More Living Dinosaurs

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In my post Dinosaurs: Extinct or Not? I showed that dinosaurs – which supposedly went extinct 65 million years ago – are still alive, in the form of the Burrunjor of Australia and the Mokele-mbembe of Africa.  Today, I will show they also survive as the Loch Ness Monster of Scotland.

Loch Ness is a freshwater lake in northern Scotland.  It’s particularly famous for sightings in and around the lake of what has come to be called the Loch Ness Monster or Nessie.  Eyewitness accounts of this creature generally closely resemble the Plesiosaurs – the long-necked marine dinos.  Others resemble the Pliosaurs – which were like Plesiosaurs, but with a larger head and almost no neck.  It would appear that BOTH creatures inhabit the loch (Scottish for lake).


220px-KronosaurusAbove: Plesiosaur; Left: Kronosaurus, a species of pliosaur

The legend of Nessie dates back more than one and a half millenia – to the year 565, when a story was recorded (from an event from previous years) “about a Christian holy man who once saved a swimmer from a ferocious monster that lived in the lake.”  (Mysteries and Fantasies, published in 1986 by World Book Inc., pages 10-11.)

There is an unconfirmed but possible account of the monster in 1520.  Although the document was not named and has not been found, it apparently detailed a creature in Loch Ness “lately seen” (“lately” being in 1520).[1]

The next sighting of Nessie occurred in 1871 or ’72.  In October 1871 (or 1872), D. Mackenzie of Balnain reportedly saw an object resembling a log or an upturned boat “wriggling and churning up the water”. The object moved slowly at first, disappearing at a faster speed.[20][21] Mackenzie sent his story in a letter to Rupert Gould in 1934, shortly after popular interest in the monster increased.[21] [2]

Then, in 1930, “three men who had been fishing on Loch Ness claimed they saw a huge animal of some sort swimming near their boat.  Their story appeared in a small Scottish newspaper, but no one paid much attention to it.”  (Mysteries and Fantasies, p. 11)

At this point it is interesting to mention that Nessie has not just been seen IN the lake – it’s also been seen in the woods AROUND it.  For instance, in 1933, a couple driving past the loch claim to have seen an enormous creature with a long neck cross the road ahead of them, heading from the trees to the water.  ([3]; also Mysteries and Fantasies, p. 12.)

This, incidentally, does not in any way contradict the creature being a plesiosaur (which matches the description the couple – George and Mrs Spicer – gave).  Even evolutionary scientists acknowledge that the plesiosaur could move on land, kinda like a seal (which ironically is what some suggest Nessie is – although a seal simply doesn’t match the descriptions).

Shortly before Mr Spicer’s sighting, “two people driving past the lake had seen some kind of enormous animal rolling and plunging in the water.  They watched it for a full minute, then it dived out of sight.”  (Mysteries and Fantasies, p. 12.)

On 5 January 1934, a motorcyclist, Arthur Grant, claimed to have nearly hit the creature while approaching Abriachan (near the north-eastern end of the loch) at about 1 a.m. on a moonlit night.[26] According to Grant, it had a small head attached to a long neck; the creature saw him, and crossed the road back to the loch. Grant, a veterinary student, described it as a cross between a seal and a plesiosaur. He said he dismounted and followed it to the loch, but only saw ripples.[14][27]

Grant produced a sketch of the creature, it was examined by zoologist Maurice Burton who stated it was consistent with the appearance and behaviour of an otter.[28] Regarding the long size of the creature reported by Grant; it has been suggested that this was a faulty observation due to the poor light conditions.[29] Palaeontologist Darren Naish has suggested that Grant may have seen either an otter or a seal and exaggerated his sighting over time.[30]

However, the sketch and description don’t look anything like an otter:


It is clearly  PLESIOSAUR, NOT AN OTTER!!!

Then, of course, there was the famous Surgeon’s Photograph taken in the same year, 1934:


The pic was taken by a surgeon, Robert Kenneth Wilson.  Many have charged that the photos are faked.  Here is Wikipedia’s take on it:

Although for a number of years the photo was considered evidence of the monster, sceptics dismissed it as driftwood,[21] an elephant,[34] an otter, or a bird. The photo’s scale was controversial; it is often shown cropped (making the creature seem large and the ripples like waves), while the uncropped shot shows the other end of the loch and the monster in the centre. The ripples in the photo were found to fit the size and pattern of small ripples, unlike large waves photographed up close. Analysis of the original image fostered further doubt. In 1993, the makers of the Discovery Communications documentary Loch Ness Discovered analysed the uncropped image and found a white object visible in every version of the photo (implying that it was on the negative). It was believed to be the cause of the ripples, as if the object was being towed, although the possibility of a blemish on the negative could not be ruled out. An analysis of the full photograph indicated that the object was small, about 60 to 90 cm (2 to 3 ft) long.[33]

Since 1994, most agree that the photo was an elaborate hoax.[33] It had been accused of being a fake in a 7 December 1975 Sunday Telegraph article which fell into obscurity.[35] Details of how the photo was taken were published in the 1999 book, Nessie – the Surgeon’s Photograph Exposed, which contains a facsimile of the 1975 Sunday Telegraph article.[36] The creature was reportedly a toy submarine built by Christian Spurling, the son-in-law of Marmaduke Wetherell. Wetherell had been publicly ridiculed by his employer, the Daily Mail, after he found “Nessie footprints” which turned out to be a hoax. To get revenge on the Mail, Wetherell perpetrated his hoax with co-conspirators Spurling (sculpture specialist), Ian Wetherell (his son, who bought the material for the fake), and Maurice Chambers (an insurance agent).[37] The toy submarine was bought from F. W. Woolworths, and its head and neck were made from wood putty. After testing it in a local pond the group went to Loch Ness, where Ian Wetherell took the photos near the Altsaigh Tea House. When they heard a water bailiff approaching, Duke Wetherell sank the model with his foot and it is “presumably still somewhere in Loch Ness”.[21] Chambers gave the photographic plates to Wilson, a friend of his who enjoyed “a good practical joke”. Wilson brought the plates to Ogston’s, an Inverness chemist, and gave them to George Morrison for development. He sold the first photo to the Daily Mail,[38] who then announced that the monster had been photographed.[21]

Here is Frontiers of Zoology’s analysis:

I made this comparison up for the edification of Scott Mardis and myself. You are free to draw your own conclusions. Our comments follow below.

