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PLESIOSAURUS SNAGGED IN JAPANESE FISHING NETS!

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Author Topic: PLESIOSAURUS SNAGGED IN JAPANESE FISHING NETS!  (Read 1761 times)
In the Mouth of Madness
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« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2011, 03:47:45 pm »



Figure 2. Figure 2. Sketch of the Zuyiyo-maru carcass, made by Michihiko Yano about two months after carcass was examined and thrown overboard. The sketch and translations appeared in the Collected Papers of the Carcass of an Unidentified Animal Trawled Off New Zealand by the Zuiyo-maru, 1978. Major body segment measurements difficult to see in the drawing: Overall length: 10000 mm, head length: 450 mm, neck length: 1,500 mm.
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« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2011, 03:48:09 pm »

Translations: A. Capture of a Nessie-like carcass. Trawled on April 25, 10:00 am at 43 deg. 57.5 min. S, 173 deg. 48.5 min. E [sic]. B. At the sea off New Zealand; Zuiyo-maru. C. 1. Red muscles remaining on the back of the trunk, overlaid by fat tissues. 2. There are 40-50 pieces of transparent, nylon-like cartilages roundish in cross section, around the tips and limbs. D. 3. Judging from the state of putrefaction, the animal may have been alive until about one month before acquisition. 4. Internal organs in the abdomen are damaged, eaten by worms or fish. 5. The lower jaw has been lost. E. Front view of the head (300 mm). F. Well skeletonized. G. Probably nostrils [sic]. H. Diameter of the [neck vertebral bone (200 mm). I. Red muscles; fat layers on them. J. Cross section of the tail. K. Cross section of the back bone (150 mm). L. No internal organs in the abdomen. M. Length. N. Diameter [of **** fibers?]. O. Length [of fibers] (200- 300 mm).

When Yano returned to Japan on a different boat on June 10th, 1977, he promptly had his photos developed in the fishery's darkroom. Company executives were fascinated with the photos, some of which did appear to show an unusual animal with a long neck and small head. Local scientists were asked to look over the photos, and remarked that they had never seen anything like it (Koster 1977). Some speculated that it might be some kind of prehistoric creature such as a plesiosaur.

On July 20, 1977, as excitement and speculation about the find began to spread, officials from the fish company held a press conference to publicly announce their mysterious discovery. Although scientific analysis of the tissue samples and other data had not yet been completed, company representatives played up the sea-monster angle. The same day several Japanese newspapers published sensational front-page accounts of the find, soon followed by many other radio and television stories throughout Japan (Sasaki 1978). Although some Japanese scientists remained cautious, others encouraged the plesiosaur idea. Professor Yoshinori Imaizumi, director of animal research at Tokyo National Science Museum, was quoted in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper as saying, "It's not a fish, whale, or any other mammal... It's a reptile, and the sketch looks very like a plesiosaur. This is a precious and important discover for human beings. It seems to show these animals are not extinct after all." (Koster 1977). Tokio Shikama of the Yokohama National University also supported the monster theme, stating, "It has to be a plesiosaurus. These creatures must still roam the seas off New Zealand feeding on fish." (Wire Service Reports, 7/25/77, reported in Aldrich 1977).
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« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2011, 03:48:38 pm »

Meanwhile, American and European scientists interviewed about carcass mystery generally downplayed the sea-monster theory, as reported by a number of newspapers and wire services (Denver Post, 7/21/77; Washington Post, 7/22/77; Boston Globe, 7/22/77); New York Times, 7-24-77; UPI, 7/24/77; New Scientist 7-28-77). Paleontologist Bob Schaeffer at the American Museum in New York noted that every ten years or so a carcass is claimed to be a "dinosaur" but always turns out to be a basking shark or adolescent whale. Alwyne Wheeler of the British Museum of Natural History, agreed that the body was probably a shark. Explaining that sharks tend to decompose in an unusual manner (addressed further below), Wheeler added, "Greater experts than the Japanese fishermen have been foiled by the similarity of shark remains to a plesiosaur" Other western scientists offered their own interpretations; Zoologist Alan Fraser-Brunner, aquarium curator at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, suggested the body was a dead sea lion (Koster 1977), despite the creature's immense size. Carl Hubbs, of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in Jolla, California, felt it was "probably a small whale...so rotten that most of the flesh was sloughed off" George Zug, curator of reptiles and amphibians at the Smithsonian Institute, proposed that the creature was a decayed leatherback turtle (Aldrich 1977).

