40 Foot Crocodile Was Real; Moby Dick Was Real; Tom Horn Was Real

Sereno Compares Dogcroc with Supercroc

Alligators and Crocodiles strike fear in people.  Can you imagine a 40 foot “SuperCroc?”    The Supercroc still holds the title as the largest known crocodile to roam the earth but who knows if there was a bigger one?   After all, University of Chicago palaeontologist Paul Sereno announced the discovery of the fossil remains of 5 “new” species of crocodile that measure anywhere from 3 feet to 20 feet.  Today, crocodiles can reach as large as 20 feet but that still is but half of the size of the supercroc.  Some of these species are thought to have been able to eat other dinosaurs.    Another example of how mankind does not know everything and has a lot to learn and discover.  Remember that next time you hear of some scientific report that says something is “settled science” or there is a “consensus.”  That does not make it true.  One thing that is true is that at 9pm on Saturday November 21 the National Geographic Channel will be airing When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs as part of their Expedition Week.

On This Date in History: In 1820, the US whaling ship Essex got attacked by an 80 ton sperm whale 2000 miles west of South America. The 238 ton vessel sunk and all died except for 5 men who survived in an open boats for 83 days before rescue….thing is….originally there were 20 survivors….as the 15 died off from exposure and such, the remaining men had a little meal at their comrades expense, if you know what I mean. Not sure that if someone died, someone rang the dinner bell.

A White Humpback Whale

Anyway, this story inspired the tale written by Herman Melville called Moby Dick. Melville’s work was written in 1851 but Hermie didn’t do too well at the book stores. After some early success as a writer, he died in 1891 relatively unknown and not very wealthy. It wasn’t until the 20th century that Melville’s genius and talent came to be known. Nowadays, many academics consider Moby Dick to be one of America’s greatest novels. Melville lived near Nathaniel Hawthorne and dedicated his whale tale to his friend and famous writer. But the book only sold 3000 copies.

Dano In The Right Stuff

The photo above is of course from the famous 1956 movie with Gregory Peck starring as Captain Ahab. It also has Richard Basehart and a cameo by Orson Welles as Father Maple. Another guy who shows up is Royal Dano who plays “Elijah” who was a drifter kinda guy who is pretty scary and prophesies to Basehart the the ship would be doomed by a great white whale. Later, Dano in the early 1980’s is the preacher in The Right Stuff who seems to represent death as he shows up at all of the funerals, test flights and space shots. One other interesting aspect of the movie: the screen play was written by Ray Bradbury and John Huston. Huston also directed.

Greenpeace in Battle

On a related note…on this day at this very moment, a small fleet of ships in a Japanese whaling expedition is on its way to the Arctic regions to hunt whales. They want to get 90 sperm whales among other specimens. I say specimens because whaling is banned world wide under an international treaty. But they can be hunted for research. The official mission of the fleet is for research. Yet, when they left port they left to great fanfare and people of small villages in northern Japan claiming they need to whaling so that they may carry on their thousands of years old culture. Greenpeace isn’t buying the scientific aspect and will attempt to thwart the harpooning of the great mammals. Perhaps Moby Dick will resurface and get a bit of revenge.

Tom Horn

Tom Horn

On This Date in History: Tom Horn had worked as a US Army scout, deputy sherrif, and Pinkerton

Horn Looks A Little Heavier and Younger Here

Horn Looks A Little Heavier and Younger Here

Detective in the 19th Century. When General Nelson Miles had need of a “super-scout” to help track down Geronimo, he called on Tom Horn. It has been suggested that Horn even arranged for Geronimo’s surrender. Horn was no shrinking violet. While working for the Pinkerton Agency, he reported killed 17 men. His reputation was such that on one occasion he reportedly simply walked up to an accused robber and killer and announced that he had come for him. The man quietly surrendered rather than face Tom Horn. But, the detective business wasn’t exciting enough and Horn quit, saying, “It was too tame for me.”

In 1894 he was hired by the cattleman’s association in Wyoming to supposedly combat cattle rustlers but in reality was used as an enforcer against small ranchers and homesteaders who got in the way of the cattle barons. In effect, he was the law for the big shots and served as judge, jury and executioner receiving $300 to $600 for each man he took down. See, Horn didn’t see himself as murderer but instead believed that when men in authority, or even the law, hired him, he would be protected. It usually worked out that way. Horn said, “Killing is my specialty. I look at it as a business proposition and I think I have a corner on the market.” He usually lay in wait for his victim and then made his mark by placing a rock under the victim’s head.

Horn Making The Rope For His Own Gallows

Horn Making The Rope For His Own Gallows

But, the law caught up with Horn who was arrested in 1902 for the killing of a 14-year-old son of a settler the year before. In Cheyenne, the cattle barons paid for his defense and a sensational trial ensued with everyone thinking that he would be found not guilty. That was not to be the case. The prosecution had a legal reporter along with federal officer Joe LeFors and a deputy sheriff got a drunken Horn to supposedly confess to the killing. The “confession” was allowed in court and heard by a jury that was stacked with opponents of the cattlemen. Horn was convicted and on this date in 1903, Tom Horn went to the gallows after making the rope that was used in the hanging.

Steve McQueen’s 2nd to last movie was a biopic called Tom Horn with

McQueen Was a Great Tom Horn

McQueen Was a Great Tom Horn

Linda Evans, Slim Pickens and Richard Farnsworth. I guess the moral to the story is that no one is above the law and even if you get convicted of something you didn’t do, perhaps it is a justice of nature for all of the things that you did do but for which you were never caught. You may think that this held true for a certain Heismann Trophy, NFL Hall of Famer who is now in prison in Nevada.

A long bio of Horn. A shorter bio of Horn.

Weather Bottom Line:  Weekend looks great, but seasonably cool.


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