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BAUGH'S CLAIM ON LIVING PTEROSAUR..
Glen Kuban, in his very interesting review of Baugh's 'work' (thanks
Glen) mentions Baugh's claim about a supposedly live pterosaur found
within a railway tunnel last century. Glen suggests that Baugh derived
this colourful tale from Conan-Doyle's "Lost World", but, as I'll show
here, he didn't.
As no-one else picked up on this, I thought I might as well. The whole
affair comes from a newspaper article published in the Illustrated
London News on 9th Feb 1856 (p. 166). The article reads:
'A discovery of great scientific importance has just been made at
Culmont (Haute Marne). Some men employed in cutting a tunnel which is to
unite the St. Dizier and Nancy railways, had just thrown down an
enormous block of stone by means of gunpowder, and were in the act of
breaking it to pieces, when from a cavity in it they saw emerge a living
being of monstrous form. This creature, which belongs to the class of
animals hitherto considered to be extinct, has a very long neck, and a
mouth filled with sharp teeth. It stands on four long legs, which are
united together by two membranes, doubtless intended to support the
animal in the air, and are armed with four claws terminated by long and
crooked talons. Its general form resembles that of a bat, differing only
in its size, which is that of a large goose. Its membranous wings, when
spread out, measure from tip to tip 3 metres 22 cm (nearly 10 ft 17 in).
Its colour is livid black; its skin is naked, thick and oily; its
intestines only contained a colourless liquid like clear water. On
reaching the light this monster gave some signs of life, by shaking its
wings, but soon after expired, uttering a hoarse cry. This strange
creature, to which may be given the name of living fossil, has been
bought to Gray, where a naturalist, well versed in the study of
paleontology [sic], immediately recognized it as belonging to the genus
_Pterodactylus anas_, many fossil remains of which have been found among
the strata which geologists have designated by the name lias. The rock
in which the monster was discovered belongs precisely to that
formation the deposit of which is so old that geologists date it more
than a million years back. The cavity in which the animal was lodged
forms an exact hollow mould of its body, which indicates that it was
completely enveloped with the sedimentary deposit.'
Guess it must have been a light news day in London then.
This hoax follows reports of animals, mostly toads, supposedly found
within sealed rocks. Whether or not any of these were authentic (a few
might have been, but explanations put up over the years *can* explain
them), they were certainly the inspiration here. Incidentally, only one
'toad in the rock' specimen has ever been retrieved, and is on display
at a British museum. What few people seem to appreciate is that the
specimen was 'found' (=made) by the same man responsible for the
Piltdown man hoax (or, if not responsible for it, very very intimately
involved with it). He is therefore a somewhat dubious source of
And if anyone mentions the words Kongomato, Congo, Heuvelmans or
'surviving' (not necessarily in that order)..... I'll be none too pleased.
"(Pumas) have been known to.. eat bread left by picknickers"
"He said there was 'a bear'.. in his apartment?"