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

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

DALE DRINNON: Heuvelmans' vs Dinsdale's Longnecks

I have been asked to clarify my position on long-necked sea monsters because some readers have seen me speaking of long-necked sea lions while in other places I speak of a more Plesiosaurian-shaped Longnecked Sea-Serpent. The answer is that in checking the statistics of Heuvelmans' Longneck category I found evidence of two distinct subcategories, whereas on the other hand in checking Dinsdale's reconstruction of the Loch Ness Monster I found his model to be sound, and very much the same as Champ, Patagonian Plesiosaurs, and other such creatures world-wide. The Hoy-type long-necked sea lion is specified in two target areas of the world, the one around Scotland and Ireland, and the other around Tasmania, Southern Australia and New Zealand. In both areas stray may go into freshwater on occasion (Bunyips and Costello's Phucas) The larger Plesiosaur-shaped Longnecks are cosmopolitan and must have a good range of temperature tolerance exactly comparable to leatherback turtles. The larger section of Sea-serpent sightings in Heuvelmans' book which deal with the Longnecked creature (which basically also absorbs the Merhorse category, except that the Merhorse category also contains distinctive sets of mistaken observations averaged in with the rest of the reports: my original analysis did not take into consideration swimming moose offshore which now look to be common mistakes in Scandinavia, New England and the Northwest Coastal area) Dinsdale has reports which specify that it has a tail, and Sanderson's and Gould's reconstructions are close to Dinsdale's (and my own identikit reconstruction)

At the current time I am using the two parts of Heuvelmans' Linnean binomial term "Megalotaria longicollis" as provisional generic names for the two subgroupings, Megalotaria for the Hoy-type longnecked sea lions and Longicollis (Longneck) to name the larger creature that is repeated more often and world-wide. I had insisted that the name for the latter be "Megophias" after Oudemans' usage, but arguments with several others have convinced me that name was given in mistake and cannot be said to definitivly describe anything more than a series of indefinite and probably mistaken observations.

So herewith I include a comparison of the long-necked sea lion Megalotaria and the Plesiosaur-shaped Longicollis done as mockups of representative photos from the internet. The inset shows the Arthur Grant land sighting drawing from Tim Dinsdale's Loch Ness Monster. The two photos are to approximate scale to one another: the sea lion type is of a size comparable to a walrus but the Plesiosaur-shaped creature is said to grow to twice this indicated size, at least (the upper end of the size range is uncertain because so many of the largest-size estimates are clearly exaggerated. But 40-50 feet is commonly stated and 60 feet or more at sea)


Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

All of these reports beg one simple question: How good are people at estimating the length of animals, both at sea and on land, from a distance?

My guess would be "Not very good", but I'd like to see some hard experimental data to back this crude assumption up. Do you know of any?

Dale Drinnon said...

On the contrary, I have indicated that the average-maximum of the sightings at sea in the Longneck type is something like 150% over the freshwater sightings which appear to be the same type, so the sightings may well be thought of as that much less accurate. And it gets worse from there because calculations of size and speed at sea are dependant on the estimation of distance. Heuvelmans indicates that some of the sightings esimate a size DOUBLE that 150% figure, and they estimate admittedly impossible rates of speed the creatures are swimming at--60 miles an hour or "Railroad speed". Which is entirly due to the witness' inability to judge the size, distance or speed of an unfamiliar object at sea.

Dale Drinnon said...

And actually, experiments of exactly the sort you suggest were conducted during the Loch Ness Investigations" Roy Mackal speaks of them in his book The Monsters of Loch Ness.

The results were that experienced observers had a fair idea of scale in familiar surroundings, but inexperienced observers were not so good at it. And estimating the speed of say a motorboat could lead to estimates that were wrong by a factor of five (object was actually travelling at 1/5 the speed estimated by the observer)