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Live plesiosaurs: weighing the evidence

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In the Mouth of Madness
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« on: October 15, 2011, 04:07:14 pm »

Documented history of sea carcasses

But are plesiosaurs alive today, or did they become extinct? Many cases of ‘sea creatures’ being washed up on seashores are documented around the world. In a lot of these instances the media hype, preconceived ideas and people’s fascination with monsters have coloured the rational interpretation of the carcasses.

One of the earliest reports regards the carcass of a sea animal with a long neck washed ashore at Stronsay Island in the Orkneys, Scotland. Eyewitnesses described the creature as having 6 legs and a mane covering the body. It became known as the ‘Stronsay beast.’ Fortunately, some pieces of the animal were kept, including the skull and a number of vertebrae. In 1933, upon study of the vertebrae, it was clear that they were from a shark. The vertebrae are held at the Royal Museum of Scotland. A sketch by the eyewitness, illustrating the cranium, vertebrae and pelvic skeleton, also confirm that it was the remains of a shark.18

Many additional documented cases of plesiosaur-like creatures have received a lot of media attention, and apparently basking sharks account for over 90% of all such reported sea serpents.19 Some of the cases which have been positively identified as a shark, and most probably a basking shark are:5

    *

      in 1934 at the beach of Querverille, on the Channel coast of France;
    *

      in 1937 at a beach near Princetown, Cape Cod, USA;20
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      in 1941 on the Scottish shores of Hunda and Deepdale Holm;
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      in 1970 ashore at Scituate, Massachusetts, USA, and;
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      in 1977 at Nemura Hokkaido, Japan (see below).21

Other cases where the description fits that of a basking shark:21,22

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      in 1948 on Dunk Island, Queensland, Australia;
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      in 1953 at Girvan on the Firth of Clyde, Scotland, and;
    *

      in 1960 on the beach at Temma, Tasmania, Australia.


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