Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Some Trivial But Monstrous Thoughts

I’m a big fan of Godzilla, and of kaiju movies in general. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I just went and saw Godzilla: King of the Monsters (KOTM), and – boy – did I like it. I don’t care about criticisms concerning the human plot (which I thought was fine, perfectly serviceable and well-acted), nor do I care that various possible plot-holes perhaps create issues. Look, it’s a film about giant monsters - rebranded titans for KOTM - knocking the crap out of each other, stomping on cities, out-flying military jets and messing about with lava, ice, epic weather, electricity and nuclear power. I loved it, and I applaud the bravery of the team concerned in taking classic monsters like King Ghidorah and remaining mostly faithful to their design without the need for some major overhaul.

A main theme of Godzilla: King of the Monsters is that humanity is an infection upon the planet, and that titans are the cure. Image: (c) Warner Bros.

A main theme of Godzilla: King of the Monsters is that humanity is an infection upon the planet, and that titans are the cure. Image: (c) Warner Bros.

I noticed a lot of interesting trivial little details in the film that are of interest or relevance to readers of this blog, at least some of which will have been missed unless you’re a monster fan or have serious nerdy interests in zoology. I mean, there are a hundred other things that are references to other stuff relevant to the Godzilla films and their real-world, factual backstory (Serizawa’s watch, the reference to a Steve Martin, Castle Bravo, Infant Island, maser turrets, the term ‘Monster Zero’, the use of a frikkin’ oxygen destroyer… and so on). It’s the more zoology-themed things I mostly want to highlight here.

The ‘science of Godzilla’ has been covered a fair bit at TetZoo in the past… Image:  The Biological Nature of Godzilla .

The ‘science of Godzilla’ has been covered a fair bit at TetZoo in the past… Image: The Biological Nature of Godzilla.

I should add that Godzilla has been covered at TetZoo on several previous occasions, the usual caveat being that these classic articles (which got a fair bit of attention back in the day and have led to various media appearances and such concerning ‘The Science of Godzilla’) have recently been effectively ruined by the removal of their accompanying images. They’re linked to below.

One more thing. STOP READING NOW IF YOU WANT TO AVOID SPOILERS. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. Ok, onwards…

Figures in my collection. As a Godzilla fan, it’s great that at least some of these characters have been licensed anew for a modern movie franchise. Image: Darren Naish.

Figures in my collection. As a Godzilla fan, it’s great that at least some of these characters have been licensed anew for a modern movie franchise. Image: Darren Naish.

Musical Tunes. The score to this movie – by composer Bear McCreary – was fantastic, and hopefully you noticed that the main monster characters had their own musical themes. These themes incorporated components of the original themes created for the monsters in the original Toho movies. I mean, Godzilla’s theme is from the original 1954 movie and Mothra’s is from the 1962 debut movie, my god. This could partly be considered fan-service but more appropriately reflects an effort to create continuity with these older works. If you liked the music, stay to the end of the credits. There’s a post-credits scenes, by the way, and one that I didn’t predict.

Montage of the main monsters - re-branded as titans for this movie - starring in  Godzilla: King of the Monsters . Image: (c) Film Music Central ( original here ).

Montage of the main monsters - re-branded as titans for this movie - starring in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Image: (c) Film Music Central (original here).

Frank Searle’s Nessie. At one point in KOTM, people sift through images when learning about the long cultural influence King Ghidorah has had on human civilizations over the centuries. Among the images we see – ever so briefly – a blurry black and white photo of a water monster, its head obscured because its long, slender neck curves down to the water. This is unmistakeably one of Frank Searle’s infamous Nessie photos. Searle (1921-2005) was a notorious Loch Ness Monster investigator who, between about 1969 and 1983, claimed to have photographed the beast on a great many occasions (over 20; Harrison 1999), often at very close range. As should have been obvious right from the start (amazingly, he was able to dupe some people into thinking that he was the real deal), his photos variously involved models, cleverly posed sticks and branches, and even artwork superimposed onto photos of the water surface. He would likely have been thrilled to see one of his photos appear in a big-budget movie.

One of Frank Searle’s (in)famous Nessie photos. I’m 99% sure that this exact image made a brief appearance in KOTM. Image: (c) Frank Searle.

One of Frank Searle’s (in)famous Nessie photos. I’m 99% sure that this exact image made a brief appearance in KOTM. Image: (c) Frank Searle.

The Alpha Myth. Main human character Dr Mark Russell is a biologist who’s spent years studying wolves and other animals. In attempting to explain the combative, competitive, hierarchical behaviour observed among the newly emerging titans, he explains that they’re working out which will serve as The Alpha, the big boss animal that gets to control the others. He starts this discussion by saying that animals like wolves work within such a structure, ‘The Alpha’ being the biggest, strongest and meanest and thus the one that gets to rule the pack. This idea is deeply rooted and mainstream in culture and even integral to the philosophy of some animal trainers. But it’s not quite right. Wolf packs are extended families, with the leaders (which can still be called alphas if you want) being the parents of most other pack members. They are thus the most experienced, wisest wolves, not necessarily the baddest or strongest.

Check out all the interesting body language going on in this captive wolf pack. The especially dark animal near the middle is presumably an ‘alpha’. Image: Darren Naish.

Check out all the interesting body language going on in this captive wolf pack. The especially dark animal near the middle is presumably an ‘alpha’. Image: Darren Naish.

I know that this ‘Alpha’ concept was integral to the movie and works fine as an explanation for what we see of titan behaviour. But it would have been nicer if a person who’s supposed to be an experienced biologist said things that better reflected current thinking on the species he was supposed to know best.

The Congolese Titan. At several points during the film, we see world maps which depict titan activity as it’s happening live. And if we look at central Africa during one such scene, we see that the titan stomping around in the Congo region is labelled ‘mokele-mbembe’. Yes, the mokele-mbembe, the long-necked water monster of the Congo, beloved of cryptozoologists and creationists and suggested on many occasions to perhaps be a living sauropod dinosaur. Mokele-mbembe as we ‘know’ it (I mean: as described in the cryptozoology literature) wouldn’t make a particularly impressive titan, since it’s only meant to be about elephant-sized (albeit with a longer neck and tail). The KOTM version is presumably a super-sized version then. I’ve written about mokele-mbembe several times at TetZoo, and also in my book Hunting Monsters (Naish 2017).

One of the most famous of mystery beasts: mokele-mbembe, a creature popularly suggested to be a modern-day amphibious sauropod dinosaur. This illustration is by David Miller for   Roy Mackal’s 1987 book on the subject  . Image: David Miller/  Mackal 1987  .

One of the most famous of mystery beasts: mokele-mbembe, a creature popularly suggested to be a modern-day amphibious sauropod dinosaur. This illustration is by David Miller for Roy Mackal’s 1987 book on the subject. Image: David Miller/Mackal 1987.

Our Species Name. A reveal in the movie is that palaeobiologist and kaiju scientist Dr Emma Russell has used acoustic data from a mystery species in designing the sounds emitted by the monster-luring ORCA device… aaaand, the mystery species is us, since we’re one of the biggest monsters. What name do they give our species? They have it written – very clearly and in big red letters – ‘Homo sapien’. Major fail, 10 points deducted. It’s difficult to work out why, but many people today seem to think that ‘Homo sapien’ is the correct technical name for our species, and it’s often said this way in TV shows and popular literature. Our scientific name is Homo sapiens, which is scientific knowledge about as advanced as knowing that water has the formula H2O or that the Earth is a sphere.

That’s Not How You Do Scientific Names. On a related note, the titans in the movie have what look like scientific names. But the names don’t make any sense as goes the conventions biologists actually use in naming organisms. I think we’re meant to think that the names we see in KOTM are species names, unique to each kind of titan. These are obviously novel: hypothetically, Godzilla could be something like Gojiratitan terribilis, while Rodan might be, let’s say, Stupendadactylus mexicanus. But KOTM puts all the titans in the same one genus – Titanus (which isn’t available in use since it’s already been used for something else*) – which is then followed by a specific epithet, such that Godzilla is Titanus gojira, Rodan is Titanus rodan and so on. Most viewers won’t care about this, but it’s something that anyone with any knowledge of biology will notice and it’s annoying and a bit dumb. Next time: have an actual biologist on hand to check for these sorts of technical things, they make movies better!

* The longhorn beetle Titanus Audinet-Serville, 1832.

Oh Hollywood, why you no do scientific names right? This image is not from a Godzilla film… Image: (c) Universal Pictures.

Oh Hollywood, why you no do scientific names right? This image is not from a Godzilla film… Image: (c) Universal Pictures.

The Hollow Earth. KOTM goes big-time with the idea – previously hinted at in Kong: Skull Island – that our planet is a honeycomb, with hidden tunnels that pass right through it and gargantuan internal chambers and pockets (a description most familiar to modern audiences due to the form of the planet Naboo in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menance). I suppose that this has been worked into the MonsterVerse as a way of explaining how the impossibly huge yet also cryptic titans can remain concealed for a long time and only emerge on occasion.

Here’s the ‘Hollow Earth’ image that appears most frequently online (this being because it was uploaded to wikipedia). It’s from William Bradshaw’s 1892 novel  The Goddess of Atvatabar . Image: public domain, original  here .

Here’s the ‘Hollow Earth’ image that appears most frequently online (this being because it was uploaded to wikipedia). It’s from William Bradshaw’s 1892 novel The Goddess of Atvatabar. Image: public domain, original here.

The Hollow Earth thing is not unique to the MonsterVerse: it was suggested, as a serious model for our planet’s structure, by Edmond Halley in 1692. Halley didn’t propose the model because it was a fun idea, but because he thought it might explain anomalous compass readings which, he thought, meant that the Earth was formed of more than one rotating sphere. His assumption that compass readings should always be consistent was flawed, since they vary given that the magnetic field is constantly in flux. This model – which involved substantial gas-filled spaces existing between the different sphere – was dead and disproven by the late 1700s, and thereafter it only survived in pseudoscience (UFOs must come from inside the Earth instead of from outer space, and so on) and fiction. Edgar Rice Burroughs is most famous for using the Hollow Earth model for his Pellucidar novels of the early 1900s. These have people tunnelling into the Earth and discovering a hidden world, lit by an inner sun, inhabited by creatures long thought extinct. It’s surprising and interesting to see this idea persist in a modern sci-fi movie series.

The Hollow Earth of Edgar Rice Burroughs is supposed to have looked something like this… [UPDATE: nope, this is nothing to do with the Hollow Earth - it was instead done for the cover of a 1967 magazine issue that celebrated the movie  One Million Years BC . Thanks to Alan Friswell for this correction]. This is one of Frank Frazetta’s inimitable illustrations. Image: (c) Frank Frazetta,   original here  .

The Hollow Earth of Edgar Rice Burroughs is supposed to have looked something like this… [UPDATE: nope, this is nothing to do with the Hollow Earth - it was instead done for the cover of a 1967 magazine issue that celebrated the movie One Million Years BC. Thanks to Alan Friswell for this correction]. This is one of Frank Frazetta’s inimitable illustrations. Image: (c) Frank Frazetta, original here.

That Final Meltdown. Without giving too much away (I know I said that there would be spoilers, but…), the final act of the movie involves Big G discharging A LOT of nuclear energy, so much that he glows red and seems in imminent danger of incandescent eruption. If you’re a hardcore Godzilla fan you may well be predicting at this point that KOTM was going to do its own take on the final scene of the 1995 Godzilla vs Destoroyah (aka Godzilla vs Destroyer) in which Godzilla glows with radiation and eventually (spoiler) melts and dies – only to be replaced by his direct descendant, Godzilla Junior. I don’t know if the KOTM team were inspired by Godzilla vs Destoroyah at all, or if what they did was wholly novel, but the similarities are hard not to notice.

In the 1995 movie  Godzilla vs Destoroyah , Godzilla burns up from the inside and endures a painful phase of looking spectacularly patchworked with glowing red. Images: (c) Toho.

In the 1995 movie Godzilla vs Destoroyah, Godzilla burns up from the inside and endures a painful phase of looking spectacularly patchworked with glowing red. Images: (c) Toho.

Rick and Morty. You might have noticed the prominent Rick Sanchez sticker on the lid of a laptop (if, that is, you’re a Rick and Morty fan. I am). This may or may not be a nod to the fact that Bradley Whitford’s character Dr Rick Stanton was apparently inspired by Rick of Rick and Morty. While I’m here, the original concept of Rick and Morty was based on Doc and Marty of Back to the Future… which is also heavily referenced – or, hell, flat-out mentioned – in another big movie of 2019. A little movie that hasn’t done at all well at the box office.

