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The Loch Ness Salamander – Latest

Posted by: Nick Redfern on April 15th, 2013

Salamander

Over at his Loch Ness Giant Salamander blog, Steve Plambeck updates us on the status of his research into the theory that the Nessies might be huge salamanders.

Steve notes: “…in another part of the world the Siberian Salamanders will be waking from their months of suspended animation and burrowing out of the permafrost. Perhaps in another much more westerly part of Europe, a considerably larger salamander is also stirring in the deep silt that lies at the bottom of one Loch Ness, anticipating a run of food in the warming layer above the thermocline. The hunt is still on.”

Here’s Steve’s complete article.

If you haven’t checked out Steve’s blog, you really should. While the giant salamander hypothesis is certainly a controversial one, it’s also one that Steve has dug into very deeply and he offers a great deal of data on his theory.

Nick Redfern About Nick Redfern
Punk music fan, Tennents Super and Carlsberg Special Brew beer fan, horror film fan, chocolate fan, like to wear black clothes, like to stay up late. Work as a writer.


17 Responses to “The Loch Ness Salamander – Latest”

  1. William responds:

    Sorry, not trying to be mean, but I personally find the “giant salamander” theory beyond stupid. For one thing, the fact that “Nessie” if indeed real, is so elusive that even a viable photograph or film has not been attained in all these years would seem to indicate a wariness far beyond anything as the brain of any form of salamander would indicate.

    Another way of putting this, would be, if indeed Nessie was nothing more than “giant salamanders” they would be popping up all the time and maybe appearing on land. They would have no natural predators and have no reason to fear anything. Salamanders by their very nature, do not have brains with the capacity to avoid detection to the degree a “Nessie” must be capable.

  2. marcodufour responds:

    William – For a viable photograph I suggest You could try the surgeon`s photo (Robert Kenneth Wilson) and no, that ridiculous supposed deathbed claim has no veracity when you study it (as much as their is also not a shred of proof that “Patty” was a man in a suit) and for a viable film I suggest you also view and research Tim Dinsdale’s film of Nessie including the conclusion of JARIC (Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre) too.

  3. cryptokellie responds:

    To William;
    While I am on board with you regarding the “Nessie is a giant salamander” theory, I think you might want to read-up on salamanders in general. The larger salamanders are quite adept at avoiding detection especially the fully aquatic varieties. As to brain power of salamanders, you might be surprised by their capacities. I have raised and kept Tiger Salamanders for many years and they are quite aware and responsive. They can be taught many simple tricks and learn to avoid certain situations and pitfalls. They also can live up to 20 years. As is generally the case, many animals have a lot more on the ball than the uninformed give them credit for.

  4. wuffing responds:

    marcodufour – there are several reasons to accept that the Surgeon’s Photo(s) are fakes, including
    -the statement of Christian Spurling in 1991 that he made a model for Marmaduke Wetherell, based on a toy submarine with a neck made “using plastic wood”,
    - the statement in the 1975 “Mandrake” article by his half-brother Ian Wetherell that they had a model made of “a little toy submarine… plus some plastic tubing and what-have-you”,”
    - R.K.Wilson’s 1940 statement to three Army colleagues that “he and a friend had hoaxed the local inhabitatnts at Loch Ness”, and
    - R.K.Wilson’s written comments to Constance Whyte in 1955 that “I am not, even to this day, quite sure that I was not, quite unwittingly, the victim of a trick” and
    “there is a slight doubt or suspicion as to the authenticity of the photograph”.

    As for Tim Dinsdale’s film, the JARIC conclusion that it was “probably animate” was based on an examination flawed by a failure to spot numerous breaks in the filming, causing them to calculate a higher speed for the object that could be attained by a non-planing boat hull. It was also flawed by incorrect camera height data. Modern image stacking techniques clearly show an object in the location where a helmsman should be, together with a possible second occupant amidships.

