Multifinned Sea Monster of the China Sea.
Etymology: Vietnamese (Austroasiatic) name
for a millipede with a toxic bite.
Physical description: Length, 60 feet. Dark
brown above, light yellow below. Body composed
of armored segments 2 feet long and 3
feet wide. A pair of thin appendages, 2 feet 4
inches long, is attached to each segment.
Distribution: Halong Bay, Vietnam.
Significant sighting: Tran Van Con and other
Vietnamese found a carcass washed ashore at
Hong Gai, Vietnam, around 1883. The head
was gone, but the remainder was formed of odd
segmented joints that rang like sheet metal
when hit with a stick. It smelled so badly that it
was towed out to sea.
(1) The backbone of a whale, though the
vertebral structure should have been obvious
and described in a different way.
(2) The caudal vertebrae of an Oarfish
(Regalecus glesne). However, its bones are
shaped differently, and this fish generally
only grows to 36 feet.
(3) Surviving archaic basilosaurid whale,
similar to those in Bernard Heuvelmans’s
Multifinned S ea Monstercategory,
which he theorized had armored plates.
However, it’s now known that basilosaurids
were not armored.
(4) A surviving Sea scorpion (Class
Eurypterida), a group of arthropods that
flourished from the Ordovician to the
Permian periods, 500–250 million years
ago, had an abdomen divided into twelve
segments, but no appendages were attached
to them. In addition, they actually lived in
brackish or freshwater instead of the open
sea, and the largest one, a species of
Pterygotus, only reached 9 feet in length.
(5) A giant crustacean of an unknown type,
proposed by Karl Shuker. The carcass
represents only the exoskeleton and limbs.
However, the largest known living
crustacean is the Japanese spider crab
(Macrocheira kaempferi), which has a claw
span of 10–12 feet but a body size not
much over 1 foot—nowhere near the size of
the Con rít.
The volume of the world’s oceans are beyond the stretch of most imaginations at 1.37 billion cubic kilometres. The average depth of these oceans is 4km (2.5 miles), with the deepest point lying in the Mariana Trench some 10.9 km (6.8 miles) down. The pressure here reaches a phenomenal 8 tonnes per square inch, this would be comparable to one person trying to support 50 jumbo jets!
To put the depths of the ocean into context, Mount Everest is 8.8 km (5.5 miles) high, a full 2.1 km short of the depth of the Mariana Trench.
As land dwelling mammals, we have only recently begun to explore the murky abyss. With most of it remaining unexplored, who knows what lurks at the bone crushing depths of the ocean’s floor.
One such possible creature would be the Con Rit, which is Vietnamese for centipede. Other names for this animal of the deep include the Many-Finned Sea Serpent, Cetacean Centipede and the Great Sea-Centipede. Throughout the ages there have been numerous sightings of Con Rit, and one such encounter was in 1899 when the crew of the HMS Narcissus spotted a giant creature near Cape Falcon in Algeria: The sailors reported sighting a sea monster that possessed an immense number of fins, and measured about 45 metres (150 feet) in length. The creature propelled itself forward with its fins with enough speed to keep pace with the ship. In all the sailors were able to observe it for about half an hour.
Some sixteen years before the Cape Falcon sighting, in 1883, it is alleged that the headless corpse of a Con Rit was washed ashore in Hongay, Vietnam. Eyewitness Tran Van Con claimed the carcass to be 18 metres (60 feet) long by one metre (3 feet) wide and covered in 60cm hexagonal armoured segments throughout its length. The creature was dark brown above and yellow on its underside, and when he touched it, it sounded metallic, much like the sound produced when tapping a horseshoe crab shell. From both sides of every segment protruded two filaments of 70 cm in length. The tail section was similar, but had two extra filaments coming from the bottom corners of the hexagon. It could be speculated that the filaments formed either end of a by then decomposed flap or fin – a theory given greater plausibility since the carcass was later towed out to sea and dumped because of the stench it gave off!
One of the earliest recorded accounts of Con Rit dates from the second centaury CE, when in his book, On The Nature Of Animals, Greek military writer Aelian reported that these serpents were known to beach themselves. He went on to say that witness of the time reported that the creatures had lobster like tails and large hairy nostrils.
For the time being the existence of the mighty Con Rit is still officially unconfirmed; however, with the further exploration of the far reaches of our planet’s oceans it’s only a matter of time before new weird and wonderful species are found. The Con Rit may live deep on the ocean floor, out of reach of mans’ watchful eye, only exposing itself when confused or ill (remember the whale in the Thames?). Until further oceanic exploration casts light on the mysteries of the deep the Con Rit will continue to remain a mystery that has captivated my heart as well as imagination.
