Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Dagon Predecessor?

Here are some eerie notes and a few old photos of a "sea monster" that washed ashore in Saint Augustine in November of 1896. The images show not much more than mishapen lumps. There is absolutely no evidence HPL saw these pictures. Still ... could some report or other like this have given him the chills and evolved the dreams of krakens from the deep?

Two boys cycling along the beach south of St. Augustine, Florida, came across the body of an enormous creature that had been washed up by the tide. Dr. DeWitt Webb, a local amateur naturalist and President of the St. Augustine Historical Society, took an interest in the remains. After an examination of the mutilated and decaying body he believed that he'd discovered the carcass of a huge octopus.

The portion of the creature that remained, the body minus the arms, was eighteen feet in length and ten feet wide. Parts of arms, unattached to the body, stretched as long as 36 feet with a diameter of 10 inches. Dr. Webb estimated weight at four or five tons.

Realizing this was an important find Webb wrote to Yale Professor Addison Verrill, a leading expert on cephalopods, about the creature: "You may be interested to know of the body of an immense Octopus thrown ashore some miles south of this city. Nothing but the stump of the arm remains, as it had evidently been dead for some time before washed ashore."

Based on photographs sent by Webb, Verrill concluded that the creature was indeed a colossal octopus that might have had a diameter of one-hundred and fifty feet when living. Strangely enough, despite the importance of the find, Dr. Verrill, nor any other scientist, traveled to St. Augustine to view the carcass in person.

Over the years the remains ahve been examined and tested and even DNA tested. The last note about 1993 indicated that the remains might indeed have been a cephalopod of some sort.

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