Status: Interesting theory
It's long been argued that when people report seeing sea serpents, they might actually be seeing floating logs, strange waves, or shadows on the water, and mistaking these things for sea serpents. Now Dr. Charles Paxton has come up with an interesting extension of this theory
. He argues that people might also be misidentifying whale penises as sea serpents. He presents this theory in the current issue of the Archives of Natural History
. As an example he uses the case of an eighteenth-century missionary named Hans Egede who reported a sighting of a sea serpent, and drew a picture of the creature. Paxton demonstrates that Egede's picture closely resembles what a whale's aroused penis rising from the water might look like. The abstract of Paxton's paper
is as follows:
A re-evaluation of the “most dreadful monster” originally described by the “Apostle of Greenland” Hans Egede in 1741 suggests that the missionary’s son Poul probably saw an unfamiliar cetacean. The species seen was likely to have been a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), a North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) or one of the last remaining Atlantic grey whales (Eschrichtius robustus) either without flukes or possibly a male in a state of arousal.
So if Egede mistook a whale penis for a sea serpent, it's logical to assume others might also have done so. This theory has the ring of truth to it.
Seeing as how Shamu is a member (pun not intended)of one of the smaller species of whales, logic dictates that something along the lines of a grey or blue whale would be sporting something of sea serpent proportions.
Is Dr. Paxton saying all these people saw erect whale penises *without* whales attached to them?
And, all right, whales can float on their backs, but they usually and normally swim belly-down, don't they?
Wouldn't be a simpler and more likely explanation to say that sea serpent legends came from sightings of serpent-like creatures, such as sea snakes, moray eels, or even giant squids?
Hey, Chuck, where'd you get those pics from?
HAHAHAHAHA! WHALE PENISES! So I guess that means that the Ogopogo and Nessie must just be genitals then!
My personal theory is giant squid. Dead ones, since they're deep-sea critters, but a stray tentacle could easily be mistaken for a giant snake-thing in the water, even if it won't do the 'head rearing up' thing that is usually portrayed.
...and opens up new questions...
...but it would be a great name for a band.
Mmmm, whale willies - blech.
funny as that is.
Incidentally, I don't think a giant moray is a probable candidate - they're not bit enough and usually hang out in holes. I'm pretty sure that you wouldn't see one when out at sea, too, though I suppose that some stories could have originated with pearl divers.
My guess is that sea serpents, etc, were pretty much made out of whole cloth, maybe with a bit of fear-, malnutrition-, and thirst-induced hallucination thrown in.
Now THAT'S what I's call well endowed! :-D
Btw, Mr Egede was not at all unfamiliar with whales, and he even compares the movement patterns of the two animals.