Stronsay Beast

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Sketch of the Stronsay beast made by Sir Alexander Gibson in 1808.
Another sketch of the Stronsay "monster".

The Stronsay beast was a large carcass or globster[1] that washed ashore on the island of Stronsay (at the time spelled Stronsa), in the Orkney Islands, Scotland after a storm on 25 September 1808. The carcass measured 55 feet (16.76 meters) in length, but as part of the tail was apparently missing, the animal was longer than that.[2][3] The Natural History Society (Wernerian Society) of Edinburgh could not identify the carcass and decided it was a new species, probably a sea serpent. Later the anatomist Sir Everard Home in London dismissed the measurement, declaring it must have been around 36 feet (10.97 meters), and deemed it to be a decayed basking shark (basking sharks can take on a 'pseudo plesiosaur' appearance during decomposition). In 1849 the Scottish professor John Goodsir in Edinburgh came to the same conclusion. The largest reliably recorded basking shark was 40 feet (12.19 meters) in length, so at 55 feet in length, the Beast of Stronsay still constitutes something of a cryptozoological enigma.

The Stronsay beast was 55 feet long, as measured by three witnesses (one was a carpenter and the other two were farmers). It was 4 feet (1.21 meters) wide and had a circumference of approximately 10 feet (3.05 meters). It had three pairs of 'paws' or 'wings'. It had skin that was smooth when stroked head to tail and rough when stroked tail to head. Its fins were edged with bristles and it had a 'mane' of bristles all down its back. The bristles glowed in the dark when wet. Its stomach contents were red.[4]

Yvonne Simpson, a geneticist from Orkney, has researched the evidence and suggests that the Stronsay Beast may indeed have been an unusually large basking shark, or possibly an unknown species of shark closely related to the basking shark.[5][dead link] The drawings of the Stronsay Beast's decayed carcass are similar in shape and size to the popular image of the Loch Ness Monster.[6] The third pair of appendages could be a male shark's "claspers", but male sharks are generally smaller than the female of the same species. There is also the possibility that the creature may have been an oarfish which has shown similar disparities.

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  1. ^ Newton, Michael (2009). Hidden Animals: A Field Guide to Batsquatch, Chupacabra, and Other Elusive Creatures. ABC-CLIO/Greenwood. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-0-313-35906-4. 
  2. ^ (Wernerian Society Notes, 1808–1810, Library, Royal Museum, Edinburgh)
  3. ^ Newton, Michael (2005). "Stronsay Beast". Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 442–443. ISBN 0-7864-2036-7. 
  4. ^ Simpson, Dr. Y. A. (2001). "'The Strange Case of the Stronsay Beast". Archived from the original on 5 November 2007. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Strange Case of the Stronsay Beast". Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  6. ^ "Orkney beast 'similar to Nessie'". 3 November 2007. Retrieved 3 November 2007. 

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