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Photos of Russian Plesiosaur

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on August 28th, 2006

Two weeks ago, I reported here on Cryptomundo that there was a report that Russian hauled up a dead plesiosaur. Scott Corrales had forwarded the story to us here at Cryptomundo.

The story was taken with a grain of salt, as there were no corroborating photographs. Today, Cryptomundo reader 71_machone informed me that the photos were available on the website English Russia.

This is what is reported there with the photos.

This creature was found by Russian soldiers on Sakhalin shoreline. Sakhalin area is situated near to Japan, it’s the most eastern part of Russia, almost 5000 miles to East from Moscow (Russia is huge). People don’t know who is it. According to the bones and teeth – it is not a fish. According to its skeleton – it’s not a crocodile or alligator. It has a skin with hair or fur. It has been said that it was taken by Russian special services for in-depth studies, and we are lucky that people who encountered it first made those photos before it was brought away.

The story has changed somewhat, as it was originally reported that the carcass was found by Russian fishermen, whereas here it was reportedly found by Russian soldiers. The initial description mentioned that the carcass was nearly 7 meters long, approximately 21 feet. It doesn’t appear to be that length in these photos.

Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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Russian Plesiosaur

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The photographs to me do not look like a plesiosaur carcass. They do, however, look crocodilian in nature.

What do you, the readers of Cryptomundo, think?

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

76 Responses to “Photos of Russian Plesiosaur”

  1. quill responds:

    Looks to me like it could be a large crocodile, but am I seeing molars? I don’t recall crocs having molars…

    I’d like to see the rest of its skull before I come to any conclusions. If I could see the eye socket placement it would certainly help.

    Cool pics, nonetheless :)

  2. ohram responds:

    It’s tail looks very much like a crocodiles. The head looks odd, and its covered in seaweed. Why wouldn’t they take that off? And it looks like they plucked its teeth out and added new ones. Those teeth are just to bright to be the animals original. Thats just what I think though, I could be wrong about the teeth.

  3. Mysteriousness responds:

    Hi Craig,

    Terribly interesting, this one. It definitely looks crocodilian in nature, and “saltwater croc” is what I first thought. However, the rib cage seems much more massive than a croc skeleton and, if you look at the open-mouth shots, you can almost count the number of teeth within the beast’s head – somewhere between 18-22 teeth on the lower jaw and, assuming a somewhat symmetrical tooth pattern, a total of somewhere around 44 teeth. The problem is that saltwater crocs have between 64-68 teeth. I suppose it could be a completely different species – but what species of croc would be found in that part of the world? (not to mention that the freshwater versions have more needlelike teeth)

    We need to see more of this one. Are the “fur” and “skin” from the animal, or is it just scum that accumulated from the surf? Are there any appendages?

    Thanks for posting and PLEASE keep us informed!

  4. rah responds:

    It looks like a toothed whale to me. There are many types of toothed whale with unusual tooth formations, which could explain the spade shaped tooth in one of the photos. The “fur” may very well be algae that attached itself to the carcass after death. It looks to have been dead for quite some time. In any case, a whale would be the only known (and scientists aren’t sure they even know all the whale species yet), explanation for nostril openings located at the top of the head, where this skeletons must be, since they are not seen in the picture.

  5. Sasquatchery responds:

    You would think the Russians have seen enough dead Beluga whales to know one on sight. The size and skeleton is right, the teeth are correct and the shape of the skull is a giveaway.

    Craig, I’m sending you a picture of a Beluga skull so you can see for yourself.

  6. Dragonheart responds:

    oh, poor little whale :(

    In my eyes it’s definitely some kind of Whale. The Skull looks very very similar.

  7. Sunny responds:

    All of these skulls show very visible nostrils…none on this beast.

    Here is a pic of a beluga skull…no nostrils on that one (yes, I know — because the blowhole is on the top.)

    (all I can think of is how bad this thing must have smelled…I feel for the poor guy holding his nose!)

  8. serf77 responds:

    Thanks Sasquatchery-probably a whale. It would help if they’d peel that stinky pile of matter off of the skull as to get a better look at it.

  9. Alaska-boy responds:

    Definitely a Beluga. I’ve seen a few.

    Great pics though, and great way to keep all of us on our toes. We all want sooooo badly for new and exciting (or presumed extinct) species to wash up, it’s easy to start seeing what you wish to see. :)

  10. cromcrom responds:

    A rotten whale, in my opinion.

  11. Tyche responds:

    No doubt a Beluga.

    7m for a Beluga is really big, and the loss of teeth and the wear and tear on them looks like it might have died of old age.

