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561
SEA-SERPENT


several observers* looks as though it might have had a similar origin, notwithstanding that this hypothesis was rejected by them. (2) A fiight of sea-fowl on one occasion recorded by Professor Aldisi' produced the appearance of a snake swimming at the surface of the water. (3) A large mass of seaweed has on more than one occasion been cautiously approached and even harpooned under the impression that it was such a monster.” (4) A pair of basking sharks (Selache maxima) furnish an explanation of some of the recorded observations, as was first pointed out by Frank Buckland. These fish have a habit of swimming in pairs, one following the other with the dorsal fin and the upper lobe of the tail just appearing above the water, and, as each animal is fully 30 ft. long, the effect of a body of 60 or more ft. long moving through the water is readily produced. To this category belongs the famous serpent cast up on Stronsay, one of the Orkneys, of which an account was read to the Wernerian Society of. Edinburgh# some of its vertebrae were preserved in the Royal College of Surgeons of London, and identified as those of Selache maxima by both Home and Owen.” There is also evidence to show that specimens of Carcharodon must have existed more than 100 ft. long.” (5) Ribbon-fish (Regalecus), from their snake-like form and great length (sometimes as much as zo ft.), have been suggested as the origin of so-called “ sea serpents, " amongst others by Dr Andrew Wilson7; but Dr Giintherf from what is known regarding the habits of these fish, does not regard the theory as tenable. (6) A gigantic squid (Architeuthis) was most likely the foundation of the old Norse accounts, 9 and also of those which in the early part of the Igth century came so frequently from the United States as to gain for the animal the sobriquet of “American sea-serpent.”1° These stories were so circumstantial, so consistent, and vouched for by persons of such eminence, that no doubt was possible (notwithstanding the cavilling of Mitrhell)'1 as to the existence of a strange marine monster of very definite character in those regions. The description commonly given of it has been summed up by Gosse 12 somewhat thus:-(i.) general form that of a serpent; (ii.) length averaging 60 ft.; (iii.) head flattened, eye generally not mentioned, some distinctly stating that it was not seen; (iv.) neck 12 to 16 in. in diameter; (v.) appendages on the head, neck or back (accounts here variable); (vi.) colour dark, lighter below; (vii.) swims at the surface, head thrown forward and slightly elevated; (viii.) progression steady and uniform, body straight but capable of being bent; (ix.) water spouting from it; (X.) in shape like

'5, § 2==;§ ;;';T T; a “ nun buoy.” The

I/ 1;- SF; 1 annexed figure (f1g. 1) -, /ll ~ * Y . represents one wluch ~ Ttg f 6” 3; was seen from

- f H.M.S.“Daedalus.””

-:."/

of Scandinavia, '5 Denmark and the British Isles,1°. and their extreme size seems to be above 60 ft., and, furthermore, that their mode of progression is by means of a jet of water forcibly expelled from the siphon, which would impart that equable motion to which several observers allude as being evidently not produced by any serpentine bending of the body. A very interesting account of a

monster almost certainly

originating in one of

these squids is that of

Hans Egede,17 the well known

missionary to

Greenland; the drawing

by Bing, given in his

work, is reproduced here

(fig. 2), with a sketch of

a squid in the act of

rearing itself out from

the water (fig. 3), an

action which they have

been observed in aquaria

habitually to perform.

Numerous other ac-F

~

A | ~

CQ” . wr

I

i§ »

-, J; 4/ “is-1,

f 1;-

ei ' ~

FIG. 2.-Sea-serpent, as observed by counts seem to be explic- Hans Egede able by this hypothesis, ”

among them may be mentioned that of a huge “ snake ” seen by certain of the crew of the “ Pauline ” in the South Atlantic Ocean, which was said to be coiled twice round a large sperm whale, and then towered up many feet into the air and finally dragged the whale to the bottom. It is now well-known that the sperm whale kills and devours Architeuthis and other large oceanic Cephalopods, and no one who has read Bullen's vivid description, in The

Cruise of the Cachalot,

of the struggle between

a cachalot and a giant

squid, can doubt that it

was a combat of this

kind which was thus

erroneously described.

