Aug 01, 2018 I Nick Redfern

Monsters of the Very Weird Kind

For Loch Ness Monster chaser Ted Holiday, the plesiosaur, giant eel, and massive salamander theories were flawed and lacking in substance. He came to the somewhat unusual, and certainly unique, scenario that the Nessies were gigantic versions of everyday slugs. The biggest problem with Holiday’s theory was that it was beset by issues that made it most unlikely to have merit. For example, the specific kind of invertebrate that Holiday had in mind - Tullimonstrum - only grew to lengths of around lengths of fourteen inches. On top of that, it lived solely in the muddy landscapes of Pennsylvania, USA. None of these seemingly important points appeared to bother Holiday in the slightest, who continued to pursue his theory with a great deal of enthusiasm.

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Artist depiction of Tullimonstrum

Such was the level of gusto that Holiday mustered, by 1968 he had written an entire book on the subject of his pet-theory. Its title: The Great Orm of Loch Ness (“orm” being a centuries-old term meaning “worm”). There’s no doubt that Holiday made a brave case for the theory that the Nessies were gigantic invertebrates. The problem was that his book was entirely based on supposition and speculation. Nevertheless, he did make the valid point that whatever the Nessies might be, they were almost certainly responsible for the many and varied legends of dragons seen roaming the United Kingdom hundreds of years earlier. In that sense, Holiday believed the orms of Loch Ness were merely one colony of a creature that was far more widespread in times long gone. On that issue, he was almost certainly correct. Indeed, Loch Ness is far from being alone when it comes to the matter of monsters in the United Kingdom. The age-old sagas of the Linton Worm and the Wyvern of North Wales’ Llyn Cynwch Lake being famous, classic examples.

Holiday’s book became a big talking point among the Nessie-seeking community. Specifically because he was positing such an unconventional scenario and, essentially, giving the middle-finger to the champions of the plesiosaur, giant eel, and salamander scenarios. It was right around the time that his book was published, however, that Ted Holiday found his world turned upside down and filled to the brim with weirdness. Which was rather ironic, given just how much time and effort had gone into the writing and production of his book. And that weirdness only increased exponentially, and to where filled to the brim was replaced by absolutely overflowing.

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Tullimonstrum gregarium fossil

Even though Ted Holiday sincerely believed that the Tullimonstrum gregarium theory had merit, he wasn’t able to shake off that deep, foreboding feeling that there was something more to the Loch Ness Monsters, something which – rather paradoxically – implied they were flesh and blood animals, but ones with supernatural qualities. It was a feeling that would, ultimately, become a full-blown, unhealthy obsession, and one that pretty much dictated the rest of his short life and research.

By the time The Great Orm of Loch Ness was published, Holiday had not only been to the lair of the Nessies on numerous occasions, he had also had the opportunity to speak to many witnesses to the beast. In doing so, he noticed a most curious, and even unsettling, pattern. There were far more than a random number of reports on record where eyewitnesses to the creatures had tried to photograph them, only to fail miserably. As time progressed, it became abundantly obvious to Holiday that this was not down to chance. When an excited soul on the shore went to grab their camera, the beast would sink beneath the waves. When someone even just thought about taking a picture, the monster would vanish below. On other occasions, cameras would malfunction. Pictures would come out blank or fogged. It was as if the Nessies were dictating, and manipulating, the situations in which the witnesses found themselves. That is exactly what Holiday came to believe was going on.

By 1969, his life was dominated by weird synchronicities – meaningful coincidences, in simple terms – something which led Holiday to question both his sanity and even the very nature of reality itself. What had begun as an exciting hunt for an unknown animal was now rapidly mutating into something very different. Something dangerous and supernatural. Ted Holiday died young in 1979.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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