    The similarity is so suspicious, I think you just uncovered a hoax! The sighting was from a letter to the magazine La Nature and was a response to a discussion on the Tran Van Con carcass/Con Rit and the possibility that sea serpents could be arthropods. Hmm. And in the sighting itself, the purported eyewitness called the creature a “snake” but speculated it was a larval Con Rit! Then there’s the claimed occurrence near the “Isle of Serpents”. So… maybe this was an arthropod in-joke rather than a sighting of a deformed sea snake?

    @Jerzy:

    In terms of cervical length pinnipeds aren’t too impressive — all of them have shorter necks than dogs — however, they seem to be capable of holding their necks out fairly straight and copious soft tissue obscures where the neck begins and ends. I suspect very few people are aware that Harbor Seals have longer necks than Leopard Seals, and they look totally bizarre with their necks stretched out.

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  40. 40. Lars Dietz 1:37 pm 12/9/2013

    Cameron: Thanks for the info! The reference appears to be this, which is online here:
    G. L. Jourdan, “A propos du Serpent de mer,” La Nature Supplément 53 (December 12, 1925): 185–186
    After some research, I’ve found that the only pentastomid that looks like this is the most basal one, Cephalobaena tetrapoda. It was described by Heymons in 1922, so it certainly could have inspired a hoax in 1925. However, the resemblance isn’t as strong in the original as in Heuvelmans’ redrawing, especially as the rings on the “tail” are apparently just supposed to be color bands. The author is quite vague about the location of the island, only saying it was in the China sea. I’ve found islands called “Snake Island” off Cambodia, Sabah (Borneo) and Palawan (Philippines), and as the author says he was returning from Manila the one off Sabah (Pulau Kalampunian Damit) seems to be the most likely one if it isn’t a hoax. In that case, the “tail” might have been a yellow-lipped sea krait (Laticauda colubrina) which breed on the island, (although the claimed length of 3 m would be too big for that species), but this doesn’t explain the front end.

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  41. 41. leecris 10:11 pm 12/9/2013

    If you happen to live in the U.S., I highly recommend ordering this book from The Book Depository. They accept PayPal so your U.S. credit card won’t be blocked after an overseas purchase, and all their prices include shipping via Royal Mail. Every book of Darren’s I’ve purchased from them has arrived in perfect condition and in a timely fashion, and yes, as of today, December 9, 2013, they have it in stock. http://www.bookdepository.com/

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  42. 42. ekocak 10:47 am 12/10/2013

    I just bought it through the Apple iBooks store. The presentation is nice. I think I may still pick up the physical book, but I wanted to report in on it since I hadn’t seen anyone else, or indeed any reviews on the iBooks store yet.

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  43. 43. John Scanlon FCD 4:47 am 12/12/2013

    Yodelling Cyclist’s query at #37 reminds me of a thesis I’ve perused in which it was concluded that “Varanus” komodoensis is actually a mosasaur.

    Surahya, S. 1989. Komodo: Studi Anatomi dan Kedudukannya Dalam Sistematik Hewan. Gadjah Mada University Press, Yogyakarta. (possibly available, e.g. here)

    Link to this
  44. 44. Yodelling Cyclist 2:04 pm 12/13/2013

    @John Scanlon FCD: What was this guy on?

    Link to this
  45. 45. David Marjanović 6:42 pm 12/14/2013

    And to pit the naturalist guy and animals against government agents.

    Too American.

    the famous Bobby who lived in Berlin Zoo

    Is now, incidentally, stuffed and on exhibit in the Museum für Naturkunde.

    Link to this
  46. 46. Hydrarchos 2:07 pm 12/18/2013

    The Isle des Serpents cryptid looks to me like a sea snake with something in its mouth – perhaps a crab or, if the right time of year, a baby sea turtle?

    re Orang Pendek: it’s struck me before that the older reports (e.g. those collated by Heuvelmans) seem to describe something much more human-like – taller, more gracile, having long head hair like a human, leaving footprints with the toes arranged much like ours – than the shorter, more robust, more uniformly hairy animals reported by Martyr, Freeman, etc (which seem at least sometimes to leave footprints with a very separated big toe). In particular with regard to the often-quoted report by van Heerwarden from 1923, I wonder if who/what he saw actually was a “feral” modern human, perhaps one of the last of an ethnic group disrupted and destroyed by colonisation (similarly to “Ishi” in California), with the description filtered through the racist imagination of a colonist influenced by various pseudoscientific theories (similarly to the whole de Loys/Montandon affair)…

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  47. 47. Dartian 7:40 am 12/20/2013

    Hydrarchos:
    In particular with regard to the often-quoted report by van Heerwarden from 1923, I wonder if who/what he saw actually was a “feral” modern human

    Didn’t van Heerwarden emphasise in his report that the creature’s canine teeth were larger than any human’s?

    Link to this

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