Lo!, by Charles Fort, , at sacred-texts.com
I have come upon a story of somebody, in Philadelphia, who, having heard that a strange wild animal was prowling in New Jersey, announced that he had caught it. He exhibited something, as the "Jersey Devil." I have to accept that this person was the press agent of a dime museum, and that the creature that he exhibited was a kangaroo, to which he had attached tin wings and green whiskers. But, if better-established branches of biology are subject to Nature-fakery, what can be expected in our newer biology, with all the insecurities of newness?
"Jersey Devils" have been reported other times, but, though I should not like to be so dogmatic as to say that there are no "Jersey Devils," I have had no encouragement investigating them. One of the stories, according to a clipping that was sent to me by Miss F. G. Talman, of Woodbury, N. J., appeared in the Woodbury Daily Times, Dec. 15, 1925. William Hyman, upon his farm, near Woodbury, had been aroused by a disturbance in his chicken coop. He shot and killed a never-before-heard-of-animal. I have written
to Mr. Hyman, and have no reason to think that there is a Mr. Hyman. I have had an extensive, though one-sided, correspondence, with people who may not be, about things that probably aren't. For the latest account of the "Jersey Devil," see the New York Times, Aug. 6, 1930.
Remains of a strange animal, teleported to this earth from Mars or the moon—very likely, or not so likely—found on a bank of a stream in Australia. See the Adelaide Observer, Sept. 15, 1883—that Mr. Hoad, of Adelaide, had found on a bank of Brungle Creek, a headless trunk of a pig-like animal, with an appendage that curved inward, like the tail of a lobster. New Zealand Times, May 9, 1883—excitement near Masterton—unknown creature at large—curly hair, short legs, and broad muzzle. Dogs sent after it—one of the dogs flayed by it—rest of the dogs running away—probably "with their tails between their legs," but the reporter overlooking this convention.
There have been stories of strange animals that have appeared at times of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. See Sea Serpent stories, about the time of the Charleston earthquake. About the same time, following a volcanic eruption in New Zealand, there were stories in New Zealand.
The volcano Rotomahana was a harsh, black cup that had spilled scenery. Or the somber thing was a Puritan in finery. It had belied its dourness with two broad decorations of siliceous deposits, shelving down to its base, one of them the White Terrace and the other the Pink Terrace. These gay formations sloped from the bare, black crater to another inconsistency, which was a grove of acacias. All around, the famous flowering bushes of this district made more sinful contrast with a gaunt, towering thing. Upon the 10th of June, 1886, this Black Fanatic slung a constitutional amendment. It was reformation, in the sense that virtue is uniformity that smothers variation. It drabbed its gay Terraces: the grove of acacias was a mound of mud: it covered over the flowering bushes with smooth, clean mud. It was a virtuously dismal scene, but, as in all other reformations, a hankering survived in it. A left-over living thing made tracks in the smoothness of mud. In the New Zealand Herald, Oct. 13, 1886, a correspondent writes of having traversed this dull, dead expanse,
having seen it marked with the footprints of a living creature. He thought that the marks were a horse's. But there was another story that was attracting attention at this time, and his letter was in allusion to it. Maoris were telling of a wandering animal, unknown to them, that had appeared in this desert of mud. It was a creature with antlers, or a stag, according to descriptions, an animal that had never been seen, or had never before been seen, by Maoris.
Just what relation I think I can think of, between volcanic eruptions and mysterious appearances of living things may seem obscure. But I have been impressed with several accounts of astonishing revivifications in regions that were volcanically desolated. Quick growths of plants have been attributed to the fertilizing properties of volcanic dust: nevertheless writers have expressed astonishment. If we can have an organic view of our existence, we can think of restorative teleportations to a place of desolation, quite as we think of restorations occurring in places of injury in an animal-organism.
There are phenomena upon the border-line between the organic and the inorganic that we can think of: such as restorations of the forms of broken crystals in a solution. It is by automatic purpose, or design or providence, or guidance by which lost parts of a starfish are regenerated. In higher animal-organisms, distinct structures, if lost, mostly are not restored, but injured tissues are. Still even in the higher organisms there are some restorations of mutilated parts, such as renewals of forms of a bird's clipped wing-feathers. The tails of some lizards, if broken off, renew.