Scott Mardis: Very cool. Amazing how anatomically correct Christian Spurling’s model was (!) (LOL)

Dale Drinnon: Especially since he must have made it up out of his head, since he did not have a prior photograph or even artwork that he could copy

Scott Mardis: Much less a plesiosaur skull.

{Note especially that there is a certain peak at the back and on top of the Surgeon’s photograph image and also such a projection on the Plesiosaur’s skull in the same exact place.-DD]

The unmodified photographic image from the Daily Mail is reprinted below:

Scott Mardis adds:
Alistair Boyd and Martin have never released the tapes of their interviews with Christian Spurling so other investigators could evaluate them.

Dale Drinnon’s first-published comments on the Surgeon’s Photograph on the CFZ network was on January 10, 2010, and followed on earlier publications saying the same thing for several years before that, circulated on Cryptozoology discussion boards (including Cryptomundo)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

DALE DRINNON: CryptoClydes

Since the remains of possible post-Cretaceous Plesiosaurs seem to indicate an as-yet-not-properly named genus (or closely related genera) related to the well known Cryptoclidus at about 25-35 feet long, I have done some comparisons between some depictions of the Loch Ness Monster and reconstructions of that genus.

The first one of these was done at the beginning of the Frontiers-of-Zoology group and compared Arthur Grant’s land sighting to the Cryptoclidus represented in Walking With Dinosaurs. This was a paste-up I called ‘CryptoClyde’ and was meant to demonstrate that Grant’s sighting corresponded in proportions and dimensions to the reconstructed plesiosaur. I have cannibalised that comparison into the larger version below. I added the insert with the ‘Surgeon’s Photo’ from Loch Ness on the strength of Paul LeBlond’s analysis of the photo from CRYPTOZOOLOGY, in which he estimated the size of the thing being depicted as about four feet high, six feet long when stretched out. In another article in CRYPTOZOOLOGY, LeBlond had compared the ‘Surgeons Photo’ to the Mansi photo from Lake Champlain and found them to be similar enough to most likely be the same sort of creature.

The neck in the ‘Surgeon’s Photo’ is also just about the same size as Grant had reported. I add another comparison with the Rhines AAS underwater head and neck photo, of similar proportions but estimated as twice the size, and then another comparison with the Rhines head and neck to another reconstruction of Cryptoclidus.

Frankly, I do not like the way the head and neck in the ‘Surgeon’s photo’ are aligned if it is actually a plesiosaur, but then perhaps current theory on the flexibility of Plesiosaur necks does not cover living Plesiosaurs, n’est-pas? I also did a very exhaustive comparison of the head and neck in the photo to various kinds of waterbirds native to the area and none of them match at all well. It is the opinion of both Mackal and Coleman that the photo is authentic but represents a bird in the water. Such a bird must therefore be an unknown animal in itself.

There have been attacks made on both the ‘Surgeon’s Photo’ and on Rhine’s underwater photo at Loch Ness, most infamously with the assertion that Christian Spurling confessed to hoaxing the ‘Surgeon’s Photo’ on his deathbed. Christian Spurling’s account ‘frames’ the Daily Mail for hoaxing the photo to boost readership and is a libelous statement. Christian Spurling did not make a deathbed declaration and the account shows that he had no real knowledge of the photos in question – specifically the fact that there was more than one photo, with the object in different configurations, and not possibly the same object photographed twice.

 Besides that the fact that is the “Admission to guilt of a Hoax” is only a popular legend and is the same exact story told in the case of the “Admission to guilt of the Manufactured model of the Minnesota Iceman” and so on down the line. The story always follows an exact Folkloric pattern: the “Confession” only comes out after the person making the confession is dead, and ordinarily the blame is not really on him, it is on some associated person (usually a relative) also conveniently dead:the Hoax is always a joke that gets out of hand and so is never admitted to in the person’s lifetime and there is usually a specified physical gimmick used to create the false impression, now also conveniently missing. The person making the “Admission” always screws up when he gets some of the details describing the original case wrong. And people are always “Admitting” to things they never did, as witness all the false “Confessions” that the LA Police department received in the Black Dalia murder-and-mutilati on case: the majority of “Confessions” were not even aware that the body had been mutilated. In the case of “The Surgeon’s Photograph” at lLoch Ness there is a series of several other claimants that also similarly claim to have created the hoax “Only attributed toWilson” and the fact of the matter is that they cannot all be genuine truthful statements: more likely, none of them are.

There have also been statements made that a toy submarine made of materials at hand in the 1930s with a monster’s-head superstructure would be top-heavy and tip over rather than stay afloat. A rather more peculiar problem is that there seems to have been no  prior model he could have copied to look like the ‘Sea Monster’ in the photo: I have not seen any previous Plesiosaur reconstructions that actually match it. After the image of the photo was established in the imagination of the public, it seemed obvious to say that “I made a model of how the Loch Ness Monster looked” but it was not possible to say that before hand! [Emphasis added in this reprinting-DD]

As to the Rhines AAAS underwater photo from the mid-1970s, it has been criticised by saying the head is not obviously continuous to the neck and that it needs to be aligned in the vertical plane. The critics that say this then go on to re-orientate the photo in the horizontal plane, inverted of its usual orientation. They then say it is a photograph of the bottom. It does not match the other photos more obviously showing the bottom, but the real problem is that saying this destroys their own argument. If the photo is indeed meant to be horizontal, then there is no reason why you need to say it must be vertical, and if it represents the bottom, then the tow parts really are continuous and the apparent break is only a trick of the shadows. Which is what supporters had been saying all along.

I am not saying that the ‘Surgon’s Photograph’ is necessarily NOT a hoax; what I am saying is that it is consistent with other evidence and that the exact appearance as presented  could not have been known before hand. And in the matter of analysis I defer to LeBlond.

