Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009


additional to prior versions.


It was determined that the basic framework given by George Eberhart (2002) in listing so-called water monsters was inadequate in that he only allowed one category for all such reports. This author had privately circulated "A Field Guide to Water Monsters" in the late 1970's and early 1980's (The SITU had several versions of this at one time) which came to basic categories parallel to Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe in The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep (2003) and that basic framework is used here for simplicity's sake. Most of these categories are as Coleman and Huyghe had made them; a few have been renamed to give them broader application and some have been split up for clarity.

* indicates an additional category.

These categories are;

1. Unknown sharks (includes Coleman's "Giant shark" category; Heuvelmans' "Eel-shaped sharks" would also go here, together with a great many more conventionally-formed sharks of all sizes)

2. Unidentified skates and rays (Coleman's "Mystery manta" category given broader application)

*3. Huso giant sturgon. (some of the "Giant sharks" are such sturgon; most commentators are not aware that Huso is a separate genus and Coleman does not notice that sturgeons have a sharklike tailfin)

*4. Giant eels (this being the corrected version of Heuvelmans' "Super-eel" category; most are not so large)

*5. Other Unidentified fishes

6. Mystery salamander

*7. Mystery crocodylians (unnecesarily lumped in with Coleman's "Mystery saurians" category)

8. Marine saurians (restoring Heuvelmans' name for the category but restricting it to the non-crocodylian version, herein assumed to be mosasaurians; Coleman's "Mystery saurian" is also vague enough to include the next category)

9. Mystery Monitor

10. Possible Plesiosaurian Survivals ( Coleman's "Waterhorse"allowing the category to stand with renaming and amendments. This author has argued since the 1970's along the lines that were published by Shuker in In Search of Prehistoric Survivors, that this was a plesiosaurian. Coleman's chosen fossil prototype, Acrophoca, is a sort of Leopard seal, not large, not long-necked and not a good choice to represent the type)

11. Cryptid Chelonians

*12. Great Snakes

*13. Mystery Pinnepeds

14. Mystery sirenians

15. Mystery Cetaceans

16. Giant beaver, adding also 16b, Giant Otters (Coleman lumps them together)

*17. Amphibious Pachyderms ( replaces Coleman's category of "Dinosauria" in part)

Three categories are controversial and purists might well ignore them. These are:

?18. Giant Octopus

?19. Giant jellyfish, Ctenophores and Salp-chains

?*20. Other unknown invertebrates (including putative eurypterids and purported
collosal polychaete annelid worms)

Four categories are extinguished as valid categories. These are:

VOID1. "Classic sea serpent"

VOID2: "Waterhorses"

VOID3. "Dinosauria"

VOID4. "Great Sea Centepede"

VOID1. The "Classic sea serpent " is a special case; such sightings occur worldwide and statistically are astonishingly uniform; most "Lake Monster " reports are in this category. The reports do not show any particular geographic assortment or differentiation by hump size, as Heuvelmans maintains in his categories of "Many-humped" and "Super-otter"; they also occur in the tropics, where they are universally also referred to as aquatic serpents of unusual size.
Some authors, such as Mackal, see evidence of zueglodons in these reports. Zueglodon spines are not made to undulate that way; the tail vertebrae look like long sections of pipe and the whole tail section is meant to move all in one piece. This is a mechanical stage in evolving a whalelike pattern of swimming.

The movement cannot be attrubuted to any known animal's spine and in fact only exists as a wave motion along the surface of the water. The reports in this category are obviously and beyond any shade of doubt wave patterns such as delayed wakes made by passing boats. One of Heuvelmans' "??" reports was by a Professor Heddle, who saw a "Many -humped" effect and correctly identified it as a wave, and he is the only expert witness to have contributed such an observation in previously-published sea-serpent literature. I have seen the effect myself on the shore of New Jersey when I was affiliated with the SITU and for a brief while had hoped that it was an actual sighting. Heuvelmans notes in reports of each category separately that the appearence of the humps are due to "waves in the wake" and this is even an important feature of the "Super-otter" category. The difference in long-humps-with-long-intervals and short-humps-with-short intervals is a function only of wavelength; several locations, such as Loch Ness, log reports of both types. Heuvelmans admits that the train-of humps effect can be generated in boat wakes separately when discussing both the "Many-humped" and "Super-Otter" category. In at least one notable sighting, the humps were "Super-Otter" and "Many-Humped on different occasions, and could at other times be determined to be only waves in the water.

The importance of this cannot be underestimated. Of ALL "Lake monster" reports, as many as over 90% are not describing real animals, they are describing waves in the water, even if an unknown animal is making the waves. It is also significant that in Heuvelmans' study In the Wake of Sea Serpents, 75% of the reports are nondeterminative even without deleting any categories; deleting the wave-effect reports drives the total bite out of reports much higher. The other categories for reports which might actually be worth pursuing are indicated in theabove listings.

VOID2. Further research indicates that the legend of the "Water horse" is based entirely upon traditions associated with moose or elk and it is this author's contention that the name and category need to be retired as possible cryptids. Sightings include ones with actual moose antlers and even cloven hooves being specified.

