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In the Mouth of Madness
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Posts: 1970

« Reply #15 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 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.
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