In other words, there appears to be no reason to believe the Surgeon’s Photo to be anything other than authentic.
In 1938, a South African tourist by the name of G E Taylor took two films of what he claimed was Nessie.  He sent it to Maurice Burton in 1960, who published an analysis and claimed it was an inanimate object.  However, he never released the footage – only a still in a book.  Here is an article analysing what little one can from Taylor’s film:

Analysis of the G.E. Taylor Film

I say “analysis”, but there is no film to view, but there is enough to present some new angles. So, let’s get straight to the story of how this first colour film of the beast came to be. The only previous analysis of this footage had the unique privilege of full access to the 16mm colour film. Maurice Burton was the man with that advantage after a Dr. T. H. Crouch contacted him with news of a film taken by a Mr. G.E. Taylor of Natal, South Africa. The film was shot at Loch Ness on the 28th May 1938 opposite Foyers and was composed of two separate sequences. At about noon, Mr. Taylor noticed an object lying in the water about 200 yards away:

Its body was large and rounded, with a tapering down to the neck which dipped under the water, becoming visible about 18ins away, rising in an arch to about 6ins. above water before dipping again. Where this arched neck re-entered the water it had every appearance one would associate with a head. The body showed about 1ft above the water. Its colour was very dark.

He continued his loch tour and met an elderly lady, to whom he described his experience. Expressing a desire to see this, he drove her back and they arrived at about 12:45 to see the object was still there:

When we returned the object was quite fifty yards nearer. The sun gave it what I would call a straw colour.

He shot off another sequence of film and that was that. I could not ascertain how the experience ended, whether the object was left as it was found or whether it submerged. One would assume the former scenario. Very little of Taylor’s original words make it into the book. The only words I could find were those I just quoted above.

Be that as it may, the account of this sighting by Taylor or the anonymous woman do not make it into the newspapers of the time and so this had to wait 22 years before it emerged into the public arena. In fact, I would speculate that the film may have lain dormant longer unless another film of the Loch Ness Monster had not gained worldwide attention in 1960. That was the Tim Dinsdale film and I suspect the publicity surrounding this convinced Mr. Taylor (perhaps spurred on by his associate Dr. Crouch) to contact Burton.

And so Mr. Taylor sent Burton the film as well as his diary around 1960 and the analysis subsequently appeared in Burton’s 1961 book, “The Elusive Monster”. Indeed, since it was allocated over a chapter of material, it received more attention than any other item of Nessie evidence in the book. Dinsdale’s just released film got one page of attention, Taylor got eleven pages.

For better or worse, the rest of the analysis goes through Burton’s sceptical filters, for there could only be one outcome to this particular analysis. In the end, the only thing that approximated to primary sources were one still from the the film and the above quotes. The author of “The Elusive Monster” was now the author of the elusive monster film.

So runs Mr. Taylor’s account. Given that this was an extract from his diary, we can presume it is of good accuracy and not subject to the vagaries of recalling an event over twenty years later from memory alone.

I had earlier updated readers on my own attempts to find this film so that a second analysis may be effected. As of today, there is no success in finding any trace of this near mythical film. Unlike the McRae and Currie films, we know for certain that this film existed, the problem is we do not know its current status.
However, the time to have homed in on this film was back in the 1960s when the trail was relatively warm. In that respect, I refer to the writings of Holiday, Mackal and Costello which  raised the interesting question of whether Burton possessed a copy of the Taylor film.
First, Ted Holiday in his 1968 book, “The Great Orm of Loch Ness” tells us that he wrote to Burton requesting the address of Taylor in the hope of borrowing the film. But Burton replied saying he had a copy of the film and may be willing to let Holiday see it. When Holiday said he would like the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau to scrutinise it, Burton declined and there things ended.
In case one thought Holiday had got his wires crossed, Roy Mackal stated the same thing after meeting Burton in July 1968 after a BBC television programme. In his book, “The Monsters of Loch Ness”, Mackal says he got talking to Burton about the Taylor film after the show and he agreed to let him see the film. Sadly, repeated attempts by Mackal to contact Burton to arrange the viewing all failed as Burton refused to answer his letters or calls.
Peter Costello had a slightly different experience with Burton a few years later. In his book, “In Search of Lake Monsters”, he opined that Burton refused him access to any of the stills he had in his possession. A different request, but the same complete lack of cooperation. It seems Maurice Burton’s conclusions were final and it was obvious to him that nothing was to be gained by letting the “believers” anywhere near the evidence.
It seems clear to me that Burton had a copy of the film and dozens of still photographs taken from the film. However, in contrast to this, sceptic Steuart Campbell in his book, “The Loch Ness Monster – The Evidence” makes no mention of any film. I emailed him recently and he confirmed his correspondence with Burton back in the 1980s made no mention of any copy of the film. When I contacted Maurice Burton’s son, Robert, about the film; he was rather more forthright.
If I had a fiver for every enquiry about this film! In his book, my father said he was lent the film. It was returned to Mr Taylor after the analysis. When I watched it I concluded that if the object had been seen anywhere other than Loch Ness, it would have been unremarkable!

So, we have a diversity of opinion on whether a copy exists or not. I will just have to leave that particular matter there and let readers form their own opinion. Let us move on and look at what we do know and what we can know.


Before I proceed with my own thoughts on this film, it would be remiss not to mention Maurice Burton’s observations and conclusions on the matter. After all, he was the one who had full access to it. When he introduced us to the film, he stated:

I have no hesitation in saying that this film contains the most important piece of evidence on this vexed problem it has so far been my privilege  to examine.

You get it? Burton was labelling this film as the most important item in the decades long Nessie debate. A clear shot across the bows of the recently launched ships of O’Connor and Dinsdale. However, the inevitable conclusion was soon to follow as Burton stated that the object was:

animal-like only in showing movement, but the movements are those of an inert floating object.

Burton goes through a frame by frame analysis and describes an object which seems extraordinary in its fluctuations as the presumed body, head and neck varying in height, length and form. This includes variation in hump count as it changes between one and two humps. However, Burton thinks any movement is dictated by the surrounding waves rather than anything in the object itself.

Given this was the first colour film of the Loch Ness Monster, Burton observes apparent changes in the intensity of colour regions which even change position! Burton speculates whether this may be due to a rolling motion. Towards the end of the film, the object takes on a straw colour.