The divergence among early scientific opinions in this case might be partly due to the fact that many biologists and zoologists are used to working with complete, fresh specimens rather than badly decomposed carcasses (or worse, photos of such), in which both external and internal organs can be quite different from their appearance in living animals (Obata and Tomoda, p 46).

On July 25 1977, Taiyo Fish Company issued a preliminary report on biochemical tests (using ion-exchange chromatography) on the tissue samples. The report stated that the **** fiber sampled from the carcass was "similar in nature to the fin rays a group of living animals." The "living animals" referred to were sharks; however, the report failed to state this plainly, leading to further confusion by the Japanese media (Sasaki 1978) and the continued spread of monster mania. Toy manufacturers began gearing up to make wind-up models of the beast, while the company which made Yano's borrowed camera developed a whole advertising campaign around his "sea-monster" photos. Dozens of fishing vessels from Japan, Russia, and Korea were reportedly streaming toward New Zealand in hopes of resnagging the hastily discarded creature. Bubbling with excitement, one Japanese citizen confided that he thought sea-monsters were imaginary creatures but "danced when I read in the newspaper that it was still alive!" (Koster 1977). The Japanese government even issued a new postage stamp (Figure 3) featuring a picture of a plesiosaur. Not since Godzilla had a monster so overtaken Japan.

http://paleo.cc/paluxy/plesios.htm
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« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2011, 03:49:02 pm »



Figure 3. Commemorative Japanese stamp issued Nov. 2, 1977 in the wake of the sea-serpent hysteria, showing a long-necked plesiosaur and the National Science Museum.
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« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2011, 03:49:19 pm »

The carcass controversy continued to make appearances in the popular press in America, but with less sensationalism. On July 26, 1977 The New York Times reported that professor Fujio Yasuda, who initially promoted the carcass resembled a plesiosaur, acknowledged that initial chromatography tests showed a profile of amino acids closely resemembling a control sample from a blue shark. An August 1, 1977 Newsweek article briefly discussed the "South Pacific Monster" without taking sides. A few months later a more detailed article by John Koster (1977) appeared in Oceans magazine. This account evidently the basis for many subsequent reports, many of which embellished or oversimplified various aspects of the story. Koster mentioned the preliminary tissue results and comments by western scientists supporting the shark interpretation, but also quoted Yano and others suggesting that the issue was not yet settled. Koster himself suggested that the small size of the creature's head, well-defined spinal column, and the lack of dorsal fin, did not fit the shark identification.

Soon news of the controversial carcass also came to the attention of some strict creationists, who suggested that the "likely plesiosaur" supported their young-earth position (Swanson 1978; Taylor 1984; Peterson 1988). After all, they seemed to imply, if a creature supposedly extinct for millions of years can turn up in a fishing net, how can we trust anything geologists tell us?

However, even if a modern plesiosaur were confirmed, it would not threaten the concept of evolution. After all, many other modern animal groups existed during the Mesozoic Era, such as crocodiles, lizards, snakes, and various fish. Most of these groups are well represented in the fossil record leading to the present time, but some creatures, such as the Coelacanth and Tuatara were once thought to have been extinct for tens of millions of years, only to be later found alive and little changed in modern times. These cases emphasize the incompleteness of the fossil record and the remarkable stasis of some animal groups, but are not grounds for upheavals in evolutionary thought. Nevertheless, the discovery of a modern plesiosaur would certainly be a stupendous scientific find in its own right, confirming that long-necked "sea serpents" were not just long-extinct creatures or the stuff of sailor's myths, but real "living fossils." Unfortunately, a more thorough examination of the evidence would convincingly refute the plesiosaur interpretation.
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« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2011, 03:49:44 pm »

