Stronsay Beast

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

The Stronsay Beast was a large 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 a part of the tail was apparently missing, it was estimated the animal was longer than that.[1] 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 naturalist Patrick Neill 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.[2] 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. In 1849, Scottish professor John Goodsir in Edinburgh came to the same conclusion.

The Stronsay Beast was measured by three witnesses (a carpenter and two 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 appendages described as '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.

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  1. ^ (Wernerian Society Notes, 1808–1810, Library, Royal Museum, Edinburgh)
  2. ^ Loxton, Daniel; Prothero, Donald R. (2013). Abominable Science! : Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 207. ISBN 9780231153201.

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