For a conventional explanation of reviving plants in a fern forest that had been destroyed by flows of liquid lava, from the volcano Kilauea, Hawaii, see an account, by Dr. G. R. Wieland, in Science, April 11, 1930. Dr. Wieland considers his own explanation "amazing." I'd not say that ours is more than that.
Strange animals have appeared and they may have been teleported to this earth from other parts of an existence, but the easiest way of accounting for strange animals is to say that they are hybrids. Of course I could handle, or manhandle, this subject any way to suit me, and be about as reasonable one way as another. I could quote many authorities against the occurrence of bizarre hybrids, leaving hard to explain, in terms of terrestrial origin, strange creatures that
have appeared upon this earth. There are biologists who will not admit fertility between creatures as much alike as hares and rabbits. Nevertheless, I think that there have been strange hybrids.
The cow that gave birth to two lambs and a calf.
I don't know how that will strike all minds, but to the mind of a standardized biologist, I'd not be much more preposterous, if I should tell of an elephant that had produced two bicycles and a baby elephant.
The story is told in the Toronto Globe, May 25, 1889. It is said that a member of the staff of the Globe had been sent to investigate this outrage upon conventional obstetrics. The reporter went to the farm of Mr. John H. Carter, at South Simcoe, and then wrote that he had seen the two lambs, which were larger and coarser than ordinary, or less romantically derived, lambs, having upon their breasts tufts of hair like calves’ hair. Other newspapers—Quebec Daily Mercury, for instance—published other details, such as statements by well-known stockbreeders that they had examined the lambs, and were compelled to accept the story of their origin.
So I am harming our idea that creatures, unlike anything known upon this earth, but that have appeared upon this earth, may have been teleported from Mars or the moon: but I am supporting our general principle that, whether in biology, astronomy, obstetrics, or any other field of research, everything that is, also isn't; and that everywhere there are data, partly sense and partly nonsense, that oppose established nonsense that has partly some sense to it.
It does not matter what scientific dictum may be brought against us. I will engage to find that it is only an approximation, or that it is a work-out only in imaginary conditions. The most rigorous science is frosted childishness. Every severe, or chaste, treatise upon mechanics is only a fairy story of frictionless and non-extensible characters that interact up to the "happy ending." Nowadays, a scenario-writer will sometimes tone down the absolute happiness of a conclusion, with just a suggestion that there is a little trouble in the offing: but the tellers of theorems represent about the quality of intellect in the most primitive times of Hollywood. For everything that is supposed to be so well-known that it is proverbial, there are exceptions. A mule is a symbol of sterility. For instances
of fertility in mules, look over indexes of the Field. As to anything else that we're taking as absolute truth—look it up.
One afternoon, in October, 1878, Mr. Davy, a naturalist, who was employed at the London Aquarium, took a stroll with a new animal. I think of a prayer that is said to have been uttered by King Louis XIV. He was tired of lamb chops and beef and bacon—"Oh, God! send me a new animal." Mr. Davy took a stroll with one. People far away were attracted by such screeches as are seldom heard in London. Some ex-slaves, who were playing in Uncle Tom's Cabin, were following the new animal, and were letting loose their excitability. The creature was about two feet long, and two feet high, and was formed like nothing known to anatomists—anyway to anatomists of this earth. It was covered with wiry hair: head like a boar's, and curly tail like a boar's. It was described as "a living cube." As if with abdomen missing, its hind legs were close to its forelegs. If Mr. Davy's intention had been to attract attention, he was succeeding. Almost anybody with the modern view of things will think what a pity he wasn't advertising something. The crowd jammed around so that he ran into an Underground Railway Station. Here there was an uproar. He was compelled to ride in the brake, because of a fear that there would be a panic among the passengers. At the Aquarium, Davy told that an acquaintance of his, named Leman, had seen this creature with some peasants, in the South of France, and had bought it, but, unable to speak the patois of the district, had been unable to learn anything of its origin. At the Aquarium the only explanation that could be thought of was that it was a dog-boar hybrid.
Davy's publicity continued. He took the new animal to his home, and a crowd went with him. His landlord looked at the animal. When the animal looked at the landlord, the landlord ran to his room, and from behind closed doors, ordered Davy to take away the monster. There was another hold-up of traffic all the way to the home of Frank Buckland.