As mentioned, some scientists believed from the start that the carcass in question was probably a shark, based on their knowledge of basking shark decay, and similar "sea serpent" carcass incidents of the past. The basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus, is the second largest fish in the sea (surpassed only by the whale shark). It can grow to more than 30 feet in length, and specimens over 40 feet have been reported (Soule 1981; Freedman 1985; Dingerkus 1985). However, this gentle giant is harmless to humans. It feeds by filtering plankton (mostly tiny crustaceans) through its large gill rakers as it swims lazily just under the water's surface with huge mouth agape. When the basking shark decays, the jaws and loosely attached gill arches often fall away first, leaving the appearance of a long neck and small head (see Figure 4). All or part of the tail (especially the lower half which lacks vertebral support) and/or the dorsal fin may also slough away before the better supported pectoral and pelvic fins, creating a form that superficially resembles a plesiosaur (Huevelmans 1968; Burton & Burton 1969; Cohen 1982; Bright 1989 Ellis 1989). Some have called such remains "pseudoplesiosaurs" (Cohen 1982), although one might also dub them "plesiosharks"


http://www.gma.org/fogm/Cetorhinus_maximus.htm
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« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2011, 03:50:09 pm »



Figure 4. Basking shark and "pseudoplesiosaur" proportions
A. Basking shark in closed-mouth profile.
B. Basking shark while feeding.
C. Decomposed basking shark presenting a plesiosaur-like shape. Scale bar shows that a 10 meter basking shark carcass with tail lost would have essentially the same body proportions as those indicated in the Zuiyo-Maru carcass (Figure 2). The carcass head and neck combined were measured at 1.95 m long and the tail 2.0 m, making the unmeasured torso (mid section) 6.05 m by calculation.
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« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2011, 03:50:33 pm »

As recounted by renowned cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans (1968), over a dozen supposed "sea serpent" carcasses of years past were later shown to be definite or probable shark carcasses--in most cases basking sharks. These include (but are not limited to), the famous "Stronsa Beast" of Orkney Islands, Scotland (1808), the Raritan Bay carcass of New Jersey (1822), the Henry Island, British Columbia carcass (1934) and the Querqueville monster, France, also in 1934. These were followed by the Hendaye carcass in France (1951), the New South Wales carcass, (1959), and two more cases in 1961 (Vendee, France, and Northumberland, England). In 1970 another supposed "monster" washed up at Scituate, Massachusetts. This 30 foot beast was said to look remarkably like a plesiosaur; however, it also turned out to be a decayed basking shark (Cohen 1982; Bright 1989). In 1996 yet another supposed sea serpent was stranded on Block Island, RI. It too has been evaluated as a probable basking shark, and was nicknamed the "Block Ness Monster" (Roesch 1996).

Interestingly, basking sharks seem to have a propensity to mimic sea serpents while alive as well as dead. Often they feed in groups at or near the surface (hence their name), sometimes lining up two or more in a row. When they do this, the dorsal and tail fins protruding from the water can be, and sometimes have been, mistaken for multiple "humps" and head of a long-bodied sea-monster (Sweeney 1972; Bright 1989; Ellis 1989; Perrine 1995).

http://paleo.cc/paluxy/plesios.htm
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« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2011, 03:50:50 pm »

By the time the Oceans article was going to press, scientists in Japan had already formed a research team to study the Zuiyo-maru case more closely. Copies of the carcass photographs had reached scientists at the Tokyo University of Fisheries, including its president Dr. Tadayoshi Sasaki, who proposed a meeting of scientists to study the available data. Initial meetings were on September 1 and September 19, 1977, attended by over a dozen scientists, including specialists in biochemistry, ichthyology, paleontology, comparative anatomy, and other fields. The workers agreed to avoid publicizing their individual conclusions until the study was completed (Sasaki 1978).