VOID3. From discussions with co-workers and especially Richard Freeman, I feel that most of the actual hard evidence of "Dinosauria" refers to quadrupedial mammals of large size, especially noting amphibious rhinoceroses in Africa. Some of the evidence, such as Pfleng's report up the Amazon, actually refers to strayed elephant seals; Mackal points out that these sometimes leave the tracks that Ivan Sanderson attributed to "Old Three-Toes" (and Sanderson definitely includes KNOWN Elephant-seal rookeries as locationsfor such tracks, eg., the Kerguelen islands.)
VOID4. "Great Sea Centepede" (Heuvelman's "Cetioscolopendra" or "Many-finned" category) ALL the reports in this category COULD well be mistaken views of finbacked animals in compact arrangements. There is an additional problem that there is a variance in proportional widths per approximately similar lengths that can be as small as three feet or as broad as 15 feet, a difference of the greatest being five times the least estimated measurement. This is a difference of width to length ranging from 1/20 to 1/4, obviously the difference between how closely the individual finbacked animals are clustered together to create the "Row of fins" effect. With this sort of inconsistency of reports, it is excusable to wonder at the accuracy of other statements , such as "fins turned back to front". At least one of the possible sea-serpent reports in Heuvelmans' collection is admittedly even more likely a small school of cetacians (the Narcissus report)

Using this system as a simplified presentation, I add several forms not noted on previous versions of cryptozological checklists, together with some pertinent observations.

Unknown Sharks: Marine division:

Heuvelmans notes in Wake that sawfish of whalesized proportions were reported in the Red Sea in Roman times at least, and there are folkloric references and rock artdepictions of these as far apart as South Africa and New Guinea which refer to the same thing, basically a sawfish the size of a sperm whale. I am unaware of any actual sightings, however.

South American precolumbian artwork may indicate a large form of unidentified angel shark from the Pacific off of Columbia and Peru. Both of these are my assessments of native artwork.

Heuvelmans' eelshaped sharks have as the type specimen the creature observed while being cut up by the captain of the Beaver.

Heuvelmans' "Yellow-Belly" category in part may indicate a form of large whalesharklike fish but with a thresher-sharklike tail. Mackal's comments on this category are contradicted by his own information that salp chains do NOT show the characteristic coloration. Additional reports not in Wake indicates that this may have a light-and-dark brown form and a green-and-brown form; some of Coleman's Giant shark reports might actually be in this category, including albino versions ( not to deny the existence of giant great white sharks; great white sharks are not WHITE)

The Stronsa beast according to Heuvelmans has characteristics unlike typical Basking sharks, and may indicate a different type of elongated basking sharks rather than the known species.

"Captain Hanna's Fish" instead of being a frilled shark might be a kind of aberrant 6-gilled shark. Other 6- and 7- gilled sharks unknown to science , some apparently outsized, have been reported and occasionally even filmed underwater. (Heuvelmans information on these listings)

By the way, Coleman in the abovementioned Field Guide indicates a sighting of a "Giant shark's tail "off New England that is in the size range of a known type of thresher shark

Freshwater division:

A Tigris river shark is apparently unclassified and there seems to be a similar shark in the Indus. Other such reports surface periodically, such as in South America. These would all be bull sharks, and this is a quibble in taxonomy as to their status more than anything else. Heuvelmans' checklist indicated one of these in Melanesia.

Freshwater sawfish have been alleged. There is even a report of one from the British isles. They do not appear to be unidentified species.

Unidentified skates and rays: Marine division:

Gunter Sehm in CRYPTOZOLOGY indicates that the type specimen of manta rays is an unidentified species, and further notes that there are a number of other unidentified species, some indicated as being of immense size (50 feet across or more) These last of course could only be bad exaggerations.

The Alpha sea serpent is indicated by Heuvelmans (Wake) as being a ray, but its characteristics are unlike mantas, and it may represent a new kind of outsized eagle ray.

Freshwater division:

Ivan Sanderson's outsized stingray from the Cross river is apparantly still unclassified. Sanderson's files indicate a large number of unidentified freshwater rays, especially from the tropics, but they are poorly differentiated.

The Tigris and Euphrates river systems apparently had a form of freshwater ray with the appearance of horns over its eyes, known in Sumerian as Kushkarikku, or goat-skate, the original form of Capricorn (the goatfish) It is not known if these still exist.

There are unknown rays in Malaysia, the Phillipines, the Fly River in New Guinea and other places according to information in Eberhart. These are commonly in the size range of 4 to 6 feet across and 8 to 12 feet in length

There is an unknown ray in the Rio Negro in South America. This is possible relatable to the cuero or "hide", being a flat creature with eyespots (Ocelli) around the margin; one of its names actually IS "Manta".

The Water Leaper of Wales is evidently a similar creature, with a toad face and batlike wings but NO LEGS: it apparently jumps out of water like a mini-manta.

The Kongamato of Africa would be a similar "Batwinged" water monster; NB that it jumps out of water and is supposed to upset canoes. There are apparantly separate analogues of this in Central and West Africa, and the confusion of these with some sort of flying reptile may be general; Charles Gould in Mythical Monsters notes the production of "Jenny hanivers" from West Africa since early times.

