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Saturday, January 09, 2010

DALE DRINNON: CryptoClydes

Since the remains of possible post-Cretaceous Plesiosaurs seem to indicate an as-yet-not-properly named genus (or closely related genera) related to the well known Cryptoclidus at about 25-35 feet long, I have done some comparisons between some depictions of the Loch Ness Monster and reconstructions of that genus.
The first one of these was done at the beginning of the Frontiers-of-Zoology group and compared Arthur Grant's land sighting to the Cryptoclidus represented in Walking With Dinosaurs. This was a paste-up I called 'CryptoClyde' and was meant to demonstrate that Grant's sighting corresponded in proportions and dimensions to the reconstructed plesiosaur. I have cannibalised that comparison into the larger version below. I added the insert with the 'Surgeon's Photo' from Loch Ness on the strength of Paul LeBlond's analysis of the photo from CRYPTOZOOLOGY, in which he estimated the size of the thing being depicted as about four feet high, six feet long when stretched out. In another article in CRYPTOZOOLOGY, LeBlond had compared the 'Surgeons Photo' to the Mansi photo from Lake Champlain and found them to be similar enough to most likely be the same sort of creature.
The neck in the 'Surgeon's Photo' is also just about the same size as Grant had reported. I add another comparison with the Rhines AAS underwater head and neck photo, of similar proportions but estimated as twice the size, and then another comparison with the Rhines head and neck to another reconstruction of Cryptoclidus.

Frankly, I do not like the way the head and neck in the 'Surgeon's photo' are aligned if it is actually a plesiosaur, but then perhaps current theory on the flexibility of Plesiosaur necks does not cover living Plesiosaurs, n'est-pas? I also did a very exhaustive comparison of the head and neck in the photo to various kinds of waterbirds native to the area and none of them match at all well. It is the opinion of both Mackal and Coleman that the photo is authentic but represents a bird in the water. Such a bird must therefore be an unknown animal in itself.

There have been attacks made on both the 'Surgeon's Photo' and on Rhine's underwater photo at Loch Ness, most infamously with the assertion that Christian Spurling confessed to hoaxing the 'Surgeon's Photo' on his deathbed. Christian Spurling's account 'frames' the Daily Mail for hoaxing the photo to boost readership and is a libelous statement. Christian Spurling did not make a deathbed declaration and the account shows that he had no real knowledge of the photos in question - specifically the fact that there was more than one photo, with the object in different configurations, and not possibly the same object photographed twice.

There have also been statements made that a toy submarine made of materials at hand in the 1930s with a monster's-head superstructure would be top-heavy and tip over rather than stay afloat. A rather more peculiar problem is that there seems to have been no model he could have copied to look like the 'Sea Monster' in the photo: I have not seen any previous Plesiosaur reconstructions that actually match it. After the image of the photo was established in the imagination of the public, it seemed obvious to say that "I made a model of how the Loch Ness Monster looked" but it was not possible to say that before hand!

As to the Rhines AAAS underwater photo from the mid-1970s, it has been criticised by saying the head is not obviously continuous to the neck and that it needs to be aligned in the vertical plane. The critics that say this then go on to re-orientate the photo in the horizontal plane, inverted of its usual orientation. They then say it is a photograph of the bottom. It does not match the other photos more obviously showing the bottom, but the real problem is that saying this destroys their own argument. If the photo is indeed meant to be horizontal, then there is no reason why you need to say it must be vertical, and if it represents the bottom, then the tow parts really are continuous and the apparent break is only a trick of the shadows. Which is what supporters had been saying all along.

I am not saying that the 'Surgon's Photograph' is necessarily NOT a hoax; what I am saying is that it is consistent and that part could not have been known before hand. And in the matter of analysis I defer to LeBlond.


CRYPTOZOOLOGY vol. 1, winter 1982
"An Estimate of the Dimensions of the Lake Champlain Monster from the Length of Adjacent Waves in the Mansi Photograph" Paul H. LeBlond, p. 54
CRYPTOZOOLOGY vol. 6 , 1987
"The Wilson Nessie Photo: A Size Determination Based on Physical Principles" Paul H. LeBlond and Michael J. Collins, p. 55
Le Blond is also the source for the comparison of the Wilson Nessie and Mansi Champ photos. The Champ photo depicts a much larger object but of similar shape.

Additional note: Many sources attribute a date of April 1 to the Wilson photo. The date was meant to be April 19, and what had happened was that one popular source had printed the '19' at the end of one line of text and the last digit '9' had fallen off the end of the line of type. This happened in Gould's book The Loch Ness Monster and Others, and I own a copy.


Richard King said...

Hi Dale, This is going to be the one that gets you in trouble.

Seriously, Christian Spurlings confession shows he does not know what he is talking about?? That will be big news to most people that follow such things.

I understand that you also say just because such a creature was in Loch Ness at one or two times in the past does not make it the "Loch Ness Monster", it comes and goes and at any one time there might not even be any at Loch Ness-they might be back in the North Sea, or at Loch Linhe, or whatever. I don't think anyone has said before that the Wilson photo's head and neck might correspond to the Grant land sighting in size, that's also a new one on me.

Anyway, lots of luck. I'm afraid you are going to be making new enemies on this one.

Dale Drinnon said...

Hi, thanks for the (I take it to be) friendly word of warning.

There have been many claims from different people over the years saying that they were the one to have faked that one photo. Ordinarily the claimant nearly always falls down on some detail, such as saying that the supposed model is in foreward motion (it is not, it is static), but nearly all of them get the same points wrong. They say there was only one photo and it was released on April Fool's day. Both things are false and only a little research would tell you otherwise.

I am not saying it is necessarily a genuine photo in this case, what I am doing is pointing out that the proportions of the neck are like the 1975 underwater Rhines AAAS photo and the absolute size of the thing in the image might be the same as in Grant's sighting ashore at Loch Ness.

Christian Spurling does add the ominous statement that the whole thing was orchestrated by the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail needs to issue a direct statement that this is not so. It is a matter that reflects badly on their journalistic integrity otherwise.

And thank you for mentioning the other part about living creatures not being confined to one area as if they were "Haunting" it. I assume you had been rerading my comments on Lindsay Selby's blogs on the Loch Ness Monster recently?