  12. cromcrom responds:

    Maybe the beast died of old ages, that is why the tooth are all broken, looking like molars…

  13. Mysteriousness responds:

    Yikes. In all my excitement, definitely a beluga. The nostrils (or lack of) are absolutely a dead giveaway. But with all the crap on top of it, you can see how one could mistake it for a saltwater croc, right? :-)

  14. oldbutnotstupid responds:

    Skull is a beluga no doubt there, but the teeth have been altered. the remains are to small to be an old animal so the teeth would not have that amt of wear naturally. Nice try but no cigar. Did get my attention for a bit though. nice photos.

  15. unitedcats responds:

    I’m getting better at this, thanks to all I have learned on this fine site. I took one look and said “whale.” Pleisiosaurs were air breathers for crippities sake, it defies credulity to think that a distinctive large air breathing ocean going animal could have remained unseen in this day and age.

  16. RocketSeason responds:

    Very intriguing photos. Possibly a crocidile, the Head looks turned upside down. But the rib cage is large and round. I haven’t seen that before.

  17. TemplarKnight21c responds:

    But seriously, the head definitely looks like some sort of whale’s. The tale is definitely reptilian, however, but the body…I’m not too certain. Is that a shoulder or pelvic bone to the right of the body best seen in photo 2? It would imply some sort of limb, either way, would it not? The stuff covering it doesn’t look much like skin, even rotted. Probably some combination of trash, seaweed, and/or human additive.

  18. sundevit responds:

    Wow, the first photos on Cryptomundo ever that made me actually register and leave a comment! thank you very much :)

    Well, whale or not, it definitely kept me stunned for a moment! First look made me think ‘mosasaurus’ (they were pretty diverse and crocodile like). but with all the bull we had to deal with lately, I’ll rather keep still and watching. With honest interest, though!

  19. TravelingWater responds:

    Like SunDevit above, this one made me register too. I’ve been an observer of this site for some time, but those pics grabbed me. Anyways, did a spot of research, and found a few skull pics for the experts to examine. I’d say Beluga too, IMHO.

  20. MadMatt32171 responds:

    BTW, that’s a Beluga skull

  21. U.T. Raptor responds:

    It’s a whale of some sort, no question.

  22. Tengu responds:

    It looks like a little old stellars sea cow to me.

    Badly rotted.

    That or a beaked whale

  23. sundevit responds:

    did some skull checking … and yeah, pretty much looks like a whale skull of some sort.

  24. Scrabbydoo responds:

    I agree Whale!

  25. Scarfe responds:

    I agree with the assertion that it is a Beluga whale. The skull and ribcage seem to indicate as much.

    The question I have is whether it is upside down or rightside up.

  26. Shihan responds:

    Definitely a whale – the skeletal size is consistant with a full grown Beluga Whale.

  27. shovethenos responds:

    The teeth are very whale-like. It sort of reminds me of “cadborosaurus”. Possibly some kind of beaked whale, either known or unknown.

    I hope the skeleton and some samples containing DNA were saved.

  28. crypto_randz responds:

    WOW, I’m completely stunned by these great photographs, I’ve looked at the photos from every angle, it’s reptilian, mmmm I’m amazed, to me it looks prehistoric.

    You all here have good conclusions it does look like a mosaurus or basilosaurus, the mouth on that animal and the teeth it looks like it could defend itself, but maybe it met its match.

    I’m speecless and startled, but I’m not going to get my hopes up that high that the carcass is prehistoric.

    Please keep us updated on this story Craig.

  29. crypto_randz responds:

    The only thing I wish is that they take the seaweed off of the top of the head and towards the middle. At first I thought it was a cadborasurus, but then I looked at it closer. I believe in one of the photos you can see the eye.

  30. crypto_randz responds:

    Alligators in Russia? I’ve never read about them dwelling in Russia. Maybe related to the OGOPOGO. Something just to keep in mind.

  31. youcantryreachingme responds:

    Sunny’s skull link convinces me also; I’m voting beluga.

  32. mauka responds:

    How old is the carcass?

  33. shumway10973 responds:

    what does the bone structure of a whale’s tale look like? the end of its tale is reminiscent of a dragon. I do not think that this is just a whale. If it is a whale, this would be something new just because, if just a whale someone would have been able to identify it by now.

  34. stonelk responds:

    It does have some similarities to the beluga. But, near the end of the snout there appears to be a plate of bone where the nostril would be on a land animal. I can’t get a clear enlargement and I didn’t see anything like that on the beluga skull. It could have evolved from a land animal to a swimmer. The first thing I would have done is try to peel that crud from it.