Finally – Character Continuity. Many of the people in KOTM were previously introduced in 2014’s Godzilla, and therein we got their various backstories (Dr Serizawa, for example, is the descendant of Daisuke Serizawa from the original movie of 1954). But note that they also featured characters who have a direct link to other Godzilla and MonsterVerse movies. The Chen twins – both played by Zhang Ziyi – were an obvious nod to the twin fairies of the 1961 Mothra movie, and Dr Houston Brooks (played in KOTM by Joe Morton, who we mostly know as Dr Myles Bennett Dyson) previously appeared in Kong: Skull Island.

A strength of the new Legendary Godzilla movies is they establish an approximate continuity with the original film of 1954. To go a different route and start Godzilla afresh, I think, is a big mistake. Image: (c) Toho Studios.

A strength of the new Legendary Godzilla movies is they establish an approximate continuity with the original film of 1954. To go a different route and start Godzilla afresh, I think, is a big mistake. Image: (c) Toho Studios.

Sea Monster Sightings and the ‘Plesiosaur Effect’

Regular readers of this blog will almost certainly be aware of what are most sensibly termed sea monster accounts. Throughout recorded history, and throughout the seas and oceans of the world, people claim to have observed gigantic, anatomically remarkable creatures that did not, at first sight, match any animal species known to science.

Sea monsters real and imagined, an old illustration done as a prototype for a mural. Image: Darren Naish.

Sea monsters real and imagined, an old illustration done as a prototype for a mural. Image: Darren Naish.

The view favoured by cryptozoologists (people who investigate ‘mystery animal’ reports) has mostly been that these accounts describe real encounters with real animals, and animals that are scientifically new, exciting and surely worthy of recognition. I’ve written before about the work of Bernard Heuvelmans and his followers and colleagues (see the links below), most recently in my 2017 book Hunting Monsters (Naish 2017). Heuvelmans (1968) argued that sea monster reports could be sorted into nine categories, and thus that (at least) nine new species of gigantic, sea-going vertebrate species were out there and awaiting discovery.

In the most influential book ever written on sea monsters, Bernard Heuvelmans argued for the existence of nine distinct sea monster types, illustrated at left by Cameron McCormick. It was thought for a while that   Heuvelmans (1968)   had done a good job in discovering a valid biological signal in sea monster reports. But… no. Images: Cameron McCormick,   Heuvelmans (1968)  .

In the most influential book ever written on sea monsters, Bernard Heuvelmans argued for the existence of nine distinct sea monster types, illustrated at left by Cameron McCormick. It was thought for a while that Heuvelmans (1968) had done a good job in discovering a valid biological signal in sea monster reports. But… no. Images: Cameron McCormick, Heuvelmans (1968).

Alas, this view is mostly regarded as naïve by the majority of biologists and other scientists. Isn’t it more likely that ‘sea monster reports’ are confused or embellished descriptions of encounters with known animals or objects, like surface-feeding whales, unfamiliar giant fishes, swimming deer, or masses of weed, floating wood or fishing gear? In recent years, several classic reports have been re-evaluated and argued to variously be confused accounts of skim-feeding sei whales (Galbreath 2015), sea lions and other pinnipeds behaving in unpredictable ways (Naish 2017), whales and turtles tangled in rope (France 2016a, b), whales in a state of sexual arousal (Paxton et al. 2004), and even misidentified pipefishes (Woodley et al. 2011).

Classic sea monsters like this one - the  Daedalus  encounter from 1848, involving a creature seen off the coast of Namibia in the south-east Atlantic - have often been regarded as inexplicable, and as evidence for the reality of sea monsters. But they might be explainable after all. Image:  Illustrated London News , in public domain.

Classic sea monsters like this one - the Daedalus encounter from 1848, involving a creature seen off the coast of Namibia in the south-east Atlantic - have often been regarded as inexplicable, and as evidence for the reality of sea monsters. But they might be explainable after all. Image: Illustrated London News, in public domain.

Among those who’ve regarded sea monsters as real and novel animals, there’s a long-running tradition whereby they’re regarded as ‘prehistoric survivors’: as the modern descendants of animals otherwise known only as fossils. This view has been endorsed by cryptozoological authors, but it’s also reflected in sea monster accounts themselves, since eyewitnesses have sometimes likened the creatures they saw to fossil animals they ‘know’ from the popular literature and museum displays. For obvious reasons, such comparisons post-date the scientific discovery of such fossil animals… which raises the question: have descriptions of sea monsters been inspired by people’s knowledge of, or familiarity with, ancient animals known from fossils?

The cryptozoological literature includes many volumes that discuss sea monster reports, and often interpret them within the ‘prehistoric survivor paradigm’ (or PSP). Image: Darren Naish.

The cryptozoological literature includes many volumes that discuss sea monster reports, and often interpret them within the ‘prehistoric survivor paradigm’ (or PSP). Image: Darren Naish.

The idea that sightings of sea monsters might have been inspired by people’s knowledge of, or familiarity with, fossils animals is not new but has been made several times over the years. In 1968, American science fiction author and science writer L. Sprague de Camp (1907-2000) proposed that an increasing awareness of plesiosaurs and mosasaurs led to a change in the sorts of sea monsters people claimed to see (de Camp 1968). Rather than seeing ‘sea serpents’, people were instead now seeing (read: claiming to see) animals of non-serpentine form, sometimes described as having large paddles or an elongate neck. So far as we know, de Camp was the first to propose this idea in print. I propose that we call it the ‘plesiosaur effect’.

Long-necked plesiosaurs - this is Mary Anning’s famous  Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus  of 1824, as described by William Conybeare - became increasingly familiar to the public from the 1820s onwards. Image: in public domain.

Long-necked plesiosaurs - this is Mary Anning’s famous Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus of 1824, as described by William Conybeare - became increasingly familiar to the public from the 1820s onwards. Image: in public domain.

For several years now, my colleague Charles Paxton has been compiling a database of sea monster reports. Already, it’s been used to report historic trends and to analyse such things as how far sea monsters were said to be from their witnesses (Paxton 2009). You don’t have to think of sea monsters as real animals awaiting scientific recognition to see the value in this database. For, if sea monsters are hoaxes, quirks of human perception, or misidentifications of known objects, we might still learn a lot by studying where and when they were seen, how far away they were, how long they were observed for, and precisely what witnesses described. A detailed interest in anomalous phenomena does not mean that you endorse the fringe ideas often associated with said anomalous phenomena – an important point all too often missed!

Quite a few sea monsters were likened by their observers to plesiosaurs and other ancient marine reptiles. This rendition shows the monster seen from the  Umfuli  in December 1893, close to the Cape of Good Hope. Image: in public domain.

Quite a few sea monsters were likened by their observers to plesiosaurs and other ancient marine reptiles. This rendition shows the monster seen from the Umfuli in December 1893, close to the Cape of Good Hope. Image: in public domain.

By cross-referencing sea monster eyewitness data with information on key dates in the scientific discovery of fossil marine reptiles and the dissemination of knowledge on them, we aimed to test de Camp’s idea. Our study was published this week in Earth Sciences History (Paxton & Naish 2019).

Has an increasing familiarity with Mesozoic marine reptiles - like the various sauropterygians, ichthyosaurs and kin shown here - influenced people’s ideas on their sightings of modern sea monsters? These illustrations are among the many I’ve done for my in-prep textbook,   on which go here  . Image: Darren Naish.

Has an increasing familiarity with Mesozoic marine reptiles - like the various sauropterygians, ichthyosaurs and kin shown here - influenced people’s ideas on their sightings of modern sea monsters? These illustrations are among the many I’ve done for my in-prep textbook, on which go here. Image: Darren Naish.

Incidentally, I had no strong feeling which way the data would go. I like the idea that sea monster reports have a genuine biological signal – in part because I’ve always thought that at least some sea monster accounts surely describe encounters with real unknown animals* – and hence don’t have any important correlation with scientific and cultural events. But… my increasing scepticism about the reality of sea monsters as new species means that I’m also keen on the idea that the monsters we claim to see are very much products of our cultural backgrounds, of our ‘expectant attention’ (that is, we ‘see’ those phenomena we expect to see due to our prior knowledge), and on those stories, scientific discoveries and artistic and literary works that we consider relevant to our lives. Indeed, this premise forms the core to my Hunting Monsters (Naish 2017).

* Those familiar with my publications will know that I’ve published many articles endorsing this viewpoint; take that, true believers who hate me for being a vile, biased, ivory tower sceptic.

Have I ever mentioned the book   Hunting Monsters  , available from all good digital retailers and in most book stores? Maybe I have. Image:   Naish (2017)  .

Have I ever mentioned the book Hunting Monsters, available from all good digital retailers and in most book stores? Maybe I have. Image: Naish (2017).

So – what did we find? That sea monster accounts do indeed correlate with the scientific discovery of long-necked marine reptiles (as in: plesiosaurs), since necks are explicitly mentioned or described from the 1850s onwards, and sea monsters were specifically likened to ‘plesiosaurs’ by eyewitnesses. Across the same time frame, those sea monsters accounts that describe the animals as serpent-like decline (Paxton & Naish 2019). In other words: yes, there is a ‘plesiosaur effect’.

Some of our graphs (  Paxton & Naish 2019  ). Eyewitnesses increasingly mentioned ‘plesiosaurs’ and the presence of necks throughout the 1800s. Across the same time frame, references to serpent-like features were in decline. Image:   Paxton & Naish (2019)  .

Some of our graphs (Paxton & Naish 2019). Eyewitnesses increasingly mentioned ‘plesiosaurs’ and the presence of necks throughout the 1800s. Across the same time frame, references to serpent-like features were in decline. Image: Paxton & Naish (2019).

A valid question that might arise at this point concerns public familiarity with the relevant fossil reptiles. The fact that a given fossil animal is ‘known to science’ doesn’t require that it also be ‘known to the public’. We kept this in mind and deliberately paid attention to the appearance of Mesozoic marine reptile fossils in public museum displays, in newspaper articles reporting on those displays, and in popular literature (Paxton & Naish 2019). And we found good indications that the public were aware of, perhaps even comparatively well informed on, animals like plesiosaurs from the 1820s onwards (Paxton & Naish 2019). Numerous specific cases demonstrate our point here, but among those we found especially interesting are a Punch cartoon of 1848 (which shows two inebriated naturalists talking about ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs), and the Crystal Palace models of 1854 (whoops: we say that the Crystal Palace models are at Sydenham, whereas they’re actually in Penge. Sorry).

This 1848 cartoon, from  Punch  magazine, indicates some familiarity among the public of the time with fossil animals like ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. Image:   Paxton & Naish (2019)  .

This 1848 cartoon, from Punch magazine, indicates some familiarity among the public of the time with fossil animals like ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. Image: Paxton & Naish (2019).

Does a link between familiarity with fossil marine reptiles and accounts of sea monsters mean that claimed sea monster sightings were not monster sightings at all, but fabrications or hoaxes inspired by this familiarity? Well, maybe. But not necessarily. In supporting the ‘plesiosaur effect’, we’re saying that people were influenced by fossil marine reptiles when interpreting sea monsters, and this remains true whether they saw unusual waves or floating bits of wood or scientifically new giant vertebrate species. Our conclusion is not ‘sea monster accounts were fake all along’.

Fox News coverage of our research. “Loch Ness”? “Dinosaurs”? “Delusion”? Sigh.

Fox News coverage of our research. “Loch Ness”? “Dinosaurs”? “Delusion”? Sigh.

Finally, it’s not surprising that this paper has succeeded in winning broad coverage across news outlets, at least online. A few pieces are responsible and accurately report our findings. But a number do not, stating instead that the discovery of dinosaurs – which emphatically are not the same thing as marine reptiles like plesiosaurs – can be linked to sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. Nessie, it could be argued, is relevant to our research given that ideas about sea monsters have indeed been instrumental to some ideas on what Nessie was like (some authors regarded Nessie as a sea monster that became trapped in Loch Ness). However, it is fundamentally missing the point to state or imply that we were analysing Loch Ness reports, since we absolutely were not. I remain dismayed that journalists of some outlets see terms like ‘sea monster’ and maintain that it can only be translated to the public by changing it to ‘Loch Ness Monster’. NO. Resist the urge to dumb down. We can make the world a slightly better place by seeking to educate, and doing so doesn’t mean making a thing super-complicated, boring or off-putting.