In Land and Water, of which he was the editor, issue of October 5, Buckland wrote an account of this "demon," as he called it, saying that it looked like a gargoyle, or like one of Fuseli's satanic animals. He did not try to explain, but mentioned what was
thought at the Aquarium. In the next issue of Land and Water, Thomas Worthington, the naturalist, wrote that the idea of the hybrid was "utterly untenable": but his own idea that the creature was "a tame hyena of some abnormal kind" leaves mysterious how the "demon" ever got into the possession of peasants in the South of France. It would be strange if they had a tame hyena of a normal kind.
In January, 1846 (Tasmanian Journal of Science, 3-147), a skull was found on a bank of the river Murrumbridgee, Australia. It was examined by Dr. James Grant, who said that the general form and arrangement of the teeth were different from those of any animal known to him. He noted somebody's suggestion that it might be the skull of one of the camels that had been sent to Australia, in the year 1839. He accounted for its having characters that were unknown to him, by thinking that it might be foetal. So then, whether in accordance with a theory or not, he found that some of the bones were imperfectly ossified, and that the teeth were covered with a membrane. It was not a fossil. It was a skull of a large, herbivorous animal, and had not been exposed long.
Melbourne Argus, Feb. 28, and March 1, 1890—a wandering monster. A list of names and addresses of persons who said that they had seen it, was published. It was a creature about thirty feet long, and was terrorizing the people of Euroa. "The existence of some altogether unheard-of monster is vouched for by a cloud of credible witnesses."
I am tired of the sensible explanations that are holding back new delusions. So I suggest that this thing, thirty feet long, was not a creature, but was a construction, in which explorers from somewhere else, were traveling back and forth, near one of this earth's cities, having their own reasons for not wanting to investigate too closely.
I don't know what will be thought of zoologists of Melbourne, but whatever will be thought of me can't be altogether focused upon me, because there were scientists in Melbourne who were as enlightened as I am, or as preposterous and sensational as I am. Officials of the Melbourne Zoological Gardens thought that, whether this story was nonsense or not, it should be looked into. They got
a big net, and sent a man with the net to Euroa. Forty men, with the man with the net, set out. They hunted all day, but no huge bulk, more or less in the distance, was seen, and a statement that enormous tracks were found may be only a sop to us enlightened, or preposterous, ones.
But the man with the net is a significant character. He had not the remotest of ideas of using it, but, just the same, he went along with it. There are other evidences of occasional open-mindedness among biologists, and touches of indifference, now and then, to whatever may be the fascinations of smugness. Why biologists should be somewhat less dogmatic than astronomers, or why association with the other animals should be rather more liberalizing than is communion with the stars is not mysterious. One can look at a rhinoceros and at the same time be able to think. But the stupefying, little stars shine with a hypnotic effect, like other glittering points. The little things are taken too seriously. They twinkle humorously enough, themselves.
A reported monster is told of, in the Scientific American, July, 1922. Dr. Clement Onelli, Director of the Zoological Gardens, of Buenos Aires, had published a letter that had been sent to him by an American prospector named Sheffield, who said that, in the Argentine Territory of Chebut, he had seen huge tracks, which he had followed to a lake. "There I saw in the middle of the lake an animal with a huge neck, like that of a swan, and the movement of the water made me suppose the beast to have a body like that of a crocodile." I wrote to Dr. Onelli, and received a reply, dated Aug. 15, 1924, telling that again he had heard of the monster. Maybe this same huge-necked creature was seen somewhere else, however we explain its getting there. The trouble in trying to understand all reported monsters is their mysterious appearances and disappearances. In the London Daily Mail, Feb. 8, 1921, a huge, unknown animal, near the Orange River, South Africa, is told of by Mr. F. C. Cornell, F.R.G.S. It was something with a neck like a bending tree trunk, "something huge, black, and sinuous." It devoured cattle. "The object may have been a python, but if it was it was of incredible size." It is only preposterously unreasonable to
think that the same thing could have appeared in South Africa and then in South America.
The "blonde beast of Patagonia," which was supposed to be a huge ground sloth, parts of which are now in various museums, attracted attention, in the year 1899. See the Zoologist, August, 1899. Specimens of the blonde's hide were brought to England, by Dr. F. P. Moreno, who believed that the remains had been preserved for ages. We prefer to think otherwise: so we note that Dr. Ameghino, who got specimens of the hide from the natives, said that it was their story that they had killed it.