  35. planettom responds:

    It’s a Beluga-squatch! 😉
    Okay, seriously it’s probably a beluga.

  36. shumway10973 responds:

    also, from looking at it again it looks like the thing had tusks or something. Look at the first pic where he is holding the mouth open, there is a hole just above the teeth. I didn’t know belugas to have anything like that. Could that be the missing nostils?

  37. Nerull responds:

    False killer whale is another possibility. The large ribcage is missing however. Although it could have either been washed away or purposly removed.

  38. Nerull responds:

    Ahh, looking closely I do in fact see some of the ribcage. I am unused to having so many photos to look at! This is a great story regardless of the outcome.

  39. ilexoak responds:

    Don’t beluga’s have smooth peg-shaped teeth like dolphins. I see some molars.
    Crocs all he conical teeth unlike this. There are no nostrils at the tip either like all crocs.

    Don’t see evidence of tail fin at all. Tail tapers to a point unlike whales and dolphins.

    Maybe some unknown and strange marine mammal- herbivore or scavenger. Would call this one a genuine cryptid, though not a pleis.


  40. Ceroill responds:

    All that debris on the skull makes me suspicious. I agree that the most likely possibility is a cetacean of some sort, but I think they might be deliberately hiding part of the skull to make identification harder, and preserve the ‘mystery’ of the find.

  41. Xanxicar responds:

    Very nice photos indeed. And in good quality too (and not blurry etc). I’d have to say that they look mammalian to me, now it could be a beluga but I’m leaning towards Cadborosaurus or Merhorse as Dr. Heuvelmans described these animals. They are mammal of course(with their hairs etc) and probably modern day relatives of zeuglodon aka basilosaurus. It’s a mammal I’m pretty sure about that.

    Very interesting photos indeed. Thanks for posting em cryptomundo.

  42. WVBotanist responds:

    I have to agree with the cetacean idea, because of the lack of nasal passages at the exposed area of the skull – that leaves only the assumption there must be a blowhole hidden under the various shredding flesh/debris. Fish do not have teeth like that, and all other known vertebrates breathe air, even if they are aquatic.

    Also, the tip of the tail doesn’t preclude known whales, given the apparent state of decomposition. It looks like there may be some phalanges around in the sand, and the apparent pectoral girdle.

    I’d like to hear more about how and where it was found. It looks like it may have been slightly excavated from the place it rests in the photo, although the driftwood/landslide debris in the background makes me wonder if it was perhaps entangled in a raft of debris and was drowned or battered.

  43. Mnynames responds:

    This thing is so clearly a whale, probably some type of Zyphiid, that I can’t imagine what all the fuss is about.

    Shumway, you’ve mocked “So-called experts” in other posts for not being able to identify things, and yet here you use the reverse logic, saying that it must be a cryptid because experts would have identified it by now. Does this mark an evolution in your point of view, or are you just being contrary?

  44. quantum responds:

    Like Tyche said, an old Beluga with worn teeth. Comparing the picture #8 to a Beluga skull.

    Upper beak, just behind what looks like a “canine” tooth is a rise in the opening.

    Lower beak, just below “canine” tooth is a sinus opening exactly like a Beluga. This is the real proof.

    The stuff on the skull and body is shredded flesh, not seaweed.

  45. john5 responds:

    An interesting find! The animal appears to be mammalian rather than reptilian althought he tail can lead one to think so. The fact the tail has no flukes is a result of the great state of decay of this beast. The flukes have likely been battered off in the surf along the shore as the carcass was rolled around. There are no bones in tail flukes of whales.

    The tail does show the remnants of a mass of material about 4-5 feet from the tip, as would be expected on a cetacean tail at the thicker leading edge of the flukes. This can be seen in the last 3 pictures (16,17 &18). (Booted footprints were approximated at 12 inches (1 Foot!) and I used a toothpick to measure).

    This animal could be around 18-20 feet long, fully clothed, if the man in picture 16 is close to 6 feet tall. The size would make it very large for a Beluga.

    The skull also closely resembles a Beluga skull, thanks to Sunny’s post!

    Especially the enlarged canine-like teeth about halfway down the row, as viewed in picture 8. However there does appear to be a couple of key differences between the Beluga skull and the skull of this animal.

    The rounded, thicker front end of the upper snout appears more pronounced, as in the Orca skull, and less like the the sharpely tapered snout of the Beluga skull. As well, picture 8 clearly reveals the teeth on the lower jaw extending back about half of the skull length. The Beluga teeth extend back about a third the length of the skull, including the little teeth at the back of the row.

