Con Rt

Multfinned Sea Monster of the China Sea.

Etymology: Vietnamese (Austroasiatic) name for a millipede with a toxic bite.

Physical description: Length, 60 feet. Dark brown above, light yellow below. Body composed of armored segments 2 feet long and 3 feet wide. A pair of thin appendages, 2 feet 4 inches long, is attached to each segment. Distribution: Halong Bay, Vietnam. Significant sighting: Tran Van Con and other Vietnamese found a carcass washed ashore at Hong Gai, Vietnam, around 1883. The head was gone, but the remainder was formed of odd segmented joints that rang like sheet metal when hit with a stick. It smelled so badly that it was towed out to sea. Possible explanations:

(1) The backbone of a whale, though the vertebral structure should have been obvious and described in a different way.

(2) The caudal vertebrae of an Oarfish (Regalecus glesne). However, its bones are shaped differently, and this fish generally only grows to 36 feet.

(3) Surviving archaic basilosaurid whale, similar to those in Bernard Heuvelmans's Multfinned Sea Monster category, which he theorized had armored plates. However, it's now known that basilosaurids were not armored.

(4) A surviving Sea scorpion (Class Eurypterida), a group of arthropods that flourished from the Ordovician to the Permian periods, 500-250 million years ago, had an abdomen divided into twelve segments, but no appendages were attached to them. In addition, they actually lived in brackish or freshwater instead of the open sea, and the largest one, a species of Pterygotus, only reached 9 feet in length.

(5) A giant crustacean of an unknown type, proposed by Karl Shuker. The carcass represents only the exoskeleton and limbs. However, the largest known living con rit 113

crustacean is the Japanese spider crab (Macrocheira kaempferi), which has a claw span of 10—12 feet but a body size not much over 1 foot—nowhere near the size of the Con rít.

Sources: Abel Gruvel, L'Indochine: Ses richesses marines et fluviales (Paris, 1925), p. 123; "Le grand serpent de mer," La Nature Supplément 53 (November 14, 1925): 153; A. G. L. Jourdan, "A propos du Serpent de mer," La Nature Supplément 53 (December 12, 1925): 185-186; Bernard Heuvelmans, In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents (New York: Hill and Wang, 1968), pp. 416-421; Karl Shuker, In Search ofPrehistoric Survivors (London: Blandford, 1995), pp. 126-127.

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