The legendary Loch Ness Monster has a little known 10ft long rival which reportedly boasted the 'head of a cobra'.
Dock workers on the banks of the River Wear in Hartlepool, County Durham were stunned to discover what has become known as the Lambton Worm.
Tales of freakish sightings in the area have been shared ever since a mysterious creature was hauled ashore on Saturday October 4, 1879, Hartlepool Mail reports.
Researcher Graeme Harper dug up the original local newspaper report on the beast which has hardly been bestowed the same notoriety of Nessie.
The Northern Daily Mail of Saturday reported on the same day: "A curious and extraordinary marine creature was caught in the Jackson Dock, West Hartlepool at seven ‘o clock this morning.
"This singular creature has the head of a cobra and is in every respect like those huge serpents to be seen in myrological collections and like that strange sea monster which captains ever and anon report that they have met with at sea.”
Journalists at the newspaper wanted a closer look at the animal so it was taken to the Mail’s office for further inspection.
An article headlined “Capture of a Sea Serpent at West Hartlepool” described it as being “10 and a half feet in length, with a dark brown slimy body".
The article continued: “The head which is somewhat elongated and flattened is of a lighter colour than the rest of the body and occasionally the serpent rears its head an inch or two from amid the coils formed by its body…this singular marine creature is of considerable value as a specimen of animal life hitherto unknown in the Hartlepools.”
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Mr Bland, the local superintendent of the North East Railway Company took the beast for safekeeping but why was not documented.
Given the bizarreness of the beast, reporters only wrote about it once more the following Monday in a small paragraph jokingly announcing the creature’s death.
The paper published: “The Hartlepool sea serpent has received its quietus. The disrespectable reptile actually died while under the influence of liquor – we mean spirits of wine.”
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Theories as to what the Lambton Worm was have ranged from a giant eel to an oarfish but fishermen are likely to have been familiar with both.
An even earlier record of a sea serpent capture was reported in 1849 when fishermen in nearby Cullercoats brought to shore a large mystery creature after a prolonged struggle, Mr Harper says.
According to The Zoologist magazine of April that year, the animal was “visited by the gentry and scientific men of Newcastle and all declared that nothing hitherto discovered in natural history affords any resemblance to this”.
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