Cryptozoology - C vs E - Dinosaurs
The Billed "Beaked Whale"
The creature of Moore's beach had undeniably undergone a serious amount of decay, as pictures #2 and #3 clearly reveal. This statement, however, must immediately be met with a contradiction. The head of the animal, at the time these photographs were taken, appears to be in excellent condition. This is without surprise, as typical decay of an animal will not effect the skull and head as severely and quickly as other softer and less protected (and supported) body parts. Therefore, to identify the creature of Moore's Beach with the greatest accuracy, it is necessary and seemingly mandatory to examine the head.
The Baird's beaked whale is widely known for its long cylindrical beak, a characteristic shared by nearly all whales in the Ziphiidae family. Upon examining not only photographs of the Moore's Beach Monster, but written descriptions of those who saw it first hand, we can only come to the realization that this simply wasn't a shared physical trait. The Santa Cruz News labeled it as having a "duck's bill;" Bernard Heuvelmans clearly stated in his book that it possessed a "duck's head beak;" and lastly, the renowned E.L. Wallace began his final statement by saying "With a bill like it possesses...", and upon noting this, came to the conclusion that "it must have lived on herbage." You, discerning reader and observer, what do you see? A beak, or a bill?
To the right of the apparent bill I have inserted a line showing its width (or height). This flat, extending protrusion is quite unlike that of a beaked whale. In fact, it is quite unlike that of any aquatic animal known today. To say that the lower mandible of this animal is similar to that of a beaked whale is simply untrue. Other features may give such an indication, but this feature not only doesn't, but stands in opposition to it.
Note also, if you will, the protruding crease in the center of the lower mandible, either by examining this picture or the one above. It appears to be a well-defined raised center divide of the duck-like bill. The significance? Perhaps there isn't one, other than that it adds further intrigue regarding the animal's identity. Like a duck, and just as the folks of 1925 described it themselves, this animal was by all means peculiar and unique.
The Toothless "Beaked Whale"
"I felt in its mouth and found it had no teeth." -E.L. Wallace
The question ultimately is: Can we accept these words of E.L. Wallace? Was he thorough? Did he handle his examination carefully and practically? These questions are the victim of continual debate. While some label him a "liar," others as "misguided," still others believe he studied and critiqued the Monster of Moore's Beach with accuracy and precision. I am of this group . . . I myself am inclined to believe that this president of the Natural History Society of British Columbia told the truth. Therefore, taking into account the words of Wallace, and examining the photographs for ourselves, it well appears that the strange animal was toothless. In further support of this fact is the absence of any mention of teeth by those who observed it.
Some time ago, I engaged in an email discussion with a somewhat well-known evolutionary cryptozoologist whom I will leave unnamed. During the "debate," the fact that the animal lacked teeth came to the forefront. In defense of this, he displayed this famous headshot (left) of the creature, pointing to the line of white, circular objects lining the mouth area (right). To be honest, I was shocked, not because I thought these were teeth, but because, even if they were, it still did not support his belief that the animal was a Baird's beaked whale. In fact, it further disproved it. Why? Let's review our zoology.
B. bairdii have two pairs of teeth, the first pair protruding 9 centimeters from the extended lower jaw. The second pair is roughly 20 centimeters behind the first and grow to about 5 centimeters. This, quite frankly, is all. In examining the Moore's head photograph, we can clearly see that this is not the case. First of all, these white circular objects could be anything from small barnacles to the ridges of the rocky shore underneath. Secondly, even if they are teeth, they are clearly located on the top mandible, unlike that of a Baird's beaked whale. Third, they are lined in a row, like that of a human being, and again unlike that of a Baird's beaked whale (or many beaked whales). Fourth, they look like human molars, flat and round, again unlike that of a Baird's specimen. Fifth, they appear to be on only one side of the jaw, that is, the far side, and can't be seen along the jaw line closest to us, which makes little sense.
To label these as teeth is nothing less than a strain. Furthermore, for E.L. Wallace and others to make no mention of them is in itself an absurdity. It is quite logical, therefore, to say that the Moore's Beach Monster, indeed, was simply a billed creature which possessed no teeth.
Could the teeth, however, have fallen out? A slight possibility, though a high improbability. The teeth of beaked whales are strong (they're not like sharks, with rows of teeth to spare), and by examining the fair condition of the head, there is little reason to believe that the animal's teeth, both in the front and middle of the lower mandible (two pairs), just fell out. Even by examining the protruding bill in the head photographs above, it well appears that this animal, like a duck, wasn't in need of teeth. The Baird's beaked whale is, in fact, so well-known for its teeth that it is also known as a Four-Toothed Whale, a Northern Four-Toothed Whale, and a North Pacific Four-Toothed Whale.
