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The Stronsay Beast was a large carcass or globster 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 ft (16.8 m) in length, but as part of the tail was apparently missing, it was estimated the animal was longer than that. The Natural History Society (Wernerian Society) of Edinburgh could not identify the carcass and decided it was a new species, probably a sea serpent. The Scottish anatomist John Barclay gave it the scientific name Halsydrus pontoppidani (Pontoppidan's sea-snake) in honor of Erik Pontoppidan, who described sea serpents in a work published half a century before. Later, the anatomist Sir Everard Home in London dismissed the measurement, declaring it must have been around 36 ft (11 m), and deemed it to be a decayed basking shark (basking sharks can take on a 'pseudo plesiosaur' appearance during decomposition). In 1849, Scottish professor John Goodsir in Edinburgh came to the same conclusion.
The Stronsay Beast (known locally as the Stronsay monster) was measured by three witnesses (one was a carpenter and the other two were farmers). It was 4 ft (1.2 m) wide and had a circumference of about 10 ft (3.1 m). It had three pairs of 'paws' or 'wings'. Its skin 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.