    The offered inference that the film shows a partially submerged animal maintaining a hump 12 to 16 feet long, 5.5 feet wide and 3 feet high above the surface travelling “at or approaching 10 mph” for over one minute requires a physiology and metabolic rate unprecedented in the animal kingdom.

    There may well be unrecorded species and phenomena in Loch Ness, but these two incidents have much simpler explanations. If you wish to discuss this in more detail I would suggest raising it in one of the open forums where people with more expertise than I may be able to help you.

  5. marcodufour responds:

    wuffing (this is my second go at this as i managed to delete my last post, bummmmm!),

    There are lots of reasons to disbelieve the “toy submarine” theory. Firstly – Dr Paul H. Leblond did some work on the photos and concluded that the neck was in the order of approximately 6ft, thus ruining the toy theory.

    Secondly – The two surgeon photos are very different showing a bending presumably animate object which again could not be a toy.

    Thirdly – Bernard Weatherall was much loved by his son and stepson, and as he was derided badly by the press over his pronouncement of the fake footprints being from the monster rather than an umbrella stand foot, so this gives every reason for him to state the whole thing was fake thus bringing his stepfather’s reputation back, so to speak. (I would have to get my psychology degree down and explain why people give false confessions in many walks of life.) The fake statement was in fact fake in the same way as the numerous people stating they were the one wearing the “Bigfoot suit” in Patterson`s footage, geeeeeez….

    Tim Dinsdale’s film was reanalyzed not so long ago, and the film specialist who was doubtful before of the Loch Ness Monster (I dislike the word monster as it engenders a view of silly season for the tabloids and media to “play with”).

    I have been to Loch Ness around 15 times, have some friends who have seen it up close, and others who don`t believe it exists, of course they are the ones who have never seen anything. I have had one possible sighting, and one definite one in Loch Morar, was it Mhorag? I don’t know 100% but I am convinced enough to think there are “large animate objects, smaller than whales but larger than sharks” Adrian Shine after Operation Deepscan’s sonar contacts.

    Lastly and finally (before I manage to mess this up and delete it again) you seem to have a condescending attitude, which as I am highly educated with a very high I.Q. and I also have searched for these creatures all over the world, i don’t think i could learn too much from an open forum.

    Thanks all the same…….

  6. DWA responds:

    Wuffing:

    Then there’s my first reaction to the Surgeon’s Photo as a small child:

    That’s a toy brontosaur in a bathtub.

    (Brontosaur. Yes, that was long ago.)

  7. wuffing responds:

    marcodufour –
    M: There are lots of reasons to disbelieve the “toy submarine” theory. Firstly – Dr Paul H. Leblond did some work on the photos and concluded that the neck was in
    the order of approximately 6ft, thus ruining the toy theory.
    W: Many other investigators disagree with that size estimate,which was based on weather records from Aberdeen, 90 miles away, and which was actually 4ft, not 6 ft as you reported.(Cryptozoology, Vol 6, 1987, p55)

    M: Secondly – The two surgeon photos are very different showing a bending presumably animate object which again could not be a toy.
    W: the “second” photo should not have a reflection at all in that wave environment, so is not really relevant. It could be anything photographed anywhere.

    M: Thirdly – Bernard Weatherall was much loved by his son and stepson, and as he was derided badly by the press over his pronouncement of the fake footprints
    being from the monster rather than an umbrella stand foot, so this gives every reason for him to state the whole thing was fake thus bringing his stepfather’s
    reputation back, so to speak. (I would have to get my psychology degree down and explain why people give false confessions in many walks of life.) The fake
    statement was in fact fake in the same way as the numerous people stating they were the one wearing the “Bigfoot suit” in Patterson`s footage, geeeeeez….
    W: Bernard Weatherill was the Speaker of the House of Commons; perhaps you mean Marmaduke Wetherell, owner of the hippo foot ash-tray?

    M: Tim Dinsdale’s film was reanalyzed not so long ago, and the film specialist who was doubtful before of the Loch Ness Monster (I dislike the word monster as it
    engenders a view of silly season for the tabloids and media to “play with”).
    W: Tim Dinsdale’s film was even later re-analysed by the same people who had been at JARIC in 1966 and, second time around, they decided that it looked like a boat.

