Encyclopaedia of Cryptozoology
Marine saurian

Harry Trumbore's concept of the mystery saurian.

Visualisation of the Champagne system's saurian sea serpent by Cameron McCormick.

System Heuvelmans system (1965), Coleman-Huyghe system (2003), Champagne system (2007), and Marshall system (2018)
Proposed scientific names
Other names Saurian sea serpent, taniwha, whale eater
Sightings range Tropical and subtropical waters worldwide
Proposed identification Thalattosuchian (Heuvelmans, 1965), mosasaur (Heuvelmans, 1965; Drinnon), pliosaur (Shuker, 1995), zeuglodon, protocetid (Woodley, 2008), or crocodilian (Marshall, 2018)

The marine saurian (French: saurien océanique) is a Heuvelmans type of sea serpent, usually compared to a crocodile or alligator, but generally larger and reported from open ocean, far from the range of the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus).[1] It is equivalent to the mystery saurian in the Coleman-Huyghe system,[2] the saurian sea serpent in the Champagne system,[3] and the giant marine crocodylomorph in the Marshall system.[4] Sea serpents classified as marine saurians have been reported from tropical and subtropical waters worldwide,[5] with a number of notable 20th and 21st Century sightings off New Zealand.[6][7]

Bernard Heuvelmans classified only nine sea serpent reports as marine saurians, of which he considered four certain and five probable. Heuvelmans believed the marine saurian was most likely a surviving thalattosuchian, a group of marine crocodilians from the Jurassic and Cretaceous, or possibly a surviving mosasaur. Because he was not certain of how to classify the marine saurian, he did not give it a scientific name.[1] Other cryptozoologists like Richard Freeman feel that oversized and out-of-place saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) are a more likely identity, while Karl Shuker writes that a specific identity is impossible to ascertain based on the eyewitness reports.[6] Michael Woodley argues that it is not a reptile at all, but either one or two cetaceans, specifically Basilosaurus and Rodhocetus.[8]

Dale A. Drinnon splits marine saurians into several lesser categories, including a horned crocodile, an alligator-like sea crocodilian, and one or more types of mosasaur.[9] A large marine saurian is also one candidate for the Biblical leviathan,[6] and the Chinese lung,[10] and freshwater versions of the same animals have been suggested as identities for some lake monsters.[11][10]

Sea serpents classified as possible marine saurians[]


Freshwater subtype[]

The Coleman-Huyghe system recognises a freshwater subtype of the mystery saurian (hence the name change), which applies to various lake monsters including certain Loch Ness monster sightings,[2] and other cryptozoologists have described some lake monsters as similar to marine saurians. While Mark A. Hall has theorised that such reports could be explained by "a surviving prehistoric giant crocodilian," and another suggested identity is the Eocene Champsosaurus, Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe's preferred explanation is escaped and overgrown pet crocodiles.[2]


Although the saltwater crocodile, the only known modern marine crocodilian, lives only in the waters around East India, Southeast Asia, and North Oceania, some cryptozoologists such as Richard Freeman, and to a lesser extent Karl Shuker,[6] argue that sightings of marine saurians could be explained by oversized saltwater crocodiles which have strayed from their normal range. This theory has been criticised by Darren Naish,[2] and by others due to the marine saurian's webbed or flippered limbs and greater size.[6] Michael Woodley, while not voiding the type, observes the offhanded manner in which Heuvelmans treated the marine saurian.[8]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Heuvelmans, Bernard (1968) In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents, Hart-Davis, ISBN 9780246643124
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Coleman, Loren & Huyghe, Patrick (2003) The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep, TarcherPerigree, ISBN 978-1585422524
  3. Champagne, Bruce A. "A Classification System for Large, Unidentified Marine Animals Based on the Examination of Reported Observations," Elementum Bestia: Being an Examination of Unknown Animals of the Air, Earth, Fire and Water (2007), Lulu Press, ASIN B001DSIB2W
  4. Marshall, Carl "21st Century Sea Serpents," Animals & Men, No. 64–65 (June 2018)
  5. Eberhart, George M. (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, ABC-CLIO, Inc., ISBN 1576072835
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Shuker, Karl P. N. (2016) Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors: The Creatures That Time Forgot?, Coachwhip Publications, ISBN 978-1616463908
  7. Shuker, Karl P. N. (2013) Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History, Anomalist Books, ISBN 978-1-938398-05-6
  8. 8.0 8.1 Woodley, Michael (2008) In the Wake of Bernard Heuvelmans: An Introduction to the History and Future of Sea Serpent Classification, CFZ Press, ISBN 978-1905723201
  9. Drinnon, Dale A. "Revised Checklist of Cryptozoological Creatures," CFZ Yearbook (2010)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Xu, David C. (2018) Mystery Creatures of China: The Complete Cryptozoological Guide, Coachwhip Publications, ISBN 978-1616464301
  11. Freeman, Richard (2005) Dragons: More than a Myth?, CFZ Press, ISBN 978-0951287293