Saturday, November 04, 2006

Childhood Dreams Dashed

Paleontological research shows that pleisosaurs could not raise their necks above the water, insteading using them below their bodies to collect food. This makes sense, if you look at a reconstruction of one of these creatures, or think about what there might be to eat above the waterline (pterodactyls?). The reason this story is getting any press, of course, is that ever since the infamous and supposedly hoaxed Surgeon's Photo, the Loch Ness Monster and all other lake monsters have been associated by monster hunters and the general public with the extinct pleisosaur. In fact, this is why most non-biologists have ever heard of the coelocanth, because it is often raised as the example of a living fossil discovered after supposed extinction.

The article correctly mentions that most cryptozoologists and other monster hunters don't believe that lake monsters are pleisosaurs (there are a variety of suspects, including very large sturgeon, eels, or a form of unidentified whale). But none of these possibilities capture magic or the imagination like the notion of a living dinosaur or dragon.

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