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The Loch Ness Giant Salamander

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#31    Zenegog

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:34 PM

This thread is absolutely ridiculous. The image is clearly a dog (looks like a labrador) with it's head above the water holding a stick.

Edited by Zenegog, 03 October 2012 - 09:35 PM.


#32    U. N.Owen

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 06:31 AM

View PostU. N.Owen, on 02 October 2012 - 08:52 AM, said:



As regards the Hugh Gray photo: I am afraid that,  ever since it was suggested to me by a sceptic, all I can see is the head of a labrador swimming towards me.Nevertheless, I am willing to accept that this may just be a case of pareiola. (Pareiola - how do you spell it? - can work both for and against the paranormal! When I look at the `face on Mars` all that I can see is, yep, a face... although I think it quite likely that the whole thing is an implanted suggestion and that there is nothing there but a natural rock formation.)

The suggestion that the photo shows two critters somehow swimming back-to-back seems over-elaborate to me. If there are two images then I think that this could be accounted for by double exposure. in the thirties, I imagine that cameras where much clunkier and slower devices than they have been since. If the thing was thrashing about, which is how the witness described it, then the same object might have appeared twice on the same picture, double-exposed.

However, I don't think the Gray photo on its own can ever tell us anything now. It might be one of the very few decent images of the Loch ness phenomena ever taken - but short of having been there while the photographer took it we'll never now know. This has no bearing on the giant Salamnder hypothesis, though, which has legs regardless of any dubious `photographic evidence`.

Try reading other people's posts Zenegog! Anyway,I think most of us had long since moved beyond talking about the Gray photograph itself and were discussing the Loch Ness phenomena in general.

The Roy Mackal book mentioned above is probably the best book there is on the Loch Ness phenomena ad required reading for anybody who feels a need to express an opinion on the subject. I have often said that the problem with many posters on this site, and especially many sceptics, is that they don't do any background reading outside of the internet - and it shows!


#33    Steve Plambeck

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 10:03 AM

First off, and by way of introducing myself, I'd like to offer warm thanks to Still Waters for recommending my article A Beast With Two Backs - The Gray Photo Deconstructed, and refering everyone to my blog.  I've had nearly 400 pageviews originate from this forum alone, so of course I had to come check things out and say hello.  Ironically, you're having a more active discussion on my article here than on my own blog!  Since this thread started I've written a follow-up article, A Beast With Two Backs - Part II - just follow the link if you're not overly bored with the topic.

Thanks to all for offering your comments, positive and negative, serious and funny.  I'm going to try out the multi-quote feature and respond to a few below.

View PostWearer of Hats, on 07 September 2012 - 11:52 PM, said:

You know, in Australia a "beast with two backs" is a euphemism for people having sex...

Indeed!  The first recorded use of this euphamism was by William Shakespeare in 1604.  Iago uses it in a line of Othello, and that's exactly what it meant back then too.  I suppose it also has behavioral implications for what I take to be a pair of giant salamanders in the Gray Photo - many salamanders perform often elobarate courtship dances (in the water) prior to mating, which include tail undulations and deliberate splashing.  That may simply be coincidence in this case.  That there are two dorsal lines visible in the clearer Heron-Allen contact slide print of the Gray Photo is really the reason for the title.

View PostArbenol68, on 07 September 2012 - 11:56 PM, said:

It's only the most parsimonious explanation if you start from the assumption that there is a large unidentified creature in Loch Ness. If you don't assume that, then the most parsimonious explanation is that there is no large unidentified creature in Loch Ness.

Well... no.  The more explanations needed, the less parsimonius the theory.  If you can account for all (1) surface sightings (2) land sightings (3) photos and videos (4) sonar contacts (5) hydrophone recordings and (6) recorded historical accounts going back hundreds of years with ONE SINGLE explanation other than an unidentified species of aquatic animals, well then you only tie the unidentified animal theory, which by itself can account for all six things with one explanation.

View Postlyonsroar, on 08 September 2012 - 07:58 PM, said:

I was under the impression this picture was already explained... It's a dog swimming back to shore with a stick in its mouth.

