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Uploaded:2015-07-27
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Sometimes, big hunks of strange-looking flesh wash up onshore and then people think that they’re dinosaurs or giant octopi or previously undiscovered species. Turns out the ocean can do nasty things to dead things...making them just awful to look at.

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Sources:
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-globster.htm
http://mentalfloss.com/article/17875/famous-globsters
http://www.livescience.com/45780-globsters.html
(SciShow Intro plays)

Hank: In 1960, a mass of flesh weighing between five and ten tons washed up on the shores of Tasmania.  It had no bones, but it did have several fleshy protuberances and weird white hairy bristles covering its entire body.  Now, it was definitely some kind of dead thing, but it appeared so peculiar that many speculated it was, in addition to being a new kind of animal, a whole new branch of the evolutionary tree.  

It turned out it was a piece of a whale, though it did look and one assumes, smell, really weird, leaving space for speculation then and now as to its true identity.  And again, its true identity is that of a whale.  But this weird Tasmanian imposter did contribute something to the world besides unnecessary controversy--a journalist named Ivan T. Sanderson coined the term 'globster', to refer to any of the many blobs of dead organisms that continually wash up on the world's beaches that are not immediately identifiable through visual inspection.  

And globsters happen all of the time and have been happening forever.  Globsters are likely responsible for many of our myths about sea monsters, and while a number of bizarre and wonderful giant beasts did turn out to be real, at this point, we got a pretty good grip on the evolutionary tree of the large animals of the sea.  
The thing about globsters is that the ocean can do crazy things to a dead animal.  Before modern DNA analysis, it was indeed difficult to figure out if a massive organic tissue was a colossal squid or a hunk of sperm whale blubber.  Adding to confusion, some parts of an animal break down faster than others.  If you've ever eaten a hunk of beef, you know that the connective tissues are less appetizing animal parts.  Since connective tissue is made of long strong proteins bound together in sheets, it's harder to consume than active tissue, like muscle or storage tissue like fats.  The result is that a dolphin's tail can break down into parts, leaving just the long strings of connective tissue, making it look like some weird hairy thing.  

Other times, globsters are just pieces of animals making identification difficult.  Like a mass of flesh with no head might seem like some bizarre new headless species if you're thinking that's the whole thing, but it would be more likely that it's just the back end and the head is in some shark somewhere.  But cryptozoology, the science of studying animals that probably don't exist, is not super concerned with the explanations that are most likely, they're more concerned with the coolest potential things that could be happening that probably aren't.  Yes, it is much more exciting to speculate that we may have found some new hairy, headless ocean monkey or surviving plesiosaur.  

Thankfully, these days, we have natural history museums full of DNA samples of various organisms and DNA matching techniques that are getting cheaper and more ubiquitous.  So these days, there's generally only about a week between the first headline that says, "This bizarre thing washed up on the beach and nobody knows what it was" and the inevitable follow-up article, which is entitled ,"That thing that we got really excited about was just a mostly decayed hunk of dead dolphin."  

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