Mysterious 'Sea Monster' Carcass Washes Ashore in Spain: Shark or Oarfish?

First Posted: Aug 23, 2013 09:28 AM EDT

Sea monster, dragon, Loch Ness monster or something else: a sea creature has made landfall in Spain. The 13-foot-long corpse has baffled beach goers, making them wonder exactly what the "monster" might have been before it met its demise.

Although the creature may look like something out of the pages of a science fiction novel, though, it's probably something far less exotic. There is a history of "monsters" washing ashore on beaches. For example, in May a mysterious carcass washed ashore on a beach in New Zealand. With sharp teeth and a blubbery body, it captured the imaginations of the public--though it was probably only the remains of a killer whale. Similarly, in 1986 a corpse washed ashore in Florida. The six-foot-high blob was eventually found out to be a giant octopus, but not before imaginations ran wild.

There are some strange creatures in the oceans, and they look stranger still when they begin to decompose. When an aquatic animal dies, its body becomes food for the myriad of other creatures in the sea. The carcass is eaten and ripped apart, bones falling away until it's almost unrecognizable when it finally reaches the beach.

"It's hard to know what we're dealing with," said PROMAR spokesman Paco Toledano in an interview with Inexplicata. "It's very decomposed and we cannot identify what it is."

There are some theories as to what the "dragon" might once have been during its lifetime, though. At first, some experts believed that the remains might have belonged to an oarfish, according to These massive fish can grow up to 56 feet in length and have been mistaken for sea serpents in the past. Yet that theory was soon proven to be incorrect.

"That is definitely a shark skeleton," said Dean Grubbs, an ichthyologist at Florida State University, in an interview with "The elements toward the back were confusing me, but those are the lower caudal fin supports. The 'horns' are the scapulocoracois which support the pectoral fins."

Researchers and officials will have to examine the carcass a bit more closely before they find out what species of shark this could have been. Yet it does show that, contrary to speculation, the latest "sea monster" isn't anything but ordinary.

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