Posted by . on June 23, 2004 at 13:13:29:
PARIS (AFP) - One of the myths of the sea has been skewered by gene researchers, who say that huge "blobs" of weird tissue that have washed up on shorelines and sparked tales of sea monsters are in fact the remains of whales.
A 13-tonne lump of boneless tissue that came ashore at Los Muermos, Chile, in July last year ignited speculation that it could be the body of a new species of deep-sea giant octopus.
Alas, tests of fragments of its DNA prove that the tissue came from a sperm whale, say University of Southern Florida biologists.
The team also checked preserved samples from other blobs.
They found that the "Giant Octopus of St. Augustine" from 1896, the "Tasmanian West Coast Monster" of 1960, as well as three blobs that were found in Bermuda and Nantucket in the 1990s were all washed-up whale remains.
The research is reported in next Saturday's issue of the weekly British magazine New Scientist.
It is carried in full in a specialist journal, The Biological Bulletin.
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