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Live plesiosaurs: weighing the evidence

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Author Topic: Live plesiosaurs: weighing the evidence  (Read 3419 times)
In the Mouth of Madness
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Posts: 1970

« Reply #30 on: October 15, 2011, 04:22:40 pm »


Purported living plesiosaur photographs and sightings often portray or describe animals that do not match the basic body shape present in all known plesiosaurs. For instance, plesiosaurs do not have two humps or diamond shaped paddles, as suggested by Scott and Rines (1975) in their paper 'naming the Loch Ness monster'. Recent studies of plesiosaur neck flexibility and posture have shown that long-necked plesiosaurs could not keep their necks out of the water as described in some sightings. Furthermore, the necks of plesiosaurs were held horizontally straight and rigid, they were not extremely flexible as erroneously described and portrayed in early palaeontological literature and 'historic art' (see below). If the existence of living plesioaurs is a purely cultural phenomemon then we may predict eyewitness accounts to 'adapt' to new scientific consensus. Proponents of living plesiosaurs sometimes suggest that evolution may explain the discrepancy, and while possible, given the unfounded premise this is clutching at straws.

In an attempt to explain the relative lack of sightings in Loch Ness, Bauer (1988, p.14) informs us "Nessies don't spend much time at the surface" and that "no one, including those who believe in them, should expect to see one". But like whales, dolphins and sea turtles, plesiosaurs have lungs. They are air-breathers so they must surface several times per day to breath. This simple anatomical fact weakens the case for a viable population of living plesiosaurs in any lake in close proximity to human settlements. In the 'dinsdale film' the "last sequence shows a definite paddling action" (Bauer 2002, p. 229). However, plesiosaurs are known not to have paddled. They used predominantly up and down strokes rather than back and forth strokes (e.g. Robinson, 1975 and others) (and see my plesiosaur locomotion page).
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