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Tremendous Tallywhackers

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1390159.  Fri Sep 17, 2021 9:22 am Reply with quote

It's getting more difficult to twist weird facts I find to the letter T...

In this case the title refers to a study in 2005 into a historic account of the spotting of a sea monster off the coast of Greenland.

The study looks carefully at the descriptions, both written and drawn, of the serpent itself, and of events leading up to it, and of the location, etc.

In the conclusion, there is this interesting bit:

However, there is an alternative explanation for the serpent-like tail. Many of the large baleen whales have long, snake-like penises (Figures 4 and 5). If the animal did indeed fall on its back then its ventral surface would have been uppermost and, if the whale was aroused, the usually retracted penis would have been visible. The penises of the North Atlantic right whale and (Pacific) grey whale can be at least 1.8 metres long (calculated from Collett, 1909), and 1.7 metres long (Rice and Wolman, 1971) respectively, and could be taken by a naďve witness for a tail. That the tail was seen at one point a ship’s length from the body suggests the presence of more than one male whale.

And in the discussion notes, noting other historic sightings of sea monsters:

Like Owen’s (1848) interpretation of the famous sea-serpent observed in the South Atlantic Ocean from HMS Daedalus, we have no “unmeet confidence [sic]” in our interpretation of the Egede creature. Nor are we suggesting that whales’ penises are a universal source of sea-serpent sightings although we do think that one other sighting, that from the merchant vessel Pauline in 1875 when a sea-serpent in the form of a “whitish pillar” was seen amongst a pod of sperm whales “frantic with excitement” (Heuvelmans, 1968; Oudemans, 1892), could be a misidentification (the sperm whale penis can be pale (Harrison, 1938)). In the case of the Egedes, we are assuming that the use of the serpent simile and the drawings were not wholly accurate. If they were accurate, then the strongest objection to the baleen whale interpretation of the Egede sighting is the presence of obvious teeth in the drawing. Our explanation also assumes that the witnesses would not have recognised a whale’s penis and that some species would display their penises in the summer off Greenland. Hans Egede (1741, 1745) described the large “membrum virile” of a whale but the Egedes may not have realised it could be seen at sea.

Full study here:


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