Unidentified Huso Sturgeon

This type is general across the Holarctic, especially in Siberia and Canada, but also apparantly extends down into the Northern USA., including "Great White Sharks" reported in the Great Lakes during the "Jaws" craze (personal info). This includes several types sometimes mistakenly lumped in with the Longnecks (Coleman's Waterhorses) such as the "Whales" of lakes Labynkir and Vorota(so indicated in Eberhart but categorically contradicted in Costello) They have the type of body scutes associated with Huso, being spaced apart instead of continuous along the sides; occasionally, their size is estimated as much as doubled (to 60 feet long) Eberhart has several examples, mishmashed in there along with everything else: the Lake Ilamna creatures are rather typical. These sturgon incidentally are both saltwater and freshwater.
The attribution of certain unknown fishes in China as being taimen (Hucho) appears to be at base only a typo for Huso.

Giant Eels; Marine division:

Heuvelmans' "Super-eel " was a dustbin category but did contain good reports of evidently local, well-defined forms of outsized eels. The specific categories included a giant conger about 20 feet long seen off of Singapore (Heuvelmans indicates Charles Gould as a source and multiple local sightings), a type of "camoflage" eel in the Mediterranean and a much larger form with fins at the side of the head like a titanic conger with a characteristic dark top and light bottom (unlike the smaller forms). In the 1970's, I statistically separated the category and called the larger well-defined form Titanoconger and the smaller conger-like form Megaconger; the two apparantly are also different in habitat and coloration. I leave Heuvelmans' "Camoflage" eel the way it was without further comment. The more clearly-defined animals were the ones with eellike fins behind the head, but there was also evidence of a different Giant eel with a blunter head and an unusual backfin, however, this was not clear and I no nonger maintain that category.

James Sweeney also indicates a well-defined form of Giant green moray, 20 to 30 feet long and centered around Fiji.

Similarly the reported sea monster that allegedly attacked Brian McCleary and companions rafting off of Florida in 1962 may have been a similar type of Giant green moray eel.

The rest of the reports are difficult to categorize. However, once the sorting had progressed to this state, it became evident by statistical comparison that the "?LN?SE" category had the proportions of the Longneck's neck and not the proportions of the forepart of a Super-eel's body. The eellike forms are much thicker cylinders per length. A good number of Heuvelmans' longer-bodied reports in this category turned out to be wave patterns.

The Pauline case merits special attention. In checking this report, it became evident that ALL the mesurements were severely off. Three male sperm whales were seen together, and each one was not only large, each one was unusually large. This statement alone is highly suspicious, given what is known of sperm whales. In order to be constricting the whale with two coils of its bodyand have 30-foot sections in front of this and after,the eel does indeed have to be 140-160 feet long; other commentators have not done the math on this. The original writer also evidently said "girth" (circumference) for diameter, unless the diameter was actually intended to have been less than a yard.

The dismissal of the Dana leptocephalus as a notacanth fish was premature: the fins definitely did not correspond to that classification. In any event , the determination was made on paperwork when the actual specimen had gone missing . This opinion does not deserve the air of authority it is often given in the literature.

Freshwater division:

When he was advancing the theory that the Loch Ness monster was a giant eel, Maurice Burton noted several reports of river monsters that were like giant eels in Britain and on the continent, seemingly France and Germany.. Sometimes, these were reported with doglike heads and serpentine bodies. no individual reports and no further details were given. These might be the same as similar reports from Scotland, Ireland and possibly Scandinavia, but these are mostly in the small "Monster" size range, 10 to 20 feet long. These would include animals called horse-eels, Bethir and Lindorms. Occasionally, the conger-like small fins behind the head are noted and definitely described as rayed fins, hence they must needs belong to the Osteichthys.

Similar "eel" reports in a similar size range are mentioned as coming from Eastern Canada., including a report by a diver in Lake Memphremagog. Very Likely reports in far Eastern Siberia are also of the same sort.

James Sweeny was told by a member of Loch Ness investigation of a purported giant eel skeleton 40 feet long found in a lake in Uruguay, but it is safer to call this an outsized Anaconda, even though the reported length is unusual. There is no indication that any of the local witnesses knew enough to accurately identify the skeleton of a giant eel.

There is as so far no direct connection between saltwater and freshwater reported forms of giant eels. The freshwater reports are however consistent with the "Megaconger" category, averaging 20-30 feet long with a more or less even overall medium graybrown coloration..

Unidentified fishes: Marine Division:

Shucker indicates a kind of fish caught by Maurice Tati off Auckland, New Zealand with winglike fins and "legs"that are kinds of spines in From Flying Toads to Snakes with Wings which is obviously a kind of sea-robin: I wonder why Shucker did not see this.

James Sweeney indicates some excessively-outsized groupers in the Gulf of Mexico and around Australia in A Pictoral History of Sea Monsters and Other Dangerous Marine Life, which may indicate new species.

Oarfishes in the 40- to 60-foot long range are continuing to be cited, despite Heuvelmans: Shucker also cites these figures.

Freshwater division:

Giant pikes in Eurasia are supported by old records of 15-20 feet long catches , including in the Guiness Book of World Records; some "Lindorms" and other water monsters are also apparently large pikes.

Giant pikes are also indicated in water monster reports in the USA, especially in the Great Lakes region, but giant garfishes are also possible; such reports from the western US could be accidental introductions. information on both sets of possible pikes are in Eberhart.

Giant Catfishes are also so indicated, in both Europe and the USA; Coleman also has information on these, published in FATE magazine. reports of Giant catfishes in general may be nearly world-wide.

Giant Salmon are reported in the Kenai river in Alaska, being the size of dolphins; this information comes from Pastor Ron Stevens of the Southeasten Holiness Church in Indianapolis (personal info) Similar reports might be expected from Eastern Siberia. It is possible that these are nonmigratory and like the Oriental taimen.