    M: I have been to Loch Ness around 15 times, have some friends who have seen it up close, and others who don`t believe it exists, of course they are the ones who
    have never seen anything. I have had one possible sighting, and one definite one in Loch Morar, was it Mhorag? I don’t know 100% but I am convinced enough to
    think there are “large animate objects, smaller than whales but larger than sharks” Adrian Shine after Operation Deepscan’s sonar contacts.
    W: The shark/ whale comments were made by Darrell Lowrance, not Adrian Shine.

    M: Lastly and finally (before I manage to mess this up and delete it again) you seem to have a condescending attitude, which as I am highly educated with a very high I.Q. and I also have searched for these creatures all over the world, i don’t think i could learn too much from an open forum.
    W: Sadly, I left school at 15 and have only an average IQ even on my best days, but I am always willing to learn from others.

  8. wuffing responds:

    DWA “Then there’s my first reaction to the Surgeon’s Photo as a small child: That’s a toy brontosaur in a bathtub.”

    First reactions can sometimes be wrong – anyone can see it isn’t in a bathtub :-)

  9. marcodufour responds:

    wuffing I am doomed never to complete this conversation as my missus managed to disconnect the internet for me, grrrrrrr. Here goes..

    6ft or4ft means it couldn`t have been a toy submarine as it would have been too small and tilted over as indeed the one tested did. I wasn`t sure whether it was 4 or 6ft stated ( it was in my first deleted post ) but as far as Paul Leblond stated he used Loch Ness data.

    Bernard Weatherall agreed, i knew what i meant as did you, don`t be facetious it doesn`t become you, working 18 to 20 hours everyday at your own business will do that to a man.

    Tim Dinsdale saw the monster as some of my friends have and i think i might have done so even if his film was incorrect, which i doubt, this phenomena exists, it is just up to us serious researchers to find and explain it, tell me, have you been to Loch Ness ?

    I have heard the shark/whale comments from Adrian Shine at a press conference so i can only quote him as i haven`t heard Darrell Lowrance say it, maybe they both quoted it ?

    Good to hear you are open to learning, anyone can still learn things everyday.

    P.S. Have you put your money into the Cryptomundo legal fight pot ? I have and i think everyone at a minimum who posts should.

    Regards.

  10. springheeledjack responds:

    I’ve read into the salamander hypothesis, and while intriguing, it still doesn’t fit the mass of sightings on a lot of fronts–I think we got into this not tooooo long ago. While it’s a worthwhile hypothesis, a salamander fitting the size proportions of Nessie is no less outlandish than a surviving plesiosaur or a long necked pinniped.

    The surgeon’s photo will go down as ever controversial, but even back in my beginning days of Nessie obsession, it didn’t look right to me, so while I’ll concede controversy, it’s of little weight in my estimation of the evidence at hand.

    As to Dinsdale–same. It’s one piece, but I’ve seen clean ups of that footage that have leaned both ways. While I tend to believe Dinsdale had a legitimate sighting which launched him into his long investigations, he was at the tale end of his first real stay on the loch when he got that famous footage…it could have been the “wanting” to see what he came for, or he honestly could have gotten a glimpse of the real thing. I’d like to think he’d spent enough time on the loch to make the distinction between boats and other things, but we’ll never know for sure–even if Nessie waltzes up on land tomorrow and shakes a flipper at us.

    Back to topic, the salamander theory is an outside longshot at best.

  11. Steve Plambeck responds:

    Oh, William. Now “beyond stupid” is a fairly strong retort, which might be alright if what followed had supported quite so intense a remark. That it didn’t leaves only the possibilities you were confused after reading my work (assuming you did) or you were being deliberately impolite (for whatever motives you might have for being so).

