Posted by: Karl Shuker on September 1st, 2013
Sea monsters can be very deceiving, even when dead. It is well known that the decomposing carcase of a beached basking shark often transforms very dramatically, and deceptively, to yield what on first sight looks remarkably like a long-necked, four-flippered, slender-tailed, hairy plesiosaur-like creature. This is the so-called pseudo-plesiosaur effect. Similarly, when a sperm whale dies at sea and its carcase gradually rots, its heavy skull and skeleton eventually sink down to the ocean floor, but sometimes a very sizeable skin-sac of rotting blubber, surfaced externally with exposed connective tissue fibres, will remain afloat – encasing a thick matrix of collagen and often not only the substantial spermaceti organ too but also a few isolated ribs with fibrous flesh still attached. If subsequently washed ashore, this is popularly dubbed a globster, created by the quasi-octopus effect.
Obviously, however, as a pseudo-plesiosaur only arises with decomposing sharks whereas a quasi-octopus/globster only arises with decomposing whales, there is no mechanism by which both of these artefacts – these charlatan sea monsters – could result from the same carcase. Or at least that is what I had always assumed – until the following case (not previously published online) was brought to my attention.
Further details can be obtained here on my ShukerNature blog.
Karl Shuker – has written 46 posts on this site.
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.