Mystery Salamander (Andrias, often called Megalobatrachus)

Giant salamanders of this type are separable from general water monster reports and are basically holarctic in distrabution. Reports extend from the British Isles, Northern Germany and Central Europe all across Eurasia in spotty distrabution to Siberia, where Richard Freeman tells me such creatures are called Paymurs: they are also found in Canada and parts of Alaska, and then on the the midlands of the USA and even to the Central Atlantic states. These are sometimes called "giant water lizards", sometimes "alligators", and sometimes are described as having horns or catfish barbels. The eastern USA seems to have a pink form, of which an example seems to have inhabited a pond on Ivan Sanderson's property at one point. These creatures have distinct "annulations" or costal grooves giving rise to such names as "wurms" or "wurrums"; they also can inhabit much smaller bodies of water and can be even more evanescent than other alleged water monsters. These salamanders and the Huso sturgeons have skeletons that are largely cartiliginous and thus bodies are said to "melt entirely away" without leaving traces. These are almost universally stated to be no larger than 6 to 9 feet long, but some reports make them out to be much larger. They are also reported as the smallest category of Chinese dragons (as carp-headed snakes growing from tadpoles and similar to the Paymurs)

Mystery crocodilians: Marine division:

There are a large number of reported crocodilians which are stated to be out-of-place. The stuation is very confusing since most non-experts have very little grasp of differentiating crocodilians. However, in this instance, the situation concerns large crocodilians seen far out to sea, and these reports also repeatedly include unusual anatomical features as well. The quick guide to crocodilians I used was David Alderton, Crocodiles and Alligators of the World with some additional material; even with this source, it quickly becomes apparent that some situations reported are at variance with the accepted model in many instances, and it is entirely possible that there are as many unknown types of crocodilians as there are currently-recognized species.

In the case of sea-crocodiles, there are suspicious reports off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the Americas, off East Africa and in the Indian Ocean, and far out to the Central Pacific where such reports "should not be". Furthermore, some of these reports are of animals 50-60 feet long and frequently allege shortened, flattened faces with horns in back of the head. These features are also mentioned in Eberhart, and include categories such as Silwaane manza, Taniwha (also called Moko in the central Pacific and even Hawaii) and possibly even reports of Tarasques and such from the Mediterranean (where they can include at least 30 foot long skeletons with the alligatorine type of head, called "duckbilled" and mentioned by John Keel). Similar reports are inland in China, Southeast Asia and Madagascar. The range in habitats is large and perhaps the different geographic areas should be broken down into smaller units; it is unclear how many differnt forms may be included. The "horned-alligator" also occur in the USA (disregarding the Alkalai Lake monster but allowing populations traditionally stated in the Texas area) as mentioned by Mark Hall in PURSUIT ( "Horrors from the Mesozoic") and also in Mexican cenotes, where, however, this may refer to the Cuban crocodile. It is probable that there is a species of sea-crocodile that is cosmopolitan in warmer waters, analogous to Crocodylus porosis but even larger at maximum (60 feet is no doubt an exaggeration, but it is consistently alleged), and more fully adapted to life at sea. Reports also specify that it goes inland to breed and can dig burrows, but the big ones prefer to keep to deeper waters. Richard Freeman tells me that porosis and its crossbreed forms can indeed look horned because of the formation of their ears, but we must not rule out the possibility of convergence in unrelated forms. A photograph taken off of East Africa is purported to show the animal in the water with the "ears" sticking up.

Freshwater division:

Possible occurances of Alligator are suggested from Korea and Japan, as extensions of the Chines form's range. Charles Gould mentions that the Korean form is called A-Ke, but Alderton doubts the reports. The Japanese form was called Wani, a term surviving in the language and represented in dictionaries by terms meaning "bowlegged", "snaggletoothed" and the like. The same term evidently also denotes the Saltwater crocodile. The usual Japanese name for dragon is Tatsu.

A probably much larger form of Alligator in China is evident from historical records such as references by Charles Gould, Mythical Monsters. Freeman classifies these also as C. porosus.

An Amazonian Crocodylus is apparently an unknown animal but widely accepted in certain circles. It is clearly differentiated from even the black caiman by reason of being larger and of a more aggressive temperament, besides the typically crocodile head form. Harold Wilkins evidently alludes to such "unknown prehistoric saurian" reports in Secret cities of Old South America. there also might be different Amazonian crocodiles at the mouth of the Amazon as opposed to further upriver.

A gavial-like crocodilian is possibly represented in Central American native artwork, and possibly is a residual of Charactosuchus

There are several unusual caimans which may be out of place or may be new species; information is scanty. Alderton mentions reports but does not believe them. This may include unrecognized extensions of the black caiman's range.

Several local species of crocodilians are probably uncatalogued in the Melanesian area; Heuvelmans mentions possible forms in the Celebes and in New Britain, but there are dozens of these possible. It would take an expert to determine this for certain, including in the case of the New Britain Migo. The South New Guinea crocodile also might be entirely separate from the North New Guinea crocodile. These various forms are presumably local "freshies" as opposed to the "salty" Indopacific Crocodylus porosus.

