Plesiosaurus in a Lake, 1922
Here’s a striking little article in the Children’s Newspaper from May 1922. This is it in its entirety:
“Eleven dynamite cartridges were exploded in the South American lake where the plesiosaurus was said to have been seen. It did not appear.”
Well, you can’t blame it, but there’s obviously a back story that was so well known at the time that further elaboration was unnecessary. I looked it up as I hadn’t heard of Nahuelito, the South American version of Nessie before. A supposed sighting of a lake monster in Nahuel Huapi Lake in Patagonia, Argentina was hot news in 1922. There’s some “photographic evidence” such as the picture below (taken later than 1922) – and they look pretty much the same as the ones of Nessie. But Nahuelito remains unfound just the same.
This was a big time for monsters of lake and sea, apparently. In another article a year later, a Mr Mitchell-Hedges “described his extraordinary battles with the giant fish of the ocean,” and “began by stating his belief that in the depths of the Pacific terrible monsters, survivors of the Mesozoic age, still exist.”
A bit of investigation about Mr Mitchell-Hedges reveals him to have been the owner of the strange crystal skull which featured on the cover on one of my favourite childhood books, Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World. He led quite the Boys Own-style life – his job description was pretty much just “adventurer”. Some say he was the inspiration for the character of Indiana Jones, too, although not George Lucas or Steven Spielberg, to be fair, who you would expect to know such things. I’ve been tracking him in The British Newspaper Archive, and it’s quite a wild ride. But that’s another adventure for another post….