Posted by: Karl Shuker on February 16th, 2014
When it debuted in his classic tome In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents (1968), Dr Bernard Heuvelmans’s bold classification of sea serpents into no less than nine well-defined types was widely hailed within the cryptozoological community as a milestone in cryptid research, and it is still widely referred to today. However, the validity of certain of those sea serpent types has subsequently been challenged by various other researchers, due to revelations that cast doubt upon or totally discredit those types’ proposed taxonomic identities.
(C) Tim Morris
Perhaps the most controversial of Heuvelmans’s nine sea serpent types is his many-finned sea serpent Cetioscolopendra aeliani, for which he nominated a living species of armoured, scaly archaeocete as its identity. Unfortunately, however, long before he had even categorised his types, palaeontologists had already revealed that scales found in association with certain specimens of fossil archaeocete (a primitive group of prehistoric cetaceans) did not originate from them (as had initially been assumed following their discovery, and which had inspired Heuvelmans’s identification of the many-finned as an armoured, scaly archaeocete), but belonged instead to various other creatures. In other words, there are no verified specimens of armoured archaeocete in the fossil record, thereby greatly reducing the likelihood of any modern-day species existing. But if many-finned sea serpents truly exist, what else could they be? In my 1995 book, In Search of Prehistoric Survivors, I proposed a very different identity, one that I still consider plausible, but regarding which, sadly, certain incorrect claims have been made in various subsequent online and hard-copy sources of cryptozoological data. Consequently, I felt that it was high time to refute these erroneous claims once and for all, by revealing online precisely what I did propose regarding this sea serpent type’s identity in my Prehistoric Survivors book.
My name is Dr Karl P.N. Shuker. I am a zoologist (BSc & PhD), media consultant, and the author of 20 books and hundreds of articles, specialising in cryptozoology and animal mythology. I have a BSc (Honours) degree in pure zoology from the University of Leeds (U.K.), and a PhD in zoology and comparative physiology from the University of Birmingham (U.K.). I have acted jointly as consultant and major contributor to three multi-author volumes on cryptozoology and other mysterious phenomena. I am the Life Sciences Consultant to The Guinness Book of Records/Guinness World Records (Guinness: London, 1997-present day), and was consultant to Monsters (Lorenz Books: London, 2001), as well as a contributor to Mysteries of the Deep (Llewellyn: St Paul, 1998), Guinness Amazing Future (Guinness: London, 1999), The Earth (Channel 4 Books: London, 2000), and Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained (Chambers: London, 2007). I appear regularly on television & radio, was a consultant for the Discovery TV series Into the Unknown, and a question setter for the BBC's quiz show Mastermind. I am a Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, a Member of the Society of Authors, and the Cryptozoology Consultant for the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ). I have written articles for numerous publications, including Fortean Times, The X Factor, Paranormal Magazine, FATE, Strange Magazine, Prediction, Beyond, Uri Geller's Encounters, Phenomena, Alien Encounters, Wild About Animals, All About Cats, All About Dogs, Cat World, etc. In 2005, I was honoured by the naming of a new species of loriciferan invertebrate after me - Pliciloricus shukeri.