Here are media articles covering our research, if you’re interested…

So there we have it. This work forms part of a minor ‘scientific cryptozoology’ movement whereby those of us involved aim to critically analyse cryptozoological data in objective fashion. There aren’t many people doing this, but what’s always obvious is that public interest in such projects is high.

At least some of us have published technical research, in the peer-reviewed literature, where we aim to evaluate and test cryptozoological claims and hypotheses. In 2011, a re-evaluation of the Hagelund ‘baby Cadborosaurus’ showed that it was most like a misidentified pipefish (  Woodley  et al . 2011  ). Image:   Woodley  et al . (2011)  .

At least some of us have published technical research, in the peer-reviewed literature, where we aim to evaluate and test cryptozoological claims and hypotheses. In 2011, a re-evaluation of the Hagelund ‘baby Cadborosaurus’ showed that it was most like a misidentified pipefish (Woodley et al. 2011). Image: Woodley et al. (2011).

If you enjoyed this article and would like to see me do more, please consider supporting this blog (for as little as $1 per month) at patreon. The more support I receive, the more financially viable this project becomes and the more time and effort I can spend on it. Thank you :)

For previous TetZoo articles on sea monsters and related matters (concentrated on those articles that haven’t been destroyed due to formatting issues at ScienceBlogs and SciAm), see…

Refs - -

de Camp, L. S. 1968. Dinosaurs in today's world. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 34 (3), 68-80.

France, R. L. 2016a. Reinterpreting nineteenth-century accounts of whales battling ‘sea serpents’ as an illation of early entanglement in pre-plastic fishing gear or maritime debris. International Journal of Maritime History 28 686-714.

France, R. 2016b. Historicity of sea turtles misidentified as sea monsters: a case for the early entanglement of marine chelonians in pre-plastic fishing nets and maritime debris. Coriolis: Interdisciplinary Journal of Maritime Studies 6. 1-24.

Galbreath, G. J. 2015. The 1848 ‘enormous serpent’ of the Daedalus identified. Skeptical Inquirer 35 (5), 42-46.

Heuvelmans, B. 1968. In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents. Hill and Wang, New York.

Naish, D. 2017. Hunting Monsters. Arcturus, London.

Paxton, C. G. M. 2009. The plural of "anecdote" can be "data": statistical analysis of viewing distances in reports of unidentified giant marine animals 1758-2000. Journal of Zoology 279, 381-387.

Paxton, C., Knatterud, E. & Hedley, S. L. 2004. Cetaceans, sex and sea serpents: an analysis of the Egede accounts of a “most dreadful monster” seen off the coast of Greenland in 1734. Archives of Natural History 32, 1-9.

Paxton, C. G. M. & Naish, D. 2019. Did nineteenth century marine vertebrate fossil discoveries influence sea serpent reports? Earth Sciences History 38, 16-27.

Woodley, M. A., Naish, D., & McCormick, C. A. 2011. A baby sea-serpent no more: reinterpreting Hagelund’s juvenile “cadborosaur” report. Journal of Scientific Exploration 25, 495-512.

Usborne’s All About Monsters

I’ve written before about books that influenced me a great deal, and today I want to talk about a book that I remember very fondly from childhood. It’s All About Monsters by Carey Miller, part of the Usborne ‘The World of the Unknown’ series, published in 1977 (Miller 1977). If you know this book as well as I do, you’ll already remember it and know how good it is. If not, prepare for a treat… if, that is, you like beautifully illustrated children’s books on monsters.

Usborne-Monsters-cover-1000px-tiny-April-2019-Tetrapod-Zoology.jpg

Miller’s All About Monsters is a slim paperback, 32 pages long. It covers monsters from mythology, prehistoric monsters (because why not), sea monsters, and monsters of today (read: cryptozoology for kids). The text is fine – as you’d expect for Usborne, one of the world’s leading publishers of children’s book – but it’s the art that really makes this a wonderful book for me. The credits tell us that John Francis, Malcolm McGregor, Michael Roffe, Christine Howes and Mike Baber illustrated the book, with Francis being the creator of the majority of pieces. Check out the illustration on the cover, shown above. The juxtaposition of a terrifying giant predatory aquatic reptile with a manicured, very ‘British’ landscape is striking, memorable, and exciting.

The Monongahela monster, illustrated as if we actually knew what it looked like: a thick-bodied, serpentine creature that swam with a spiralling action and had homodont, conical teeth. The art throughout the book is fantastic. Image: John Francis/Usborne/Miller 1977.

The Monongahela monster, illustrated as if we actually knew what it looked like: a thick-bodied, serpentine creature that swam with a spiralling action and had homodont, conical teeth. The art throughout the book is fantastic. Image: John Francis/Usborne/Miller 1977.

In keeping with the vibe of conventional monster books – they describe monsters as if they might be real and awaiting scientific discovery – Miller’s book recounts several famous anecdotes and stories as if they’re ‘true’. A ‘serpents in the sea’ spread, for example, discusses the Monongahela report of 1852 (today mostly regarded as a hoax: Roesch 1997), the 1881 Bertie account (in which a group of North Sea fisherman had a frightening encounter with a seaweed-draped monster that glared at them with terrifying eyes) and, best of all, the 1962 Florida account in which five American Air Force skin-divers were picked off, one by one, by a terrifying sea monster lurking in the fog. This is one of my favourite sea monster accounts. The problem? No-one has ever been able to determine that it ever really happened. It seems to be one of those stories that appeared in an unreferenced book (written by the likes of John Keel or Ivan Sanderson) and was then simply copied forevermore by authors implying that the initial report should be trusted. The story was retold, in illustrations, by Randall & Keane (1978).

The best sea monster story, here retold by Randall & Keane (1978). Image: Randall & Keane (1978).

The best sea monster story, here retold by Randall & Keane (1978). Image: Randall & Keane (1978).

Yetis and sasquatches get a few pages. The idea that bigfoot might eat leaves, fish, rodents and stolen doughnuts and chocolate, and a montage that compares its foot anatomy with that of other primates (and bears), all serve to make this creature biologically plausible to the young mind. If you know the crypto-hominid literature, the references to such things as chocolate-eating derive from the writings of John Green, Ivan Sanderson and others.

The yeti - here, very much the  Dinanthropoides  of Heuvelmans - as a hominid of the snows. Image: John Francis/Usborne/Miller 1977.

The yeti - here, very much the Dinanthropoides of Heuvelmans - as a hominid of the snows. Image: John Francis/Usborne/Miller 1977.

The illustration of a sasquatch – I think by John Francis – always made the animal look too rangy and thin-furred for my liking (I much prefer my sasquatches to look super-buff and of lustrous pelt), but then there are at least some descriptions that do talk of creatures of this form.

A gracile, thin-furred, ‘old man’ bigfoot (which is a bit odd, given that the creature is depicted in a snowy landscape). Image: John Francis/Usborne/Miller 1977.

A gracile, thin-furred, ‘old man’ bigfoot (which is a bit odd, given that the creature is depicted in a snowy landscape). Image: John Francis/Usborne/Miller 1977.

Nessie is unashamedly depicted as an elasmosaur (disclaimer: “This is what a lot of people think the Loch Ness Monster might look like”, p. 24), though the green shade of water in the background is misleading. Loch Ness is black. An artistic depiction of the famous 1972 ‘flipper photo’ is also shown, and it looks great – again, biologically plausible if you’re a young reader (and a reader who doesn’t yet know that the original photo features marks made by a paintbrush. It is emphatically not a photo of an animal’s appendage).

Nessie as a plesiosaur. And, at right, the famous flipper depicted as if it might be real. Hey, it was the 1970s. Image: Usborne/Miller 1977.

Nessie as a plesiosaur. And, at right, the famous flipper depicted as if it might be real. Hey, it was the 1970s. Image: Usborne/Miller 1977.

The book finishes with a section on monsters from movies. I never much liked this section because monsters made by people are obviously just not the same as monsters that might exist for real (insert ironic comment about monsters being products of culture and tradition). There’s also a glossary – a brief ‘dictionary of monsters’ – that features some more great artwork. A very attractive blue, white and red griffin, and a classic ‘wolfman’ werewolf feature, among others.

At left: a rendition of John Lambton’s battling of the Lambton worm, an oft-recounted piece of English folklore. Right: a wolfman of the Lon Chaney sort. Image: Usborne/Miller 1977.

At left: a rendition of John Lambton’s battling of the Lambton worm, an oft-recounted piece of English folklore. Right: a wolfman of the Lon Chaney sort. Image: Usborne/Miller 1977.

And that’s where we’ll end things. If there’s one criticism of the book, it’s that it never really emphasises the fact that monsters – whether they be krakens, European lake monsters, yeti-type creatures or whatever – really need to be interpreted within the context of anthropology, sociology and folklore, and not interpreted from the off as descriptions of real but unknown animals.

Tyrannosaurus  as a monster, dripping with blood… which, to be fair, must have happened at times. And yay ducks. Image: John Francis/Usborne/Miller 1977.

Tyrannosaurus as a monster, dripping with blood… which, to be fair, must have happened at times. And yay ducks. Image: John Francis/Usborne/Miller 1977.

I should also note that Beverly Halstead was consultant for this book, which partly explains a few unusual details in the prehistoric animals section. Tyrannosaurus, for example, is said to have “waddled along”, a pet Halstead idea, repeated elsewhere (e.g., Halstead 1975), that was always woefully wrong. Also of note here – given this recent TetZoo article – is the old photo of the Crystal Palace Iguanodon, surely depicting the model’s appearance during the latter years of the 1970s.

The Crystal Palace reclining  Iguanodon , as it looked during the late 70s. Contrast this with the images shown   in the TetZoo article here  . Image: Usborne/Miller 1977.

The Crystal Palace reclining Iguanodon, as it looked during the late 70s. Contrast this with the images shown in the TetZoo article here. Image: Usborne/Miller 1977.

All in all, a fantastically fun book, with illustrations that remain interesting and inspirational to me today. All About Monsters very likely did inspire and foster my interest in monsters, and probably made me want to find out more about them. Did it make be believe in them, or believe in them more? I’m not sure about that. I do, however, think that it did little to hone or improve my nascent skills in scepticism or critical thinking, since one thing that appears wholly lacking from the book is the idea that monster stories should be viewed as social or cultural phenomena more than as descriptions of encounters with real creatures. Indeed, the fact that the various accounts and stories – those of Albert Ostman, Dr Pronin of Leningrad University, Mr and Mrs John MacKay of the Loch Ness region and so on – are stated as facts is somewhat problematic for a book designed to serve an educational role. That said, I retain a great fondness for what remains one of my favourite books.

Water monster from the opening pages of the book. The weed snagged on the teeth is a nice touch (and reminds me of the creatures from the 1975 movie  The Land That Time Forgot ). Image: John Francis/Usborne/Miller 1977.

Water monster from the opening pages of the book. The weed snagged on the teeth is a nice touch (and reminds me of the creatures from the 1975 movie The Land That Time Forgot). Image: John Francis/Usborne/Miller 1977.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see me do more, more often, please consider supporting me at patreon. The more funding I receive, the more time I’m able to devote to producing material for TetZoo and the more productive I can be on those long-overdue book projects. Thanks!

For previous TetZoo articles on cryptozoology (concentrating on articles that haven’t been stripped of their images, thanks ScienceBlogs and SciAm)…

Refs - -

Halstead, L. B. 1975. The Evolution and Ecology of the Dinosaurs. Eurobook Ltd, London.

Miller, C. 1977. All About Monsters, Usborne, London.

Randall, N. & Keane, G. 1978. Focus on Fact. No. 5 Unsolved Mysteries. W. H. Allen & Co, London.

Roesch, B. S. 1997. A review of alleged sea serpent carcasses worldwide (part one – 1648-1880). The Cryptozoology Review 2 (2), 6-27.

Books on the Loch Ness Monster 2: Gareth Williams’s A Monstrous Commotion

Welcome to the second article in this short series on recently(ish) published books on the Loch Ness Monster (or LNM) (the first article is here).

The most impressive and interesting of the several Nessie paintings produced by Peter Scott - here, depicted on the back of my battered copy of the PG Tips 1987  Unexplained Mysteries of the World , written by Robert J. M. Rickard. Image: Darren Naish.

The most impressive and interesting of the several Nessie paintings produced by Peter Scott - here, depicted on the back of my battered copy of the PG Tips 1987 Unexplained Mysteries of the World, written by Robert J. M. Rickard. Image: Darren Naish.