There was a volley of monsters from some other world, about the time of the Charleston earthquake, or some one thing skipped around with marvelous agility, or it is that, just before the quake, there were dull times for the newspapers. So many observations in places far apart can be reconciled by thinking that not a creature but explorers in a construction, had visited this earth. They may have settled down in various places. However, it is pretty hard to be reconciled to our reconciliations.
New York Sun, Aug. 19, 1886—a horned monster, in Sandy Lake, Minnesota. More details, in the London (Ontario) Advertiser—Chris. Engstein fired a shot at it, but missed. Then came dispatches from the sea coast. According to one of them, Mr. G. P. Putnam, Principal of a Boston grammar school, had seen a monster, in the sea, at Gloucester. In Science, 8-258, Mr. B. A. Colona, of the U. S. Coast Survey, writes that, upon the 29th of August, he had seen an unknown creature in the sea off Cape Cod. In the New York newspapers, early in September, a monster was reported as having been seen at sea, off Southport, and off Norwalk, Conn.: in Michigan, in the Connecticut River, and in the Hudson River. The conventional explanation is that this was simply an epidemic of fancied observations. Most likely some of them were only contagions.
There's a yarn, or a veritable account, in the New York Times, June 10, 1880—monstrous, dead thing, floating on the sea, bottom up. Sailors rowed to it, and climbed up its sides. They danced on its belly. That's a merry, little story, but I know a more romantic one. It seems that a monster was seen from a steamship. Then the
lonely thing mistook the vessel for a female of his species. He overwhelmed her with catastrophic endearments.
But I am avoiding stories of traditional serpentine monsters of the sea. One reason is that collections of these stories are easily available. The astronomer has not lived, who has ever collected and written a book upon data not sanctioned by the dogmas of his cult, but my slightly favorable opinion of biologists continues, and I note that a big book of Sea Serpent stories was written by Dr. Oudemans, Director of the Zoo, at The Hague, Holland. When that book came out, a review of it, in Nature, was not far from abusive. Away back in the year 1848, conventionalists were outraged, because of the source of one of these stories. For the account, by Capt. M’Quhae, of H. M. S. Daedalus, of a huge, unknown creature, said by him to have been seen by him, in the ocean, Aug. 6, 1848, see the Zoologist, vol. 6. Someone else who bothered the conventionalists was the Captain of the Royal Yacht, the Osborne, who, in an official report to the Admiralty, told of having seen a monster—not serpent-like—off the coast of Sicily, May 2, 1877. See the London Times, June 14, 1877, and Land and Water, Sept. 8, 1877. The creature was turtle-like, visible part of the body about fifty feet long. There was an attempt to correlate this appearance with a submarine eruption, but I have found that this eruption—in the Gulf of Tunis—had occurred in February.
The suggestion was that in the depths of the ocean may live monsters, which are occasionally cast to the surface by submarine disturbances.
It is a convenience. Accept that unknown sea monsters exist, and how account for the relatively few observations upon things so conspicuous? That they live in ocean depths, and come only occasionally to the surface.
I have gone into the subject of deep-sea dredging, and, in museums, have looked at models of deep-sea creatures, but I have never heard of a living thing of considerable size that has been brought up from profound ocean depths. William Beebe has never brought up anything of the kind. On his Arcturus Adventure, anything that got away from him, and his hooks and his nets and his dredges, must have been small and slippery. It seems that anything with an
exposure of wide surfaces could not withstand great pressure. However, this is only reasoning. Before the days of deep-sea dredging, scientists reasoned that nothing at all could live far down in the sea. Also, now most of them would argue that, because of the great difference between pressures, any living thing coming up from ocean depths would burst. Not necessarily so, according to Beebe. Some of the deep-sea creatures that he brought up were so unconventional as to live several hours, and to show no sign of disruption. So, like everybody else, I don't know what to think, but, rather uncommonly, I know that.
