The mystery of the horned sea monster that washed ashore in Spain and caused widespread speculation as to its identity has been solved, and it isn’t what you might have thought. Oarfish was a popular guess among those trying to figure out the identity of the strange sea creature that washed ashore at Luis Siret Beach in Villaricos, Spain, last week.
But as it turns out, the largely decomposed, 13-foot carcass was determined to be that of a shark, three leading shark experts concluded.
“That is definitely a shark skeleton,” Florida State University ichthyologist Dean Grubbs told NBC News. “The elements toward the back were confusing me, but those are the lower caudal fin supports. The ‘horns’ are the scapulocoracoids, which support the pectoral fins.” More Pix after cut
Grubbs is an expert on the biology of fish species, particularly sharks.
David Shiffman, a marine biologist studying shark conservation in Miami, thought it could be an oarfish.
“It’s hard to tell, but the official guess that it could be a thresher shark seems plausible,” Shiffman told NBC News.
What was Shiffman’s best guess?
“I freely defer to Dean Grubb’s expertise in any question related to fish morphology,” Shiffman told GrindTV Outdoor, lending more credibility to Grubbs and his claim.
Dr. Chris Lowe of the Cal State Long Beach Sharklab concurs with Grubbs’ assessment, telling GrindTV Outdoor in an email, “I tend to agree with Dean on this one. The lower elements do look like elasmobranch [shark] vertebrae. Probably some type of shark.”
What species of shark, Lowe would not speculate.
George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, agreed with Grubbs, too, telling GrindTV Outdoor in an email, “It’s a shark skeleton, species unknown without better study.”
When photos of the odd-looking creature first surfaced, many humorously suggested it was a link to the Loch Ness Monster, or it was a sea dragon, water dinosaur, or some sort of mutant fish.
It was a shark. End of story.