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Framboise-Dinosaurierkadaver

The dinosaur carcass of Framboise

The pseudo-plesiosaur-prozess shown simplifiedSome Globster seem at first to look with their external shape, often with a small head, a long thin neck, a large body with fins and a pointed tail, at the first sight like a representative of the extinct marine reptiles group of the plesiosaurs. In fact, however, in all cases where sufficient material or data for identification was present, it turned out without exception as the carcass of a basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), which ultimately led to the coining of the term "pseudo-plesiosaurs" by Daniel Cohen in his book „The encyclopedia of monsters“.

The underlying process can be generalized described as follows: Once the tissue of the shark is soft the whole gill-apparatus of the filter-feeding fish falls off including the lower jaw. Starting from the front of the body from the pectoral fins, only the spine is left and - in relation to the body - the small skull. The spine runs heterocercal as with all sharks that are the vertebrae of the tail fin always run upward. The lower lobe fins rot or disappear for other reasons so in result it seems that the animal just has a long, pointed tail. There are also more general processes and factors: the skin, the flesh and the dorsal fin rot or be eaten by fish, the fibers of the muscles break up, what gives the impression of hair or the presence of a mane, etc., etc. Many cases of such pseudo-plesiosaurs have become known over the years and were described including for example the Querqueville carcass of 1934 from France, the carcasses of Deepdale Holm and Hunda of 1941 from Scotland, the Scituate monster of 1970 from Massachusetts or even the Canadian " Parkie "from 2002. To better understand this process, it is obviously important to record every case and therefore a previously little-documented and seemingly forgotten case will be presented:

The carcass of the Framboise "dinosaur" was found on or around 16 July 1976 at Framboise, a small fishing village on the southeastern coast of the Cape Brenton Island in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

The badly decomposed carcass, about 25 feet long, had residents of the tiny fishing community 10 miles south of Sydney perplexed and some a bit frightened.

The carcass has a neck about three feet long with an 15-inch-broad dorsal fin halfway down the back, two hind-leg like structures and a pair of flipper-like front feet. Parts of the body contained what appeared to be hair. It had a flabby stomach and no apparent rib cage.

The titling as "dinosaur" or the description as "dinosaur-like" without further information brought some people to get the wrong conclusions. Hydrorion brachypterygius, a plesiosaurIn fact, probably the selected term "dinosaur" is only a confusion of the article writer and it was meant the distantly related marine reptiles like plesiosaurs. Be that as it may, is the "dinosaur of Framboise" actually a surviving representative of a species thought extinct for millions of years? No.

The aforementioned photograph comes from a scanned newspaper article and is of relatively poor quality. Nevertheless, some distinctive features allowing, in combination with knowledge from similar cases, identification based on that photo. The correct identification was already at that time done by Dr. Paul Brodie, marine mammal expert from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, and, as mentioned in The Leader-Post on 21/6/1976, by Dr. Barry Mair, director of research for the Federal Fisheries Department in Halifax. The Calgary Herald reported on the identification of Dr. Brodie:

A marine biologist said Friday a dinosaur-like carcass that washed up on the beach at Framboise, N.S., appears to be that of a male basking shark. […] the pair of hind protuberances appeared to be laupers all male sharks use in mating. The front ones would be the shark’s flippers. Although a shark has a large head, only a small skull encases the brain, accounting for the small skull and the apparent long neck. The jawbone and gill structures would fall away in decomposition.

Dr. Brodie said reports of hair on the animal possibly could have been what was left of strands of decomposed and eroded muscle tissue.

The size and lack of a rib cage fit the descriptions of a basking shark. A whale carcass would have had a prominant rib cage.

The process described here from Dr. Brodie and its aftereffects clearly outline to the pseudo-plesiosaur-process described above: in the foreground, at the end of the partially exposed spine the small skull, the entire gill apparatus and the jaws are gone. The right pectoral flipper can still be noted, all other fins are apparently been lost. At the rear end are clearly visible the so-called "Claspers", the male copulatory organs, consisting of formed, rolled and tube-shaped pelvic fins.

The visual comparison between the Framboise "dinosaur" and a male basking shark carcass washed up in Chile in almost exactly the same position shows very clearly how much the pseudo-plesiosaur-process has changed the animal.

Visual comparision between the Framboise 'dinosaur' and a male basking shark carcass

Sources:

  • Anonymous (1976) Sea washes up monster
    In: The Calgary Herald, Jul 17, 1976
  • Anonymous (1976) Monster
    In: The Telegraph, Jul 17, 1976
  • Anonymous (1976) “Monster” identified
    In: The Leader-Post, Jul 21, 1976
  • Baker, Margaret (1979) Folklore of the Sea. London: David and Charles
  • Bright, M. (1989). There are giants in the sea. London: Robson Books
  • Cohen, D. (1989). Encyclopedia of Monsters. London: Guild Publishing
  • Dinsdale, Tim (1966) The Leviathans. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul
  • Hamlett, W. C. (1999). Sharks, Skates, and Rays: the Biology of Elasmobranch fishes. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Heuvelmans, B. (1968). In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents. New York: Hill and Wang.
  • Fairfax, D. (1998). The basking shark in Scotland. East Linton: Tuckwell Press.
  • Matthews, LH (1950). Reproduction in the basking shark. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B 234, 247–316
  • Norman, J. R.; Fraser, F. C. (1938) Giant fishes, whales and dolphins. New York: Norton & Company

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