Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Altamaha-ha

"Altie," as it's sometimes called, is a cryptid from southeastern Georgia.  First described in Native American legend, the beast has been reported for centuries -- mostly from streams near the Altamaha River.  In many ways, Altie resembles a typical lake monster.  It has a long neck, a gray hide, and a size of some 20 feet.  But this cryptid also has some less common features -- including a long, crocodilian and a dolphinlike swimming motion.  This final trait is rather striking.  All fish and reptiles propel themselves with side-to-side movements of their tails; only mammals move their flukes up and down in the water.

Is the Altamaha-ha a mammal?  And if so, what kind?  No seals and dolphins can be found in inland North America; neither of these seems a good possibility.  Perhaps this beast is a manatee -- which does, in fact, have a gray hide, and which swims in the reported manner.  Manatees can live in fresh water, unlike most other aquatic mammals, and they are present in the nearby state of Florida.

Of course, there are multiple problems with the manatee theory.  For one, Manatees are far smaller than the Altamaha-ha.  For another, they are slow and stout -- unlike this long, lithe cryptid.  Furthermore, their heads are the furthest thing from crocodilian, and they are hard to mistake for any other animal.  A more likely idea is that the Altamaha-ha is some sort of giant eel or gar.  Neither of these fish swims in a mammalian manner, but otherwise they seem to be good candidates.  Both are serpentlike and slender, both can live in fresh water, both grow to a large size and both have reptilian-looking faces.

The alligator gar is a particularly likely prospect.  These prehistoric-looking fish can grow to ten feet, and are named for their reptilian appearance.  They live in Georgia's lakes, and are thin enough to appear snakelike.  Admittedly, they swim like any other fish -- and they don't match Altie's reported length.  But if the monster is a known species, it's probably this one.  If not, who knows what it might be?  A large inland dolphin?  Cetaceans do have alligator-like teeth.  A monster eel?  They're capable of undulating in many different directions.  There's only one way to find out -- obtaining more evidence and solving the mystery.

Read more about the Altamaha-ha:
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