Patagonian Plesiosaur

Freshwater Monster of Argentina.

Physical description: Long neck like a swan's, held high above the water.

Behavior: Nocturnal. Can travel on land.

Distribution: The lake region of Chubut Province, Argentina, including Lago Blanco; the adjacent region of Chile.

Significant sightings: The director of the Jardín Zoológico at Buenos Aires, Clemente onelli, interviewed a farmer who lived on Lago Blanco in 1897 about strange, nocturnal noises heard along the lake's pebbly shore. A long-necked animal could sometimes be seen on moonlit nights.

On October 18, 1921, prospector Martin

420 PATAGONIAN GIANT

Sheffield came across the tracks of a large animal west of Esquel, Argentina, and followed them to an unnamed mountain lake where he saw a ple-siosaur-like animal swimming.

Onelli organized an expedition, led by José Cihagi and Emilio Frey, that set out to investigate these reports on March 23, 1922. On April 18, despite some bureaucratic problems with permits, the group reached the lake where Sheffield had seen the animal but did not find anything (despite setting off some dynamite in the lake); the group was forced to return to Buenos Aires on April 26 before the southern winter set in.

Possible explanation: The Giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is found much farther north, though there is a historical record of its existence from Uruguay. It grows to a length of 6 feet, including the tail.

Sources: "Sees Monster of the Reptile Age Swimming in Patagonian Lake," New York Herald, March 7, 1922; "Not Worried about Mesozoic Monsters," New York Herald, March 8, 1922; "Protests Capture of Andean Monster," New York Herald, March 13, 1922; "En busca de la ejemplar vivo de la Epoca Secundaria: El Plesiosaurio," La Prensa (Buenos Aires), March 13, 1922; "Argentines Start to Catch Monster," New York Herald, March 24, 1922; "Was It a Hoax? End of Plesiosaurus Hunt," River Plate Observer (Buenos Aires), May 12, 1922; Leonard Matters, "An Antediluvian Monster," Scientific American 127 (July 1922): 21; Peter Costello, In Search of Lake Monsters (New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1974), pp. 237-244.

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