Friday, March 30, 2007

a giant cephalopod in iceland, 1639

A paper by Prof. Japetus Steenstrup from 1849 quotes reports from the Icelandic naturalist Eg. Olafsen on a giant cephalopod that drifted onto the shore of Iceland in 1639. It was reported that on Thingoresand in Hunevandsyssel, "a peculiar creature or sea monster was stranded with length and thickness like those of a man; it had 7 tails... These tails were densely covered with a kind of button, and the buttons looked as if there was an eye ball in each button, and round the eye ball was an eyelid, these eyelids looked as if they were guilded. On this sea monster there was in addition a single tail which had grown about above those 7 tails; it was extremely long, 4-5 fms [7.50-9.40 m]."

Eg. Olafsen also had a drawing of the creature. Sadly, according to Steenstrup, "This drawing, however, no longer exists, since together with the majority of Eg. Olafsen's books it feel a prey to the waves when he lost his life on his way home from the place where he had celebrated his marriage, an irreparable loss to Iceland..."

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