Con Rit, Vietnamese for millipede, is the name given to an unidentified species of marine creature living in the oceans off South East Asia which would seem to posses numerous fins along its sides. These creatures said to be capable of growing to enormous lengths, including a 135 foot specimen reportedly sighted near Algeria in Africa. These creatures are said to have armored segments running the length of their bodies with each segment having a pair of filament like structures. Some descriptions of the Con Rit give the creature a lobster like tail while others suggest a rounded armor plate with two filament like structures coming out of the bottom.
Initial research of the Con Rit was conducted by Dr. A. Krempf, director of the Oceanographic and Fisheries Service of Indo China, in the 1920’s. During his researcher Dr. Kremph interviewed an eyewitness who reportedly touched a beached Con Rit in 1883. This dead specimen of the armored sea serpent was found on a beach in Hongay, Along Bay, Vietnam by Tran Van Con, who claimed that the carcass was roughly 60 feet long, 3 feet wide and was covered with 2 foot long armored segments through out its entire length. Attached to each of these segments was a pair of filament like structures, each being a little over two feet in length. The top of the body was a dark brown color while the underside and neck were a light yellow. The head of the creature was missing and the carcass was later towed out to sea.
In 1899, the HMS Narcissus was traveling near Cape Falcon, Algeria, when several of the sailors aboard sighted what they called a sea monster. They estimated it to be roughly 135 feet in length and claimed that the creature possessed an immense number of fins, which they said propelled it through the water with enough speed to keep pace with the ship. They observed the creature for nearly 30 minutes before it sank below the surface and disappeared.
Cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans theorized that the Con Rit may be a relic population of ancient armored whales and views the Con Rit as the source for ancient Oriental dragons. In his book Cryptozoology 5, Heuvelmans writes that this type of sea serpent is strangely provided with many lateral fins and with a segmented, jointed armor of boney dermal plaques which were common among archaic whales. However, this theory has been called into question in recent years as some researchers believe that such dermal plagues in association with whale fossils are thought to have come from other species. Thus, some believe that armored whales never existed at all.
A second theory which has been suggested to explain Con Rit sightings states that they may be nothing more than over exaggerated sightings of oarfish. Oarfish are long; almost snake looking, fish with fringe looking strands coming off their backs. They can reach lengths of over 20 feet and spend the majority of their lives searching for small crustaceans, like clams and mussels. Sightings of the oarfish are very rare, as they only come to the surface when sick or dieing, and could easily be mistaken for a sea serpent when viewed for the first time. Though these do not fit the descriptions of the Con Rit perfectly there are some similarities which warrant this theory.
A theory which was presented by cryptozoologist Karl Shuker suggests that the Con Rit could be a form of invertebrate, perhaps a giant isopod or and undiscovered form of aquatic chilopoda, the class which contains anthropods like centipedes and millipedes. Sightings of the Con Rit are almost nonexistent in modern times, which some suggest is the result of the Con Rit dieing out early in the 1900’s. Others suggest the disappearance of Con Rit sightings was caused by the discovery of the oarfish, now people knew that what they were seeing was not a strange sea serpent but a rarely seen deep sea fish.
There is currently no physical evidence to support the existence of the Con Rit living in the Oceans around Asia.
In 1883, a dead specimen of this armored sea serpent was found on a beach in Hongay, Along Bay, Vietnam by Tran Van Con, who claimed that the carcass was roughly 60 feet long, 3 feet wide and was covered with 2 foot long armored segments through out its entire length.
In 1899, the HMS Narcissus was traveling near Cape Falcon, Algeria, when several of the sailors aboard sighted what they called a sea monster.
The Stats– (Where applicable)
• Classification: Sea Monster
• Size: Up to 135 feet in length
• Weight: Unknown
• Diet: Unknown
• Location: Oceans around Asia
• Movement: Multi fin propulsion
• Environment: Ocean
Con Rit is name given to Cryptid from Vietnam, it is a Great Sea Centipede live in south east Vietnam sea, its body has many segment covered with armored plates, its move with fin like fish to swim, initial research of the Con Rit was conducted by Dr. A. Krempf, director of the Oceanographic and Fisheries Service of Indo China, in the 1920’s.