Also fascinating was the fact that Burton observed the object suddenly disappearing under the water after morphing to only a single hump. This act took only one frame after which there is no monster for fifteen frames (about one second). Then for the next nine frames, a slight shadow intensifies back into a single hump. The more I read this, the more I wish I could see this film!

Burton also thought that since the object never raised its neck above the water, this was to be considered a fact against it being an animal, since he expected any animal to raise its head for a look around. I do not find that argument particularly convincing. Likewise, since the object seems to have done very little in the 45 minutes between the two film sequences, Burton also considered this an un-animal feature.

Burton had shown the film to a select audience to garner opinions. A minority thought it animal (“it will take a lot to convince me that is not an animal”) while the majority opinion was best summed up by the comment that it looked “more like a sheet of sacking being gently tossed on the waves”, their conclusion was that it was an inanimate body of unknown identity.

However, at the end of it all, Burton offers no personal explanation to what this object actually was. The closest we actually get to this was over twenty years later when he mentioned to Steuart Campbell that the film was shown to the National Institute of Oceanography and they plumped for a dead horse or cow.

Indeed, Burton told Campbell that a “four horned monster” had been reported in the loch around that time and had been identified as the bloated body of a horse with its four legs sticking up in the air. As it turns out, no researcher has ever found this report and it is now presumed that Burton misremembered it. It is also unclear to me how a rigid corpse could be reconciled with the dynamic quote that the object was like a sheet of sacking being tossed in the waters.

Let us now move onto this author’s own analysis.


As you can see from the still above, which was published in Burton’s book, there is a sufficient view of the background hills to identify the location. According to the book, Taylor was on the northern shore of the loch at a point opposite Foyers. That places us around the location circled on the map below.

Of course, there is nothing like being there to conduct an onsite investigation, and that is what I did back in 2014. Parking my car at a spot which may well have been occupied by Taylor’s car 78 years previously, I took some comparison shots starting with this one just off the road.

The view was not too great and I suspect Mr. Taylor had a clearer view of the loch back in 1938 due to the cutting back of trees for the earlier road expansion. Making my way a little further down the hill presented a better view for a sequence of comparison shots for better analysis (picture below).

However, a problem presented itself when I got back home to compare and contrast the images. The contours of the distant hills did not match Burton’s image. Had I reached an impasse? Was the location wrong and perhaps not even taken at Loch Ness?

The matter was resolved in a simple manner. The Burton image was flipped over and the solution became apparent – as you can see below with the overlay of the two images at the end to confirm the congruent hills. The upshot is that for fifty five years we have been looking at a reversed image and not what G. E. Taylor actually saw and filmed. This will impact the proceeding analysis of the film.

One can see how Burton may have made this error as a 16mm film strip may look the same flipped over if one is not familiar with the content of the film. Whatever the reason, we move on. How big is the object in the photograph?

That is not so easy to ascertain on its own, but we can get a sense of it with some modern comparison photographs. Ideally, I wanted a boat of known size to pass over the same spot as the creature. From this, an estimate of the creature’s visible size could be made. After waiting a long time, a Caley Cruiser passed by, although further out.

Applying an overlay gives us a view of the relative sizes of the objects. Since the object is closer to us but relatively smaller than the 30 foot cruiser, it is absolutely smaller than the cruiser. The account given to Burton states the object as being no more than 200 yards (about 200m) from the northern shore. If we assume the Caley Cruiser is motoring in mid-loch (a common sight), we can estimate the size of the object as being about 5.5 feet across at the waterline (object at 200m, boat at 625m, boat measures 14mm, object measures 8mm, scale down from 200m to 625m gives 5.5 feet).

Burton states Taylor as estimating the object at no more than six feet across the waterline, so this is a good agreement. However, Burton thought it could be as long as twelve feet, but we will go with the numbers in agreement of about six feet. Now, clearly, there is no aquatic animal in Loch Ness which could expose this much body line above water. In fact, using my normal heuristic that only one third of the whole animal shows above water, this gives us a potential creature size of 18 feet.


Now in the course of general Loch Ness investigations, I came across some more stills from this mysterious film. During one of my frequent visits to the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, I was actually looking for more information on the Peter O’Connor photograph, which Burton also had a stake in. He had written various articles for the Illustrated London News, and so it was that the 26th November 1960 issue yielded two more stills. The one we already know about is shown first for comparison.

The two new stills are in the correct orientation and do not need flipping like the first one. Clearly, Mr. Burton had more stills than one may have initially assumed. In fact, I would wager he had a very large number of them and no one else was going to get a look in. Whether there are more of these frames published in unknown journals at unknown dates is a matter of conjecture. The point now is that I fear they have all been destroyed by those who saw no point in letting anyone else see them. But I digress.

Now, Taylor said he shot two sequences separated by 45 minutes in which the creature was said to have moved. These stills would bear out that fact, if we assume Taylor was roughly in the same spot each time. Using the elongated area of treeless ground on the opposite shore as a reference point, it is evident that the top two stills were from the same sequence while the last one was from the other sequence.

Mr. Taylor said that the creature had moved 50 yards closer to the northern shore in between the two film sequences. If we overlay the first and third stills and use the object length of six feet previously calculated, the distance between the objects in the two stills is an apparent 20 yards. However, there may be a degree of foreshortening due to perspective between the two which would increase that actual change in distance.

The next pertinent question concerns the chronological sequence of the three stills. The first and second stills are from the same sequence and so they cannot be separated chronologically. However, was the third still exposed before or after the first two? There is no conclusive way to decide this from the stills alone. but Burton gives us the answer on page 88 of “The Elusive Monster”:

.. the monster has moved so that it is now only about 150 yards from the north shore of the loch, and appears to have moved slightly west …

In other words, the west is to the right of the stills and so the third frame is from the second sequence and the first two from the first sequence. However, if this is an inanimate object, we have a problem as the prevailing wind moves from the south west of the loch to the north east. In other words, the wind proceeds from right to left in the frames. Meanwhile, the object has moved from left to right in the opposite direction.

Burton himself confirms this south westerly wind when he describes the choppiness of the waves in his analysis. So how does an inanimate object move against the prevailing wind? Burton is ambivalent on this question and does not really address it by downplaying the effect (“moved slightly”) and talks more about how the object retains is position against the wind and waves (pp.89-90).

