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PLESIOSAURUS SNAGGED IN JAPANESE FISHING NETS!

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Author Topic: PLESIOSAURUS SNAGGED IN JAPANESE FISHING NETS!  (Read 2103 times)
In the Mouth of Madness
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« Reply #30 on: October 15, 2011, 03:56:20 pm »

Recommendations to Future Monster Finders

Before closing, a word of friendly advice is offered to anyone who might come upon an unidentified sea creature in the future. Although it is fortunate that Yano thought to take tissue samples, had he or others on board saved the animal's head or even a vertebra (which could have been sealed in a bucket or other container to avoid fish contamination), much time, effort, and speculation could have been avoided. In most cases even a single skeletal element would allow scientists to readily identify an unknown creature. It also would have been wise to take more photos, including close-ups of the head and other body parts, rather than just a few distant shots. That these things were not done suggests that the crew did not even suspect the creature could be a plesiosaur until others later suggested this. After all, even among a group of fishermen someone should have realized that a prehistoric "sea-monster" would be worth incalculably more both financially and scientifically than a load of mackerel. As it turned out, there is little doubt that they actually caught a decomposed shark.

Nevertheless, it is possible that unknown creatures do still lurk in the ocean depths. As evidence, only five months before the Zuiyo-maru incident a naval research vessel near Hawaii accidentally snagged a bizarre, 4.5 meter (15 foot) long shark in its parachute-like sea-anchor. The curious fish had an unusually large head and wide, bowl-shaped jaws--features which soon earned it the nickname "megamouth." Its jaws were filled with hundreds of tiny teeth, and opened at the top rather than at the bottom as in most other sharks. Even stranger, the inside of the mouth seemed to glow with a silvery light. Apparently megamouth uses its reflective mouth tissue to attract tiny crustaceans while feeding in deep water, where little sunlight penetrates. Eventually the odd selachian was given the scientific name Megachasma pelagios, and was determined to represent a new species, genus, and family of shark (Welfare and Fairley 1980; Soule 1981). Coincidentally, the megamouth is now considered a close relative of the basking shark.
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