In October, 1883, there was a story in the newspapers—I take from the Quebec Daily Mercury, Oct. 7, 1883—of an unknown animal, which was seen by Capt. Seymour, of the bark Hope On, off the Pearl Islands, about 50 miles from Panama. In Knowledge, Nov. 30, 1883, Richard Proctor tells of this animal, and says that also it had been reported by officers of a steamship. This one was handsome. Anyway, it had a head like that of a "handsome horse." It had either four legs or four "jointed fins." Covered with a brownish hide, upon which were large, black spots. Circus-horseish. About twenty feet long. There was another story told, about the same time. New Zealand Times, Dec. 12, 1883—report by a sea captain, who had seen something like a turtle, 60 feet long, and 40 feet wide.
Perhaps stories of turtle-backed objects of large size relate to submersible vessels. If there were no submersible vessels of this earth, in the year 1883, we think of submersibles from somewhere else. Why they should be so secretive, we can't much inquire into now, because we are so much concerned with other concealments and suppressions. I suspect that, in other worlds, or in other parts of one existence, there is esoteric knowledge of the human beings of this earth, kept back from common knowledge. This is easily thinkable, because even upon this earth there is little knowledge of human beings.
There have been suggestions of an occult control upon the minds of the inhabitants of this earth. Let anybody who does not like the idea that his mind may be most subtly controlled, without his knowledge of it, think back to what propagandists did with his
beliefs in the years 1914-18. Also he need not think so far back as that.
The standardized explanations by which conventional scientists have checked inquiry into alleged appearances of strange living things, in the ocean, are mentioned in the following record:
Something was seen, off the west coast of Africa, Oct. 17, 1912. Passengers on a vessel said that they had seen the head and neck of a monster. They appointed a committee to see to it that record should be made of their observations. In the Cape Times (Cape Town) Oct. 29, 1912, Mr. Wilmot, former member of the Cape Legislative Council, records this experience, saying that there is no use trying to think that four independent witnesses had seen nothing but a string of dolphins or a gigantic strand of sea weed, or anything else, except an unknown monster.
It's the fishmonger of Worcester in his marine appearance.
In this field of reported observations, so successful has been a seeming control of minds upon this earth, and guidance into picturing nothing but a string of dolphins or a gigantic strand of sea weed, that, now that the ghost has been considerably rehabilitated—though in my own records of hundreds of unexplained occurrences, the ghost-like scarcely ever appears—the Sea Serpent is foremost in representing what is supposed to be the mythical. I don't know how many books I have read, in each of which is pictured a long strand of sea weed, with the root-end bulbed and gnarled grotesquely like a head. I suppose that hosts of readers have been convinced by these pictures.
But, if a monster from somewhere else should arrive upon the land of this earth, and, perhaps being out of adaptation, should die upon land, probably it would not be seen. I have noted several letters to newspapers, by big-game hunters who had never heard of anybody coming upon a dead elephant. Sir Emerson Tennent has written that, though he had often inquired of Europeans and Cingalese, he had never heard of anybody who had seen the remains of an elephant in the forests of Ceylon. A jungle soon vegetates euphemisms around its obscenities, but the frank ocean has not the pruderies of a jungle.
Strange bones have often been found on land. They have soon
been conventionalized. When bones of a monster are found, the pattern-makers of a museum arrange whatever they can into conventional structures, and then fill in with plaster, colored differently, so that there shall be no deception. After a few years, these differences become undetectable. There is considerable dissatisfaction with the paleontologists. I notice in museums that, even when plaster casts are conspicuously labeled as nothing but plaster casts, some honest fellow has dug off chips to expose that there isn't a bone in them.
What we're looking for is an account of something satisfactorily monstrous, and not more or less in the distance: something that is not of paleontologic memory that has been jogged so plasterfully. The sea is the best field for data.
In the Mems. Wernerian Nat. Hist. Soc., 1-418, is published a paper by Dr. Barclay, who tells of the remains of an unknown monster that had been cast up by the sea, in September, 1808, at Stronsa, one of the Orkneys. We've got ahold of something now that was well observed. As fast as they could, observers got rid of this hunk, which for weeks, under a summer sun, had been making itself evidential. But the evidence came back. So again the observers got a rope and towed it out to sea. Sultry day soon—a flop on the beach—more observations. According to different descriptions, in affidavits by inhabitants of Stronsa, the remains of this creature had six "arms," or "paws," or "wings." There is a suggestion of stumps of fins here, but it is said that the bulk was "without the least resemblance or affinity to fish." Dr. Barclay told that in his possession was part of the "mane" of the monster.