This time round, we look at the 2015 volume A Monstrous Commotion: the Mysteries of Loch Ness, a dense, thick, attractively designed volume of 365 pages that might be the only LNM-themed book that could be classed as an airport novel (Williams 2015). I confess to being unaware of Gareth Williams prior to hearing about the publication of this book. But maybe that’s understandable, since a brief biography tells us that he’s an internationally recognised expert on diabetes and obesity affiliated with the University of Bristol, has penned over 200 papers on medical topics, and has previously published books on smallpox and polio.

Front cover of   Williams (2015)  .

Front cover of Williams (2015).

The volume begins with a timeline, a few pages providing potted biographies of the many human characters, a list of illustrations and some maps. The book also includes two plate sections and a smattering of black and white drawings.

The primary value of this book – its main selling point to an audience familiar with the LNM – is that it tells the backstory to the 1975 Nature paper by Sir Peter Scott and Robert Rines, a promise made in both the preface and the blurb on the back. This is the infamous paper – I’ll make the point again: published in the world’s most prestigious scientific journal – in which Scott and Rines argued not only that Nessie is real and that they had evidence proving it, but that it needed a scientific name. And thus we have Nessiteras rhombopteryx Scott and Rines, 1975 (and: no, it wasn’t a deliberately constructed anagram of ‘Monster Hoax by Sir Peter S’; to state such ignores Scott’s long-running, highly active investment and commitment to belief in the monster and his many published statements on it). The run-up to the publication of this paper, the fallout, and the alliances that were attempted, formed and broken is a fascinating story never told before in such depth, and it’s Williams’s use of Peter Scott’s correspondence that has allowed him to tell the tale. Excellent. This should be good.

Loch Ness is a beautiful and sublime place, monster or not. Image: Darren Naish.

Loch Ness is a beautiful and sublime place, monster or not. Image: Darren Naish.

Alas, I was immediately disappointed on finding that the book starts – as do so many books on the Loch Ness Monster – with that oh so familiar stuff about the Great Glen Fault, St Columba, kelpie legends and the stories and events of the 1930s. Clearly, we aren’t getting the Scott story alone, but the whole shebang, and while Williams writes well, I’m not sure that there’s anything in the early chapters that hasn’t been covered before.

I’ve said before that there are awful lot of books on the Loch Ness Monster… even this is far from a complete selection of what’s out there (I’m still collecting). Image: Darren Naish.

I’ve said before that there are awful lot of books on the Loch Ness Monster… even this is far from a complete selection of what’s out there (I’m still collecting). Image: Darren Naish.

His take on Rupert Gould is admittedly interesting though. Gould – typically portrayed by authors of LNM-themed books as a bold and daring adventurer, a physical and metaphorical ex-military giant of a man who covered great distances on his motorbike and was a wise and indefatigable collector of interviews and facts, and a pioneering investigator of the unknown – is portrayed as a troubled oddball deeply affected by the frightening events of warfare. And yes, Williams does cover Gould’s eventual conclusion (about-turn, if you like) that the Spicers didn’t see a giant scientifically unrecognised (semi)aquatic vertebrate species, but “a huddle of deer crossing the road” (p. 227). Incidentally, Williams states that Gould made this private admonition in the marked proofs of his book The Loch Ness Monster and Others, but that’s not right. The annotation concerned was hand-written in a published copy and not connected at all to the manuscript during its proof stage (Binns 2017, p. 150). This is one of many minor but arguably important errors made throughout the book.

Peter Macnab’s photo of 1955. This is the version lacking the vegetation in the foreground. Regarded by some Nessie proponents as depicting two monsters swimming in close proximity, it is most likely part of a boat wake, as suggested by the lines in the water about parallel to the ‘monster(s)’. This is a scan of the original photo, provided by Dick Raynor (and available  here ). Image: (c) P. A. Macnab.

Peter Macnab’s photo of 1955. This is the version lacking the vegetation in the foreground. Regarded by some Nessie proponents as depicting two monsters swimming in close proximity, it is most likely part of a boat wake, as suggested by the lines in the water about parallel to the ‘monster(s)’. This is a scan of the original photo, provided by Dick Raynor (and available here). Image: (c) P. A. Macnab.

Post-Gould, Williams discusses Constance Whyte’s More Than a Legend and the way LNM news was received at the time before going on to discuss the pop-culture backdrop to the events of the 1960s and 70s, somehow weaving in David Attenborough and Zoo Quest for a Dragon, Jacques Cousteau and Hans Hass. After a brief skip through the adventures of Torquil MacLeod and Peter Macnab (both are among those ‘classic’ eyewitnesses who claimed, respectively, a remarkable sighting and a remarkable photo… of a boat wake), we’re introduced to one of the pivotal and most influential characters in LNMology: Tim Dinsdale, aeronautical engineer, charismatic good-guy and near-professional monster believer. Dinsdale is especially relevant to the story Williams tells because it was he – not Constance Whyte, not the preponderance of evidence, not the rash of 1930s sightings – who roped Peter Scott into the saga. I don’t want to say too much about Dinsdale here since he’ll form the focus of my third LNM-themed book review.

Torquil MacLeod’s Nessie of February 1960, observed through binoculars and estimated to be 13-15 m long, as drawn by Alan Jones for   Witchell (1975)  . Image: Alan Jones/  Witchell (1975)  .

Torquil MacLeod’s Nessie of February 1960, observed through binoculars and estimated to be 13-15 m long, as drawn by Alan Jones for Witchell (1975). Image: Alan Jones/Witchell (1975).

What I will say for now is that Williams is by far too sympathetic to Dinsdale, failing to remark on Dinsdale’s sudden and, frankly, remarkable commitment to belief in the monster, nor is he appropriately critical of Dinsdale’s sightings or claims. Take Williams’s statement (p. 70) that Dinsdale was “catapulted into the limelight and would never escape from it”, or that “he found himself on Panorama, the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs programme” (p. 70). More accurate segments of text might read that Dinsdale “clamoured for and gained the limelight, and successfully managed to hold it upon himself for years to come”, and that “finally, he received the attention he had sought via a campaign of sending letters and telegrams, and succeeded in winning a spot on Panorama”.

Dinsdale (standing, at right) with Robert Rines (l) and Martin Klein in 1970. Image:   Dinsdale (1976)  .

Dinsdale (standing, at right) with Robert Rines (l) and Martin Klein in 1970. Image: Dinsdale (1976).

Dinsdale arrives. On reaching the part of the book that discusses Dinsdale and his Loch Ness adventures, I was finally feeling that I’d gotten through the preamble and reached the good stuff. To be clear, Williams does deliver the goods, providing a discussion and review novel enough and interesting enough to make the book a worthy addition to the LNM literature.

As noted above, it was Dinsdale who – through writing to Scott in a possibly desperate yet optimistic and bold gamble – brought Scott into the fold, his initial letter (addressed to ‘Mr Peter Scott, Naturalist, c/o BBC Television, London W1’) promising the support of a noted and reputable scientist (almost certainly Maurice Burton, then of the British Museum (Natural History)). Dinsdale’s several later letters discussed his mathematical analysis which basically consisted of calculating averages from the various eyewitness accounts that contained measurements.

Tim Dinsdale and his identikit-style view of what the Loch Ness Monster looked like. He reached this view by bundling all eyewitness accounts together and taking averages. Image: (c) Tim Dinsdale.

Tim Dinsdale and his identikit-style view of what the Loch Ness Monster looked like. He reached this view by bundling all eyewitness accounts together and taking averages. Image: (c) Tim Dinsdale.

Why was Scott prepared to let himself be involved in the Loch Ness story? While Scott certainly stated that his belief in the monster was based on sheer preponderance of evidence (Scott 1976), Williams notes (p. xxxiii) that Scott’s interest in Nessie was quite plausibly motivated by his feeling that it could serve as a flagship species, in the same ballpark as the tiger and giant panda, for the fledgling World Willdlife Fund. Scott’s own drawings support this idea.

Here’s another of the big, spectacular, Nessie-themed works of art produced by Peter Scott (this is only a section of the whole thing). Image: (c) Peter Scott.

Here’s another of the big, spectacular, Nessie-themed works of art produced by Peter Scott (this is only a section of the whole thing). Image: (c) Peter Scott.

Scott and Dinsdale met in person in 1960, but not before Dinsdale explained his plan. He would need Scott as an ally in convincing her majesty Queen Elizabeth II that Nessie was real and in need of protection. Scott knew the Royal Family, moved in the right circles, and was sufficiently impressed by Dinsdale’s argumentation to consider this an appropriate course of action, even making the suggestion that Nessie might be given the scientific name Elizabethia nessiae* (Williams 2015). Alas, Dinsdale had already written to the Royal Family by this time and his impetuousness on this front – he was to write to them several more times – partly derailed efforts to carefully, thoughtfully build a case for the monster’s existence, one that might be sufficiently interesting and carefully stated to keep sceptics, the scientific community, the media and people like the Royal Family on board.

* Incidentally, another proposed binomial – Nessiesaurus o’connori (sic: the specific name should have been written ‘oconnori’) – is also outed in this book. It was proposed by Peter O’Connor, author of the almost certainly hoaxed ‘inverted kayak’ photo of 1960, in his correspondence to Scott (Williams 2015).

By the mid 1970s, Peter Scott was happy to publicly state a belief in the Loch Ness Monster, and there are even photographs of him wearing an ‘I Believe in Nessie’ t-shirt. Here’s the cover of a magazine issue that features a key Scott article on the subject. Image: Darren Naish.

By the mid 1970s, Peter Scott was happy to publicly state a belief in the Loch Ness Monster, and there are even photographs of him wearing an ‘I Believe in Nessie’ t-shirt. Here’s the cover of a magazine issue that features a key Scott article on the subject. Image: Darren Naish.

Over the months and years that followed, Scott worked to build a case, Tim Dinsdale’s film of 1960 being one of several pieces of evidence deemed crucial. The many ups and downs, false-starts, setbacks, and input and involvement of others make for a complex story that I’m not about to summarise. The eventual outcome, which had emerged by 1970, was the involvement of Americans including Chicago’s Roy Mackal and patent lawyer Robert H. Rines, the rise and fall of the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau, and a gradual parting of the ways between Scott and Dinsdale.

There’s a definite undercurrent in the book of Scott and Dinsdale working to somewhat different ends. The Dinsdale plan was to announce and promote the monster’s existence and reality as loudly and frequently as possible. The Scott plan was to form a solid portfolio of good evidence, hold formal meetings where this evidence could be presented to and digested by the right parties, and to ultimately gain legal protection for a neglected and remarkable new species honestly thought by Scott to be, most probably, a living plesiosaur (Scott 1976).

Palaeontologists specialising on plesiosaurs have near universally been very hostile to the idea that the Loch Ness Monster might be a living plesiosaur. But it’s also a very familiar idea that plesiosaur experts have sometimes toyed with. This diagram is from  Big Mouths and Long Necks , a short book devoted to plesiosaurs. Image: Taylor & Martin (1990).

Palaeontologists specialising on plesiosaurs have near universally been very hostile to the idea that the Loch Ness Monster might be a living plesiosaur. But it’s also a very familiar idea that plesiosaur experts have sometimes toyed with. This diagram is from Big Mouths and Long Necks, a short book devoted to plesiosaurs. Image: Taylor & Martin (1990).

Scott and Rines 1975, and the ‘flipper’ photos. As anyone familiar with the Loch Ness story knows, the turning point was the use of sonar detection and strobe photography in the loch, the eventual result being the presentation of photos said by Rines and his colleagues to be proof of the monster’s existence and to give insight on its form (Scott & Rines 1975, Rines et al. 1976, Scott 1976, Sitwell 1976, Rines 1982).

My own take on one of the Rines/Egerton ‘flipper photos’, drawn when I was about 14. Like many people in those years (this would’ve been drawn in the late 1980s), I had been led to believe that the photos really show the giant, diamond-shaped flippers of a very big animal. They don’t. Image: Darren Naish.

My own take on one of the Rines/Egerton ‘flipper photos’, drawn when I was about 14. Like many people in those years (this would’ve been drawn in the late 1980s), I had been led to believe that the photos really show the giant, diamond-shaped flippers of a very big animal. They don’t. Image: Darren Naish.