In July of 1978, a collection of nine papers presenting the team's findings were published in a report by the Societe Franco-Japonaise d'Oceanographie. Despite some disagreements over specific items of evidence, and the view of some workers that the identification was still uncertain, the majority opinion was that the carcass was a badly decomposed shark, and most likely a basking shark (Sasaki 1978). This conclusion was strongly supported by several lines of evidence, including studies on the microscopic appearance, chemical composition and physical properties of the tissue samples, as well as a number of anatomical considerations, elucidated below.
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« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2011, 03:51:07 pm »

Tissue Sample Evidence

-- The **** fibers sampled from the carcass were rigid, needle-like structures that tapered toward both ends and had a translucent light-brown color (Kimura, Fujii, and others 1978). Such features are characteristic of ceratotrichia, the cartilaginous fibers of shark fin rays. Abe (1978) found that the carcass fibers and known ceratotrichia from a basking shark "resembled each other remarkably."

-- Gross amino acid analysis of the carcass samples gave results that closely matched elastoidin from a known basking shark. Elastoidin is a collagenous protein known only from sharks and rays (not reptiles or even other fish). The match was especially impressive when known basking shark elastoidin was treated with an antiseptic sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) solution, as were the Zuiyo-maru samples (Obata and Tomoda 1978, p 52; Omura, Mochizuki, and Kamiya 1978, p 58). The correspondence was virtually identical on all 20 amino acids tested (Table 1). In discussing this "striking similarity," Kimura, Fujii, and others (1978, p 72) noted that a statistical test called the "difference index (DI)" gave the extremely low value of .95 indicating a tight match. They also noted that the high tryosine content (43 and 41 residues for the samples) is especially characteristic of shark elastoidin as compared with other collagens, which typically have 5 or less residues. ceratotrichia.
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« Reply #25 on: October 15, 2011, 03:51:23 pm »

Amino Acid    1977 Zuiyo-maru
Carcass Sample    Known basking
Shark Elastoidin
4-Hydroxyproline    45    45
Aspartic/acid    54    55
Threonine    25    25
Serine    39    40
Glutamic acid    80    80
Proline    130    125
Glycine    291    290
Alanine    109    110
Cystine (1/2)    7    6
Valine    25    24
Methionine    10    10
Isoleucine    20    20
Leucine    19    19
Tyrosine    43    41
Phenylalanine    12    12
Hydroxylysine    5    6
Lysine    25    26
Histidine    11    13
Arginine    51    53
(Amide-N)    (57)    (62)

Table 1. Results of Gross Amino Acid Analysis on the **** Fiber from the 1977 Zuiyo-maru Carcass and Known Elastoidin of a basking Shark (residues/1000 residues). Composition was determined by JLC-3BC liquid chromatography (JEOL Co. Ltd.). Both samples had been treated with NaClO. (Kimura, Fujii, and others 1978).
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« Reply #26 on: October 15, 2011, 03:51:50 pm »

-- The **** fibers from the fin showed a distinctive shrinking to about 1/3 the original size when heated in water to 63 degrees C, and gradually reelongated upon cooling. This unique hydrothermal behavior is characteristic of elastoidin (Kimura, Fujii, and others 1978, p 68).

-- Electron micrographs of the tissue showed numerous parallel protofibrils, along with a particular banding pattern that is characteristic of shark elastoidin. Micrographs also revealed a major periodic striation pattern of 450-500 angstroms, which is shorter than typical collagens, but which was previously observed in basking shark elastoidin (Kimura, Fujii, and others 1978).