A perhaps similar bulk was, upon the 1st of December, 1896, cast upon the coast of Florida, twelve miles south of St. Augustine. There were appendages, or ridges, upon it, and at first these formations were said to be stumps of tentacles. But, in the American Naturalist, 31-304, Prof. A. E. Verrill says that this suggestion that the mass of flesh was the remains of an octopus, is baseless. The mass was 21 feet long, 7 feet wide and 4½ feet high: estimated weight 7 tons. Reproductions of several photographs are published in the American Naturalist. Prof. Verrill says that, despite the great size of this mass, it was only part of an animal. He argues
that it was part of the head of a creature like a sperm whale, but he says that it was decidedly unlike the head of any ordinary sperm whale, having no features of a whale's head. Also, according to a description in the New York Herald, Dec. 2, 1896, the bulk seems not to have been whale-like. "The hide is of a light pink color, nearly white, and in the sunshine has a distinct silvery appearance. It is very tough and cannot be penetrated even with a sharp knife." A pink monster, or an appalling thing with the look of a cherub, is another of our improvements upon conventional biology.
For a yarn, or an important record, of a reptile of "prehistoric size and appearance," said to have been found on the beach of the Gulf of Fonseca, Salvador, see the New York Herald Tribune, June 16, 1928. It was about ninety feet long, marked with black and white stripes, and was "exceedingly corpulent." Good-natured, fat monsters, too, are new to me.
I have searched especially for sea stories of hairy, or fur-covered monsters. Such creatures would not be sea animals, in the exclusive sense that something covered with scales might be. If unknown, they would have to be considered inhabitants of lands. Then up comes the question—what lands?
English Mechanic, April 7, 1899—that, according to Australian newspapers, the captain of a trading vessel had arrived in Sydney, with parts of an unknown monster. "The hide, or skin, of the monster was covered with hair."
The arrival of these remains is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, in issues from Feb. 23 to March 2, 1899. It is said that, according to Capt. Oliver, of the trading ship Emu, he had found, upon the beach of Suarro Island, the carcass of a two-headed monster.
That is just a little too interesting.
We find that the reporter who told this story dropped the most interesting part of it, in his subsequent accounts, which were upon two skulls, a vertebra, and a rib bone: but he was determined to discredit the find, and told that the bones were obviously fossils, implying that the Captain had invented a story of bodies of two animals that had recently been alive.
When we come upon assurances that a mystery has been solved, we go on investigating.
In the Sydney Daily Telegraph, February 28, it is said that an attempt to identify the bones as fossils had been refuted. Professional and amateur scientists had accepted an invitation to examine the bones, and, according to the testimony of their noses, these things decidedly were not fossils. Each skull was more than two feet long, and was shaped somewhat like a horse's, but upon it was a beak. There are beaked whales, but these remains were not remains of beaked whales, if be accepted Captain Oliver's unsupported statements as to hairiness and great size. It is said that no specimens of the hairy hide had been taken, because all parts, except the scraped bones, of these bulks that had been lying under a tropical sun weren't just what one would want to take along in a small ship. According to Capt. Oliver, one of the bodies was sixty feet long. The largest beaked whales are not known to exceed thirty feet in length.
Mr. Waite, of the Australian Museum, examined the bones. He said that they were of beaked whales.
Mr. F. A. Mitchell-Hedges, in Battles with Giant Fish, tells of remains of a tremendous, unknown mammal, which was washed ashore, at Cape May, N. J., November, 1921. "This mammal whose weight was estimated at over 15 tons, which—to give a comparison of size—is almost as large as five fully grown elephants, was visited by many scientists, who were unable to place it, and positively stated that nothing yet known to science could in any way compare with it."
I investigated the story of the Cape May monster, wherever I got the idea that I could find out anything in particular.
Somebody in Cape May wrote to me that the thing was a highly undesirable carcass of a whale, which had been towed out to sea. Somebody else wrote to me that it was a monster with a tusk twelve feet long, which he had seen. He said that, if I'd like to have it, he'd send me a photograph of the monster. After writing of having seen something with a tusk twelve feet long, he sent me a photograph of something with two tusks, each six feet long. But only one of the seeming tusks is clear in the picture, and it could be,
not a tusk, but part of the jaw bone of a whale, propped up tusk-wise.