Initial claims that the flipper photos showed a pentadactyl anatomy (thereby confirming a tetrapod identity for the creature), that two diving animals, moving synchronously and close together, had been captured in a single frame and that a close-up view of the animal’s external surface revealed details of skin texture and even its parasites (Witchell 1975, p. 150), all proved embellished or inaccurate, to use the kindest words possible. We think today that the flipper photos were physically modified, that the ‘gargoyle head’ photo (which had been rotated by 90° relative to its original orientation) doesn’t depict an animal’s head but a tree stump on the floor of the loch, and that an alleged shot of the body and neck cannot be of a large animal but a small object close to the camera, most likely a submerged branch (Naish 2017).

The weird and ugly ‘gargoyle head’, interpreted as the snorkelled, horned, short-faced creature depicted at right in this painting by Peter Scott. Read on for another version of that Scott painting. Images: Rines  et al . (1976), Peter Scott.

The weird and ugly ‘gargoyle head’, interpreted as the snorkelled, horned, short-faced creature depicted at right in this painting by Peter Scott. Read on for another version of that Scott painting. Images: Rines et al. (1976), Peter Scott.

Nevertheless, it’s obvious from some of the things written at the time that these developments must have been extraordinarily exciting. I’m always struck by the following breathless words from Nicholas Witchell…

“This paper edition of The Loch Ness Story is being rushed out in the autumn of 1975 at a time when the world is about to witness one of the greatest and most dramatic discoveries of the twentieth century: the discovery and probable identification of a semi-mythical creature known throughout the world as the ‘Monster’ of Scotland’s Loch Ness.

“As the final chapter describes, a set of detailed colour photographs of the head and body of the ‘Monster’ have been taken by a highly respected American scientific team. They have set the zoological world, and will very shortly set the whole scientific and lay world, ablaze with excitement. After nearly fifty years of legend and mystery, the saga of the Loch Ness ‘Monster’ is about to end with the addition of a remarkable new (or possibly very ancient) species to the world’s animal kingdom” (Witchell 1975, unpaginated author’s preface).

Dinsdale, despite the rift that would then have existed between himself and Scott, announced his great confidence in the photos (Dinsdale 1973), and such was their apparent significance that they were reported not just in the Nature paper, but on the journal’s cover too. Here is another of Williams’s gaffs, since he describes the paper as an “anonymous item” (p. 175). In fact, Scott and Rines are clearly noted as authors in the article’s abstract (Scott & Rines 1975).

The first part of the Scott & Rines (1975) article. Image: Nature Publishing Group.

The first part of the Scott & Rines (1975) article. Image: Nature Publishing Group.

The publication of this paper is definitely one of the weirder decisions ever made by Nature and one that attracted immediate and strong criticism. Importantly, it makes a mockery of the notion, beloved of cryptozoologists, that ‘the establishment’ has forever shunned or deliberately ignored such things as Nessie. Bullshit, dudes; you had a freakin’ paper in Nature.

The Peter Scott books I own. Image: Darren Naish.

The Peter Scott books I own. Image: Darren Naish.

On that note, one thing that should strike you while reading this book is the extremely high number of working scientists, academic institutions and official societies that, at some time or another since the 1930s, were embroiled in the Loch Ness saga. In, again, massive and hilarious contrast to the idea that academics shun or ignore cryptozoological subjects like the Loch Ness Monster, such qualified workers as Richard Harrison and Leo Harrison Matthews (both well known for their work on marine mammals), marine biologist Sir Alister Hardy, primatologist Sir Solly Zuckerman, palaeontologist Alan Charig*, ethologist, artist, author and TV personality Desmond Morris and many others were all involved or solicited opinion at some point. Hardy, incidentally, stated his belief in the monster (Wiliams 2015, p. 94).

* I wish I’d known this when writing a biography on Charig (Moody & Naish 2010).

Robert Rines has been a mildly controversial figure, and there have been occasions in which his credentials and qualifications were called into question. Here are two letters from the pages of  New Scientist , both from 1982 (vol 95, issues 1315 and 1320, respectively). Image:  New Scientist .

Robert Rines has been a mildly controversial figure, and there have been occasions in which his credentials and qualifications were called into question. Here are two letters from the pages of New Scientist, both from 1982 (vol 95, issues 1315 and 1320, respectively). Image: New Scientist.

On science and scientists, and anti-scientific statements. All in all, A Monstrous Commotion is useful in providing a great deal of novel discussion pertaining to the Scott correspondence, so far so good. But the book is somewhat ruined by a soft pro-Nessie stance that shines through in some places, the author’s insinuation being that Nessie is real and deserving of study and that those scientists and commentators who have rejected its existence and failed to take it seriously are the ones in error.

In places, he appears to unquestionably accept a few notions that, while beloved of Nessie supporters, have been so effectively countered that they shouldn’t ever be used as ‘supporting’ arguments ever again. Examples? That “the Monster [has] a pedigree that [goes] back … over 1,300 years” (p. 9) (see Magin 2001), or that coelacanths can be used to support the idea that the fossil record may as well be disregarded (p. 61).

The idea that  Latimeria , the extant coelacanth, provides support for the view that Mesozoic-grade vertebrate taxa might persist to the present without leaving a fossil record is very naive. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve now known of Holocene coelacanths for more than 80 years. This model was on display at the Natural History Museum (London, UK) in 2013. Image: Darren Naish.

The idea that Latimeria, the extant coelacanth, provides support for the view that Mesozoic-grade vertebrate taxa might persist to the present without leaving a fossil record is very naive. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve now known of Holocene coelacanths for more than 80 years. This model was on display at the Natural History Museum (London, UK) in 2013. Image: Darren Naish.

Williams notes the sometimes irksome statements made by Nessie supporters about scientists and the scientific process. Constance Whyte, describes Williams, might have seen the scientists of the day as “[a]rrogant and tunnel-visioned”, and that “they could not even be bothered to get out of their armchairs and visit Loch Ness to review the evidence for themselves. Of course, the Monster appeared to flout some basic rules of zoology, and pursuing it could be a waste of time. However, rules were made to be broken, and open-mindedness was supposed to be the hallmark of a good scientist” (p. 63). Williams continues: “All the prejudices and inflexibility of the scientific establishment had been neatly summed up by one of the leading biologists of the 1930s, Sir Arthur Keith FRS” who, Williams tells us, spoke “from the ivory tower of the Royal College of Surgeons” and went on to dismiss the beast “as a problem for psychologists, not zoologists” (p. 63). There are, of course, good reasons for thinking that Keith’s idea of a psychological explanation for monsters is a good one, not the opposite. William’s goes on to refer to the “scientific mafia” when describing the scientific response to Whyte’s 1957 book (p. 63).

The Cryptozoologicon Volume I  sometimes mocks the aggressive tone used by some cryptozoologists. At right, part of John Conway’s scene of a Himalayan yeti group. Image: John Conway/  Conway  et al . (2013)  .

The Cryptozoologicon Volume I sometimes mocks the aggressive tone used by some cryptozoologists. At right, part of John Conway’s scene of a Himalayan yeti group. Image: John Conway/Conway et al. (2013).

This sort of wording will be familiar if you’ve read my 2013 book (co-authored with John Conway and C. M. Kosemen) The Cryptozoologicon. Therein we deliberately mocked the vitriolic, vituperative, frothing-at-the-mouth-with-anger tone aimed at sceptics and working scientists by a certain cadre of cryptozoological believers (Conway et al. 2013). Fact is, the history of research on all the subjects beloved of cryptozoologists – Nessie, bigfoot, the yeti – shows that working scientists never shunned, ignored, dismissed or rejected these things but, on the contrary, spent time considering them, writing about them and even investigating them, only to get their fingers burnt when the subjects proved to mostly be a waste of time (cf Regal 2011). Look again at the list of scientists mentioned above: it’s absolutely farcical to state that scientists haven’t been interested, or haven’t bothered to investigate this stuff. To be clear: Williams isn’t guilty of painting science and scientists in this way, but he’s saying that Whyte was.

Your author (on the right) with Nessie. Image: Darren Naish.

Your author (on the right) with Nessie. Image: Darren Naish.

Indeed, this sort of thing – championed and given the thumbs up by at least some cryptozoologists (and their allies, the paranormalists) – only makes its proponents look naïve and clueless. Caricaturing scientists critical of the Loch Ness Monster as a ‘mafia’ implies that they work together as a band when confronted with a problem. The inner workings and politics of science involve very much the opposite, a fact often destructive and detrimental to those involved. Dear cryptozoologists critical of ‘the scientific establishment’ or of scientific sceptics in general: why do you insist on remaining so clueless with respect to what science is and how it works? There isn’t a gang or club of conspiring scientists who elect to take a given stance on a topic, but a community of competing individuals, all of whom are complex human beings.

The idea that Nessie might have retractable snorkels on its head - an odd idea, to be sure - has long been fairly popular in the LNM literature. The ‘gargoyle head’ photo has to be interpreted within this context. Image: Randall & Keane (1978).

The idea that Nessie might have retractable snorkels on its head - an odd idea, to be sure - has long been fairly popular in the LNM literature. The ‘gargoyle head’ photo has to be interpreted within this context. Image: Randall & Keane (1978).

Finally, a complaint I wish to make about A Monstrous Commotion is that it is, in places, oddly deficient in giving credit. I suppose I shouldn’t expect my own critical comments on various of the LNM photos to warrant mention since (outside of 2016/2017’s Hunting Monsters) they were only ever published here at TetZoo, not in print, but the complete and total absence of Ronald Binns – he isn’t mentioned or even cited once – is odd. Suspiciously so, given that a few sections of the book read much as if they took data or conclusions from Binns (1983). The lack of reference to the many discussions which have occurred within the various ‘parish magazines’ of cryptozoology – Fortean Times, Animals & Men, The Cryptozoology Review, Strange Magazine, Fortean Studies and so on – is also a bit odd.

More evidence for the snorkel-headed Nessie meme: this is the brilliant Kaiyodo toy. Mine was specially shipped from Japan, and oh do I love it. Image: Darren Naish.

More evidence for the snorkel-headed Nessie meme: this is the brilliant Kaiyodo toy. Mine was specially shipped from Japan, and oh do I love it. Image: Darren Naish.

A Monstrous Commotion is an entertaining book that I much enjoyed reading. After a slow start that I would have been happy to go without, it tells a fascinating story and does it well. Those seriously interested in the history of research and ideas on lake monsters should definitely read it, and it might even be said to be one of the best and most professional of books on the Loch Ness Monster yet published. However, it is sometimes appears too sympathetic to those who supported the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, doesn’t appropriately cite all relevant sources, and has enough small, technical errors that it shouldn’t be relied on for factual accuracy.

The only versions of Peter Scott’s renditions of the ‘gargoyle head’ illustration I’ve seen online have been tiny and very low-res, so here’s my best effort at reproducing the best version I have to hand (it’s from the 1981 Reader’s Digest book  Into the Unknown ). Image: Peter Scott/Bradbury (1981).

The only versions of Peter Scott’s renditions of the ‘gargoyle head’ illustration I’ve seen online have been tiny and very low-res, so here’s my best effort at reproducing the best version I have to hand (it’s from the 1981 Reader’s Digest book Into the Unknown). Image: Peter Scott/Bradbury (1981).

Williams, G. 2015. A Monstrous Commotion: the Mysteries of Loch Ness. Orion Books, London. pp. 365. ISBN 978-1-4091-5874-5. Softback, refs. Here at amazon. Here at amazon.co.uk.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see me do more, more often, please consider supporting me at patreon. The more funding I receive, the more time I’m able to devote to producing material for TetZoo and the more productive I can be on those long-overdue book projects. Thanks!

Nessie and related issues have been covered on TetZoo a fair bit before, though many of the older images now lack ALL of the many images they originally included…

Refs - -

Bradbury, W. 1981. Into the Unknown. Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, New York/Montreal.

Binns, R. 1983. The Loch Ness Mystery Solved. Open Books, London.

Binns, R. 2017. The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded. Zoilus Press.

Conway, J., Kosemen, C. M. & Naish, D. 2013. Cryptozoologicon Volume I. Irregular Books.

Dinsdale, T. 1973. The Rines/Egerton picture. The Photographic Journal April 1973, 162-165.

Dinsdale, T. 1976. Loch Ness Monster, Revised Edition. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.

Magin, U. 2001. Waves without wind and a floating island – historical accounts of the Loch Ness monster. In Simmons, I. & Quin, M. (eds) Fortean Studies Volume 7. John Brown Publishing (London), pp. 95-115.