I myself do not regard a counter move of at least 20 yards as something slight and rather something indicative of a living entity. This is why a second set of eyes on this film was always necessary. Of course, the sceptic may suggest the near mythical seiche effect which is an underwater wave which can make objects such as logs appear to move of their own volition. Finding examples of this effect at Loch Ness proved to be elusive themselves, but I found an alleged film of a log being driven counter to the surface waves at this link.

However, there was 45 minutes between the two film sequences. I estimate the object moved 20 yards which equates to a speed of 16 inches per minute. Mr. Taylor’s estimate of a 50 yard move gives an average speed of  40 inches per minute. Is that how fast a seiche moves? The problem here is that the object appears not to have moved during the actual film sequence – certainly Burton makes no mention of it.

If the total film sequences last three minutes, then that is a movement of up to 120 inches or 10 feet. I doubt such a movement was noticed which suggests the total movement happened while G.E. Taylor was away between film shots and was no seiche. As an aside, Burton states the weather conditions as follow on page 68:

.. the weather was fine. The sun was shining … fair amount of white cloud. The surface of the loch showed wind borne waves continuously moving in a north easterly direction with a small amount of foam cap.

Overall, I would say the motion analysis is suggestive of a self propelling object. And remember my comment about whether the original still being reversed had an analysis impact? Clearly it does in the matter of proving the object had moved against the loch currents.


Maurice Burton may not have left many frames of this film for other researchers to examine, but he certainly left a lot of drawings based on the film. Burton tells us that the two sequences of Taylor’s film were one minute and forty seconds and one minute and thirty seconds respectively. The second sequence was stated as consisting of 1450 frames or 36ft of film. This gives us three minutes and ten seconds of film in total. From these frames, Burton tells us he painstakingly sketched over a thousand drawings from them.

A selection of these drawings are printed in his book, but the most interesting are 96 drawings representing the first 96 frames of the first film sequence. This adds up to six seconds of footage and Burton reproduced them in his book to demonstrate the “rhythmic up and down movement of the object”. These are shown below and this provided an ideal opportunity to sequence them into an animation. That animation is shown below. However, the expected running time of the animation will most likely not be six seconds as it will depend on your computer’s processing power. My laptop was actually running the animation for just over nine seconds.

Now as you watch this animation, you may get a sense of the fluctuations that Burton talked about. However, even at the slower speed that your computer may render this clip, it seems very fast for anything alive or much anything else for that matter. Burton admits to the problem of mapping a somewhat blurred frame of an object 200 yards away onto a crisp and sharply delineated sketch.
Given the blurriness and imprecision of the only enlarged still that we have, shown at the top of this article, I am doubtful of the accuracy of this process. That is not to deny that there are noticeable variations in the object’s appearance during the film, they just seem exaggerated in this animation. The resolution is of course to view the film, but that opportunity seems a distant prospect from here.

Burton had a feast upon which to base his analysis, we have only the scraps that he deigned to leave behind. That he refrained from sharing evidence was not so much a sign of professional sloppiness but rather a sign that he did not wish to see monster believers induct this film into the Nessie Hall of Fame. Mackal would class the film as positive evidence in his later book as others followed suit in the monster fraternity.

I have previously spoken of my own search for this film in a previous article. If a descendant of Mr. Taylor knowingly has the film, I am sure we would have heard of it by now. That may mean the film is at best now mouldering in an attic or store room somewhere, its new owner unaware of its value and importance.

And I do regard it as important. Burton’s analysis is not satisfactory as his attempt to downplay the movement of the object against the waves suggests. Also, his suggestion that this is merely a floating carcass does not sit well with the fluctuations described in the object. There is more to the internal than the external when we speak of what moves this mysterious object.

The fact that the object apparently spent the best part of an hour on the surface may be used as an argument against it being our elusive monster. After all, don’t Nessies put in rather fleeting appearances? Well, of the 292 sightings on the database that I use which state a duration, about 8% last more than half an hour.
But then again, Mr. Taylor’s sighting did not actually last that long as he was absent for 45 minutes. Did the creature disappear during this time or did it submerge only to re-emerge up to fifty yards further on? No one will be giving you an absolute answer on that one.

That would be perfectly in keeping with the mystery. No absolute answers, just opinions from either side of the debate, but – in my opinion – I side with Dr. Mackal in calling this out as a film of the famous Loch Ness Monster.

I will continue to hunt down the whereabouts of this film and doubtless write a follow up for readers. I am confident there is more information out there in old magazine and newspaper archives, it’s just a matter of digging.

So, there is ample reason to believe that Taylor’s footage could well be Nessie.

In December 1954, sonar readings were taken by the fishing boat Rival III. Its crew noted a large object keeping pace with the vessel at a depth of 146 metres (479 ft). It was detected for 800 m (2,600 ft) before contact was lost and regained.[45] Previous sonar attempts were inconclusive or negative.  [5]


It’s interesting that some sonar readings – including one in 1968 (and, of course, the above one in 1954) – show up large objects in the lake (with SEVERAL large objects being detected in ’68), others show up nothing.  This is likely because, as multiple eyewitnesses have confirmed, the creatures sometimes venture on to land – probably to hunt for food in the surrounding hills (watch your back if you visit there!).

Conversely, the skeptical response to these readings are interesting:

“This seemed to prove that big animals of some sort lived in Loch Ness.  However, sonar often produces false shapes, known as “ghosts,” exactly like the shapes shown, so there was no way to be sure.”  (Mysteries and Fantasies, p. 15)

So, let me get this straight: the sonar images of large animals in the loch shouldn’t be trusted because such large animals are quite frequently picked up on sonar, and are simply dismissed as mistakes.  Are they mistakes?  Or are scientists detecting “prehistoric” animals throughout the world’s oceans?  Considering the eyewitness accounts of Loch Ness and other lakes where such creatures have been detected on sonar, I think it’s quite likely.