    This is probably prying into a can of Orms that might best be left unopened, but at the risk of what you might spout next may I ask whether “beyond stupid” was triggered by general contempt for our subject matter here, and how much was really directed at the specific candidate I propose? If it’s a majority of the former, then why do you seek out forum subjects that irritate you so easily? If it’s a majority of the latter, and you do really have an open mind regarding the possibility of an unidentified species in Loch Ness, then you must have a very strong candidate of your own in mind, along with quite a list of supporting facts, to scoff so heartily at other ideas.

    But back to your post. You cannot dictate the behavior of an animal for your own convenience. Even an animal itself cannot dictate its behavior for it’s own convenience, let alone ours. We aren’t fighting the elusiveness of the animal, our obstacle is glorious Loch Ness itself, the environment in which this possible animal lives. Nothing is deliberately hiding from us — rather the Loch is very good at hiding whatever lives in or passes through it. Believe me, if Andrias davidianus had any say in it, the species would probably prefer Loch Ness and the extra 750 feet of unlit protection (not to mention as much as 20 feet of silt at the bottom in some places) that additional buffer would give it from the hungry human population that is eating it to extinction. Wading-depth river water is no place for such a large, meaty animal. But again, animals don’t choose their environments, their environments choose them.

    Now you must not know that an aquatic salamander (emphasis on the word aquatic) is an amphibian that has re-adapted to a purely aquatic existence. There are many examples of living amphibians that have done this, including the largest known species of both salamanders and caecilians. There are examples in the fossil record as well, some larger than even necessary to account for what might inhabit Loch Ness. They never need to come popping out on land (although in very rare instances they do). They never need to surface to breathe (although in rare instances they do). Yes we can photograph, and even capture, those that live in shallow water. But why would we even expect to in deep, opaque water? That the environment of Loch Ness isn’t compelling such an animal to alter its behavior and pop out for us more regularly, especially when a camera is ready and aimed, doesn’t mean such an animal can’t be there. And that isn’t evasion, that’s nature.

    Steve, at
    http://thelochnessgiantsalamander.blogspot.com/

  12. marcodufour responds:

    springheeledjack – Tim Dinsdale also filmed a boat after to show the difference, and there was quite a difference between the two so i don`t think it could have been a boat. He also had binoculars and filmed using a decent camera ( for its` day ) , he was an aeronautical engineer, and an educated chap, his film is still available on youtube with the comparison shot of the boat.

    I don`t think Nessie is a salamander persoanally, i think after the the surgeon`s photo and Tim Dinsdale`s film, the next bit of evidence is Robert Rhine`s photos and sonar traces.

  13. William responds:

    Sorry Steve, I apologize for the tone of my comments and withdraw the “beyond stupid” remark. I also admit I overeacted and have not in-fact read your studies. With that being said, I enjoy speculation of what type of creature (if any) may inhabit Loch Ness, Lake Champlain, Lake Erie, etc. as there are certain similarities in the descriptions. Most indicate some sort of humps and/or quite often a slender neck and serpent or horse shaped head. The latter two features IMO seem to rule out a gigantic salmander in my estimation. However, may there are salamanders fitting that description, if so, I plead ignorance thereof.

    My initial reaction to a giant salamander theory, I must admit was to laugh as I envisioned laughing at any gigantic known species as an explanation. For example, if someone had said it was a giant eel which I believe has been postulated but which I also find laughable as based on descriptions, the eel or salamander would have to be the size of something that would barely fit inside a tractor trailer. Sorry, but I just find that a bit over the top. What would explain this gigantic size of something that is known only as much, much smaller, even in the largest versions?

    Also, I think giant salamanders or eels would be much easier to find using sonar which has been used in the Loch and Lake Champlain, although there was evidence found of that creature possibly using some form of echo location which would be pretty sophisticated for an eel or salamander.