Marine Saurian;

Heuvelmans created the category but did not make several important internal distinctions. There is the standard version which he describes as 40 to 60 feet long and which seems likely to be a mosasaur, but there are also reports of a larger form with a head characteristically 10 feet long or longer, and with a total length of 75 to 100 feet reported. This would be a different species, and also has different physiology and behavior, being a deeper-diver, more cold-tolerant and apparently at least sometimes a specialist predator on small whales. Russian whalers have evidently seen it chasing pods of smaller whales in Antarctic waters. I would include the one killed by the crew of the Monongahela in this category: I have subsequently found that this is also Shucker's opinion. Incidentally, the original version of the Monongahela report, verifiably in the captain's correct name and in his handwriting, is preserved in a New England shipping museum and differs from the version that Heuvelmans had access to. Incidentally, this form, some of the giant sharks and even the salamanders in Freshwater are all seen to create the "many-humped" wake; so do Killer whale backfins.

Shucker mentions a smaller animal popularly named "Gambo" which corresponds to some Marine Saurian descriptions, in particular some problematic reports off East Africa ( the Java and Ambon reports) In this case, this might be a highly-modified crocodile with flippers for limbs and no dermal armor, or it might be a more usual kind of marine saurian, either in young or possibly dwarfed form.

Mystery Monitor: Freshwater division:

Buru-like creatures are reported throughout the area of Southern Asia, including as the Meikong River monster, but also in southern China in historical times and possibly as far afield as Taiwan and the Phillipines (these last may be a separate sort) These are true monitors since they have definite long necks and forked tongues; however, reports may be distorted in saying that they have no legs or are much bigger than they are (vide, the bu-rin, reported as 50 feet long; in actuality, this is the same thing as the buru in a separate location.) Fossil candidates for Komodo dragon-sized monitors exist in India and reports go back to Roman days.

Charles Gould mentions a historical account of a Chinese dragon (herein called an "Iguanodon") in an appendix to Mythical Monsters under the name Kiao-lung; this was 12 feet long,resembles a snake but has four feet and a fat belly, has a small head and a slender neck, covered with scaly tubercules. It laid reptillian eggs and lived in rivers and the thickets by the rivers. Its tail consisted of fleshy rings, all of which exactly matches the best descriptions of the buru. (It was also edible and considered quite tasty, from Gould's Chinese sourcebook). This does make it look as if all dragons really are just monitors underneath it all; the same forms are called "afa" in Mesopotamia and "Tennin" in the bible, thence also the "Giant Ethiopian Lizard "in Eberhart, likely to be St. George's dragon. "Dragon", "Varanus" and "Monitor" all mean exactly the same thing, by the way, all being translatable as "Watcher"

Coleman also mentions that uncatalogued monitor lizards are entering the pet trade from unknown locations. there is no way of knowing how many forms this may represent.

Larger forms of the Komodo dragons are also reported from central Indonesia in the 20-foot long range, including on Komodo island itself, but these are usually thought to be exaggerations. these are however similar to reports in New Guinea of monitors in the same size range. It is possible that this represents the same sea-monitor reported in the Western Pacific as the Naga Rajah>Ngarana, reported from Melanesia as far as Fiji with a similar name and it seems to be applied to something much the same shape as the crocodile monitor or salvadori monitor. It seems to be up to twice the length of the known crocodile monitor, however. The New Zealand form may be the same species since it seems to go on long sea voyages.

Other monitors are discussed under the heading for terrestrial animals.

Possible Plesiosaurian Survivals (Heuvelmans' Longneck + Merhorse):

Possible new category: there might be reason to section off "Marine Dimetrodons" from other sea-serpent reports, and use theValhalla sighting as the exemplar. This was not an eel, as Heuvelmans presumed: Rupert Gould's data on the report mentions that it had a large turtle-like body with four flippers.

The various reasons WHY these sea-serpents are more likely plesiosaurs than pinnepeds is an extended argument that is better fit for a more extensive separate treatment. However, it is simplest to say here that Longnecks do not merely LOOK like they have a plesiosaur's neck, it ACTUALLY IS a plesiosaur's neck, and in fact its flexibilty must be much the same as Plesiosaurus; nothing else is comparable. From the reports, it also has a plesiosaurian tooth pattern and bite, a euryapsid skull and a plesiosaurian bones in its flippers. The head is ridiculously small for any mammal and especially so for a "brainy" mammal like a pinneped; the head is less that a tenth the size a pinneped's would be from the reports. It has a "reptillian" proportion of brain-to-body; beside this mere quibbling over such things as contradictory descriptions of the tail pale into insignificance.

The mane is also not hair, it is coarse and fleshy by consensus of witnesse's opinions, and is described as "scaly" as often as being "hairy". The actually classic description is that it is like seaweed, and this does not sound like hair. By the way, it is evidently torn out in patches irregularly by rivals, regularly shed, and regrown. Males evidently attack each other's head and neck region and these areas are frequently reported as scarred.

Incidentally, stratigraphy of several late plesiosaurian fossils is disputed: one specimen in the University of Alabama is labelled as coming from the same beds as zueglodons come from, but this is currently said to have been in error when the label was made (on presumption only . Source; Fossil Animals of Alabama). There could be several examples of purported postCretaceous plesiosaurian fossils advanced from other locations also.

Cryptid chelonians: Marine division:

The large form with 15-foot-long flippers is due to mistaken reports of Humpbacked whales, which are the only marine animals with 15-foot-long flippers. This also goes for the Osborne sea serpent. Reports in this category are usually bad and always misleading.