View PostJunior Chubb, on 09 September 2012 - 10:13 PM, said:

Now I have seen the image after hearing the 'dog theory' I cannot see anything but a dog with a stick in its mouth. Before this I was open to it being an unidentified aquatic animal.  The power of suggestion is strong with this one...

View PostU. N.Owen, on 02 October 2012 - 08:52 AM, said:

As regards the Hugh Gray photo: I am afraid that,  ever since it was suggested to me by a sceptic, all I can see is the head of a labrador swimming towards me.Nevertheless, I am willing to accept that this may just be a case of pareiola.

View PostZenegog, on 03 October 2012 - 09:34 PM, said:

This thread is absolutely ridiculous. The image is clearly a dog (looks like a labrador) with it's head above the water holding a stick.

I didn't spend any time debunking the dog theory in my own article because it's already been done, quite thoroughly and scientifically by author Roland Watson in his own analysis of the Gray Photo.  Have a look at his work here, and you might just stop seeing dogs.  If that doesn't work, then take 2 aspirin and chant over and over "It was never a dog, it was never a dog.."

View PostArbitran, on 09 September 2012 - 11:49 PM, said:

As I mentioned on another thread, the Grey photo most closely resembles a grey seal, Halichoerus grypus, in my opinion. They're endemic to the North Atlantic, and have been documented as appearing occasionally in Loch Ness. Given it isn't indigenous to the loch, it's not hard to believe that the locals could very well misidentify a 3m-long, grey, flippered animal as a monster of some sort. The Grey photo looks to me like a grey seal playing in the water; having spent some time studying grey seals, I can say that if I took a still photo of one playing on the surface of the water, it would look very much like the Grey photo.

Seals are not indigenous to Loch Ness, but that's why the locals are hyper-aware of them when they do stray into the loch.  They keep an eye out for them, and shoot them when they spot one.  The number one industry at Loch Ness isn't tourism, it's actually fish, and as cute as seals may be the Highlanders do not take well to poachers.  Surely a seal has been mistaken for a Nessie sighting at least once, but it would have been by a tourist and not a local inhabitant.  I don't think there's been a single case of any cryptid finally being found and classified where the locals turned out to be wrong.

The worm-like and horizontally flexing tail in the Gray Photo also has a caudal fin -- nothing like the tail of any aquatic mammal.  And again, as Insanity pointed out, Nessie can't be a mammal, because then it would live near the surface for frequent respiration, and we'd have caught one long ago.

View PostThegreatsilence, on 28 September 2012 - 06:06 PM, said:

Siberian newt (Salamandrella keyserlingii) can move at 1 C, so there is a precedent at least.
That's hitting it on the head.  Amphibians in general, and salamanders in particular are the most cold-tolerant tetrapods of us all, and venture where no reptile goes, and other animals either migrate away or hybernate.  The Siberian salamander is the extreme example, being the only known vertebrate that freezes solid and waits in the permafrost for spring, at which time it defrosts and walks away.  It doesn't hybernate in the formal sense, it actually freezes.  There's an anecdotal case from Russia where one was still alive and came out of it's suspended animation after 90 years, but unfortunatly there's no documentation for that one, but other cases of recovering after two or three years of being consecutively frozen are known.

View PostInsanity, on 29 September 2012 - 12:03 AM, said:

{SNIP}  Second, historically, the sightings occur most often during the summer months of July and August, which is what you may expect with an ectothermic creature like a salamander.  Seals could be active in the loch virtually any time of the year, and as grey seals live on the coast of Scotland and England, and I believe they do not migrate, the reason for them to appear in the loch would have to be seasonal to match the sightings.  If not, the sightings would likely occur more evenly throughout the year.

More daylight and many more people at the Loch in those months as well.  Adjusting for those variable probably shows a more even distribution in other months.

