Thursday, April 20, 2006

In Pursuit of the Tasmanian Globster (1960)


Western Tasmania, land of thylacines and other exciting oddities...

In June 2004 a team of scientists reported in The Biological Bulletin that the intriguing 'globster' creature found near the Interview River (near the Pieman), in August 1960, had been found to be whale blubber, along with that of other 4 famous globsters found elsewhere. It was disappointing news, from a mere cryptozoological point of view, but exciting in that somebody (possibly CSIRO's Bruce Mollison, from the expedition funded by Hobart businessman and museum trustee G.C Cramp two years later) had collected a sample, a sample that existed - stll exists - somewhere. DNA could not be amplified from the Tasmanian tissue (too small, it seems), but an electron micrograph can be seen on the link below.

Hobart's 'The Mercury' described the finding near Temma (or was it Sandy Cape?) beach at the time:

"ABOUT 20ft. long, 18ft. wide and about 4 1/2 ft. thick, with an estimated weight of between five and 10 tons... The part exposed was hard and rubbery and in an extremely good state of preservation... The party described it in general outline as like a huge turtle, without appendages. It was initially covered with fine hair, described by stockmen as being like sheep's wool, with a greasy feel... The animal had a hump of about four feet in front and tapered gradually to about six inches to what they presumed to be the back. There were five or six gill-like hairless slits on each side of the fore part. There were four large hanging lobes in the front, and between the center pair was a smooth, gullet-like orifice. The margin of the hind part had cushion like protuberances about 2ft. wide by 18in. deep, and each of these carried a single row of spines, sharp, and hard, about as thick as a pencil and quill-like. There was no appearance of eyes or other organs... They made a deep incision in the high part and encountered a resilient flesh which appeared to be composed of numerous tendon-like threads welded together in a fatty substance. At no stage in the investigation did they encounter any bone material... It was obviously extremely durable and had withstood the weather particularly well."

But since when do whales have hair like sheep? Or rows of sharp spines? It was never clear that the carcass examined by the expedition was the same one found by Ben Fenton, Jack Boote and Ray Anthony... Boote and Mollison didn't think it was - too small compared with what they had seen and altogether too different.

Well - the picture above belongs to another Tasmanian globster, found in 1997 in Four Mile Island. In you can see a better picture of this odd finding, not a nice sight. Interesting, though. For those who seek more, there was an article on the Tasmanian Naturalist in 1980, by L.E. Wall. Then there's another article by John Moore in Strange Magazine - you'll find it on their website. But these are the basic facts.

See the comparative study here.

1 comment:

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