The immensely long

arms 1 of Architeuthis

would not unnaturally

be mistaken for a snake

by sailors, and instead

of being dragged to the

bottom the whale

doubtless sounded of its

own accord as whales

il'i

f 67231

Z*


' ' 4 . I

w / "

-~ i . 'f ' If?

ff

-if ":v T*- .

FIG. 3.—Squid, rearing itself out of the FIG! I.-Sea-serpent, as seen from H.M.S. “ Daedalus.”

To show the reasonableness

of this hypothesis,

it may be

added that gigantic Cephalopods are not infrequent on the shores of Newfoundland." and are occasionally met with on the coasts 1 Mott. Nature, X'XVii- pp. 293, 315, 338; also Land and Water (September 1872).

2 Nature, ibid.: also Drew, in vol. xviii. p. 489; Bird, tom. cit. p. 519; Ingleby, tom. cit p. 541. Smith, Times (February 1858); Herriman, quoted by Gosse, op. cit. postea, p.g38; Pringle, Nature, xviii. p. 519 (1878). Mem. Wern. oc. Edin. vol. i. pp. 418-444, pls. ix.-xi. (1811). Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. ser. 2, vol. ii. p. 461 (1848); for a criticism of these views, see Traill, Proc. Roy. Sac. Edin. vol. iii. p. 208 (1857). ° Owen, Odontography, p. 30.

" Leisure Time Studies, p. 115 (London, 1879), containing a readable essay on the subject; Scotsman (6th September 1878); Nature, loc. cit. »

° Study of Fishes, p. 521 (Edinburgh, 1880). note 2; also Deinbolt, quoted in Zoologist, p. 1604 (1847). 1° Bigelow, Amer, Journ. Sci. vol. ii. pp. 147-165 (1820); Warbuaton, ibid. vol. xu. p. 375 (1823); Zoologzst, p. 1714 (1847). Amer. foum. Sci. vol. xv. p. 351 (1829). 1* Romance of Natural History, p. 345 (London, 1859). " M'%uahae, Times (October 1848); Ill. Land. News(October 1848). f' A. . Vemll, Trans. Connect. Acad. vol. v. part i. (1880), containing an account of all authenticated specimens of gigantic squids. usually do (see CUTTLEr1s1-1).

(7) A sea-lion,

or “ Anson's seal ”

(M orunga elephantine), was suggested by Owen” as a possible explanation of the serpent seen from H.M.S. “ Daedalus”; but as this was afterwards rejected by Captain M'Quahae, “° who stated that it could not have been any animal of the seal kind, it seems better to refer the appearance to a squid. (8) A plesiosaurus, or some other of the huge marine reptiles usually believed to be extinct, might certainly have produced the W2.t€l'.

“ Steenstrup, Forhandl. Skand. Naturf., 7de Mzide, pp. 182-185 (Christiania, 1857).

1° Saville Kent, Proc. Zoot. Soc. Land. p. 178 (1874); More, Zoologist, p. 4526 (1875); also Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. ser. 4, vol. vi. p. 123.

~ " Det gamle Gronlands nye Perlustration (Copenhagen, 1741; Eng. trans., A Description of Greenland, London, 1745, pp. 86-89); also Eaul Egede, Efterretninger om Grénland, Copenhagen, n.d., pp. 45, 4 -

S L. de Ferry, quoted by Pontoppidan, op. cit.; Davidson and Sandford, quoted in Zoologist, p. 2459 (1849); Senior, Graphic (19th April 1879); Barnett, Nature, vo xx. p. 289 (1879); Penny, Ill. Land. News, vol. lxvii. p. 515 (20th November 1875). ° Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. ser. 2, vol. ii. p. 461 (1848).

2° Times (21st November 1848).