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Re: Survival



>1) What are the possibilities that certain dinosaur species survived into
>"recent history" (i.e. last 2000 years) in isolated areas of the world?

Well, if you accept that birds are dinosaurs, I would describe this as a
certainty!  But if you mean "non-avian" dinosaurs I would think that the
chance
is very slim, based at least in part on the complete absence of a known fossil
record (leaving aside a few questionable claims for material from just above
the K-T boundary) for any such animal during the last 65 million years.  Of
course that isn't determinative as the coelacanth survival shows - but it is
certainly suggestive.  I suppose you are thinking of cryptozoological claims
for creatures like mkole-mbembe or the "dragons" on the Ishtar Gate, but I
personally think these are highly inconclusive at best.

I would expect that if a dinosaur were to survive into historic times, it
would
not be something like (say) a large sauropod - the sheer space and resource
requirements for a population of such immense beasts would, I think, render it
impossible for them to avoid notice (and if they did exist I would have
expected people to have treated their bones as prized relics as they did
narwhal tusks, whale bones etc.  If such creatures had come in contact with
early cultures I would have expected archaeologists to come up with hard proof
of this long since.

A more likely candidate would be a small species, perhaps like Troodon - but
even then I would be astonished to find evidence that this happened.  For
example, if carnivorous dinosaurs had survived in South America I would have
expected that the radiation of phorusrhacid birds on that continent might not
have occurred, but instead there might have been a re-radiation of the
non-avian predatory dinosaurs of which these birds seem to have been the
ecological equivalents.

>2) What are the possibilities that aquatic reptiles, such as plesiosaur,
>survived into "recent history" in the oceans/seas of the world?

As above, with the proviso that big critters can hide in the ocean much more
easily than on land.  Remember that at least some of these groups, like
ichthyosaurs, vanished from the fossil record long before the end of the
Cretaceous.

Also note that the supposed "plesiosaur" carcasses hauled up occasionally by
ships or washed up on beaches have invariably turned out to be the rotting
bodies of Basking Sharks.

>3) What are the possibilities that aquatic reptiles survived into "recent
>history" in inland lakes, such as Loch Ness?

Here I'm inclined to think the chances are even less.  First of all, the lakes
from which such "lake monsters" are reported are usually cold temperate
places,
and without some evidence that marine reptiles could live in such habitats I
would consider their presence there unlikely.  Second, I don't think any of
these lakes are old enough to have held Cretaceous relics (though I stand
to be
corrected on this) so to account for their presence there you would have to
assume survival in the sea followed by separate invasions of fresh water (and
how did they get to some of these places?), which gets you back to the
problems
discussed above.

I frankly doubt that these "lake monsters" exist at all, and the more people
look for them without finding hard evidence the less likely, for me, they
become.  We know a good deal about the biota of lakes, from the seals in Lake
Baikal down to the copepods and water fleas - how likely is it that the
largest
creatures in these lakes would have escaped discovery - not just in one lake,
but around the world?

And of course the most promising "evidence" for the Loch Ness Monster appears
to have been faked.
--
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court                 
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2          mailto:ornstn@inforamp.net