Moody, R. T. J. & Naish, D. 2010. Alan Jack Charig (1927-1997): an overview of his academic accomplishments and role in the world of fossil reptile research. In Moody, R. T. J., Buffetaut, E., Naish, D. & Martill, D. M. (eds) Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 343, pp. 89-109.

Naish, D. 2017. Hunting Monsters: Cryptozoology and the Reality Behind the Myths. Arcturus, London.

Randall, N. & Keane, G. 1978. Focus on Fact. No. 5 Unsolved Mysteries. W. H. Allen & Co, London.

Regal, B. 2011. Searching for Sasquatch: Crackpots, Eggheads, and Cryptozoology. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Rines, R. H. 1982. Summarizing a decade of underwater studies at Loch Ness. Cryptozoology 1, 24-32.

Rines, R. H., Edgerton, H. E., Wyckoff, C. W. & Klein, M. 1976. Search for the Loch Ness Monster. Technology Review March/April 1976, 25-40.

Scott, P. 1976. Why I believe in the Loch Ness Monster. Wildlife 18, 110-111.

Scott, P. & Rines, R. 1975. Naming the Loch Ness monster. Nature 258, 466-468.

Sitwell, N. 1976. The Loch Ness Monster evidence. Wildlife 18, 102-109.

Taylor, M. A. & Martin, J. G. 1990. Big Mouths and Long Necks. Leicestershire Museums, Arts and Records Service, Leicester.

Williams, G. 2015. A Monstrous Commotion: the Mysteries of Loch Ness. Orion Books, London.

Witchell, N. 1975. The Loch Ness Story. Penguins Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex.

Books on the Loch Ness Monster 1: Ronald Binns’s The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded

Listeners of the Tetrapod Zoology podcast will know that I have – for no specific reason – been going through a bit of a Loch Ness Monster phase recently, my stated aim being to review three recently-ish published books on the subject. Here’s the first of those reviews, devoted to Ronald Binns’s The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded. I provided a very brief review of this book at TetZoo ver 3 back in 2017 but always planned to produce a longer version. So here we are.

Nessie, the beast of many forms. It’s almost as if people are describing all manner of different things. Images: Darren Naish.

Nessie, the beast of many forms. It’s almost as if people are describing all manner of different things. Images: Darren Naish.

Is the Loch Ness Monster (LNM) science? Should I be writing about it, and encouraging an interest in it, on a blog ostensibly devoted to the scientific study of the natural world? Here I’ll say what I’ve said several times before about monsters and cryptozoology in general: even if monsters don’t exist (in the zoological sense), there’s still a phenomenon here that’s worthy of study, and there’s still a body of data that we can subject to scientific analysis. And I’ll add that ideas and writings about monsters like Nessie are definitely relevant to those of us intrigued by speculative zoology (Naish 2014), fringe theories, the history of zoology and other subjects included within the TetZoo remit.

Binns (1983)  , hardback (at left) and 1984 softback edition.

Binns (1983), hardback (at left) and 1984 softback edition.

Ronald Binns’s 1983 The Loch Ness Mystery Solved – produced with assistance from Rod Bell (though he doesn’t get an authorship credit) – is a classic work of scholarship and scepticism (Binns 1983). It shows how sightings, photos and film purporting to describe or show the monster are less impressive than typically described, are indeterminate or of more prosaic identity than claimed, have been embellished or modified by enthusiastic or biased writers, and can sometimes be explained as encounters with known animals (seals, waterbirds, deer). A sociocultural setting for the monster, an evaluation of the clutching-at-straws ideas on its biology, appearance, phylogenetic affinities and ecology, and a takedown of the ‘historical Nessie’ endorsed elsewhere also feature within the book (Binns 1983).

It should not be assumed that people - even people who’ve lived their lives in rural places, surrounded by wildlife - can always identify such animals as deer, seals and waterbirds (like grebes and cormorants) when they see them in unusual places, poses or situations. Deer are abundant around Loch Ness. I photographed this male Red deer adjacent to Loch Knockie, which is just a few hundred metres to the east of Loch Ness. Image: Darren Naish.

It should not be assumed that people - even people who’ve lived their lives in rural places, surrounded by wildlife - can always identify such animals as deer, seals and waterbirds (like grebes and cormorants) when they see them in unusual places, poses or situations. Deer are abundant around Loch Ness. I photographed this male Red deer adjacent to Loch Knockie, which is just a few hundred metres to the east of Loch Ness. Image: Darren Naish.

I’m glad to have encountered it at a relatively early phase in my career as a monster researcher, since virtually everything else I read and was exposed to was extremely pro-monster, so much so that I spent time as a teenager thinking that Nessie was a scientific likelihood. Phew: lucky, then, that I never made a fool of myself by proclaiming a belief in Nessie. Oh, wait.

Of course, much has happened since the publication of Solved in 1983. We have new biographic information on the people integral to the LNM story, and new eyewitness accounts, illustrations and photos have been unearthed or have joined the collective pool. Several of the main characters in the LNM story have died since Solved was published, meaning that their role can be more fully and honestly assessed than when they were alive (Binns 2017). On the sociological angle, Nessie has remained a cultural icon and flashpoint for woo, and its story has been retold, embellished, added to and expanded via the publication of many post-1983 books, so many that there’s what looks like a (mostly British) cottage industry on the subject.

Cover of   Binns (2017)  . Buy it if interested in the Loch Ness Monster, lake monster lore, cryptozoology or scepticism.

Cover of Binns (2017). Buy it if interested in the Loch Ness Monster, lake monster lore, cryptozoology or scepticism.

In view of all this, the time is right for an addendum to Solved, and thus we find The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded (Binns 2017). Reloaded is, to quote its author, essentially a long-form appendix to The Loch Ness Mystery Solved, but it isn’t at all dry or tedious. It’s well written, entertaining and absorbing if you’re familiar with any aspects of LNM lore, and in fact is probably the LNM-themed book I’ve enjoyed reading the most. Footnotes and references are provided, though there are only a handful of illustrations.

The book begins with a look back at the making of Solved, the responses to it, and a series of updates on the book’s main (human) characters. Binns then retreads two classic sightings – that of Donaldina Mackay and the Spicers – albeit with new information. The Spicer account of 1933 is the great classic ‘land sighting’, recounted in every Nessie-themed book. George Spicer is generally framed as a lucky everyman who saw a remarkable, inexplicable thing and reported it fairly, without fanfare and without any need to see himself – rather than the animal – as the point of interest.

The Spicer sighting as conventionally portrayed, here by Dinsdale (1976). Image:   Dinsdale (1976)  .

The Spicer sighting as conventionally portrayed, here by Dinsdale (1976). Image: Dinsdale (1976).

None of this is correct. Details of Spicer’s account make it likely that he and his (still nameless) wife saw bounding deer (an idea, not original to me, discussed in Hunting Monsters); the details of his sighting changed significantly over the years and demonstrate (I say again: demonstrate) both embellishment and a predilection on Spicer’s part to speculate. Furthermore, Spicer wasn’t a quiet, impartial witness, reluctantly discussing his encounter when door-stepped by thirsty journalists, but extraordinarily enthusiastic, garrulous and boastful about it, his own writings making him sound wide-eyed and credulous. There’s a popular idea among cryptozoologists that one should ignore personality traits and biography and just pay attention to the monster sighting. Alas, no; this is wrong. Those things are absolutely relevant.

Probably the best ever depiction of the Loch Ness Monster in action. Surely this is what Mr Spicer actually saw. A beautiful image by the legendary Gino D’Achille. Image: (c) Gino D’Achille.

Probably the best ever depiction of the Loch Ness Monster in action. Surely this is what Mr Spicer actually saw. A beautiful image by the legendary Gino D’Achille. Image: (c) Gino D’Achille.

Famous photos, reloaded. Chapters are also devoted to the more notable LNM photos and the Dinsdale film. Revised and updated takes on the Surgeon’s photo, and on the Gray, Stuart, Cockrell, Macnab and O’Connor photos – and a bunch of less famous ones – are presented, all of which can sensibly be stated to be hoaxes, indeterminate, waves, sticks and other non-animals. Binns remains non-committal on the very unusual Peter O’Connor photo of 1960 but implies that O’Connor’s career as a taxidermist might mean that we’re looking at a dead animal (maybe a seal?). My competing idea (Naish 2017) – it originates with Dick Raynor – is that it’s an inverted kayak and a head-shaped stick in front. I think this explains what looks like planking and the metal rudder support, visible in uncropped versions of the image.

The O’Connor photo has never made sense as goes lighting. O’Connor’s story is suspiciously odd. And the object he photographed does not appear to be an animal. It looks likely to be an inverted kayak, and looks uncannily similar to the specific kayak that O’Connor owned. The image here - scanned from one of the several LNM books - is a cropped version that doesn’t feature the whole of the object. Image: (c) Peter O’Connor.

The O’Connor photo has never made sense as goes lighting. O’Connor’s story is suspiciously odd. And the object he photographed does not appear to be an animal. It looks likely to be an inverted kayak, and looks uncannily similar to the specific kayak that O’Connor owned. The image here - scanned from one of the several LNM books - is a cropped version that doesn’t feature the whole of the object. Image: (c) Peter O’Connor.

Nor does Binns wholly buy my argument in Hunting Monsters than the Hugh Gray photo depicts a swan. He does think it’s a fake though. I remain pretty confident about the swan hypothesis because a Whooper swan (not a Mute swan as implied by the illustration in Hunting Monsters) matches the shape, hue and likely size of the object, the object has what looks like a swan’s ankle sticking out of its flank in the right position, and also has an otherwise inexplicable pale patch (presumably double-exposed on top of the main image, and coming from a moment in time when the bird had its head above the water surface) that exactly matches a Whooper swan’s bill patch. It also has a swan’s tail. And it’s white.

At top, the Hugh Gray photo of 1933. A ‘mid-sized’ object (look at the ripples), that’s white or near-white, has a sinuous appendage at one end, a short, pointed appendage at the other, and a dark appendage that disappears into the water close to one of its ends. The double-strike areas (featuring pale triangular patches) indicate double-exposure (that is, the film failed to move on and was exposed again). Image:   Naish (2017)  .

At top, the Hugh Gray photo of 1933. A ‘mid-sized’ object (look at the ripples), that’s white or near-white, has a sinuous appendage at one end, a short, pointed appendage at the other, and a dark appendage that disappears into the water close to one of its ends. The double-strike areas (featuring pale triangular patches) indicate double-exposure (that is, the film failed to move on and was exposed again). Image: Naish (2017).

On vocal champions. It’s frequently implied or stated by those endorsing the existence of monsters that vocal champions of the cause are sensible, level-headed, scholarly types who come to the conclusions they do after carefully and scientifically evaluating the data. Maybe this is true for some individuals. But it’s generally the opposite of true. Monster proponents – and I’ve now been bold enough to state or imply this in print (Conway et al. 2013, Naish 2017) – are more frequently tremendously naïve, biased, impressionable and unscientific, and attracted to the subject because of its intrinsic appeal and their own tendency to want the world to be occupied by stuff considered beyond current scientific knowledge.

This is emphasised in Binns’s chapters on F. W. ‘Ted’ Holiday, author of 1968’s The Great Orm of Loch Ness (wherein Nessie is posited to be a giant Tullimonstrum) and 1973’s The Dragon and the Disc (the main thesis of which links lake monsters with the ancient alien movement). Similarly, Binns’s treatment of Tim Dinsdale, the well-meaning and likeable champion of the LNM from 1960 until his death in 1987, discusses Dinsdale’s propensity to be all too impressionable, and with ideas that were not in keeping with his claim that he was always objective and basing everything monster-related on sound science. There’s a lot that could be said about both men (I’m avoiding that here; Dinsdale will be discussed in a future article); anyone interested in their legacy and how it fits into the LNM story must see what Binns says to say.

Ahh, classic Holiday. The object in the Hugh Gray photo interpreted as a modern-day, big  Tullimonstrum . Image:   Holiday (1968)  .

Ahh, classic Holiday. The object in the Hugh Gray photo interpreted as a modern-day, big Tullimonstrum. Image: Holiday (1968).

Both those interested in, and brought to despair by, the literature on the LNM will have noted that there’s a lot of it: an enormous number of published books, booklets and articles, and a vast quantity of correspondence, imagery and art. Yet for all the fame of the LNM, there’s been surprisingly little effort to collate or gather things and several collections are in danger of being lost when their owners are no more and their estates dissolved. Binns terms this the ‘archive problem’, and it’s common to many subject areas that involve ‘paperwork’.