In 1955, Peter MacNab photographed two humps on the surface of Loch Ness:


Once again, critics cry “foul!”  But is it?  I once again defer to Glasgow Boy:

Analysis of the Peter MacNab Photograph

Today I look at the next photograph in the series on classic Nessie pictures. Previously I had examined the Hugh Gray picture and hopefully shed some new light on it. The research on that classic continues but today it is the Peter MacNab photograph that has my attention and we are not ashamed to say this is another genuine picture of the Loch Ness Monster. It could be argued that after the Surgeon’s Photograph, this is the second most iconic picture of the Loch Ness Monster. With its classic humps creating a wake as they move towards Urquhart Castle, it sums up the mystery of Loch Ness more than any other picture.


Mr. MacNab’s account of that day is taken from Nicholas Witchell’s “Loch Ness Story” published in 1974.

I was returning from a holiday in the north with my son and pulled the car up on the road just above Urquhart Castle. It was a calm, warm hazy afternoon. I was all ready to take a shot of Urquhart Castle when my attention was held by a movement in the calm water over to the left. Naturally I thought of the ‘Monster’ and hurriedly changed over the standard lens of my Exacta (127) camera to a six-inch telephoto.
As I was doing so a quick glance showed that some black or dark enormous water creature was cruising on the surface. Without a tripod and in a great hurry I took the shot. I also took a very quick shot with another camera, a fixed-focus Kodak, before the creature submerged.

My son was busy under the bonnet of the car at the time and when he looked in response to my shouts there were just ripples on the water. Several cars and a bus stopped but they could see nothing and listened to my description with patent disbelief.

Having taken the pictures, Mr. MacNab sat on them for over three years because of the ridicule he says he received when showing them privately to friends. This changed when the Hugh Cockerell photograph was published by the Weekly Scotsman on 16th October 1958. Putting aside fears of ridicule, he was emboldened by the publication of that picture to come forward with his own which was published in the next issue on the 23rd of October. The rest as they say is history.

You may ask where this second photograph is, for as far as I know, it has never been published. Like the second less well known picture of the Surgeon’s Photograph duet, it seems to have been lost to the media and consigned to oblivion. Unlike the second Surgeon’s Photograph, it seems this picture did not have the fortune to be privately retained for future discovery as Peter MacNab was so frustrated by the ridicule that came his way that he threw it away. We may assume Mr. MacNab also had no print made from it else he would have shown it to subsequent Nessie researchers such as Constance Whyte and Nicholas Witchell.

I made enquiries to the Scotsman newspaper archives about any uncropped version of the first picture and the mysterious second picture but they no longer have any records relating to the story. They suggested that any prints they received would have been returned to Mr. MacNab. If anyone has any information that may lead me to a copy of this second picture or an uncropped version of the first, send me an email to


The reaction to the picture has been understandably mixed. Whyte, Dinsdale and Witchell regard it as important evidence. Others give it a fleeting mention while sceptics such as Burton and Binns suggest a combination of boat wakes. Roy Mackal rejects it as inadmissable as evidence and as a result Binns and Campbell deferred to his analysis. The most detailed investigation of the photograph was carried out by Roy Mackal in his 1976 book, “The Monsters of Loch Ness”. He had asked Mr. MacNab for a copy to include in his book and Mr. MacNab duly obliged. However, instead of the picture ending up in Dr. Mackal’s category of “Positive Evidence”, it was demoted to “Unacceptable as Evidence” with further details shunted to an appendix.

To summarise Roy Mackal’s argument, he compared his copy against what had been published in Constance Whyte’s book “More Than A Legend”. The two are shown below.

Whyte Version

Mackal Version

The first discrepancy was the presence of a foreground tree in the Whyte version which was absent in his version. The second concerned the reflection of the castle upon the loch in his version. Using the picture below, he demonstrated how the shadow in his copy was skewed from the normal vertical position in the Whyte version. He went back to Peter MacNab with some pertinent questions but says that MacNab was unsure what to say and suggested the difference in the two might be because one was the first photograph he took and the other was the second picture he took with the Kodak camera.

Unsatisfied with all this, Roy Mackal labelled the photograph as not suitable as evidence and moved on. And so it was that Peter MacNab’s photograph became marked as dubious. A look around the web will reveal plenty of sites restating Roy Mackal’s analysis. Indeed, leading Loch Ness researcher, Tony Harmsworth, cites this analysis as finally removing any doubts he had about this photograph. Let us however take a closer look.


I also read and accepted Roy Mackal’s analysis but it is good to go over our old assumptions from time to time. So I had a recent closer look at it and noticed something odd about the version of the picture sent to Roy Mackal. Basically, the castle in the Mackal version is slightly bigger than the one in the Whyte version. Intrigued by this small discrepancy, I started up my standard image editing software package on Windows (this is the same software used for the Hugh Gray analysis). I read in the Whyte version of the picture and then the Mackal version. I then increased the transparency of the Mackal image so as to allow me to drag it over and shrink it to fit the size of the Whyte castle.

The first picture below shows the image overlay process and I ended up with the second picture. What I saw gave me something of a shock. It became immediately apparent that the missing tree problem was not a problem at all. The Mackal version was a zoom-in which was sufficient to exclude the foreground tree. The tree had not been edited out by nefarious means, but rather was just out of view in the new version.

My thoughts then turned as to how this situation could have come about. I had a look around and noted on Dick Raynor’s website (see link) that he had also requested a copy from Peter MacNab and the picture he shows is the same as the “Mackal version”. So it appears that what Roy Mackal shows is what Roy Mackal got from Mr. MacNab. So any comments would be appreciated on this obscure matter. But in case anyone thinks this is a post aimed at vilifying Roy Mackal then know this – the aim is rather to vindicate Peter MacNab who died some ten years ago and can no longer speak for himself. So in the absence of clarification, this argument against the picture must be dismissed.

But what about the second part of the analysis which concerns the difference in the castle shadows? That there is a difference in shadow angles is not in dispute as this further overlay of Roy Mackal’s drawing shows. The difference in shadow angles is about 4 degrees.