Insanity, that was such a great post I wish you'd put it in the Comments to the article at my blog.  The same is true for U. N.Owen's post, which makes a number of the same points I'll be covering in future articles (and a few I hadn't thought of yet!)  I'll also quote and address some snipettes from that:


View PostU. N.Owen, on 02 October 2012 - 08:52 AM, said:

The suggestion that the photo shows two critters somehow swimming back-to-back seems over-elaborate to me. If there are two images then I think that this could be accounted for by double exposure. in the thirties, I imagine that cameras where much clunkier and slower devices than they have been since. If the thing was thrashing about, which is how the witness described it, then the same object might have appeared twice on the same picture, double-exposed.

It's very true.  My Dad had one of those things and when I used it as a kid I often took double exposures by accident.  I thought about that when I realized there were apparently two animals in the photo.  But here is why it can't be an accidental double exposure of a single Nessie:  the waves in the two exposures would be out of phase with each other (unless a trillion to one coincidence occured) and we'd have ended up with just a gray blur where we have quite crisp and distinct waves in the actual photo.

One question though for U. N.Owen:  was the "Giant Salamander theory has legs" an evolutionary pun?  I hope so, that's brilliant!  :yes:

Thanks to all, and warm regards,
Steve Plambeck


#34    traveler27

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 10:30 AM

It's a fish!  An Oar Fish.


#35    Steve Plambeck

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 10:41 AM

View Posttraveler27, on 04 October 2012 - 10:30 AM, said:

It's a fish!  An Oar Fish.

Nope, sorry - they are a marine species, salt water only, and feed mainly on zooplankton, the latter requiring adequate sunlight.  The peat-rich waters of Loch Ness are totally dark below the top couple feet.


#36    Junior Chubb

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 01:04 PM

View PostSteve Plambeck, on 04 October 2012 - 10:03 AM, said:

Have a look at his work here, and you might just stop seeing dogs.  If that doesn't work, then take 2 aspirin and chant over and over "It was never a dog, it was never a dog.."

Lol, just off to get the aspirin and begin chanting. :)

Thanks for responding to my comment though Steve. Its difficult to shake the 'Dog with stick' image from my mind. I believe the image quality is to poor to draw definite conclusions from it, it is also easy to 'see' something you are more familiar with in an image (dog with a stick in my case) than something you might be less familiar with (salamander). The article you linked to is a good read but the overlaying of another 'dig with a stick' image does does more to confirm it could be a dog in my opinion. The biggest hole in the 'dog with a stick' theory is the lack of water disturbance behind the 'dog' (IMO).

I do think I am past the point of no return though, now the dog theory has entered my head I cannot look at the image without seeing the dog. I am quite open to this being pareidolia rather than fact though.

Either way it is an intriguing image and I appreciate the time and effort you have put into deciphering it contents.

Also, welcome to UM Steve, hope you stick around beyond the discussion of this image. :)

Edited by Junior Chubb, 04 October 2012 - 01:04 PM.

I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. Anyway, it's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

#37    Urisk

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 02:06 PM

View PostZenegog, on 03 October 2012 - 09:34 PM, said:

This thread is absolutely ridiculous. The image is clearly a dog (looks like a labrador) with it's head above the water holding a stick.

If it's a dog, then it's a dog with a pinhead and a ridiculously long back. Standing still. To me it's either a shockingly bad picture of a seal hauled out on a sandbank with the tide coming in, or a pic of a cetacean fluke that's had a bad exposure.

I mean why do people even give the benefit of the doubt that this was actually taken AT loch Ness?! Could be the sea, a garden pond, a bathtub, a bucket of water, anywhere! I could take a really bad picture of a thing in a puddle with super macro on, in black and white, all wobbly and say it was taken at Loch Ness.

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#38    Idano

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 03:08 PM

It looks like an out of focus boat to me.  You can even see a person standing at the side looking overboard.

What could possibly go wrong?

#39    Steve Plambeck

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 08:43 PM

View PostJunior Chubb, on 04 October 2012 - 01:04 PM, said:

Lol, just off to get the aspirin and begin chanting. :)

Thanks for responding to my comment though Steve. Its difficult to shake the 'Dog with stick' image from my mind. I believe the image quality is to poor to draw definite conclusions from it, it is also easy to 'see' something you are more familiar with in an image (dog with a stick in my case) than something you might be less familiar with (salamander). The article you linked to is a good read but the overlaying of another 'dig with a stick' image does does more to confirm it could be a dog in my opinion. The biggest hole in the 'dog with a stick' theory is the lack of water disturbance behind the 'dog' (IMO).