But a fraction of the books that exist on the Loch Ness Monster. Image: Darren Naish.

But a fraction of the books that exist on the Loch Ness Monster. Image: Darren Naish.

As mentioned above, a great many books have been published on the LNM since the early 1980s. Binns provides commentary on the more recent of them (those from the post-Dinsdale era). He's fairly critical of Gareth Williams’s serious and well-drafted A Monstrous Commotion of 2015 (another of the books set to be reviewed here), noting that it fails to credit The Loch Ness Mystery Solved despite drawing substantially upon its contents. Those lines in the acknowledgements of A Monstrous Commotion explaining how eagle-eyed reviewers and editors did a sterling job in preventing numerous mistakes are ironic in view of the fairly enormous number of errors that did make it into print, all of which Binns discusses and corrects (pp. 150-152).

Binns on Hunting Monsters. I am of course especially interested (I hope understandably) in what Binns says about my own Hunting Monsters, a volume he classes as part of the same ‘cultural cryptozoology’ school as Loxton and Prothero’s Abominable Science! (which I had a hand in as technical reviewer and blurb-writer; my review of that book is here at TetZoo ver 3). Hunting Monsters is “fluent, elegant, scholarly”, says Binns (p. 153); he “finds Naish’s approach congenial because he seeks to rescue cryptozoology from the naïve literalists” (p. 154).

In which I tried to develop a sociological or anthropological view of cryptids - Nessie included - as icons embedded within culture. The softback version was preceded by a 2016 digital one (which has a different cover). Image:   Naish (2017)  .

In which I tried to develop a sociological or anthropological view of cryptids - Nessie included - as icons embedded within culture. The softback version was preceded by a 2016 digital one (which has a different cover). Image: Naish (2017).

It isn’t a coincidence that Binns finds my take on monsters concordant with his own position. As has been stated here at TetZoo many times now, I think today that cryptids like Nessie are sociocultural phenomena, that people ‘see’ monsters like Nessie because they fully expect to encounter a thing that’s firmly embedded within their culture (Binns terms this expectant attention), that ideas about the identity, biology, ecology and so on of Nessie are nothing more than speculative house-of-cards-type efforts, and that eyewitness descriptions of Nessie are either so ambiguous as to be useless, are hoaxes, or are explainable or near-explainable by those able to employ critical thinking or sceptical analysis.

You can be an atheist and still love buildings of worship. Likewise, thinking that Nessie is not real does not stop Loch Ness from being a remarkable place or one with a great amount of allure. Image: Darren Naish.

You can be an atheist and still love buildings of worship. Likewise, thinking that Nessie is not real does not stop Loch Ness from being a remarkable place or one with a great amount of allure. Image: Darren Naish.

The Age of the Internet. It’s no secret among those especially interested in the LNM that one of the most visible writers on the subject in the Age of the Internet is not a journalist or scientist but a blogger – Roland Watson – who is unashamed and thoroughly biased in his insistence that Nessie is real and that those questioning the ‘evidence’ are wrong and on ground shakier than the firm footing occupied by himself. Binns notes that Watson has been useful in uncovering new data but more impressive are the substantial number of occasions in which Binns corrects or contests Watson’s interpretations.

Watson’s blog is a fun read if you like being immersed in detailed discussions of LNM-themed sightings, anecdotes, accounts and controversies. I congratulate anyone aiming to put esoteric data like this on the record, and to unearth more information on relevant people and the backgrounds to claimed eyewitness accounts.

But two issues ruin Watson’s entire take on the subject. One is his obvious employment of confirmation bias and insistence that Occam’s Razor has no place in monster hunting: while the record shows that he doesn’t automatically identify any object seen in the waters of Loch Ness as a monster, his primary argument on many occasions is to insist that ‘giant unknown aquatic vertebrate species’ should, as an explanation, be on equal footing with ‘swimming deer’, ‘unidentified fish’ or ‘wave’. No it shouldn’t.

The surface of Loch Ness, photographed in September 2016. Many people’s monster sightings are of a calibre similar to this. These are waves, made by a boat. Image: Darren Naish.

The surface of Loch Ness, photographed in September 2016. Many people’s monster sightings are of a calibre similar to this. These are waves, made by a boat. Image: Darren Naish.

The second issue is Watson’s obsession with sceptics, who he very much regards as The Bad Guys, The Enemy. He bashes sceptics a lot – as if being sceptical about Nessie is a bad thing or represents poor life choice – and has written at length about the motivations that, he thinks, drive sceptics and their scepticism. These arguments are naïve, way off base and just fucking weird. Example: Watson claimed on his blog and in his review of Hunting Monsters that I have been groomed – his word – by Loch Ness expert Dick Raynor, since sceptics require that the chalice of Loch Ness scepticism be passed down across the generations, and, furthermore, that I have been turned to the cult of scepticism via the nefarious chicanery and allure of an older man. Binns noted all of this as it was happening. “Naish’s assertion that Watson inhabits ‘an idiosyncratic intellectual landscape’ was a generous and measured response”, he says (p. 18). Damn straight.

Those of us sceptical about lake monsters are so, or have become so, because we aren’t convinced by the evidence, such as it is, and we see obvious problems with the ‘data’ deemed integral to the case by believers. I’ve become a sceptic for these reasons, not because I wish to be part of a special club (note to Nessie fans reading this: I am not employed in academia), not because I somehow earn points or money for being a sceptic (I wish), and not because I’m guilty of sloppy thinking, blindness, unfamiliarity with the evidence or an unwillingness to read or engage with the literature or the cryptozoological community. I was a believer once, I remind you, and I’ve said all sorts of dumb things supporting the existence of monsters that my critics never seem to be aware of. They only see an enemy: a blinkered ivory-tower elite who lives in a solid gold house, has never had a proper job, and dives every evening into a money pit of Science Dollars provided by the government or something.

Here’s a close-up of the Hugh Gray photo again. I say again: the ripples show that this object is ‘mid-sized’ (as in, 1 m long or so). Weird that an object which I say looks like a swan also has what looks like a swan’s leg and what looks like a swan’s pointed tail.

Here’s a close-up of the Hugh Gray photo again. I say again: the ripples show that this object is ‘mid-sized’ (as in, 1 m long or so). Weird that an object which I say looks like a swan also has what looks like a swan’s leg and what looks like a swan’s pointed tail.

You should buy this book. The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded is required reading for those interested in the Loch Ness phenomenon, in lake monsters, cryptozoology and/or scepticism, and I really enjoyed it. My one complaint is that the lack of an index is a real pain. We all know that indexes are difficult and time consuming to compile, but lacking one entirely is not really excusable – even a short one consisting of keywords is better than nothing.

Anyway… it would be helpful to read Reloaded right after The Loch Ness Mystery Solved if you haven’t read that book already, but I wouldn’t say that this is a requirement. You should definitely buy it. And you should also consider leaving a positive amazon review given a really appalling bias present there at the time of writing. More Nessie book reviews soon.

Binns, R. 2017. The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded. Zoilus Press. pp. 222. ISBN 978-1-9997359-0-6. Softback, refs. Here at amazon, here at amazon.co.uk.

Nessie and related issues have been covered on TetZoo a fair bit before, though many of the older images now lack ALL of the many images they originated included…

Refs - -

Binns, R. 1983. The Loch Ness Mystery Solved. Open Books, London.

Binns, R. 2017. The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded. Zoilus Press.

Conway, J., Kosemen, C. M. & Naish, D. 2013. Cryptozoologicon Volume I. Irregular Books.

Dinsdale, T. 1976. Loch Ness Monster (Revised Edition). Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.

Holiday, F. W. 1968. The Great Orm of Loch Ness. Faber and Faber, London.

Loxton, D. & Prothero, D. R. 2013. Abominable Science! Columbia University Press, New York.

Naish, D. 2014. Speculative zoology. Fortean Times 316, 52-53.

Naish, D. 2017. Hunting Monsters: Cryptozoology and the Reality Behind the Myths. Arcturus, London.

Bigfoot’s Genitals: What Do We Know?

Ok, I will fully admit upfront that the article you’re about to read (or: about to stop reading, depending on your preference) is included here both because it’s linked to something in the news, and because it’s sensational and perhaps amusing.

The offending tweet. What we're all asking is:  how anatomically accurate might this depiction be?  Spoiler: not accurate at all (err.. assuming that Bigfoot even exists, a minor detail). Image: Twitter.

The offending tweet. What we're all asking is: how anatomically accurate might this depiction be? Spoiler: not accurate at all (err.. assuming that Bigfoot even exists, a minor detail). Image: Twitter.

Without going into all the details, US Republican candidate Denver Riggleman (great name) has been outed as an alleged fan of Bigfoot erotic fiction… yeah, this is a thing, come on you knew that don't pretend you didn't… though I do wonder whether this is some sort of ploy to downplay said candidate’s more worrying association with white supremacists [UPDATE: Loren Coleman tells me that Mr Riggleman has a long-term, serious interest in Bigfootery]. Bigfoot erotic fiction? The fact that – like it or not – Bigfoot is regarded as light-relief and harmless hokum means that any link between Bigfoot and sex is immediately treated as a joke. News stories associated with Riggleman’s niche interests have featured an illustration of a male Bigfoot, its seemingly substantial sexual organ safely censored by a long and subtle black box (see if you can spot it in the image above). And this leads us to the ultimate question: what have people honestly, seriously, thought about the genital anatomy of Bigfoot? Inspired by a twitter exchange with Russ Dobler and Kyle Marian, I thought this was as good an opportunity as any to summarise what’s on the record.

First things first: does this mean that I consider Bigfoot a real, genuine, flesh and blood, undiscovered primate? Let’s just say for now that I’m really sceptical of this notion (for reasons discussed here, and in my 2017 book Hunting Monsters). I’m not a knee-jerk sceptic though, and long to have my mind changed…

I've only had one up-close encounter with a Bigfoot myself (it happened in California); I didn't have opportunity at the time to do any checking as goes any details of anatomy, but here's the proof. Image: [safely anonymous source]/Darren Naish.

I've only had one up-close encounter with a Bigfoot myself (it happened in California); I didn't have opportunity at the time to do any checking as goes any details of anatomy, but here's the proof. Image: [safely anonymous source]/Darren Naish.

One of the main aims of my writing is to summarise or convey what others have said before me and, like it or not, a bunch of authors who’ve written about Bigfoot as a real biological entity have indeed considered the subject of its genital anatomy. After all, if you regard Bigfoot as a real animal it’s perfectly valid to consider all kinds of aspects of its biology, behaviour and evolution, even if we’re doing little more than speculating.

If Bigfoot is real, just remember that it's probably the most terrifying animal in existence. Seriously. I tried to modify my drawing ( available on merchandise! ) so that the animal appears to be in the dark. I failed. Image: Darren Naish.

If Bigfoot is real, just remember that it's probably the most terrifying animal in existence. Seriously. I tried to modify my drawing (available on merchandise!) so that the animal appears to be in the dark. I failed. Image: Darren Naish.

So, if you look at the Bigfoot literature you’ll see a fair few mentions of male genital anatomy, these most typically being references to “a small penis and scrotum” (Krantz 1999, p. 155). When a penis is mentioned, it’s virtually always flaccid… though there are exceptions. The infamous ‘Kong’ account (in which the semi-anonymous ‘Jan Klement’ described his long-time association during the 1970s with an animal that regularly visited his property) includes an event whereby ‘Kong’ exhibited a tumid penis and interacted sexually with a cow.

Then there’s the ‘Redwoods’ incident. In 1995, an alleged Bigfoot was filmed (from a vehicle) in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, California. And what appears to be a slender, tapering, mobile, sickle-shaped penis flexes upwards during the footage. Some writers have even interpreted this as a possible threat display (Meldrum & Greenwell 1998). This piece of footage is known generally as the ‘Redwoods Footage’, but the fact that it was filmed by a crew working for the Playboy company – and hence is also often called the ‘Playboy Footage’ – hasn’t exactly helped its credibility.

At left, we see a rather grainy still from the 'Redwoods footage'; at right is an interpretation (drawn by Peter Visscher, based on an initial interpretation produced by Jeff Meldrum). The penis isn't visible in this part of the footage. Image: Meldrum & Greenwell (1998)/BBC Wildlife.

At left, we see a rather grainy still from the 'Redwoods footage'; at right is an interpretation (drawn by Peter Visscher, based on an initial interpretation produced by Jeff Meldrum). The penis isn't visible in this part of the footage. Image: Meldrum & Greenwell (1998)/BBC Wildlife.