There is evidently an Archelon-sized Leatherback turtle in the North Atlantic as noted by Ulrich Magin in PURSUIT ( "In Search of Columbus' Sea Serpent")

Freshwater Division:

3-foot-long "Plesiosaurs" were reported in the "Lost world" area of Venezuela, mentioned in PURSUIT and eventually in Ebrerhart; these were actually seen sunning themselves like turtles and no doubt actually WERE turtles, perhaps of the softshelled kind (but these rarely bask out of water) possibly with limbs turned to flippers as in the Fly River turtle.

Giant softshelled turtles are reported from Eastern India to Indonesia with shells up to over 8 feet long and hence as large as leatherbacks, and possibly are relatable to the Vietnamese giant turtle. The Indian reports are generally referred to the narrowheaded softshelled turtle, but these are reportedly even larger. I leaned of these through art research, since they are apparently depicted on local monuments.

Another, different giant softshell turtle is reported in Central Africa supposedly up to 18 feet long, no doubt highly exaggerated.

Great snakes, Marine division:

It was the opinion of Rupert Gould that SOME sea serpent reports were possibly due to Atlantic populations of standard sea-snakes. I mention this for completeness, but I do not see any compelling reason to accept the theory.

Freshwater division :

Sucuriju Gigante is not adequately described in Heuvelmans' checklist: it is said to be over 100 feet long and several tons in weight. However, as far as a possible cryptid category goes, I am willing to let his description stand. Minocao is NOT described as larger! The problem is, as noted in FATE magazine at one point, reports of this type are pan-tropical, and in fact the basic category is only the "Classic sea serpent" over again. This also counts for several putative African and South Asian Super-pythons; Heuvelmans does not mention Charles Gould's Nyans, worms capable of dragging down an elephant in East India, but this is obviously the SoeOrm of the Vikings under another name. The reports are most often merely wave action.

A different Anaconda is Percy Fawcett's dark-colored, heavyset "Snoring" one, two or three times the thickness of an ordinary anaconda at the same length. I have named this Eunectes robustus (and the Sucuriju Eunectes giganteus ) in a review for the SITU; the "Snoring" or "Growling" anaconda gave rise to some of the stories of the "Mysterious Beast" and the report of the anaconda that "barked like a dog" as recounted in PURSUIT.

There were possibly large amphibious snakes from New Zealand and New Caledonia, possibly only in folk-memory, but also originally forms of a water-boa like an anaconda; Costello mentions this and it is listed in J.C. Cooper, Symbolic and Mythical Animals

Mystery pinnepeds: Marine division

The New Zealand Maori have a legendary creature much like a walrus called the marakai-hau, and this is cited by Thor Heyerdahl and others who wish to make a connection between the American Northwest Coastal amerinds and the Maori. Walruses are NOT native to the region. This creature is described as a big ugly merman with two long tubes sticking out of its mouth.

The creature described by Conder's men in Tasmania in 1913 and called a Longneck by Heuvelmans in Wake is actually a "Thickneck" and not a Longneck at all; but it is very likely an unknown pinneped and Heuvelmans' name Megalotaria might well be used for it It might well be the same as the Hoy sea-serpent and seems to have been illustrated in Natural History books since 1751.It also seems to have been illustrated on old Scandinavian monuments as illustrated by Ted Holliday.

Atlantic sea lions are currently not recognized, but a number of sea monster reports seem to refer to them, and this includes Irish inland reports recorded by Dinsdale and Costello. BOTH "sea lions" and "sea elephants" were legendary animals in Europe before explores got to areas where they were "supposed" to be.

There also is apparently a population of North Atlantic elephant seals deducible from such sea monster reports, and Ivan Sanderson's "Three-Toes" are among the candidates. Incidentally, "Three-Toes" reports are recorded from the Caribbean in the '20's and '30's and from all along the Brazillian coast as well, and there are elephant seal type reports off of Florida from before the tracks were reported. Ivan Sanderson's files include several reports of elephant seal like Floridan water monsters, MOST of which left conventional "seal" tracks!

The Caribbean animal called a "Water Horse" is quite possibly the same as the suspected Elephant seal in the region.

Incidentally, elephants seal reports turn up regularly in Heuvelmans' book on sea-serpents , often masquerading as "Merhorses" of all things. Elephant seal reports emphasize a shortish neck and largish head, seallike form and length of 15 to 30 feet typically. However, the head can be described as anything from catlike front-on (which I take to be the females) to hippolike and rhinoceroslike; one report says parrot-headed, and is also a likely candidate. An Elephant seal is also likely to be what was reported (badly) as the moha-moha (actually "moka-moka" and a variant of the "bunyip" name "mochel-mochel") and on Easter Island as the "Turtlelike" nuihi via Willy Ley. This all sound frankly rather mad, but elephant seals are truly bizzare beasts!
The cut out of the "Merhorse" category is not inconsequential since this includes at least a quarter of the "Probable" sightings and is the only reason why the Merhorse category seems to have a shorter neck than the Longneck.

Ivan Sanderson in Living Mammals of the World notes the existance of an unclassified Indian Ocean monk seal with its center of distrabution in the Maldive islands.

