Friday, 19 September 2008

Nobody tosses a Dwarf!

Creation Science confuses me. I mean don't get me wrong, once you get in to the high end of any science it all becomes pops and buzzes as far as I'm concerned. For example, I have absolutely no idea how gravity works. I know it's all to do with an object's mass and the force of attraction but outside of that, well, to be honest I kind of take it for granted.

But I at least understand that gravity has been proven to exist. And so I'm pretty sure that if I applied myself and had about a million years to work on it, I could make a decent stab at finding out exactly what gravity is all about. Creation Science on the other hand has defeated me before I even start.

If you're not sure what Creation Science is, basically it's used by mental patients Christians to attempt to prove that the Earth is only 10,000 years old, that God created all of known existence, and that all humans share a single ancestor called Adam who used to mosey around buck naked in a place called Eden.

Now that's not the bit that fries my brain. Because however right or wrong you may be, if you want to try and find evidence to back all that up then power to you. If it was me facing an impossible task like that, I'd probably give up and head to the kitchen to cook some sausages (Gee note: Which is probably why Tolkein never based Frodo Baggins on me. “So you're saying I have to WALK that far? To hell with that! Get me the phone book, we'll Fed-Ex the damn ring.”)

The bit that fries my brain is Creation Science's approach to Dinosaurs.

Because you would think that Dinosaurs would be the nail in the coffin of any budding Creationist trying to prove the mainstream scientific community wrong. After all gigantic reptiles that were charging around the Earth 100 million years before it was even meant to exist would kind of, well, pour water all over the whole “seven day” thing. So, one would assume anyway, your average Creation Scientist would somehow try to disprove that Dinosaurs ever existed. Big lizards you say? Yeah right. You're crazy man.

But, and you may want to be sitting down for this, Creationists freaking love Dinosaurs.

See? I told you it was confusing. As far as I can tell Creation Science has begrudgingly excepted that Pre-historic animals did in fact exist. But, and here's the mind melting part, rather than exist all those years ago and then die out, according to Creationists Pre-historic animals are in fact alive and well today, hence all those bones we keep finding. We just haven't found a living one yet.

And this is where Moore's Monster fits in.

The sea is constantly throwing up all kinds of weird stuff. From the Montauk Monster found in New York earlier on this year, to the carcass picked up by the Zuiyo Maru off the cost of New Zealand in 1977, the sea positively enjoys messing with fisherman and beach dwellers by presenting them with odd looking animals. Most of the time, these creatures are run of the mill animals such as basking sharks or medium sized whales, distorted by decomposition to make them appear other worldly.

But every once in a while, one pops up that makes even the most cynical of observers scratch their heads. One such case washed up in Santa Cruz 1925 on Moore's Beach, later renamed Natural Bridges State Beach. According to eye witness reports the creature was over 40 feet long with a 20 foot neck and a three foot tail. Most of the body was already rotting at a steady rate, but the head had been left remarkably in tact. So much so Judge W. R. Springer felt confident enough to call it “duck like”.

Immediately the carcass stirred controversy the likes of which is normally reserved for Britney Spears. The body was examined by renowned naturalist E. L. Wallace. Now bare in mind that Wallace wasn't some ham fisted “pseudo scientist”. Instead he was a well known figure in the scientific community, serving as the President of the Natural History Society of British Columbia not once, but twice. Wallace conducted a thorough study of the remains, and concluded that:

“I would call it a type of Plesiosaurus.”

But even Wallace wasn't so bullish as to claim that Nessie was swimming about freely in the oceans. Instead he theorised that the body had been preserved somehow, possibly in a glacier which had recently melted.

It didn't matter. Pretty much every biologist threw up their arms in disbelief. Soon a much more acceptable theory was put forward. It was they claimed, nothing more than the corpse of a relatively uncommon species of Beaked Whale. Nonsense replied Wallace, sighting the lack of a large backbone and short length of the beasts tail as counter arguments.

But the “respected” theory caught on. And now Moore's Beach Monster is pretty much viewed as one of those cases of mistaken identity. That is unless you happen to be a Creationist. Then it takes on a whole new dimension.

You see, the thing with Creation Science and Pre-Historic animals is that the word “pre-historic” causes a problem. So if it can be proved that animals like the Plesiosaur are larking about in the sea as we speak then the whole question of the Earth's time line gets thrown in to question.

And so a war rages on between two separate camps. Those who believe that a ravaged Beaked Whale washed up on Moore's Beach versus those who believe it was, you know, something else. And amazingly both arguments are rather convincing.

Part of the problem with analysis of things like this however is that more often than not the analyst themselves will only look at the evidence that agrees with their point of view and ignore the rest. I've seen discussions about whether the animal had teeth, whether it had a long or short neck, whether it had legs or flippers go on and on until my eye balls have cried out for sanctuary. And, invariably, at the end of said discussions both parties claim victory.

So in an effort to make myself a little clearer in regards to all of this, I sent an email with this picture:





To my good friend Rob Haines. Rob's the closest thing I know to a real scientist. A bona fide qualified Marine Biologist, Rob went corporate as soon as he graduated and now by day conducts cancer research for multinational pharmaceutical companies. By night he spends his time making video game themed web comics with his beautiful American girlfriend while enjoying his unspoilt view of the sea from his window (Gee note: In short, he's the kind of guy you would instantly hate if he wasn't so damn nice). During his academic career Rob specialised in Cetaceans. Or whales, dolphins and porpoises to you and I. His opinion?

Rob Haines, a man who has swam with dolphins, drifted alongside whales, and swapped dirty jokes with porpoises (Gee note: And the husband said “I was talking to the duck!”), couldn't confidently name it, despite pouring over the photograph for hours. His conclusion was “My immediate opinion when I saw the photos was that of a dolphin's head. Straight up.” before explaining that along with the “neck” and the overall length of the animal he wouldn't be entirely satisfied definitively identifying it as, well, anything.

And so that's the opinion I'm going for. I don't know what the hell washed up on Moore's Beach. But I will be willing to bet money that it's wasn't a Plesiosaur. I'd also bet money it wasn't a beaked whale either. Instead I'd rather just marvel at the photographs and wait until someone comes up with an objective theory.

As long as they're not a Creation Scientist. Otherwise my head might explode.

4 comments:

Rob said...

Dude, what happened to your previous post. You know, the one about the 9' tall Illuminati lizardmen running the world from behind the scenes?

You know I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but that's just weird ;)

Gee said...

It's, er, it's because I got too close to the truth my friend. Yes that's it. Not because I went to edit it earlier on today and accidentally saved it as a draft rather than post it. Oh heavens no. That never happened.

Goddam Lizardmen. Stop repressing me!

Anonymous said...

This carcass was nothing more than a beaked whale. The strange "neck" was already observed in other carcasses of beaked whales as a process of decomposition.
But the best proof for its idendity is the fact that its skull was collected and is still exhibited in a museum. You can see photos of the skull and the description of the case by a real scientist who really knows about this subject here: http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2008/07/moores_beach_monster.php

Anonymous said...

Just forgot to post the second link: http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2008/07/moores_beach_monster_skull.php