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Sunday, January 24, 2010


A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the world's largest leech and its spectacular rediscovery in Guyana. I also touched on the story of a giant leech said to be lurking in a man-made lake in the USA. Well, giant leeches sometimes rear their slimy heads in ancient legend as well.

The Burach-bhadi was said to lurk in the waters of the Western Highlands of Scotland and in Perthshire. It had nine eyes and fed by winding itself around horses' legs and pulling them into the water to drink their blood. The monster was also know as the ‘wizard’s shackle.’

The creature calls to mind F. W. Holliday’s ‘great wurm’ postulated in his book The Great Orm of Loch Ness in which he postulates a monsterous worm-like invertebrate as the identity of the monster. His favourate candidate is a giant descendent of Tullimonstrum gregarium - a spindle-shaped aquatic invertebrate that is still not properly classified. Its fossil remains have been found in Illinois and date back some 300 million years. Holliday chose this creature due to a superficial resemblance in outline to alledged lake monsters. It had a probosic with a mouth that looked vaugly like the head and neck of a pliesiosuar and had what Holiday thought were two flippers situated below the proboscis. It is now thought that these in fact supported eyes.

Holliday’s postulated modern-day giant must rank among the most unlikely theories ever commited to paper.


Tabitca said...

The genus "Tullimonstrum gregarium" or the tully monster as it became known was a fossil discovered in the 1960's (May be before then but the reports were published in the early 60's) but although the shape matches Holiday's description , the size of the fossil was only 20cm( thats about 8 inches I think) long. Holiday was one who liked to make the facts fit his theories I think and although the book seems persuasive the difference between 20 cm and the supposed size of the Loch Ness creature (about 20 feet(6/7 metres) or 30 feet(10 metres) I think is the average) would make most sensible people think it wasn't possible. You have to admire the way he makes things fit his theory though in the book, very clever in places.:-)

Geordie-dave said...

Holliday’s postulated modern-day giant must rank among the most unlikely theories ever committed to paper. Oh I don't know about that. Can you remember when you wrote in maintenance book that Woolsery village hall needed a full exorcism because front door blew open a tad and the temperature dropped by a half a degree for a second.

Dale Drinnon said...

The "Nine Eyes" again presumably refer to the same legend based on the gill openings of a lamprey.

Incidently I had independantly come up with the suggestion that the Tsalogi (Cherokee) legendary Giant Leech Tlanusiyi was based on a local giant brook lamprey, some disgustingly large examples of which are said to grow 8 feet long. I did not ask what they had been feeding on and I did not want to know.

When the book The Great Orm of Loch Ness came out, our Elementary-school History teacher had a copy that I insisted on borrowing from him. That is how I acquired the nickname "Orm" from him. But I saw right off there was no way the Loch Ness monster could be a Tullymonster.

spiraldance said...

Well if Holiday supposedly disowned his second book -- according to Colin Wilson? Then certainly his first should remain untainted by the likes of rational credibility. Holiday was an original researcher and wasn't his death quite mysterious, not unrelated to his worm (leech) research -- albeit more along the lines of a UFO attack?

Rene Guenon comes to mind as well for some reason -- or even Michael Talbot's amazing Vampire fiction (stating vampire means worm) going back to the mysterious Western Asian city state sacrifices.