Freshwater division:

Chad Arment notes dwarfed freshwater seals in a lake on Victoria Island in his book Cryptozology

Mystery Sirenians: Marine division:

Loren Coleman in discussing surviving Steller's sea cows mentions a possible extension of range to the east, to the Arctic Archepelago, Baffin bay and Hudson's Bay. This would explain several local sea monsters locally described as being like an upturned boat and liable to run into kayaks. There are similar reports off of Northern Siberia from the Chukchi sea to the Laptev sea.

Freshwater division:

Freshwater Dugongs are mentioned in passing in Eberhart as being reported in Malaysia and Indonesia : they are also mentioned by Ivan T. Sanderson in Living Mammals of the World as being in certain lakes of the Great Rift Valley of Africa, who mentions that this is inexplicable. These may or may not be the same as the regular dugong species, but the freshwater habitat is not typical.

Mystery Cetaceans: Marine division:

Ivan Sanderson (ibid) mentions the existence of an uncatalogued Caribbean porpoise.

Reports in Heuvelmans' In the Wake of the Sea Serpents can be construed as supporting the existence of a supergiant rorqual whale, 250 to 500 feet long. This would go without mention were it not for the fact that a letter from a Mr. Henry Brown to Science Digest magazine seems to describe the same thing. this was reportedly on 25 June 1966, 200 miles West of the Azores. However, since what he described was a roiling motion of the water that went on for longer than any known animal could be expected to be emerging and diving continuously, this may have been some sort of illusionary appearance caused by some wave action.

The Emu carcase gives cause to postulate a form of beaked whale of the dimensions and proprtions of Basilosaurus (Zueglodon), approximately 60 feet long with ribs ony 2 1/2 feet long.
Loren Coleman in his Field Guide mentions a shovelheaded whale with racing stripes but gives no further details.

Freshwater division:

Willy Ley speaks of a still-undescribed freshwater African dolphin in The Lungfish, the Dodo and the Unicorn. this matter is confused because a known kind of dolphin does go into freshwater in this area, but not so far inland.

Giant Beavers and Otters, Saltwater/Freshwater division

After some discussion wuth members in my Cryptozoology discussion group, we feel that Steller's Sea Ape is actually the same as the mythical animal more usually called the Sea Wolf and that it can ascend into freshwater rivers: further discussion on the matter made us feel certain that it is the same as the Water Panther of the Eastern USA and the Dobar-Chu or Master-otter of Ireland. This makes it a good candidate for Burton's giant otter version of the Loch Ness Monster and in fact sightings of this type were definitely made of such a creature entering the River Ness early in 1932 and then going out the other end into Loch Oich by 1936. This even seems to be the same animal on both occasions because the reported sizes match. The group further came up with a fossil candidate forerunner for it: a fragmentary fossil named Megalenhydris, a fossil otter even larger than the current sea otter and with the giant otter's peculiar tail. It also seems to be reported in far Eastern Siberia and Japan.

Freshwater Division

Heuvelmans on his checklist mentions reported Giant beavers in the USA and then discounts those reports. Newer evidence indicates that this was very likely the wrong decision. At least two separate water monsters mentioned in Keel's Strange Creatures from Time and Space seem to fall into this category, Coleman's Field guide reports others and includes the Bear Lake Monster and even the Okanagon "Manatee" might have been a corpse of one of them. This type appears to be the one ordinarily reported in the Ohio River and in adjoining states.

Amphibious Pachyderms: Freshwater division

South American "Iguanodon" tracks are probably persisting Toxodons, which can be complemented by native artwork depictions. Percy Fawcett illustrated a trail of these 3-toed tracks in his book; Toxodons were 3-toed . (So are Rhinoceroses) Heuvelmans mentions the matter in his checklist but does not elaborate. These animals must still cover a large territory, if Heuvelmans' indications are all this type, and they appear to go into fairly high altitudes in Bolivia and Peru; they are also reported all over Brazil and Columbia. The situation is an exact parallel to African "Brontosaurs" evidently actually based on "water-rhinos".

Giant Jellyfish and Ctenophores: Marine division:

The Table Bay, S. Africa sea serpent of 1857 is possibly a Portugese-man-o'-war type colonial coelenterate. Heuvelmans does not know how to classify the report.

Other Unknown Invertebrates Freshwater division:

Eberhart reports a giant sea scorpion the size of an upturned boat in a lake in Greenland. This is unlikely, but the "upturned boat sea monster" is referred to above as a possible sea cow.


Part 1: Heuvelmans' eight sea serpent types

Sea Serpent: Super-otter, a pre-zeuglodon archeocete?

Reported from the Arctic Ocean until mid-1800s
Heuvelmans 1986
(More recent rumors from Russian hunters and Whalers near Spitsbergen)

Sea Serpent: Many-humped

Reported throughout the cold temperate regions of the
North Atlantic
Heuvelmans 1986

Sea Serpent: Many-Finned

Reported from tropical and subtropical waters
Heuvelmans 1986

Sea Serpent: Longneck

Reported from around the world, occasionally from
landlocked lakes
Heuvelmans 1986

Sea Serpent:Merhorse

Reported from around the world
Heuvelmans 1986

Sea Serpent: Marine Saurian: crocodilian or lizard-like reptile

Reported from tropical waters
Heuvelmans 1986

Sea Serpent: Super-eel

Reported sporadically - could be a variety of separate eel-like creatures
Heuvelmans 1986

Sea Serpent: elongated invertebrates

Postulated Tunicates or Ctenophores
Heuvelmans 1986

Shuker (1998d) notes that these categories have been challenged (notably by Magin) in recent years with the idea that some different "types" of sea serpents are founded on cultural differences.

