A mock-up of the modern plesiosaur skeleton Blacktip Island hikers claim to have found on the ironshore on the island’s east coast. (image courtesy of Adrian Pingstone)
A pair of Blacktip Island residents exploring the small Caribbean island’s rugged interior Thursday discovered what they claim is a modern, non-fossilized skeleton of a plesiosaur, a finned, long-necked marine reptile thought extinct since the Mesozoic Era 66 million years ago.
“We were picking our way across the ironshore, looking for whelks when we saw it,” Alison Diesel said. “At first we thought it was just some manky old bones. We wondered how they got there, then we saw the shape they made. It was one of those swimming dinosaurs. A big one.
“The bones were way fresh, too,” Diesel said. “Only thing makes sense is these mofos are still alive, and all the high waves last week washed one up on shore. It’s freaky to think they’re still alive in the ocean.”
Old-time locals say the ideal of modern-day plesiosaurs isn’t as far-fetched as it seems.
“Always been talk about them being out there, way deep down the wall, like coelacanths,” marine mysteries afficionado Anthonio Fletcher said. “Time to time, divers say they seen long-necked somethings, but it’s usually folks that’d been down well past 100 feet, so it’s more likely it was too much nitrogen they saw.
“These bones, though, this is proof,” Fletcher said. “No denying ‘em, or that they’re shaped like a plesiosaur. We got crocodiles and caimans—why not plesiosaurs? The science folks can weigh in, but facts are facts.”
The island’s scientific community scoffed at the claims.
“There is no way there’s modern-day plesiosaur remains on Blacktip. Or anywhere else,” Tiperon University-Blacktip marine biology chairperson Ernesto Mojarra said. “It’s a hoax. And an obvious one. We’re just waiting for experts to confirm that.
“I mean, look at the photos,” Mojarra said. “It’s a random collection of ham bones, iguana claws, cut-up scuba fins and fish spines. The shoulder joint is a couple of t-bones from steaks. And why’s it always Alison and Lee finding these things?”
Lee Helm bristled at Mojarra’s accusation.
“We absolutely did not build a dinosaur skeleton out of bones scrounged from the dump,” he said. “Why would we do that? I mean, it’s a gas to see everyone get riled up, but why would we do that?
“We’re just acute observers. We don’t find stuff, we notice it,” he added. “Every time there’s some scientific breakthrough, we get accused of faking things. The mersquatch, the kraken, Atlantis ruins, you name it. We deserve medals. It’s not fair.”
The island’s Chamber of Commerce is not waiting for official confirmation to roll out a plesiosaur-related promotional campaign.
“We got a plesiosaur adventure package going live this week. We got to lure tourists back after the border being closed for nearly a year and a half,” mayor Jack Cobia said. “For an all-in price, guests’ll get to see the skeleton, then explore the interior looking for more. The next day they go on a series of plesiosaur dives to see if they can spot one in the wild.
“We have our top dinosaur expert in charge of things,” Cobia said. “Truth be told, it’s Gage Hoase from Eagle Ray Cove, but he’s dinosaur savvy. Has been since 1st grade. You don’t believe it, just ask him. We had plans for an in-depth, interactive plesiosaur workshop, but we we need time to work that up. Plus, we really don’t want paying guests asking too many questions. That’s why the package comes with unlimited alcohol.”