Putting the Kibosh on Prehistoric Survivors?

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on March 13th, 2014

From Matt Bille’s Sci/Tech Blog:

Also see: Plesiosaur Peril and the Prehistoric Survivor Paradigm

Sharon Hill, geologist, skeptic, and Sounds Sciencey columnist, has given the boot (boot? Hill? Get it?) to the claims that prehistoric survivors are still roaming around causing cryptozoologists to get all excited. She has a number of major points, one being that the coelacanth is not enough to make a logical link with living plesiosaurs (I’m rather getting tired of Old Fourlegs, a marvelous discovery which will apparently be trotted out forever in arguments over cryptozoology) and that neither Central Africa nor any other spot on Earth is unchanged since the Mesozoic era.

She dismisses two of the most famous corpses in sea serpent history, noting they were in advanced stages of decay. I had to push back a little there: the 1937 Naden Harbor “Cadborosaurus,” while clearly beat up, was not described in the contemporary accounts as being in “an advanced state of decomposition.”


There’s still something odd about that damned thing: while it does resemble a decayed basking shark, it puzzles me that the spinal cord would have stayed intact for so long while the whale was digesting it, given the combination of chemical and muscular processes going on.. (While I wrote in 2006 that there are no accounts of sperm whales swallowing basking sharks, Richard Ellis mentions one in his book on the sperm whale, a 14-foot shark to be precise, so we can agree such a swallowing can happen.) It probably was a known creature of some sort, and Bousfield and LeBlond overreached in making it the type specimen of a new reptile. It’s just not resolved quite as definitely as I’d like.

The article raises and interesting question: if there is a decent body of sightings of a large animal, is it more likely to be a survivor which has left no fossil remains for a very long time, or a more recent development which has somehow left no remains at all?


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.

9 Responses to “Putting the Kibosh on Prehistoric Survivors?”

  1. G. de La Hoya responds:

    Sharon Hill stands behind science yet she believes in the unscientific “proof” of global warming. That is called hypocrisy. She is a fringer that only allows other liberal eco-bark chewers to comment on her site. She has nothing of importance to add to any discussion.

  2. DWA responds:

    Well, nothing here “puts the kibosh” on anything. It is, to paraphrase Hill, something that sounds “sciencey,” but ain’t no way no how science.

    (Please, in the name of science done right, STOP invoking the fossil record as a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on things reported to be alive now. There is ample evidence for this practice to end forthwith. When best estimates say that 95% of extinct primates left no remains that we have found, I don’t care what Naish says. That the record is imperfect – why haven’t we clumsy humans found them, hummmmm? – makes it inadmissible, and done.)

    I’m not gonna bother with all those cryptids I find unlikely, at least unlikely to be what the sexiest explanations assert they are. I’m gonna focus on one that the evidence – not me, now, but the evidence – says is real:

    Of course, we can’t forget the species of prehistoric primates still said to roam the earth. A common proposed explanation from Bigfoot believers is that today’s North American Sasquatch is a relict Gigantopithecus (which paleontologists know only from teeth and jaw parts). The Asian versions of wild men have been speculated to be hominids that we assumed were long gone, perhaps even Neanderthals. But use of modern DNA and measuring techniques squash that idea; samples of supposed modern remains or descendants of these creatures have been tested and come back as modern human.

    Nothing has been squashed, by anything. This “prehistoric” animal – that the evidence is overwhelming is no more ‘prehistoric’ than the giant panda or Komodo dragon – hasn’t even been touched yet by science. Those so-called samples haven’t been submitted after painstaking full-time work by the best in the field, who collected them from living (or even dead) animals. They have been submitted by amateur enthusiasts, who had – for varying reasons, one or two of them maybe even good! – reason to believe that they might have come from the animal in question.

    No scientist considers that either exhaustive or minimally convincing.

    That is, no scientist with his scientist, and not his scoftic, hat on.

  3. sasquatch responds:

    What a dweeb…I saw some prehistoric survivors last year not 20 miles from my house…They are called Pronghorn antelope…they are referred to as “living fossils” as they date back to the wooly mammoth days….I even got footage of one as it crested a hill… it was moving pretty fast, so it’s sorta blurry footage…heard that one before?
    But it was real!…honest…

  4. Wee Falorie Man responds:

    According to Sharon Hill:

    “It’s possible that, as is the case with many uncatalogued fossils, there are additional samples sitting unidentified in museum archives.”

    Needless to say, this is a less than impressive “explanation” for the paucity of coelacanth fossils during the last 65 million years. Of course, everyone knows that the fossil record is far from complete, so her argument (against the existence of things that have yet to be discovered in the more recent fossil record) is, in fact, mistaken.

  5. DWA responds:

    sasquatch: bigfoot skeptics are expert at picking cherries. Regular migrant cherrypickers, they are. Tuatara; tree shrew; …nah, I’ll just give ’em two cherries to pick.

    WFM: The examples refuting Hill’s thinking are too numerous to list. To judge reports of something people are seeing now based on something no one has ever seen? Folly, in any field.

  6. Wee Falorie Man responds:

    DWA – Quite correct! Her argument is merely an ill-conceived rant against possibilities that she considers to be outlandish 🙁

  7. DWA responds:

    WFM, I’m correct, but not totally.

    There I am presuming that no one has seen fossils of predecessors for sasquatch…when indeed we may have them now, either catalogued or not.

    I should also ask: is it just me, or does “Cadborosaurus” make others think “chocolate” too?

  8. Samsquanchus Bigfootus responds:

    Umm? You don’t even need to go back 10,000 yrs to get to ‘pre-historic’. Pre-historic doesn’t have to mean dinosaur. It merely references the time before recorded history. Man has survived from prehistoric times. Oh, my aching head…

  9. DWA responds:

    Samsquanchus: right.

    Humans are prehistoric survivors. Hence: all candidates, back on table!

    That scientists give the reasons that they do for completely plausible things to be impossible goes beyond unscientific, straight to superstitious. Cut that out, scientists. That’s the society’s money and trust you’re playing with!

    Look at the jus’plain KWAYZEE suppositions going on in astronomy and paleontology.


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