Interestingly, the plesiosauroid Umoonasaurus had three, distinguishing crest-ridges on its skull. Could these have had a horn-like
appearance, as Scott Mardis suggests? (Image source unknown; posted on Facebook by Scott Mardis)
|Sir Arthur Rostron's sketch of the 'sea serpent' which he claimed to have seen. (Image source is here)|
The animal reported by Reverend James Joass was described as having "diaphanous and nearly semi-circular flaps or valves over-arching the nostrils", and is especially relevant to Scott's reconstruction because Reverend Joass felt that it was a relict plesiosaur.1 As the alleged 'sea serpent' "drifted along with the tide" for some time before slipping under1, I can't help but wonder if it was possibly the carcass of a basking shark with the horn-like pectoral girdle visible.
The suggestion of the 'sea serpent' seen by G. Batchelor (the second officer of the H.M.S. Corinthian) off Grand Banks of Newfoundland, Canada as a plesiosaur is not a novel one. In fact, Batchelor himself made the comment that "zoologically speaking, as I got a good view of the creature when diving, I could only describe it as identical with the Sauropterygia." However, basing such a contention off of Batchelor's sketch may be of error due to its obvious stylization. In line with this thinking, some researchers feel that the 'fins' which adorned the animal's head may be part of a stylized mane.2 As mentioned in the article which I linked to previously, Dale Drinnon feels that the "fin-like ears" of this "sea giraffe" were part of a reptilian mane composed of long cutaneous filaments. However, I feel that these were legitimate protrusions which may be tubercles like those of a mata mata or actual pinnae if the animal was a pinniped (as suggested by Bernard Heuvelmans). In reference to the fact that the Corinthian animal was reported to have "large liquid blue eyes"1, Scott pointed out that leucistic alligators tend to possess blue eyes. However, biological researcher Cameron McCormick sent an image of a blue-eyed sea lion (which is shown below) in reply to Scott's pointing out blue-eyed alligators. Regardless of the Corinthian 'sea serpent's' identity, this aspect may not matter, as the eye color reported in such unconfirmed animals is variable and likely depends on the way in which light strikes their eyes.1
|An ambiguous sketch which Reverend James Joass made depicting the 'sea serpent' which he allegedly saw. |
(Image source is here)
|The horn-like pectoral girdle of a basking shark. (Image source: Scott Mardis|
Photograph of the thirteen foot 'horned' mystery carcass which washed up in Spain this year. Experts identified it as a shark of some
species, with the horns likely being the pectoral girdle showing. Could the animal seen by Joass have been a similar 'pseudoplesiosaur' carcass? (Image source is here)
|A leucistic alligator with blue eyes. (Image Source unknown; posted on Facebook by Scott Mardis)|
|A blue-eyed sea lion pup with rather horn-like pinnae. (Image Source is here)|
- Heuvelmans, Bernard, Richard Garnett, and Alika Watteau. In the Wake of the Sea-serpents. New York: Hill and Wang, 1968. Print.
- Coleman, Loren, and Patrick Huyghe. The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep. New York, NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2003. Print.