Biologist scuttles claim of Ogopogo skull found in Mexico
By Brian Jonson
News Staff Reporter
Sep 10 2006
A Penticton man thinks pictures he took of a giant skull in a small-town museum in Mexico may solve a small part of the mystery surrounding Ogopogo.
Warren Linklater retired in 1970 and toured North America with his wife Lorna in a motorhome they called the Happy Bus.
During a trip around the Gulf of Mexico in 1970, the couple was planning to cross a river near Veracruz when they discovered the ferry they hoped to take had sunk in the middle of the river.
This forced the couple to divert to the small town of Tecohitla, about 240 kilometres north of Veracruz. The tiny fishing village had a museum, which contained one very interesting item.
"It had a head of a thing that they didn't know what it was," said Linklater. People at the museum told Linklater that the two-metre high skull had been cut off a 12-metre long body with a chain saw. The body was allowed to drift out to sea.
Linklater said he believes the skull, with eye sockets about half a metre in diameter and a big snout, may have been from an animal that is somehow related to the creature known locally as the Ogopogo.
Ellen Pedersen, chair of biology department at Okanagan College, said the more likely explanation is that the skull is that of a whale, possibly a humpback whale.
Pedersen, who has a master's degree in marine biology from Dalhousie University pointed to the condyle - a large bony bump on the back of the skull - as typical of mammalian skulls. The long snout is also similar to that found in whales.
The lack of any obvious nostril along the front of the skull argue against it being reptilian, she said. While the 12-metre length reported for the body would be on the large side for a whale, it isn't unheard of.
But beyond that - taking into account a fuzzy picture and the fact that large pieces of the skull such as the lower jaw and brain casing are missing, it's difficult to do more than make a guess.
"It's hard to even tell with this what you're looking at," Pedersen said. "But it's not a fossil and there aren't really any other things (besides a whale) that are that big."