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IAmZamzam
03-20-2013, 05:24 AM
Look what I found.

In the sixteenth century, French naturalist Guillaume Rondelet, who according to “Great White Shark”, may have produced the earliest illustration of the white shark, is also the first scientist to suggest the great white as the likely swallower in the story of Jonah. Rondelet also reported finding a fully clad intact sailor in the stomach of a great white. In the “Systema Naturae of 1758”, written by the Swedish naturalist and physician Carolus Linnaeus, the animal classification text mentions that the white shark was an enormous fish and probably the variety that swallowed Jonah. Bishop Eric Pontoppidan of Norway, a prolific writer of seagoing fiction and nonfiction, in 1765 wrote a detailed paper that proved, to his satisfaction, that Jonah had been gulped down by a basking shark.

In 1916, some scientists revisited the question of Jonah’s attacker as it related to the New Jersey attacks...Paul Budker, in the “Life of Sharks”, had reviewed the early writings of Rondelet and had concluded that Rondelet felt it impossible for a man to pass down the narrow throat of a whale and that the Carcharodon was not a bad choice because of its ability to swallow large prey whole “and bring it up later”. Additionally, sharks have been known to regurgitate the contents of their stomachs at will. The only other marine animals in the running for such a position would be the sperm whale, the killer whale, the whale shark, or the basking shark, although a grouper has been implicated. Budker, in his certainty about the assignment, even felt that Carcharodon carcharias should be specifically substituted for “whale”...

According to the story, Jonah was not far from the shore of Joppa when the incident occurred. Joppa, in ancient times, was the original port of Jerusalem on the Mediterranean Sea coast of Israel. The fact that Joppa was also a whaling port in ancient times may have influenced the scribe of the Gospel of Matthew to choose the whale for his writing. On the other hand, the fact that whale carcasses may have been in the general vicinity of Joppa additionally supports the idea that great whites were in the area. Great whites have been known to ravage the floating remains of whales off Montauk, New York, and, in view of the whale’s blubber (fat) content and its passivity (dead), the whale carrion likely represents the “filet mignon” of white shark dietary opportunities.

But could a great white attack occur in the region described by the biblical writers? The answer seems to be yes. Since 1876, there have been twenty-two confirmed unprovoked white shark attacks with thirteen fatalities in Mediterranean waters. In 1891 (from “Mediterranean Naturalist”), at least one Mediterranean scientist...stated that “it is not unusual to find the Great White Shark of the Indian Seas disporting itself into the waters of the eastern basin (through the Suez Canal) of the Mediterranean).
(“Twelve Days of Terror: A Definitive Investigation of the 1916 New Jersey Shark Attacks”, by Richard G. Fernicola, pages 121-123)

That canal did not exist back then. But otherwise it’s some interesting info. I’ve heard that on several occasions intact human carcasses have been found inside the bellies of great whites. It’s roomy in there. These critters can grow large enough to just swallow you up in a chomp without so much as giving you a scratch. Their stomachs are strong too. Intact furniture has been found inside them, for instance. Who’s with me on this?
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Tyrion
03-20-2013, 06:12 AM
I'm not too familiar with the story of Jonah, but I'll still offer my two cents.

How common is it really for a Great White to swallow something as big as a man whole? From what I've seen/read, they typically like to take a bite out of potential food before they commit to a meal. On second thought though, with a little bit of divine intervention this wouldn't really be an issue. As far as size goes though, the Basking/Whale Shark seems more likely to me, but still somewhat of a stretch I think, just because their diets consist of smaller fish. Once again though, with any kind of divine will it would work, so perhaps you're onto something.

A Megalodon would fit the bill rather nicely I think, as you can see from the jaws:



If only they were still around. :p:

Also, since you reminded me of sharks, here's something awesome that I never get tired of seeing:

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IAmZamzam
03-20-2013, 02:39 PM
It isn’t common for a shark to swallow anything other than its normal prey, but that still makes it a far cry from unheard of. Sharks live in very murky environments and don’t seem to have ideally located eyes. They’re not the sharpest knives in the drawer, as the old saying goes, and might get confused about whether what’s generating that large electromagnetic field ahead of them is a large school of fish or just some guy from the news room named Phil. They might even get hungry and desperate and they don’t tend to be very picky eaters. And when divine intervention is involved and the whole point is that somebody needs to be taught a lesson, well, there you go.

Great white sharks can be found pretty much anywhere, including in the coastal waters off the Middle East, as you can see.

A basking shark's habitat might in theory extend into the area--but when I Googled something like “middle eastern basking shark” the first thing that popped up was this. Great whites are larger too, aren't they?
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Tyrion
03-20-2013, 03:19 PM
Originally Posted by IAmZamzam
A basking shark's habitat might in theory extend into the area--but when I Googled something like “middle eastern basking shark” the first thing that popped up was this. Great whites are larger too, aren't they?
I'm pretty sure Great Whites are the third largest shark, with Basking Sharks coming in second place, and Whale Sharks taking first. Still, at around 20 ft long, they're still technically big enough to swallow someone whole. :p:
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IAmZamzam
03-20-2013, 03:41 PM
There are very few animals in the sea large enough to swallow a man, and most of them are whales. Of the sharks, only the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), and the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharius) are the requisite size, but the whale shark and the basking shark are plankton eaters, with the equipment, but not the inclination to swallow a man-sized object. That leaves only the great white, the largest carnivorous shark in the world. This fish has a fully-deserved reputation as a man-eater, but it tends to take great bites of its victims, and while there have been survivors of white shark attacks, there is no record of a human being having been swallowed whole.

The only cetacean with the equipment required to swallow a human being is the sperm whale, which usually feeds on squid. A giant squid (Architeuthis spp.) weighing over 400 pounds was found in the stomach of a sperm whale harpooned off Madeira, so there is no question of the ability of the cachelot to swallow Jonah. Throughout the history of the sperm whale fishery, there have been several tales of fishermen swallowed by the object of their attentions. There are indeed stories of whalemen having been swallowed and recovered alive from the belly of the sperm whale, but under close examination, they begin to resemble the fable of Jonah more than demonstrable fact. An oft-quoted account of a whaler who fell overboard off Newfoundland and was swallowed by a sperm whale is more likely to be true. In this history (published as a letter to the editor of “National History” in 1947 by one Edgerton Y. Davis), the man is exhumed from the carcass of the whale, but he is badly crushed, decomposed, and extremely dead. Yes, it is physically possible for a whale to swallow a man, and no, the man would not survive the experience.
(“Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals”, edited by William F. Perrin, Bernd Vursig and J. G.M. Thewissen, page 1228)

I see somebody certainly doesn’t believe in miracles. Anyway, the plot thickens!
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