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In the Mouth of Madness
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Posts: 1970

« Reply #30 on: October 15, 2011, 03:53:53 pm »

Alleged Inconsistencies

Despite all the evidence pointing to a shark, some purported inconsistencies with the shark identification were raised in the 1978 report and elsewhere, and should be reviewed as well.

-- The carcass reportedly smelled like a dead marine mammal, and lacked an ammonia smell characteristic of shark carcasses (Hasegawa and Uyeno 1978, p 65). However, it is not known whether all sharks give off the ammonia smell while decaying, or for how long. The same authors noted that the lack of ammonia smell could be due to the extent of skin loss and decomposition, so that the ammonia from the carcass was washed out by the sea (Hasegawa and Uyeno 1978, p 65). Also, even when alive, basking sharks are known to emit a unique, highly offensive odor of their own (Steel 1985; Ellis 1989) which could have overpowered any ammonia smell.

-- A white, sticky, fat-like substance covered much of the carcass (Obata and Tomoda 1978, p 49). Although Niermann (1994, p 103) and a few others (Hasegawa and Uyeno 1978) considered this the strongest argument against the shark theory, it is actually consistent with it. Basking sharks have large deposits of fat in the white muscle and liver. According to some authorities they increase fat reserves during the summer for winter use (Steel 1985; Sims 1997). The animal in question likely died in late March or early April, which is late summer in New Zealand. Moreover, one of the Japanese workers (Seta 1978) explained the phenomena of adipocere formation in decaying carcasses of sharks and other animals, whereby new fatty material can be generated during the decay process. Seta indicated that the whitish, putrid-smelling viscous substance on the carcass was consistent with adipocere formation. Also, some of the whitish, stringy material probably consisted of ligaments and connective tissue (Omura, Mochizuki, and Kamiya 1978, p 56). Such fibrous tissues on other basking shark carcasses evidently prompted some reports of "sea monster" corposes with white manes of hair (Heuvelmans 1968; Sweeney 1972).
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