I do think I am past the point of no return though, now the dog theory has entered my head I cannot look at the image without seeing the dog. I am quite open to this being pareidolia rather than fact though.

Either way it is an intriguing image and I appreciate the time and effort you have put into deciphering it contents.

Also, welcome to UM Steve, hope you stick around beyond the discussion of this image. :)

Thanks for the welcome JC!  Surpised I hadn't found this site before, but it's a good one and I'll definitley be around.  I probably spend an inordinate amount of time over at cryptozoology.com already, but it's always good finding new territory and interesting new people.

If that's a stick in a dog's mouth, it's one odd looking stick.  Maybe someone (but not me) will propose it's a writhing salamander in a dog's mouth :yes:  Now this seems a good place to also point out, at any of the estimated distances from which it was taken, the hypothetical dog would have a head as big as Godzilla's!  A dog large enough to flatten Tokyo hiding in Loch Ness seems, well, mildly less likely than anything else.

View PostUrisk, on 04 October 2012 - 02:06 PM, said:

If it's a dog, then it's a dog with a pinhead and a ridiculously long back. Standing still. To me it's either a shockingly bad picture of a seal hauled out on a sandbank with the tide coming in, or a pic of a cetacean fluke that's had a bad exposure.

I mean why do people even give the benefit of the doubt that this was actually taken AT loch Ness?! Could be the sea, a garden pond, a bathtub, a bucket of water, anywhere! I could take a really bad picture of a thing in a puddle with super macro on, in black and white, all wobbly and say it was taken at Loch Ness.

To the last point, because Hugh Gray was a reliable and apparently a wholey unbiased witness.  He was inconvenienced by the sighting and gained noting, and in fact at this stage of the game in 1933, before the Loch Ness creature was known outside the immediate area, before the press nickname of "Nessie" had been invented, there was nothing to gain by hoaxing or lying.  He couldn't exactly get the location wrong, because this is where he lived and worked, and he used the path on that particular bluff over the Loch to walk home from church every Sunday afternoon, which is when and where the picture was taken.  In subsequent decades he was visited and interviewed by Tim Dinsdale, F.W. Holiday, and Constance Whyte among other researchers and writers, and his story never changed nor held any inconsistencies.  There has been valid criticism that the shoreline doesn't appear in the photo, but then we also know we don't have the full frame because the press cropped the photo and the original negative was never recovered from whichever newspaper had it last.  It's also true the photo was taken from a more acute angle than earlier researchers estimated, between 20 and 30 degrees in fact, which means the far shore should probably not appear in the photo even if we do have nearly the full frame.


#40    Junior Chubb

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 09:18 PM

View PostSteve Plambeck, on 04 October 2012 - 08:43 PM, said:

If that's a stick in a dog's mouth, it's one odd looking stick.  Maybe someone (but not me) will propose it's a writhing salamander in a dog's mouth :yes:  Now this seems a good place to also point out, at any of the estimated distances from which it was taken, the hypothetical dog would have a head as big as Godzilla's!  A dog large enough to flatten Tokyo hiding in Loch Ness seems, well, mildly less likely than anything else.

Think I spotted a typo in your post Steve, did you mean Dogzilla? ;)

One question though, looking at the date of the encounter, would you say these creatures are no longer with us?

I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. Anyway, it's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

#41    Urisk

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 09:23 PM

Could somebody please outline this "dog" for me because I dinnae see it. Is it only the head, and the dog's moving towards the camera, or is it a dog moving away, and the dongle bottom left is its tail?

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#42    Junior Chubb

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 09:59 PM

View PostUrisk, on 04 October 2012 - 09:23 PM, said:

Could somebody please outline this "dog" for me because I dinnae see it. Is it only the head, and the dog's moving towards the camera, or is it a dog moving away, and the dongle bottom left is its tail?

Here you go Urisk, its a bit crude but this is what I cannot avoid seeing. Funnily enough though to create this image I Googled for a better quality version to work with and found one, looking at the larger version the 'dogs' head seemed less obvious and something more 'aquatic' was more apparent...

