Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sea serpents and coelacanths

While I'm citing Darren Naish, let me put in a link to another of his posts, with an excellent discussion in the Comments following: the possibility of large unclassified marine animals, sometimes reported as "sea serpents," still being out there. Dr. Naish is keeping an open mind. It's a coincidence that I am linking to a post where he recommended bmy books on the topic. (Really, it is.)

Here's my comment from this discussion, which had veered into sasquatch and other cryptozoological topics as well as sea critters:

First, thanks to Darren for mentioning my books. I'm not perfect at this, but I try. I intend to write followup books about every ten years until I depart the planet. The idea is to leave a record of some of the major discoveries in zoology and developments in cryptozoology covering a half-century or so.
The giant crocodile seen from a U-boat is discounted by some cryptozoologists as a hoax. It always bothered me that the account claims the whole animal was thrown clear of the water by an explosion on the target ship after the ship sank. The physics don't work.
Despite the time that's passed since the Nicoll / Meade Waldo case, I think it still stands as important evidence. Maurice Burton wrote that he'd seen a conger eel swim (for some reason) with head and forebody out of water: if you have a giant species (10-15 meters?) that occasionally does the same, it comes close enough to this and and some other SS sightings to have an explanation without postulating the survival of an ancient group. (Such an animal does not explain all the good sightings, and we may yet have a long-necked pinniped out there, although we should have better evidence for it than we do.)
If I had to bet money on sasquatch, I would bet it does not exist. I would not close the file on the grounds of the fossil record, though - the fossil record of the modern chimp and gorilla is so sparse that a couple of missed finds would place it at zero. But hair, dung, and even DNA samples only identify sasquatch if you have known sasquatch specimens to compare them to. Nothing except a whole animal or a significant piece of one is going to suffice for a scientific description.
Posted by: Matt Bille | November 25, 2009 2:18 PM

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