  14. wuffing responds:

    marcodufour- I have read through Dr LeBlond’s paper on the Wilson / Surgeons photo again and must offer a conclusion different from your own. The weather data he used was WNW Force 3 at Aberdeen, and Calm at Dalwhinnie. From that he inferred a NE Force 2 at Loch Ness and concluded that the waves at the photo location would have been between 4 and 7.5 wavelength. What are missing from the photo are all the waves of lesser length – one cannot have a Force 2 sea state with only maximum length waves present. I suggest that what is on the photograph is entirely inconsistent with the weather data from 19th April 1934 and also from Dr LeBlond’s predictions. A Force 2 NE doesn’t generate a wave environment like that a couple of miles from Invermoriston.

  15. Steve Plambeck responds:

    Thanks very much William, I really appreciate your last post.

    And yes indeed, the reputed long neck is the major sticking point (I’d even hazard to say the *only* sticking point) in putting forward an amphibian as the most likely, and parsimonious animal culprit. The last major article at my blog, “What Surface Sightings Have Told Us About Morphology”, grew as lengthy as it did because I chose to tackle the troublesome long neck issue head-on (no pun intended:) In my research into classic sightings, I discovered a long neck has only been reported in 15% of the sightings, and in less than 2% of the sightings where the object is reported to show any substantial speed or motion. My contention is that every valid long-neck sighting really represents a sighting of the long tail. And that’s the main point where I differ from the one-time conclusions of Gould and Mackal, both of whom decided at different times it would have to be an amphibian, putting forward the notion of a long-necked Scottish newt. In my view, we never had a long neck in the first place.

    The word “salamander” is something of a catch-all lay term in the classification of amphibians, which is likely the most complicated area of taxonomy in all tetrapod zoology. Pretty much any amphibian with a tail, living or extinct, can be labeled “salamander” as opposed to the tail-less, modern amphibians we call frogs. But in more rigorous scientific terms “salamander” should only be applied to modern descendants in the same Subclass as frogs (and caecilians, depending on whose classification system you believe) because they all share a common ancestor (depending on whose classification system you believe) , but there were other Subclasses of amphibians before the modern one (or those were other Taxons, depending again on whose classification system you believe). All of which is to say: the classification of amphibians is a freaking maze, and it will make anyone’s head explode. Further adding to the mess are the Giant Salamanders (2 species in Asia, 1 in North America) which belong to a more primitive suborder even though they are in the modern Subclass. These sport fewer derived traits than modern salamanders, while retaining some traits that go way, way back to the rival Subclasses. That’s a maze within a maze.

    Bottom line though is that there have been hundreds if not thousands of species of tailed amphibians (or salamanders) going back hundreds of millions of years, some of them aquatic, some of those fresh water species and some of them salt water species, ranging in every size up to about 40 feet long. All of them carnivorous, and the bigger ones the top predators in their environments.

    Let’s just say they wouldn’t make safe pets :>

  16. marcodufour responds:

    wuffing – Please post Dr Paul Leblond`s papers you have stated. You also still haven`t answered my other points.

  17. wuffing responds:

    marcofuour – The ISC Journal is protected by copyright but the one you are looking for is ISSN 0736-7023 and reprints might be available from the publishers Allen Press, Lawrence Kansas 66044 USA, or from Dr LeBlond himself.

    Your other points:
    As far as I can see, the only data from Loch Ness that Dr Leblond could have used in his calculations is the distance from the upwind end to his assumed photo location, but you could always ask him.
    Regarding Tim Dinsdale’s film, you say (he) “saw the monster… even if his film was incorrect, which I doubt, the phenomena exists.” Surely the phenomena (plural) are simply observations which had no explanations obvious to the witnesses at the time, and hence anecdotes? Individual events have individual explanations, some of which involve deceiving the gullible.

    Yes, I have been to Loch Ness.

    Darrel Lowrance’s comments about sonar traces indicating something bigger than a shark but smaller than a whale were not echoed by Adrian Shine either at the time or since; he was (and is) of the opinion that they might conceivably have been caused by a large fish or possibly a seal. If such a statement was made at a press conference I would be interested to know which one.

    I am happy to discuss these matters by email and Craig has my permission to give you my googlemail address.



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