    Maybe this animal is a very old Beluga that continued to grow throughout its life, lending a reason for distortions or rather enlargement of the bone of the snout. They both have 8 teeth on the lower jaw.

    However something about the broadness of the snout in pictures 3 and 4, from its front to the back by the start of the cranium, that lends an appearance of something new and unusual. I do not think the broadness of the snout could be soley accounted for by old age.

    Thanks for keeping on the story.

  46. shumway10973 responds:

    Not at all, I just find it “fishy” that these men who found it, who live off the ocean, couldn’t identify this thing’s skeletal structure as that of a whale.

    In the original article they claimed it was hairy, I don’t know of any sea animal of that size with a fur coat. Yes, whales have hair, very little, but they are claiming that all that stuff “hiding” important body parts is hair. I know that belugas aren’t that hairy.

    I just found it interesting that regulars here were willing to jump on the beluga identity imediately, even though looking at an official beluga’s skeleton is close, but not quite a match.

    By the way, when I say “experts” I am talking about book learners who have never walked through an actual wooded area.

    Here I was meaning the fishermen whose livelyhood comes from what they catch. Whether these men have ever hunted whales or not, if belugas swim anywhere near their fishing waters, they have probably seen one or two washed up on shore.

    Also, I said someone, not experts.

  47. mystery_man responds:

    These are very interesting photos and the urge is strong to jump out and say “cryptid!”, but it would not be a very scientific approach to just jump to the conclusion of “plesiosaur” without first looking at more rational options. When other explainations are skipped in order to reach the conclusion we want, cryptozoological minded folks risk losing credibility as objective scientists. Just because it is a strange carcass washed up does not mean it is a plesiosaur or ancient creature, as much as I would like it to be. If that is the case, why stop at plesiosaur? Why not an ocean dwelling alien from outer space? We have to remain objective.

  48. Tengu responds:

    Chin up, at least its not another basking shark….

    and a beaked whale is fun…a big family of large mammals that no one can be bothered to study.

  49. mystery_man responds:

    Yeah, the people who know anything about beaked whales out there probably saw these photos, said “beaked whale”, then moved on to a real mystery without batting an eyelash.

  50. JacinB responds:

    I’m surprised no one has suggested the obvious answer. That’s clearly just a large sturgeon.

  51. mystery_man responds:

    I don’t think it’s a sturgeon. The skeletons of all sturgeon are primarily made of cartilage, which would not have survived such an apparently advanced stage of decomposition.

    Those tail vertebrae certainly don’t look like anything fashioned from cartilage to me and don’t seem to resemble a sturgeon’s skeletal structure. The large rib cage would be extreme for a sturgeon as well.

    It’s a good speculation, though.

  52. mystery_man responds:

    Also, a sturgeon, being a bottom feeder, would not have such imposing looking teeth as these. This animal definitely looks adapted to an active carnivorous lifestyle.

  53. mystery_man responds:

    You can get a good look at a sturgeon’s mouth and other information on this site.

    Very different than this. I used to fish for sturgeon and they just don’t have a mouth that works this way.

  54. crypto_randz responds:

    Remember it is the sea in Russia. From the information I have researched there has been fisherman and submarines who have encountered strange looking marine animals that they can’t identify with the sea animals presently living in the oceans. Some say they look prehistoric like.

  55. mystery_man responds:

    I sure would like it to be some type of prehistoric creature. I just am not ready to discount any of the other possible explanations just yet. This would certainly be very exciting if it turned out to be more than just a whale.

  56. JacinB responds:

    Thanks for the intellectual analysis of my remark, gentlemen, but the suggestion that it was a sturgeon was intended as sarcasm.

  57. mystery_man responds:

    haha! I kind of figured that JacinB. I was going to insist that it was a space alien too, but I thought my joke would get picked apart too. Very funny!

  58. mystery_man responds:

    I’m new to this site, so it’s hard for me to tell sometimes when people are being serious or sarcastic. Sorry. I bet you learned more than you ever needed to know about sturgeons on that site though!

  59. skunkape_hunter responds:

    I have to agree, looks like a croc or a gator. More like a croc because of the narrow, not rounded, nose. I also do not see any hair, as reported.

  60. U.T. Raptor responds:

    “Tail tapers to a point unlike whales and dolphins.”

    On the contrary, that’s exactly what you’d see on a whale that’s as decayed as this carcass. The flukes have no bones, so the tail of a cetacean skeleton tapers to a point.

