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Sunday, January 31, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: Thoughts on the Madidi Monster

In 1883, William A. E. Axon, made some amazing claims:

“Sir,—The ‘Anglo-Brazilian Times,’ March 24th, 1883, says that the Brazilian Minister at La Paz, Bolivia, has remitted to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Rio photographs of drawings of an extraordinary Saurian killed on the Beni after receiving thirty-six balls. By order of the President of Bolivia the dried body, which had been preserved at Asuncion, was sent to La Paz. It is 12 metres long(39 feet) from snout to point of the tail, which latter is flattened. Besides the anterior head, it has, 4 metres(13 feet) behind, two small but completely formed heads rising from the back. All three have much resemblance to the head of a dog. The legs are short, and end in formidable claws. The legs, belly, and lower part of the throat appear defended by a kind of scale armour, and all the back is protected by a still thicker and double cuirass, starting from behind the ears of the anterior head, and continuing to the tail. The neck is long, and the belly large and almost dragging on the ground. Professor Gilveti, who examined the beast, thinks it is not a monster, but a member of a rare or almost lost species, as the Indians in some parts of Bolivia use small earthen vases of identical shape, and probably copied from Nature.”

( "A Bolivian Saurian," Scientific American, 49:3, 1883.)

The corpse of the so called Madidi Monster was allegedly moved to La Paz at the President’s request and subsequently disappeared.

Now this was regarded as a hoax especially in view of the “photographs of drawings” (made me think of the Goon Show “here is a photograph of a cheque” lol) . If they had photographs why weren’t they of the original corpse not of the drawings? Then I came across this fossil find:

Scientists have found what is thought to be the first example of a two-headed reptile in the fossil record. The abnormal animal, belonging to a group of aquatic reptiles, was unearthed in north-eastern China and dates to the time of the dinosaurs. The specimen reveals that it must have been very young when it died and became fossilised, says lead researcher Eric Buffetaut. "Living animals like this are known. But if you compare the number of reptiles born with two heads with the total number of reptiles born, it is very small. "So the chances of finding a fossil like this are extremely low." The abnormality is known to occur with some frequency in modern reptiles; about 400 cases of two-headed snakes have been recorded in historic times.

Full article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6195345.stm

IT could be that the monster was a deformed crocodile or reptile of some sort that had survived for a few years until adulthood. It certainly makes more sense than a hydra dinosaur. As it is a rare event for an animal to be born like this , it is unlikely that local people had seen anything like it before .

The story of the Madidi Monster is here:



Dale Drinnon said...

I have always thought the corpse in question was a jenny haniver-a composite of more than one animal sewn together. But what on earth would the base body be? there are reports of tremendous crocs in South America up to 50 feet long or more, and different from the black caiman: the basic body could have been one of those-the description of the legs, flattened tail and fat belly dragging the ground would match and possibly a long neck had been added along with the spare heads.

Yes, I had that "Photograph of a check" analogy myself [says to Bluebottle (Saunders):"If you do this for me you shall have in return this photograph of SABRINA" Bluebottle: "Ehhehhehheheh"] but at least there are independant reports about the unusual croc, an unknown species, all over the Amazon basin and in the Gran Choco.

The tracks that Fawcett found were probobly of a Toxodon, since they were 3-toed, and I don't know if Fawcett actually claimed to have sighted the "Diplodocus" himself. Longnecked Lake Monsters are RARELY reported in the area and there is already known to be more than one "Monster of the Madidi"

shiva said...

Frankly this whole thing sounds very fake to me. Creatures with duplicated heads usually have two heads of a similar size, sometimes (as in the case of that fossil) fully separated, sometimes only partially (so they are more like two faces on one head). I've never heard of a case of a normal sized head with smaller "secondary" heads further back down the body, and can't see a genetic mechanism how that could occur.

There's also the size of the creature, which is quite unbelievable - if this was a freak, it would have to be a freak of an unknown species much, much larger than any known species of reptile, in which case it would surely be more parsimonious to assume its appearance to be the norm for its species.

One thing that *could* be a possibility is a confusion between feet and metres: if that was the case, it could fit within the size range of known species of caimans, whose heads do have a vague resemblance in profile to those of some breeds of dog. If there was a body, it could have been a gaff made by attaching the heads of smaller specimens to a larger one, or perhaps something else (tho i don't know what) could have been mistaken for "extra heads".

I think, however, the most likely explanation for this story is that it was simply made up by a mischeivous journalist, similarly to many of the "fabulous beasts" reported from the American West in a similar time period.