However, having discharged Mr. MacNab of suspicion on the first count, it may be this will help us resolve the second count in a manner that does not require conspiracy and deception. If the “Mackal version” was the current complete print that Mr. MacNab had, then the absence of the “tree” bottom strip plus a distortion of the shadow in the same region implies a simpler solution than elaborate hoaxing. We know that Peter MacNab stated to Nicholas Witchell that he threw away the negative of the second photograph and nearly destroyed the negative of the main photograph. Therefore, it is reasonable to theorise that the negative could have sustained some damage to its bottom portion and Peter MacNab later attempted to restore it.

How he did this is not known but nothing suspicious is required to form a conclusion. He may have cut off the bottom strip or he may have created a new zoomed in negative from the original. Meanwhile, a print made from the previously undamaged negative was used in subsequent newspapers and books. However, it is also entirely possible that an even simpler explanation exists which is that the bottom of the negative merely warped due to poor storage conditions. These are all entirely plausible explanations which need no conspiracy to explain them.

This may not convince the hardened sceptic who requires this photograph to be a hoax but nevertheless in this regard the hoax explanation is no longer compelling. Peter MacNab’s confusing explanation to Roy Mackal can also now be explained – especially since Roy communicated with him about 20 years after the event and Mr. MacNab was by then over 70 years old and not exactly at the prime of his powers of recollection. Roy Mackal had essentially posed a problem to Peter MacNab that did not exist. It is not surprising then that a confusing question elicited a confusing answer from this confused septuagenarian.

As an aside, I actually found Peter MacNab’s suggestion of the second photograph quite encouraging as it suggests the possibility that a copy may yet still be out there somewhere. Note that he said he destroyed the negative but not necessarily any prints made from it. Time may yet prove fruitful in this matter.

But it has to be noted (and Roy Mackal also points this out) that these so called discrepancies are not of the first order because the monster is already on both Whyte and Mackal versions. A warped shadow is no proof of hoaxing as the alleged hoax would have already been perpetrated between a hypothetical photograph of a boat with wake and the now famous Whyte version.


Which brings us nicely to the next objection that Peter MacNab doctored a photograph of a boat near Urquhart Castle to produce his alleged fraud. The allegations made above were used as a foundation on which to further build this accusation, but now it has to stand on less firm ground. Nevertheless, the accusation stands and so we examine its claims. One technique cited is that a picture with a boat producing a decent sized wake is overlaid with a “Nessie”. Thus, the boat image is obscured and the “Monster” appears. The main problem for a hoaxer is to avoid retouching the surrounding waters as this is no trivial task and an expert eye could detect such artifacts. However, using our trusty ruler and Mackal’s estimate of the castle height, it is established that the main hump is 2.6 feet high at its maximum and the smaller hump comes in at a top 1.8 feet. This height is too low to overlay an image of the type of big ships that ply their way across the loch.

One may suggest a smaller craft like a dinghy or outboard motor fishing boat but even here the occupant would still be three to four feet above the surface and the large wake in the picture is not produced by such crafts (see picture). There is also the problem that such a 15 foot boat is uniformly higher than the object across its entire bulk (about two feet). The problem of fakery is further compounded in that there is clearly two wakes visible in the photograph – one from the small hump and the other from the main hump – they have different structures. Indeed, I would concur with Peter MacNab’s suggestion that there are two creatures in this picture for the two humps are not in perfect alignment.

Finally, suggestions about other matching boat wakes being faintly visible on the loch are irrelevant since it is clear that there is no wake ahead of what may be presumed to be the head of the object.

But I would reiterate a statement made in an earlier post that claiming a Nessie photograph is a fake is a somewhat futile exercise. All Nessie photos are reproducible given enough time and money. However, in the case of the MacNab photograph, it would take a bit more effort. Indeed, it should be pointed out again that Peter MacNab’s photograph was published one week after he was prompted to act by the Cockerell picture. Could he have faked the picture in seven days given the additional time required to inform the newspaper and send it off to them in time to prepare for the next edition?

And just to show you what a good job he must have done in “faking” it, Walt Disney produced a documentary in the early 1970s called “Man, Monsters and Mysteries” which actually shows a reproduction of the MacNab photograph (below). It is evident from this picture that even the multiple and professional talents of the Walt Disney special effects team could not reproduce MacNab’s photograph to the same degree!

As an aside, when I saw this Disney picture, I thought it was the second MacNab picture because the object is closer to the castle than the first. However, a comparison of the pictures shows that the tree to the left of the castle is substantially bigger in the Disney version which implies this picture was taken years later by Disney when they visited the loch and faked up their own inferior version (presumably because Peter MacNab refused them permission to use his picture in what was a fairly infantile production).


The final objection concerns the presumed size of the object in the picture. If the object is one creature then it is huge even by normal Nessie standards. A size of 60 to 70 feet would not be out of place. This is too much for some and so is rejected. However, it is clear to me from what I said above that this is in fact two creatures as the humps are out of alignment and the wave structure is different between the two. In that light, the bigger hump is about 30 foot long and the smaller one about 13 feet long which brings the total dimensions of these creatures within the historical record.


Now this photograph is put forward as proof that the “reliable character witness” scenario is bunk. After all, if a respected bank manager and local councillor such as Peter MacNab (pictured below) could indulge in such deception then who can you trust? But this is a stance we should seek to defend on the simple premise that those who have much to lose have little to motivate. In other words, there is no equality when it comes to Nessie witnesses (as in any category of witness testimony).

So that assertion may be true if the original premise was true but there is no proof that Mr. MacNab hoaxed the photograph. In fact, looking at his CV, it would have been extremely foolhardy of him to have attempted such a risky endeavour.

So, Peter MacNab had a lot to lose in such a venture. Just previous to the time he claimed to have taken the picture, he had been elected as the President of the Clan MacNab Society. In fact, we’ll let extracts from his obituary in The Scotsman for the 17th October 2002 do the talking for us.

Peter Angus Macnab, writer

Born: 1 November, 1903, in Portmahomack, Easter Ross Died: 3 October, 2002, in Ayrshire, aged 98

PETER Macnab was one of Scotland’s oldest active writers and authors, renowned for his unparalleled knowledge of and passion for the island of Mull and its people. This special interest came through in his writings, lectures and broadcasting over the past 70 years and resulted in his becoming probably the most authoritative source of information on the social history and folklore of the island. He is the author of the standard work on Mull and Iona. He also covered a wide range of subjects related to Scotland in addition to local history and was the author of a number of successful books and guides.

