Cyclops Shark & Other Cryptic Creatures Make October Creepy

This article was updated at 4:10 p.m. Eastern Time on Aug. 17.

In this world of Photoshop and online scams, it pays to have a hearty dose of skepticism at reports of something strange — including an albino fetal shark with one eye smack in the middle of its nose like a Cyclops.

But the Cyclops shark, sliced from the belly of a pregnant mama dusky shark caught by a commercial fisherman in the Gulf of California earlier this summer, is by all reports the real thing. Shark researchers have examined the preserved creature and found that its single eye is made of functional optical tissue, they said last week. It's unlikely, however, that the malformed creature would have survived outside the womb.

"This is extremely rare," shark expert Felipe Galvan Magana of Mexico's Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias del Mar told the Pisces Fleet Sportfishing blog in July. "As far as I know, less than 50 examples of an abnormality like this have been recorded." [See photos of the one-eyed "Cyclops" shark]

Pisces Fleet, a sportfishing company, rocketed the Cyclops shark to viral status online this summer with their photos of the creepy-cute creature. But this isn't the first time that reports of a mythical-seeming creature have spurred media sensations — last week alone, Russian officials announced "proof" of a Yeti, and paleontologists spun a theory about an ancient Kraken-like squid. Few reports of mythical beasts, however, come with proof.

Cyclops shark

The Cyclops shark is an exception. While rare, "cyclopia" is a real developmental anomaly in which only one eye develops. Human fetuses are sometimes affected, as in a 1982 case in Israel reported in 1985 in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. In that case, a baby girl was born seven weeks early with no nose and only one eye in the center of her face. The infant, who lived only 30 minutes after birth, also had severe brain abnormalities.

In 2006, a kitten born with one eye and no nose (a rare condition called holoprosencephaly), created a stir online as news organizations and bloggers tried to determine if the bizarre photos of the animal were real. A veterinarian confirmed the kitten's condition; "Cy," as the cat was known, lived only a day. The remains were sold to the creationist Lost World Museum.

The fisherman who discovered the Cyclops shark is reportedly hanging on to the preserved remains, news outlets reported. But scientists have recently examined and X-rayed the fish, authenticating the catch. According to Seth Romans, a spokesman for Pisces Fleet, Galvan Magana and his colleagues will publish a scientific paper about the find within the next several weeks.

Romans told LiveScience that the fisherman who caught the strange shark is "amazed and fascinated" by the attention his catch has drawn.

It's not the first strange shark fetus Galvan Magana has found; he and his colleagues discovered two-headed shark embryos in two different female blue sharks. It's possible that one embryo started to split into twins, but failed to completely separate because of crowding in the womb, the researchers reported in January 2011 in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records.

Lair of the kraken?

Another recent report of a cryptic creature comes without the benefit of photographic evidence. Nor do the monster-hunters in this scenario have a body to display.    

That's because the discovery is of an alleged "kraken's lair," a spot where 200-million-year-old ichthyosaur bones mingle in odd patterns. Paleontologist Mark McMenamin reads these patterns as evidence of a giant, ancient squid-like creature playing with its food, and he said as much on Oct. 10 at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. Supporting his claim, he said, is the fact that even today Pacific octopus, which are also cephalopods like the ancient "kraken," have been seen taking down sharks.

Other researchers responded that McMenamin was seeing what he wanted to see in the patterns.

"To my mind, this hypothesis is like looking at clouds — being able to see what you desire," Glenn Storrs, the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Cincinnati Museum Center, told LiveScience.

Mythical krakens are now thought of as giant squid or octopuses, capable of bringing down a ship with their tentacled arms. But many of the earliest kraken reports were of creatures so enormous that they grew vegetation on their backs like islands. These krakens dragged down anchored ships or swamped them by surfacing suddenly. [Read Get Kraken: Why Scientists Should Study Sea Monsters]

The 1816 "Universal Dictionary of the Arts, Sciences Literature, Etc.," (advertised as "intended to supersede the use of other books of reference") defines the kraken as "a most amazing large sea animal," said to be "of a crab-like form."