Part 2: Other cryptids

Shark: "Eel-like shark" or other species
Reported from off the coast of Maine
Shuker 1997; Roesch 1997

Shark: Giant carpet shark
Possible reports from the Timor Sea
Shuker 1997

Shark: Giant sharks
Reported near New South Wales, Australia; South
Shuker 1997; Shuker 1995b

Fish: 30-40 foot Unknown species
Reported 4,000 feet in San Diego Trough, eastern
Pacific Ocean
Bille 1995

Fish: 13 foot long "wrasse"
Reported of African coast
Bille 1995

Fish: Beebe's bathysphere fish
Described, but still uncollected and unphotographed; several species
2100 feet down, 5 miles southeast of Bermuda's Nonsuch Island
Shuker 1998d

Fish: Giant rat-tails (Macrourids)
Reported from deepwater near Bermuda and in Mexican Gulf
Shuker 1998d

Coelacanth: outside known territory
Hypothesized near Gulf of Mexico
Shuker 1996; Shuker 1995b; Arment, ed., 2006
Scales reported earlier off Florida by Willy Ley
Shuker indicates evidence also near Easter Island.

Manta: possible new species
Reported from Galapagos Archipelago, Baja California, and New Caledonia
Sehm 1993-1996

Heyerdahl's phosphorescent creatures
Reported from Pacific
Bille 1995

Super-Giant Squid: 100+ feet long
Heuvelmans 1986 (Regularly denied by subsequent commentators)

Mystery Squid
Distinctive paralarval specimen collected [Big eyes,
large lateral fins, dubbed "Big-fin"]
Collected in Hawaiian waters
Shuker 1998d

Giant Octopuses: 60+ feet long
Reported from the western Atlantic, especially near
the Bahamas
Heuvelmans 1986, after Verill via Mackal.

Giant Octopuses
Reported from Hawaii
See NABR (Sucik)

Giant Jellyfish
Reported from various parts of the world, different
species involved
Shuker 1997

Giant Polychaete
Reported from off St. Lucia
Roesch 1996

"Sea Scorpion"
Reported off Miami Beach, FL
Shuker 1995b, as a Crustacean: Eurypterid interpretation from Hall.

Marine "amblypygid"
Photographed several times in south Pacific during
DISCOL I expedition
Shuker 1998d

Photographed invertebrates with morphology combining acorn worms and pterobranchs
Reported from southwest Pacific trenches
Shuker 1998d

Whale: High-finned sperm whale
Reported around the Shetland Islands in the 17th century
Heuvelmans 1986; Shuker 1997

Whale: Beaked whale
Black above, white below, flippers white on upper surface
Reported from North Atlantic
Heuvelmans 1986; Shuker 1997

Whale: Beaked whale
Flattened head; low, wide-based dorsal fin; larger ones are dark with light "racing stripes"
Reported from coast of Mexico
Bille 1995

Whale: Whale with sabre-shaped back fin
Reported from Antarctic Ocean
Heuvelmans 1986; Bille 1995

Whale: Rhinoceros whale (two dorsal fins)
Reported from southeastern Pacific, off coast of Chile
Shuker 1997; Raynal 1994

Narwhal: Antarctic narwhal
Reported from Bransfield Strait, Antarctic Ocean
Shuker 1997

Sepia brown Killer-whale, "Alula whale"
Reported from Gulf of Aden
Heuvelmans 1986; Shuker 1997

Dolphin: Two dorsal-finned dolphin
Reported from Mediterranean, and b/n Sandwich Islands and New South Whales
Heuvelmans 1986; Shuker 1997; Raynal 1994

Dolphin: "Greek dolphin"
Looks like the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) but lacks harness pattern
Reported from the Mediterranean
Heuvelmans 1986; Shuker 1997

Dolphin: "Senegal dolphin"
Looks like the bridled dolphin (Stenella attenuata)
Reported off the coast of Senegal
Heuvelmans 1986; Shuker 1997

Dolphin: "Illigan dolphin"
Looks like the mellon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra), with brown back, yellow sides, and pink belly.
Reported in the Mindanao Sea
Heuvelmans 1986; Shuker 1997

Dolphin: Scott's dolphin
Reported from Magellan Straits
Shuker 1997

Porpoises: Unknown species
Small and stout, about four feet long, brown dorsal, white ventral
Reported off Chile
Bille 1995

Reported from regions without known sirenians (Arctic Ocean, European waters, Greenland coast, Polynesia, northeast coast of North America)
Heuvelmans 1986

Sirenian: Surviving remnants of Steller's Sea-Cow
Reported from the Bering Sea
Heuvelmans 1986; Raynal 1987

Sirenian: Manatee-like animals
Reported from sea around St. Helena (possibly elephant seals)
Shuker 1998d

Steller's Sea-Ape
Reported from the northern Pacific, south of the Aleutian Islands
Heuvelmans 1986, From Mackal

"Marine Elephant"AKA "Trunko"
Reported from coast of Natal, South Africa; and Glaciar Island, Alaska
Shuker 1997, From Heuvelmans

Bird: Great Auk, surviving remnants
Reported from Whale-fish Islands, Arctic Ocean
Shuker 1991
(Addendum: persisting reports also in Arctic Archipelago North of Canada and possibly near Alaska)

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