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Plesiosaur/shark carcass article & questions



Ladies and Gentlemen,

I meant to send the attached message to the dinosaur list but
evidently used the wrong address, so I am resending it.  If
you have any trouble reading the attachment please let me
know.  Thank you very much.

Glen Kuban   paleo@ix.netcom.com


From: paleo@ix.netcom.com (Glen J. Kuban)
Subject: Plesiosaur & shark questions
To:  dinosaur@lepomis.psych.upenn.edu
To:  vrtpaleo@usc.edu
Ladies and gentlemen,

During the course of my work on the Paluxy dinosaur tracks and
associated man track controversy (see web address below if interested) 
I often ran across many creationist claims about a supposed 
"sea-monster" or plesiosaur carcass acidentally netted off New Zealand 
by a Japanese trawler in 1977.  The rotting, smelly corpse, which was 
about 10 meters (33 feet) long was thrown overboard to avoid spoiling 
the fish catch, but first photos and tissue samples were taken.  It 
made all the Japanese papers and several popular publications in the 
west, and many of you probably heard of it.  Creationists and monster 
advocates still often claim it was a likely "modern plesiosaur," which 
it does superficially resemble.  Subsequent lab work on the tissue 
samples and considerations of the anatomical features visible in the 
photos led to an entirely different conclusion, namely that it was a 
badly decayed baskign shark.  But these results received far less media 
attention than the original sensational stories.  So, the claims keep 
coming up.  All of this prompted me to further research and write a 
detailed review of the case.  I've posted a draft of the manuscript at 

http://members.aol.com/paluxy2/plesios.htm

and would be grateful for any comments or corrections from anyone who
wishes to review it before I submit it for publication.  I'd especially 
be interested in any comments from people familiar with sharks and/or 
plesiosaurs.  I plan to add more illustrations in the final version.  

I also have a couple specific questions I'm hoping someone can answer.  
Among the supposed inconsistencies with the shark ID that some have 
raised is that the ribs were "long and cylindrical."  Actually, the 
ribs were only 40 cm long, which seems about right for a basking shark 
of that size, but not a plesiosaur, no?  Does anyone have any data on 
the relative length of plesiosaur ribs for a given body length?

Supposedly the crewman who photographed the carcass saw openings he 
described as "nares" on top the remains of the cranium, rather than on 
the underside as in most sharks.  My impression is that the rostrum 
on the skull was rotted away, and that what he took as nares were 
other fenestral openings in the skull.  Anyone have any thoughts on 
that.  I'd also appreciate any comments on other aspects of shark and
plesiosaur anatomy made in the Japanese reports, which I discuss in the
paper.  Also, if anyone knows of any pertinent references not included
in the draft, please let me know.

Thanks very much.

Glen J. Kuban
paleo@ix.netcom.com
Phone 216-237-4508   Fax 216-749-7386

Draft on "sea monster" carcass: 
http://members.aol.com/paluxy2/plesios.htm

Paluxy controversy articles:
http://members.aol.com/paluxy2/paluxy.htm