Published Friday, 24 May 2013
Andrew Sides confessed to me off-camera that this would be the biggest fear of the Loughs Agency boffins as well.
A Pliosaur had a mouth the size of our living-room and a bite four times more powerful than Tyrannosaurus Rex. Ten grown men were able to stand up straight in the fossilised skull of one of these creatures which was recently found off the coast of Norway.
Thankfully the Pliosaur seems to have been confined to a watery environment as its huge paddle-like flippers would have made for cumbersome progress on land.
No, my money is on your common or garden Plesiosaur. With its long neck, fairly bulky body, long tail and comparatively small head, this is the marine reptile most people think of when they call the Loch Ness monster to mind. At least that's how many people who claim to have seen the Loch Ness monster describe it.
It's hard to square this description, though, with that of the "serpent-like" creature that St Colmcille reportedly banished into the loch. I suppose, given the passage of time and the general unreliability of second-hand accounts of the confrontation between saint and monster, we have to regard these descriptions as, quite frankly, highly suspect.
The reason that I think it's a Plesiosaur (though Andrew is more guarded) is that they were considerably smaller than the Pliosaurs and their diet consisted mostly of fish, though they were also partial to shellfish, as you heard, when they were in season.
The reason I'm pretty sure it's not a Pliosaur (though Andrew won't be drawn) is that they were up to 50 feet in length - that's a lot of reptile to hide, even in the vastness of Lough Foyle. As well as that the diet of the Pliosaur consisted mainly of - Plesiosaurs!
So if a Pliosaur had survived in the Foyle he would have run out of edible Plesiosaurs long before now and died of starvation.
Q.E.D. it has to be a Plesiosaur! Makes sense to me anyway, though Andrew is still unwilling to commit himself.
Never play poker with him!
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