A reasonably large, erect penis has also been described in an observation of a Central Asian bar-manu, one of several creatures sometimes suggested to be Eurasian relatives or versions of North America’s Bigfoot. And then there’s the whole world of speculation concerning whether ancient depictions of satyrs, wildmen and so on with erect penises are relevant to such sightings and their validity. I discuss this issue further in Hunting Monsters (Naish 2017).

Herpetologist and cryptozoologist Jordi Magraner drew this obviously male bar-manu (a crypto-hominid reported from Pakistan) as described by a witness. The account was published by Michel Raynal (2001). Image: Raynal (2001).

Herpetologist and cryptozoologist Jordi Magraner drew this obviously male bar-manu (a crypto-hominid reported from Pakistan) as described by a witness. The account was published by Michel Raynal (2001). Image: Raynal (2001).

Loren Coleman included a whole chapter on sex and genital anatomy in his 2003 Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America (Coleman 2003). Indeed, he noted at the start of this chapter that the general absence of writings on Bigfoot sexual behaviour and anatomy seems weird given the importance and significance of these things to primates. “Bigfoot are most frequently shown without any male genitalia even though a penis might be part of a witness description”, he wrote (Coleman 2003, p. 185).

Loren Coleman's 2003  Bigfoot!   includes a whole chapter on ideas and observations about sexual behaviour and anatomy. If Bigfoot isn't real, maybe this stuff is fatuous. Then again, even if Bigfoot  isn't  real, our attitude to this stuff might still tell us something. And if Bigfoot is real? Well... Image : Simon & Schuster .

Loren Coleman's 2003 Bigfoot! includes a whole chapter on ideas and observations about sexual behaviour and anatomy. If Bigfoot isn't real, maybe this stuff is fatuous. Then again, even if Bigfoot isn't real, our attitude to this stuff might still tell us something. And if Bigfoot is real? Well... Image: Simon & Schuster.

A few other eyewitness encounters have described a penis. Albert Ostman – the Canadian logger and construction worker supposedly kidnapped by a Bigfoot family during the 1920s – described the penis of the large male boss of the group as short (around two inches long) and “hooded with skin”, or – according to researcher John Green following his communication with Ostman – “like an inverted funnel, which sounds horse-like” (Coleman 2003, p. 191). I should add for the record that I don’t believe Ostman’s encounter ever happened, strange as that might seem. And the other accounts of which I’m aware refer to an organ proportionally smaller than that of an average human – there aren’t (so far as I’m aware) reports of giant, swinging structures of impressive length or girth, excuse the mental image.

The general impression we get from this limited information (assuming here that Bigfoot is real, of course) is somewhat contradictory but we can couch what we know within the social systems and breeding strategies of other primates (e.g., Harcourt & Gardiner 1994). Because there’s no indication of giant testes (like those of chimps), we might infer that sperm competition is not an evolutionary driver for Bigfoot, and thus that they presumably have a monogamous or near-monogamous mating system. This is in keeping with the general idea that Bigfoot lives in small bands, perhaps involving a mating pair and their offspring. The apparently proportionally small size of the penis could be seen as being consistent with this, since it might indicate that the genitals are not used in social display and intimidation, as they are in humans and (to a degree) chimps and bonobos. On the other hand, a proportionally small penis could also be inconsistent here, given the hypothesis that large penises in humans are supposedly linked with monogamy/near-monogamy (note: supposedly. I must avoid discussing the argument over human sexual behaviour and mating systems). The contradiction comes from the Redwoods footage, though, since this seemingly reported a relatively large penis used as a display, err, tool.

I will finish this discussion on male genitals by noting that there’s been some serious discussions within Bigfoot research circles as goes such details of anatomy as the presence or otherwise of the baculum. You can read about that discussion, if you wish, in this 2010 article by Loren Coleman.

The creature in the Patterson-Gimlin footage of 1967 - now affectionately known as 'Patty' within the Bigfoot research community - seemingly has breasts comparable to those of some humans. Is it coincidental that Roger Patterson was very familiar with William Roe's female Bigfoot of the 1950s (see below)? Or is this consistent with the ostensible biological reality of this animal? Because images of the Patterson-Gimlin film are copyright protected (like virtually all images of Bigfoot), I made this myself and it's available for use. Image: Darren Naish.

The creature in the Patterson-Gimlin footage of 1967 - now affectionately known as 'Patty' within the Bigfoot research community - seemingly has breasts comparable to those of some humans. Is it coincidental that Roger Patterson was very familiar with William Roe's female Bigfoot of the 1950s (see below)? Or is this consistent with the ostensible biological reality of this animal? Because images of the Patterson-Gimlin film are copyright protected (like virtually all images of Bigfoot), I made this myself and it's available for use. Image: Darren Naish.

So that’s enough of that. Everything you’ve read so far is focused on males of this ostensible species. What about females? I think it would be fair to assume that very little – perhaps nothing – has been written about female anatomy. Bigfoot is, after all, mostly imagined as a quintessentially male creature linked to masculinity and the manly male humans that pursue it. But female Bigfoots have been reported too, and indeed among the most influential and historically significant of all Bigfoot accounts ever – William Roe’s Canadian story of the mid-1950s and Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin’s famous/infamous encounter of 1967 – describe obvious females.

Late in the 1950s, William Roe reported his encounter (supposedly from earlier in the decade) with another obviously female Bigfoot in Canada. This drawing was produced by Roe's daughter, under his direction. I can't be the only one who thinks the anatomy here is a bit... gravity-defying. This is not the original drawing, but a re-drawing produced by John Conway for our  2013 book  The Cryptozoologicon: Volume One  . Image: John Conway.

Late in the 1950s, William Roe reported his encounter (supposedly from earlier in the decade) with another obviously female Bigfoot in Canada. This drawing was produced by Roe's daughter, under his direction. I can't be the only one who thinks the anatomy here is a bit... gravity-defying. This is not the original drawing, but a re-drawing produced by John Conway for our 2013 book The Cryptozoologicon: Volume One. Image: John Conway.

Breasts have been written about and commented on a great many times in discussions of this creature. A few reports have described elongate or ‘droopy’ breasts but those most often discussed – those of ‘Patty’ and Roe’s creature – were rotund and even engorged in appearance (Bindernagel 1998). Indeed, those working to demonstrate the reality of the Patterson-Gimlin film have gone to some trouble to argue that ‘Patty’s’ breasts can’t be fake because they exhibit movement and flexibility consistent with genuine breasts, and inconsistent with any of the available prosthetic alternatives. William Munns has a whole section on this issue in his book When Roger Met Patty (Munns 2014). Human models were filmed and photographed to show, via comparison, how the ‘Patty’ breasts perform in a consistent and realistic manner.

I could go on – as I’ve said, a lot has been said about Bigfoot breasts in the literature (there’s also been a whole discussion on how realistic the concept of furry breasts might be) – but I think that’ll do. Moving elsewhere as goes females, why do we never hear about female genitalia (I’m here excluding breasts from the definition of ‘genitalia’), in contrast to all those mentions of Bigfoot junk? Maybe it’s true that those who’ve considered Bigfoot as a biological entity have been biased by patriarchy. I don’t doubt that this is true but it should also be noted that observations and recollections concerning the finer details of female genital anatomy are few and far between, as they might be for logical reasons (I mean: all the goddam hair). Anyway, a few mentions are out there. A very few.

In the aforementioned discussion provided by Loren Coleman, Loren refers to the rarity of discussions of female genital anatomy and notes that he (at the time) was only aware of one. In the November of 1968, hunter John Thomas is said to have encountered two Bigfoots sleeping out in the open. They were in the posture that – curiously enough – has been described on several occasions by witnesses; that is, with the limbs partially folded beneath the body and the back facing upwards. Anyway, one of these animals had breasts in addition to a “swelling” in its genital region that it kept rubbing (Coleman 2003, p. 198). Without more information it’s difficult to know the story here. Presumably we’re talking about a modest swelling of the sort seen in various primates (including gibbons and gorillas among hominoids), and not the pronounced and striking structures seen in chimps, bonobos and various monkeys.

Several accounts describe crypto-hominids sleeping in this very unusual posture, or at least in postures like it. This drawing was apparently produced by a Soviet zoologist called Khlakhlov during the early 1900s and depicts an Almas - an Asian crypto-hominid - encounterd in the Dzungarian region. The drawing is reproduced in Myra Shackley's 1983 book. Image: Shackley (1983).

Several accounts describe crypto-hominids sleeping in this very unusual posture, or at least in postures like it. This drawing was apparently produced by a Soviet zoologist called Khlakhlov during the early 1900s and depicts an Almas - an Asian crypto-hominid - encounterd in the Dzungarian region. The drawing is reproduced in Myra Shackley's 1983 book. Image: Shackley (1983).

A second case concerns what’s said to be the imprint of a Bigfoot butt, left in sandy soil in Walla Walla, Washington. The print was cast by Paul Freeman – an individual with a controversial track record in the world of Bigfoot evidence, shall we say – and passed to Jeff Meldrum who described it in his 2006 book. The print reveals well demarcated, muscular buttocks but also what appears to be the suggestion of labia (Meldrum 2006). With a bit of imagination, they look – from the cast of the impression – to be about similar in form and proportion to those of a human.

Needless to say, there isn’t – to my knowledge – any discussion out there as goes any other aspects of female genital anatomy in this alleged creature. Not only is eyewitness data on such details unreported (so far as I know), but any sensible idea we might have on what’s predicted or assumed is dependent on whatever phylogenetic affinity we prefer for the species: Bigfoot has, variously, been suggested to be close to gibbons, orangutans, hominines and even hominins and humans by those who endorse its existence. There's an argument for platyrrhine status out there as well.

Non-human primates of many sorts have diverse and remarkable genitals. Variously platyrrhines - spider monkeys are the most famous - have enormous clitorides. This is a Colombian or Black-headed spider monkey  Ateles fusciceps rufiventris  using a stick as a scratching tool. Image: Darren Naish.

Non-human primates of many sorts have diverse and remarkable genitals. Variously platyrrhines - spider monkeys are the most famous - have enormous clitorides. This is a Colombian or Black-headed spider monkey Ateles fusciceps rufiventris using a stick as a scratching tool. Image: Darren Naish.

That about brings us to a close on this niche yet worthy subject. As usual with arcane topics like this, it’s never true that “nobody ever talks about ---- [insert weird niche subject]”: on the contrary, quite a few writers have. Clearly, if Bigfoot is real, we have scant data to work with, and a conclusion must be that Bigfoot genitalia are not especially noticeable in average encounters with humans. And if Bigfoot isn't real, but is a sociocultural phenomenon of some sort, the fact that so few encounters discuss its genitalia in detail might be consistent with the near-irrelevance of such features to an entity of this sort. This might be inconsistent with erotic fan fiction - sorry, Mr Riggleman - but there it is.

For previous Tet Zoo articles on Bigfoot and other cryptozoological matters, see…

And here's your reminder that the persistence and success of Tetrapod Zoology now depends entirely on funding via patreon. Thanks to those who support me! The more secure my funding, the more time I can and will spend generating content for Tet Zoo.

Refs - -

Bindernagel, J. A. 1998. North America’s Great Ape: the Sasquatch. Beachcomber Books, Courtenay, B.C.

Coleman, L. 2003. Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America. Paraview, New York.

Conway, J., Kosemen, C. M. & Naish, D. 2013. Cryptozoologicon Volume I. Irregular Books.

Harcourt, A. & Gardiner, J. 1994. Sexual selection and genital anatomy of male primates. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London B 255, 47-53.

Krantz, G. S. 1999. Bigfoot Sasquatch Evidence. Hancock House, Surrey, B.C. & Blaine, WA.

Meldrum, D. J. 2006. Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. Tom Doherty Associates, New York.

Meldrum, J. & Greenwell, R. 1998. Bigfoot: take two. BBC Wildlife 16 (9), 68-71.

Munns, W. 2014. When Roger Met Patty. William Munns.

Naish, D. 2017. Hunting Monsters: Cryptozoology and the Reality Behind the Myths. Arcturus, London.

Raynal, M. 2001. ‘Jordi Magraner’s field research on the bar-manu: evidence for the authenticity of Heuvelmans’ Homo pongoides.’ In Heinselman, C. (ed) Hominology Special Number 1. Craig Heinselman (Francestown, New Hampshire), unpaginated.

Shackley, M. 1983. Wildmen: Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma. Thames and Hudson, London.