In the London Daily Mail, Dec. 27, 1924, appeared a' story of an extraordinary carcass that was washed up, on the coast of Natal, Oct. 25, 1924. It was 47 feet long, and was covered with white hair, like a polar bear's—
I won't go into this, because I consider it a worthless yarn. In accordance with my methods, considering this a foolish and worthless yarn, I sent out letters to South African newspapers, calling upon readers, who could, to investigate this story. Nobody answered.
In the New Zealand Times, March 19, 1883, it is said that bones of an unknown monster, about 40 feet long, had been found upon the coast of Queensland, and had been taken to Rockhampton, Queensland. "There are the remains of what must have been an enormous snout, 8 feet long, in which the respiratory passage are yet traceable." These could not have been the remains of a beaked whale. Whatever hip bones a cetacean has are only vestigial structures. In a sperm whale, 55 feet long, the hip bones are detached and atrophied relics of former uses, each about one foot long. A hip bone of the Queensland monster is described as enormous.
In looking over the London Daily News, I came upon an item. Trawlers of the steamship Balmedic had brought to Grimsby the skull of an unknown monster, dredged up in the Atlantic, north of Scotland (Daily News, June 26, 1908). The size of the skull indicated an animal the size of an elephant, and it was in "a wonderful state of preservation." It was unlike the skull of any cetacean, having eye sockets a foot across. From the jaws hung a leathery tongue, three feet long. I found, in the Grimsby Telegraph, June 29th, a reproduction of a photograph of this skull, with the long tongue hanging from the beak-like jaws. I made a sketch of the skull, as pictured, and sent it with a description to the British Museum (Natural History). I received an answer from Mr. W. P. Pycraft, who wrote that he had never seen any animal with such a skull—"and I have seen a good many!" It is just possible that nobody else has ever seen anything much resembling a sketch that I'd make of anything, but that has nothing to do with descriptions of the tongue, According to Mr. Pycraft no known cetacean has such a tongue.
I went on searching, trying to come upon something about a hairy monster: furred, anything except scaled, or with a hide like a whale's.
London newspapers, July 6, 1913—a lengthy telegram that had been sent by Mr. Hartwell Conder, Tasmanian State Mining Engineer, to Mr. Wallace, the Secretary of Mines, of Tasmania—that, upon April 20, 1913, two of Mr. Conder's companions, named Davies and Harris, had seen a huge, unknown animal, near Macquarie Harbor, Tasmania. "The animal was about fifteen feet long. It had a very small head, only the size of the head of a kangaroo dog. It had a thick, arched neck, passing gradually into the barrel of the body. It had no definite tail and no fins. It was furred, the coat in appearance resembling that of a horse of chestnut color, well-groomed and shining. It had four distinct legs. It traveled by bounding—i.e., by arching its back and gathering up its body, so that the footprints of the forefeet were level with those of the hind feet. It made definite footprints. These showed circular impressions, with a diameter (measured) of 9 inches, and the marks of claws, about 7 inches long, extending outward from the body. There was no evidence for or against webbing."
In reply to my inquiries, Mrs. Conder—North Terrace, Burnie, Tasmania—wrote to me, as asked to by Mr. Conder, saying that the published description is accurate, and that, unless there be a seal with jointed flippers, upon which the creature could raise itself and run, Mr. Conder "could not be altogether convinced that the animal was a seal."
I have not looked for record of any such known seal. I take for granted that the seal type has conventionalized so that there is no such seal.
It may be that there have been several finds of remains of a large, long-snouted animal that is unknown to the paleontologists, because, though it has occasionally appeared here, it has never been indigenous to this earth. New York Sun, Nov. 28, 1930—"Monster in ice has long snout." Skeleton and considerable flesh, of an unknown animal found in the ice, upon Glacier Island, Alaska. The animal was 24 feet long; head 59 inches long; snout 39 inches long. In some of the reports it was said that the animal was covered with hair,
or fur. Conventionally one thinks of mammoths of Siberia, preserved for ages in ice. But, if nothing proves anything, simply that something is found in ice may not mean that for ages it was preserved in ice.