Scientists hunt water monster

The Advertiser, 1995, March 20, p. 18

(Reprinted in Investigator 50, September 1996, courtesy of The Advertiser)


A scientific expedition next month will try to find a water monster in a remote area of China.

Scientists believe the water monster could be related to the Loch Ness monster.

The giant vapor-breathing creature is reported to live at the bottom of a gorge in a remote mountain area in central China's Hubei province.

So far the water monster has only revealed itself to frightened peasant fishermen who’ve nicknamed the creature Chan or toad because of its toad-like appearance.

Local authorities from a township near Shennongjia National Forest where the water monster has been seen swear it exists.

According to the sightings, Chan is not as pretty as cousin Nessie in Scotland. Chan looks like a giant toad, has red hair across its shoulders, a flat head and protruding eyes as big, as lanterns.

It also has a metre-wide mouth that breathes long plumes of white vapor, fat human-shaped hands with long fingernails and webbed feet as big as a bathtub.

The first recorded sighting of Chan came in 1962 from peasants who were fishing in the gorge by throwing explosives into the deep dark water.

Aroused by the noise, Chan allegedly emerged and chased the frightened fishermen.

A spate of subsequent sightings over the last three decades attracted the interest of Professor Lui Minzhuang from the Shanghai East China University, who went to Shennongjia nine times, staying for a total of three years, to study the water monster.

Profesor Lui never saw Chan but strongly believes in his existence and published a book on his findings, which revealed there had been sightings of a water dragon in the area from the third century AD.

"If the giant salamander still exists in this area, why not a water monster?" he said.

Professor Lui found references to a "vapor-breathing water dragon" in the same area in a book published in the Jin dynasty (from 265 to 420AD) and in 17th century chronicles from the court of Emperor Xianfen.

Professor Lui believes Chan is a relic from the Palaeolithic era when Shennongjia was submerged, and could be related to the Loch Ness monster.

"Shennongjia is one of the most mysterious areas in China so it is not unusual that it would be home to monsters," he said.

"It is undoubtedly logical that nowadays we can still find such creatures in remote areas. But without proper funding and profound scientific research it will take a long time to discover the truth."

Early next month a team from the Chinese Academy of Science is conducting a two-month expedition to Shennongjia to investigate the existence of "rare and strange creatures".

Scientists consider Shennongjia a Garden of Eden because its heavily forested mountain terrain and deep gorges have kept humans at bay and natural inhabitants captive for thousands of years.

Professor Yuan Zhenxin, who will head the trek to Shennongjia, said the main purpose of the expedition was to find the yeti or big foot which also has been sighted in the remote forest regions.

Unlike the shy Chan, the yeti has left behind evidence of its existence including hair, footprints and droppings which tests have shown come from no known animal. – AAP

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