"Its back or upper part, which seems an English mile and a half (some have affirmed more), looks at first like a number of small islands, surrounded with something that floats like seaweeds," the dictionary author writes. "At last several bright points of horns appear, which grow thicker the higher they emerge, and sometimes stand up as high and large as the masts of middle-sized vessels. In a short time, it slowly sinks, which is thought as dangerous as its rising; as it causes such a swell and whirlpool as draws everything down with it."

Den of the Yeti

October's most recent cryptozoology report comes courtesy of Russia, where researchers claim to have found "indisputable proof" of the yeti, a hairy ape-like creature not unlike Bigfoot.

This "proof" takes the form of a few strands of gray hair and some tracks in the snow, but similar claims have come up short in the past. Some Sasquatch claims have even been brazen hoaxes, such as a 2008 press conference in which two Georgia men claimed to have the body of Bigfoot in a freezer. The "corpse" turned out to be a rubber ape suit.

There's no way of knowing yet whether the Russian yeti enthusiasts are out to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, or whether they genuinely believe their yeti evidence is real. The yeti fur was supposedly found in Azasskaya cave in western Siberia during a yeti conference. [Mythical Creatures: Beasts that Don't Exist]

"During the expedition to the Azasskaya cave, conference participants gathered indisputable proof that the Shoria mountains are inhabited by the 'Snow Man,'" a spokesman for the region told LiveScience's sister site Life's Little Mysteries. "They found his footprints, his supposed bed, and various markers with which the yeti uses to denote his territory."

No word on where the supposed yeti went or why researchers didn't stick around with cameras. Unlike the Cyclops shark, it seems this yeti finding may not stand up to scrutiny.

You can follow LiveScience senior writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US renews travel warning to Mindanao
    US renews travel warning to Mindanao

    The US State Department renewed its warning about the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu archipelago, certain regions and cities of Mindanao and the southern Sulu Sea area. In an update on Wednesday of a travel warning it issued Nov. 20, 2014, the State Department said US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu archipelago due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. …

  • Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda
    Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda

    The Philippine initiative to put the interests of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) front and center in global and regional trade has made significant progress following the conclusion on Thursday of the 2nd APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings in Boracay, Aklan. Called “The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs,” the Philippine proposal calls for a host of specific, concrete and practical interventions that APEC economies can implement to provide MSMEs wider …

  • Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week
    Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week

    The Philippines will join a 15-nation meeting in Bangkok, Thailand next week to address the migration crisis involving thousands of Rohingyas who escaped persecution in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima bared this yesterday after meeting with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative to the Philippines Bernard Kerblat. In an interview, De Lima said the Philippine government has been invited to the meeting. …

  • Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon
    Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon

    LEGAZPI CITY—A magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit Prieto Diaz town in Sorsogon before dawn yesterday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. …

  • Drought-resistant rice breeds bared
    Drought-resistant rice breeds bared

    SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija – Amid the searing heat, the Philippine Rice Research Institute central experiment station here has identified nine rice breeds which have been proven to be drought-resistant and produce high yields in temperatures as high as 38°C based on a recent study. Thelma Padolina, lead researcher of the study titled “Screening of rice-induced mutants for heat and drought tolerance,” identified the breeding lines as the Ballatinaw lines, PSB Rc72H and Azucena lines. …

  • Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning
    Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning

    The United States military will continue air and sea patrols in international waters even after the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a US surveillance plane to leave the airspace over artificial islands China is creating in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippine government also declared it would continue activities in the region, calling on China to respect freedom of navigation and aviation. “Our position on the importance of letting freedom of navigation, freedom of aviation and …

  • MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned
    MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned

    Electricity and mobile phone services would be cut throughout Metro Manila, and all private and government offices and businesses, including shopping malls, would be closed. That would be the situation on July 16 between 3 and 8 p.m. to simulate the scenario of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has warned that an earthquake of that magnitude could occur and kill at least 33,500 people and injure at least 113,600 others following a …

  • Subaru XV now priced among sedans
    Subaru XV now priced among sedans

    Motor Image Philipinas (MIP), the authorized distributor of Subaru in the country, has positioned its brand new crossover SUV, the Subaru XV, well within the sedan segment’s price range. This move, according to MIP, was made to give the public an opportunity to experience the brand’s unique automotive technologies by lowering its price. Buyers of […] The post Subaru XV now priced among sedans appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options