  61. typetive responds:

    I was hoping it would be a Steller’s sea cow, but the skull is totally wrong for a nose breather (of any kind).

    It’d be so cool if they weren’t extinct.

    It’s a cetacean – the notch in the upper jaw pegs it as a beluga.

  62. shovethenos responds:


    It’s a cetacean – the notch in the upper jaw pegs it as a beluga.

    Can you be sure? In the picture titled “monster8” when you hold the pointer over it there appears to be two notches in the upper jaw. The beluga skull pictured in the more recent thread only had one notch in the upper jaw. Do you think the second notch is from trauma rather than a natural feature of the skull?

    I hope they were able to obtain useable DNA just to be sure of the identification.

  63. mystery_man responds:

    I think all that stuff stuck to it is decomposing skin and blubber, not seaweed. It probably smells something fierce and that’s why they didn’t remove it immediately. I hope they did later on, because seeing more of the body would give more clues to its possible origin. Some people have suggested it is possibly reptilian. I was wondering how cold those waters get and would they be habitable to a large dinosaur like creature? What kind of temperatures were prehistoric whales assimilated to? Sure they could have evolved, but still. I’m trying to keep my mind open to all possibilities here.

  64. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    Hmmmm, well I’ll definitely have to look at these closer, but its teeth look mammalian (definitely not shark teeth).

    Honestly it almost reminded me of teeth I’ve seen in horse skulls, especilly in monster8.jpg, except that the rest of the skull is much too flat, especially when considereing monster10.jpg where you can really see the flatness of the snout.

    I’m not 100% convinced that this couldn’t be an assemblage of some sort, but honestly, the first thing it reminded me of when I saw it there were pictures of a zeuglodon skeleton in a long-lost “ancient animals” book from my childhood.

    I won’t be surprised if it turns out to be some known whale instead of an extant basilosaur, but worth checking into. I hope the skin wasn’t in such a bad state they can’t get DNA.

  65. cor2879 responds:

    While the beluga skull is very close it doesn’t appear to me to be an exact match. I do think this is some sort of beaked whale though, possibly not a beluga but still a beaked whale.

  66. mystery_man responds:

    Whale is the most apparent diagnosis here. I wonder what they ended up doing with this carcass. Is it still being studied? Those DNA tests come through yet? Or even drawings of DNA samples? Please keep us posted on this story!

  67. CryptoInformant responds:

    I am with the rather overwhelming majority in shouting WHALE! However, considering that large plesiosaurids can hide underwater for hours, they could go undiscovered, but not disguised as a BELUGA WHALE!

  68. Sordes responds:

    In fact we have no idea how long plesiosaurs actually stayed underwater, furthermore this skull has no similarities to those of a plesiosaur (have you ever seen one?), but it matches perfectly those of a beluga whale, both in anatomy and actual size.

  69. catvmex responds:

    Look at the first picture. See the hoof on the right? Looks to me like a horse that’s been dead for a time. Possibly it is mixed up with parts of other animals for the length.

    To me, it’s a horse.

  70. Sordes responds:

    There is no hoof. Have you ever looked at the skull of a horse?

  71. Alice responds:

    After all the last comments are not that old… so… if you search for Beluga skulls in picture view you will see that the skull IS from a Beluga. The breach at the teeth is found at several Beluga skulls, too.

  72. Bob Michaels responds:

    Basking Shark, case closed.

  73. inquisitivwordbender responds:

    Most definitely a beluga whale. I checked the photo link from sunny and it just has to. I mean what else could it be?

  74. inquisitivwordbender responds:

    It can’t be a plesiosaur, because plesiosaurs have two sets of ribs and I only see one pair.

  75. KAH-220 responds:

    Well, I too have posted my first comment because of these pictures.

    It has the head of a dinosaur, the body of a sea serpent, a tail that is dragon-like and almost pointed. It truly is cool to look at, however, I would have shown the eye sockets. Most of you are saying it looks like a whale, there are a lizard like “fan” on it’s back. There is no creature I have found that has that feature but a Mososaur. What I would like to know is when these things are found, where are they taken and what is done with them, and why do I not find out what the results are? If there is a dino cool, if it’s a species that happens to be a gator that accidentally mated with some fish, then whatever! I still want to freakin’ know!

    Besides, earthquakes and such could knock the fossil loose and send it ashore! If it’s by Russia, the water would be cold enough to retard the decaying process.

    Geeze, this stuff fascinates me!

  76. anon responds:

    They found my pet. OH SHI-

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