Like I said originally 'The power of suggestion is strong with this one'.

Posted Image

And here is a link to the larger (unaltered?) original image. (http://1.bp.blogspot...Allen+Image.jpg)

Edited by Junior Chubb, 04 October 2012 - 10:13 PM.

I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. Anyway, it's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

#43    Moon Dog

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 10:21 PM

As with all things of this nature; we will have to catch one to find out what it is.


#44    Insanity

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 10:45 PM

View PostZenegog, on 03 October 2012 - 09:34 PM, said:

This thread is absolutely ridiculous. The image is clearly a dog (looks like a labrador) with it's head above the water holding a stick.

Honestly, it is not clear what it is.

View PostSteve Plambeck, on 04 October 2012 - 10:03 AM, said:

More daylight and many more people at the Loch in those months as well.  Adjusting for those variable probably shows a more even distribution in other months.

Insanity, that was such a great post I wish you'd put it in the Comments to the article at my blog.  The same is true for U. N.Owen's post, which makes a number of the same points I'll be covering in future articles (and a few I hadn't thought of yet!)  I'll also quote and address some snipettes from that:

Greetings Steve, I am new here as well, but have read about the Nessie phenomenon for several years.

Correct, simply having more people with more time to observe the loch would increase sightings.  I am not sure if that alone accounts for the large increase, from the small sampling of recorded sightings, those two months account for half the sightings almost.

This site here has a some info on the loch, and the fauna section shows that the fish population grows during the same months.
Makes sense to me for any predator on the loch to become more active during the same months when the food is plentiful.

**edit** It would be helpful if I pasted the link, wouldn't it?

http://www.ilec.or.jp/database/eur/eur-08.html
Going with the salamander, its possible those few months could provide with enough food for the rest of the year.  Large ectotherms don't require much food, and even more so if its metabolism is lower due to the environment.

If you truly wish my comments on your blog, I will do so.

View PostMoon Dog, on 04 October 2012 - 10:21 PM, said:

As with all things of this nature; we will have to catch one to find out what it is.

You are correct.  Again, going with a giant salamander, probably the best technique would be similar to catching alligators or crocodiles.  A large metal cage partially submerged, one end clear of water and with some bait dangling just touching the water surface.  I believe existing giant salamanders are not above scavenging.

Edited by Insanity, 04 October 2012 - 11:15 PM.

"We see things only as we are constructed to see them, and can gain no idea of their absolute nature. With five feeble senses we pretend to comprehend the boundlessly complex cosmos, yet other beings with wider, stronger, or different range of senses might not only see very differently the things we see, but might see and study whole worlds of matter, energy, and life which lie close at hand yet can never be detected with the senses we have." - H.P. Lovecraft, "From Beyond" Published 1934

#45    Still Waters

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 11:39 PM

View PostSteve Plambeck, on 04 October 2012 - 10:03 AM, said:

First off, and by way of introducing myself, I'd like to offer warm thanks to Still Waters for recommending my article.

Seals are not indigenous to Loch Ness, but that's why the locals are hyper-aware of them when they do stray into the loch.  They keep an eye out for them, and shoot them when they spot one.  The number one industry at Loch Ness isn't tourism, it's actually fish, and as cute as seals may be the Highlanders do not take well to poachers.  Surely a seal has been mistaken for a Nessie sighting at least once, but it would have been by a tourist and not a local inhabitant.  I don't think there's been a single case of any cryptid finally being found and classified where the locals turned out to be wrong.
Hello there, welcome to UM :)

Your reference to seals in Loch Ness I found interesting, although I think it would be the fishermen that would shoot any, and not the locals. There's a lot about seal sightings in this article which might account for some Nessie sightings too.

"A Common or Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina L. lived in Loch Ness, Scotland, for seven months from November 1984 - June 1985. Photographs of the seal are presented. This is the first time a seal has been proven in Loch Ness. Fishermen's reports indicate that Loch Ness is visited by a seal approximately once every two years."

http://www.lochnessi...n.com/siln.html

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