-- Earlier gas chromatography analysis on the **** fibers gave results consistent with shark tissue (Sasaki 1978)

Kimura, Fujii, and others (1978) concluded that the composite tissue sample studies indicated that the **** fiber was essentially identical to known basking shark elastoidin in both its morphology and amino acid composition. They remarked, "If the **** fiber was pulled out from an animal belonging to other classes except Chondrichthyes [sharks and relatives], it should be significantly different...These results strongly suggest that this unidentified creature is a basking shark or closely related species (Kimura, Fujii, and others 1978, p 73).

http://paleo.cc/paluxy/plesios.htm
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« Reply #27 on: October 15, 2011, 03:52:04 pm »

Anatomy

-- The carcass sketch showed six neck vertebrae, viewed as "seven or so" by Obata and Tomoda (1978), which is reasonably consistent with Yano's measurements of neck length (150 cm) and individual vertebra diameter (20 cm). It is also consistent with sharks. However, 6 to 7 cervical vertebrae is not consistent with plesiosaurs and other marine reptiles. Even the pliosaurs, also known as "short-necked" plesiosaurs, have at least 13 neck vertebrae; the "long necked" plesiosaurs have far more. (Obata and Tomoda, 1978, p 46).

-- The head of the creature was reported to be turtle-like (Obata and Tomoda, 1978, p 48). This is consistent with the known cranial remains of a basking shark, which have been specifically described as resembling a turtle head (Omura, Mochizuki, and Kamiya 1978, p 59). In contrast, plesiosaurs had more triangular shaped heads that were not particularly turtle-like (Hasegawa and Uyeno 1978, p 64).

-- Photographs and witnesses confirm the presence of fin rays, which are possessed by most fish, including sharks. In contrast, plesiosaurs had bony phalanges as flipper supports, which were not seen in the carcass (Obata and Tomoda 1978, p 51). The limb bones shown in Yano's drawing were evidently based on presumption or pro-plesiosaur bias rather than observation (Omura and others 1978, p 56; Obata and Tomoda 1978, p 49).

-- One of the photos (Figure 1c) shows an apparent dorsal fin, as illustrated in Figures 5). Dorsal fins are possessed by most fish including sharks, but are thought to have been lacking in plesiosaurs.

-- The V-shaped along the vertebral column (Figure 1c and 5), and near the pectoral girdle (Figure 1a) were identified as myocommata by Omura, Mochizuki, and Kamiya 1978, p 56-57). Myocommata are composed of strong connective tissues between myomeres, and are found in sharks but not reptiles.

-- The ribs were measured as 40 cm (about 16 inches) long, which is far too short for plesiosaurs or other marine vertebrates except sharks (Hasegawa and Uyeno, p 65). Ironically, some have asked whether the ribs might be too long for a shark, which typically have very small ribs. But this was an exceptionally large specimen, and was probably even larger before decomposition. Also, it is not certain that Yano accurately identified or measured the ribs, which do not appear in the photos. Perhaps he mistakenly measured remnant gill arches, myocommata, or muscle furrows, under the assumption that they corresponded to ribs.
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« Reply #28 on: October 15, 2011, 03:52:29 pm »



Figure 5. Interpretive drawing of the photograph in Figure 1c. A. Myocommata. B. Right fore limb. C. Cranuim D. Dorsal fin. Compare to Figure 1c.
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« Reply #29 on: October 15, 2011, 03:52:47 pm »

-- As seen in the photos, the anterior fins appears to be articulated at a right angle to the shoulder, consistent with sharks but not plesiosaurs (Obata and Tomoda 1978, p 46); Hasegawa and Uyeno 1978, p 65). The pectoral girdle is visible between the front fins in Figures 1a and 1b, and appears broken but is shark-like in shape (Compagno 1997; Phelps 1997; Roesch 1997).

-- If the carcass were a plesiosaur, the body would be unlikely to bend in the posture shown in some of the photographs, since the breast bone would be large and flat. Likewise, the ventral bones of plesiosaurs, which should have remained if the anterior fins were preserved, are not seen in the carcass (Hasegawa and Uyeno 1978, p 64).

-- In plesiosaurs, bones of all limbs were situated at the ventral (lower) portion of the body; therefore, if the creature were a decayed plesiosaur, it is likely the limbs would have already been detached from the body (Hasegawa and Uyeno 1978, p 63).
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