"Absurd," one may think. "What animal has a bill like a duck?" Well, there does exist the duck-billed platypus, a peculiar mammal quite unlike any other in the animal kingdom. Inhabiting Tasmania and southern and eastern Australia, the platypus sports a bill roughly 2.5 inches long and 2 inches wide which it uses to detect pray and stir up mud at the bottom of rivers in order to uncover the insects, worms, and shellfish on which it feeds. Most surprising about this animal is that it is venomous. Males possess a poison gland in the hind leg that opens through a bony spur on the ankle. The spur is used to defend against predators and possibly to defend its territory.
The platypus, like a duck, is a simple example that two widely different animals, part of two separate animal families, share a noticeable similar characteristic.
The Blowhole-Free "Beaked Whale"
When a blowhole is not mentioned by any of the recorded observers, it leads one to think. When, later in time, experts label the animal as a Baird's beaked whale, it then really causes one to think.
The Baird's beaked whale's blowhole is located on the head, almost in direct parallel with the eyes. Unlike some other species, it is not further back. When we examine the Moore's monster photographs, the head area is so well-defined that we can only wonder why a blowhole was not noted by observers. Simple neglect? Hard to imagine.
The conclusion to my personal research may surprise the reader. As one may have noticed, I did not touch upon the seemingly long neck of the animal, nor the elephant-like legs said to line the creature every few feet or so. Why? These characteristics can, more or less, be logically debated either one way or the other. If I were to take the time to share why I believe or don't believe the animal possessed a long neck, or elephant-like legs, explanations from the other side of the coin could realistically be just as believable. For instance, scientists from the California Academy of Sciences said the apparent long neck of the creature was the result of decay and rolling-up of the body by tidal waters. This, to be honest, could have been the case.
But while it could have been the case, as a careful observer of the strikingly clear photographs, I cannot help but see a well-defined, preserved, smooth-skinned creature. I see a round, robust neck attached at a near 45% degree angle (photograph #4), with a sharp, noticeable "chin." Observe, reader, the "neck" of the animal. Do you see twisted, rolled-up flesh? Or do you see a round, beautifully skin-covered neck with two slight folds directly before it attaches to the head? These are the only observations I can make, and appears to be the only observations those who saw it could make. The question is, what can you make?
I do not want to confuse the reader, however, by conveying that I believe the animal was a species of plesiosaur. I do not come to this conclusion. A conclusion I do come to, however, is that this animal of Moore's Beach was, in short, not a Baird's beaked whale. There are just too many problems . . . too many conflicting evidences.
Am I being so brash as to disagree with qualified, well-educated scientists? Perhaps. We mustn't forget the many notable scientists who, for instance, carefully examined the archeoraptor fossil years ago, proclaiming it to be a genuine missing link. Later, it was found to be a complete hoax. The list of such wrong conclusions in the scientific community could literally go on for pages and pages.
One particular question lingers in my mind. If Berardius bairdi was a species relatively unknown at the time, how were the researchers at the California Academy of Sciences able to positively identify the skull of the Moore's Beach creature as such? Did they have another actual skull of a true specimen to compare it with? It seems little likely, as a name had not even yet been coined to the species. What they actually possessed as comparative identification is a question I would wish to be answered.
Cetacean. Was the animal part of the whale or dolphin family? Answer: it very well could have been. Was it, however, a species that we already have identified? My conclusion: No. This billed, toothless animal was a unique creature that seemingly possessed no blowhole and a mouth unlike any other aquatic species. This statement must be met with balance. The blowhole, if one believes the animal was not a Baird's beaked whale, could have been located farther along the body, perhaps where decay had gotten the best of it. For this reason and others, yes, it could have been cetacean, though one haunting description still, and always will, linger.
"...The body is weak and the tail is only three feet in length from the end of the backbone. These facts do away with the whale theory, as the backbone of a whale is far larger than any bone in this animal." E.L. Wallace
I wish I could come to a more definite conclusion. In one sentence: The animal was not a Baird's beaked whale, though might have been apart of the cetacean family as an unknown species.
Is it zoologically possible for a whale or close relative to possess a long, narrow neck? It is. In a day when we know more about the moon than we do about the earth's oceans, anything is possible. Furthermore, to most it comes a surprise to learn that Monterey Bay boasts the deepest underwater trench of the Pacific Coast. Described by scientists as "one of the world's largest and least studied underwater chasms," this great natural abyss, known as the Monterey Submarine Canyon, could possibly be home to hundreds of unknown species.
Some may agree . . . many may disagree with my conclusions. I have done my best to perform a solid, unbiased examination of the monster of Moore's Beach. I can only hope to do more, and should fear of doing any less.
1. Shipwrecks and Sea Monsters of California's Central Coast, Ghost Town Publications, Carmel, California. 1975.
2. Cetacea, Beradius bairdii: Baird's Beaked Whale, http://www.cetacea.org/bairds.htm.
3. California State Parks, Natural Bridges SB, http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=541.