He had contributed to a variety of national and international magazines and publications since the Second World War, including The Scotsman. He was probably the longest-serving, as well as the oldest, active contributor to The Scots Magazine, having been associated with it for more than half a century. His last book, Tobermory Teuchtar, a personal account of life in Tobermory and Mull in the early years of the last century, was published when he was 95.

He was actively engaged on another at the time of his last illness, together with a number of articles. Peter Macnab saw his knowledge and writings on Mull as an attempt not merely to remind us of past times and values but also to encourage interest in what Mull and the Highlands and Islands can offer today to visitors. In addition, he stressed the importance of retaining viable communities, which hopefully might retain something of the Gaelic culture – something that his local school had done its best to discourage during his boyhood days.

He joined the Clydesdale Bank and although predominantly based in Glasgow served in numerous positions in the west of Scotland. During the Second World War, when his medical history ruled him out of military service, he travelled to many parts of Scotland on banking duties. Banking never quite fulfilled his restless ambitions, however, and he used his natural ability and restless energies to expand his interests in writing, lecturing, and broadcasting in addition to a range of social interests and hobbies.

He had set up home in West Kilbride in 1930 and he was active in public life for over 70 years in Ayrshire. Retirement from the bank in 1963 was merely an opportunity to expand on his favourite pursuits, including local community work. He was a county councillor for North Ayrshire, a district councillor and a special commissioner; a past captain, long-term committee member and honorary member of West Kilbride Golf Club. He had been an elder of Overton Church, West Kilbride, since 1941 and an office-bearer for many years for various local societies.

He lectured on the history of the Scottish clans and the history of Scottish banking, was a professional guide for the Ministry of Information, a former president of the Clan Macnab Society, a skilled photographer, keen angler, beekeeper, horticulturist, maker of rams’ horn crooks and walking sticks and, not least, a vintage car enthusiast – the family black and primrose Swift, which he nicknamed “Rosinante”, was until a few years ago a familiar sight on roads in the west of Scotland and beyond.

Would a man of this breadth and experience risk it all for a practical joke which could blow up in his face if exposed and branded a liar and a thief (if he accepted payment from the newspapers)? I don’t think so, the burden of proof lies with the sceptical position here.


In the realm of Nessie photographs nothing is clear cut. Accusations are made and defenses are mounted. The case for this photograph is I hope stronger after today. Tony Harmsworth in his analysis of this picture hoped that one day Mr. MacNab would come clean and tell us all how he managed to fool us. He did not volunteer such information because in my opinion he is guiltless in the matter.

At the aforementioned Dick Raynor website, there is a photograph of Mr. MacNab with other Nessie witnesses at the making of a Loch Ness documentary in the early 1980s. Is this an example of brazen cheek after 25 years or a man who simply believed he took a photograph of something mysterious that balmy summer day in 1955?

I think we can say that the MacNab photo is authentic.
In 1960, Tim Dinsdale took footage of a large creature moving across the lake – leaving an ENORMOUS wake:

As usual, critics accuse it of being a fake, with some claiming that when the contrast is increased, a man in a boat can be seen.  However, in a 1993 documentary called Loch Ness Discovered, the footage is digitally enhanced.  The “person who enhanced the film noticed a shadow in the negative which was not obvious in the developed film. By enhancing and overlaying frames, he found what appeared to be the rear body of a creature underwater: ‘Before I saw the film, I thought the Loch Ness Monster was a load of rubbish. Having done the enhancement, I’m not so sure’.[52]”
OK, I think that’s enough for now.  It’s turning out much longer than I expected – as usual.  Hope you enjoyed it!

22 thoughts on “More Living Dinosaurs

  1. Awesome and through post JM. I must say, I tend to not believe, but that is my own belief. I do find it rather hysterical though, that “science” is often called in to either verify or debunk.

    From what I can tell, no one living today witnessed dinosaurs or evolution first hand. These are beliefs as well, yet for some reason they are held as “verifiable”. It’s all on the individual what to and what not to believe.

    The “peer-review” process today is a scam, just as the witch trials were a scam. Science, an interesting term. Your post was very well written and I appreciate you including the differing opinions.

    To be honest, you seem more open, you seem to be looking just as I am.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree that no-one’s witnessed evolution – or any evidence of evolution. It IS quite laughable how evolution, millions of years, extinction of the dinosaurs, etc, etc, are commonly touted as “proved”, when they’re just theories. I am of the opinion that Evolution is just as much a religion as Christianity or Judaism!
      Peer-review is simply a convenient way to silence anyone with a divergent opinion.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this. It was a long read and I was s little confused as to who was talking…you or you quoting someone else. Plus, if you quote an author quoting a third person…*sigh*

    I believe there are critters all over our planet that are unique & unusual. We have explored, what, 10% of our oceans? Who says ‘all’ the dinosaurs went extinct? There are far too many accounts of ‘Nessie’, stretching back years for the creature(s) to be labeled a hoax. ‘Science’ is just as flawed as the flawed people who operate in that genre. ‘Experts’ are relative.

    Thank you.

    As a side note to Peter MacNab, the town I live in has a home, owned by a trust now, that was built by Scottish native from the same area. This historical site is called ‘Ayr Mount’.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Eek. Sorry. Not only was I a web programmer in another life, I also happen to be fond of WordPress’ “old” posting software…despite their efforts to force me to use “the updated” software (PC & web browser based, not smartphone based). I’m usually using the HTML view, not visual.

            Sorry. I mistakenly assume everyone knows code…and I shouldn’t.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. And yes, I agree with you that there are strange creatures all over the globe. And with only 10% of the oceans explored, it’s kinda arrogant to claim that a sea animal (such as Nessie or the sea serpent) couldn’t be alive. And considering there are accounts of evolutionary scientists (think Smithsonian – although there are others as well) destroying evidence for recently living dinosaurs, giants, etc, yes, science is heavily flawed.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. While everyone is so focused on republicans, democrats, Trump, all the scuffles in the big G and all the usual fears and interests imposed on daily life, these things are happening. We’ve been dumbed down to the point we’ll believe anything but the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

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