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This nOde last updated September 5th, 2003 and is permanently morphing...
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Santa Cruz (sàn´te
1. (also sän´tä kr¡s´). A city of central Bolivia northeast of Sucre. Founded c. 1560, it is a trade and processing center. Population, 441,717.
2. A city of western California on Monterey Bay south-southwest of San Jose. It is a tourist center with varied processing and manufacturing industries. Population, 49,040.
The Santa Cruz Sea Monster
In 1925, photographs were published of what appeared to be a plesiosaur washed up on the rocks of Moore's Beach (now Natural Bridges State Beach) several miles northwest of Santa Cruz, California. The bizarre carcass was front page news in central California newspapers, and curiosity seekers as well as scientists flocked to see the mystery beast. Descriptions of the creature varied so much that it is hard to be certain of any details, but it is agreed that the animal had a huge head, a beaklike snout, and tiny eyes. Variously described as 35 to 50 feet long, it seemed to have a narrow 20-foot-long neck. The California Academy of Sciences Museum studied the creature's skull and concluded that it was an extremely rare type of beaked whale--a whale so rare that it has only a Latin name, Berardius bairdi. Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans doubts whether any zoologist in the world would have been able to identify the carcass, since few, if any, have ever seen the animal alive.
Not everyone agreed with the beaked whale explanation. Many witnesses, including some scientists, felt strongly that the animal was not a whale or any known sea animal. For starters, the rare Berardius bairdi was not known outside of British Columbian waters. The renowned naturalist E. L. Wallace, after thoroughly examining the carcass, concluded that it was a plesiosaur which had been preserved in glacial ice that had melted and moved south. With no teeth and a bill, Wallace reasoned, the animal must have lived on vegetation in a swamp.
Wallace felt strongly that there were a number of factors that mitigated in favor of the plesiosaur and against the beaked whale explanation. Wallace noted that there was no bone in the Santa Cruz carcass as large as the backbone of a whale. This fact contradicted the whale theory, as did the fact that the tail of the unknown animal was only three feet long, too short and weak--Wallace felt--for an animal of the deep.
It has been suggested that the body may have separated from the skin and that the skin rolled up giving the effect of a long plesiosaurlike neck. The body washed up nearby and was either still connected to the skin or was placed into position by a person or persons trying to reconstruct the monster.
Randall Reinstedt, in _Mysterious Sea Monsters of California's Central Coast_, writes that the monster was the talk of California's central coast for some time. The Santa Cruz Sentinel ran an eyewitness story of a horrific battle between a dozen or more sea lions and a gigantic fish that occurred shortly before the carcass was found on the beach.
The Monterey Peninsula Herald
described it as having a duck-shaped head and a tail like a whale. A Santa
Cruz News story spoke of a head bigger than a barrel and eyes larger than
abalones. Some pretty strange details crop up in eyewitness descriptions
of the ambiguous monstrosity. One witness described the creature as having
several pairs of elephantine legs on the body, including ivory toenails.
In this regard, Mysterious California author Mike Marinacci suggests that
close-up photographs show what appears to be an elephant leg on the neck
of the beast. Another odd detail is one witness' statement that the body
was covered with a coat of both hair and feathers.