During his research Dr. Kremph interviewed an eyewitness who reportedly touched a beached Con Rit in 1883. first carcass found by Tran Van Con in 1833, he claimed that that creature is 60 feet long and 3 feet wide. In 1899, the HMS Narcissus was traveling near Cape Falcon, Algeria, when several of the sailors aboard sighted what they called a sea monster. They estimated it to be roughly 135 feet in length and claimed that the creature possessed an immense number of fins, which they said propelled it through the water with enough speed to keep pace with the ship. They observed the creature for nearly 30 minutes before it sank below the surface and disappeared.
In 1883, several Vietnamese men found a decapitated caracass that had washed ashore at Hong Gai, Vietnam. The head was gone, but the body was formed of segmented joints that rang like sheet metal when struck. According to the account, the caracass smelled so bad that it had to be towed away into the sea.
Cryptozoologists have suggested a number of possibilities for what thecon rit could be, if it is a real animal. Some say it is a primitive whale that is a relative of the zeuglodons, provided with bony plates. It could also be some sort of giant crustacean or other segmented sea creature, the type of giant "something" that many ordinary scientists expect could be discovered in the deep sea someday. Invertebrates are some of the most frequently discovered animals these days, and if a giant invertebrate were discovered, scientists would expect it to be an oceanic creature, since the ocean is the only place where mainstream scientists think giant undiscovered animals might still lurk.
The con rit is a mythical creature of the oceans around southeast Asia, mainly off the coast of Vietnam. It is considered to be a type of sea serpent but with a strange appearance. Vietnamese folklore considers the con rit as a water dragon. In Vietnamese, the word con rit translates to millipede.
Resembling a giant millipede, it is said to be about 50 feet long with jointed and armored segments, each being two to three feet in length with a pair of legs attached. The coloration of this serpent is brown above with a yellow belly.
The first sighting of the con rit was in 1883 as a dead specimen had washed upon the shore of Along Bay, Vietnam. The eyewitness reportedly touched the creature and described it as being 60 feet long and three feet wide. Two-foot armored segments stretched the entire body with two-foot long filaments on each. The color was described as being a dark brown with a light yellow underside. The head was missing and the carcass was towed out to sea.
In 1899 several sailors aboard the ship HMS Narcissus in the waters near Cape Falcon, Algeria witnessed what was described as a sea monster. It was claimed to be roughly 135 feet long with numerous fins. It was observed for close to 30 minutes before disappearing.
Cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans states the creature may be a remnant of ancient armored whales. Another theory could be a misidentification that the con rit is actually an oarfish. Oarfish are long and snake-like with multiple fringes along the body.
Sightings of the con rit are non-existent today, suggesting the species is extinct, or knowing that the oarfish is a similar creature, witnesses allege it is an oarfish instead of a con rit.
There is no physical evidence a con rit ever existed, so it is classified as a myth.
Con Rit in particular refers to a centipede-like creature claimed to roam the open waters near Southeast Asia and Algeria. There have also been many accounts of other monstrous organisms thriving in the ocean throughout the world, from prehistoric survivers to completely new and amazing organisms.
The many-finned sea serpent is an unverified species or group of species of marine animals which seem to possess numerous fins along their sides or backs. The creatures are supposedly capable of growing to enormous lengths; around 45 m for one such creature sighted near Algeria. In his book, On the Nature of Animals (second century CE), Greek military writer Aelian reported that these sea serpents were known to beach themselves. He also reported that witnesses had described such creatures as having lobster-like tails and large nostrils with hair.
Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans called this cryptid the "Many-finned" type in his general classification of sea serpents, and gave it the "scientific" name of Cetioscolopendra aeliana1. In the sixteenth century, the creatures had been referred to as "cetacean centipedes" by Guillaume Rondelet. Even earlier, Aelian dubbed the animals the "Great Sea-Centipedes". Author Loren Coleman used nearly the same term (Great Sea Centipede) to describe these animals in his book The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and other Mystery Denizens of the Deep2. In Vietnam, such creatures are called "Con rit", which is Vietnamese for "centipede".
In 1883, a dead specimen of an armored sea serpent was supposedly observed on a beach in Hongay, Along Bay, Vietnam. Witness Tran Van Con claimed that the carcass was 18 meters long, and was covered with 60-cm armored segments throughout its length. Attached to each segment was a pair of filament-like structures, each of them being 70 cm long. The body was dark brown above, and light yellow on its underside. The headless carcass was later towed out to sea. The alleged incident was reported 38 years after the fact to Dr. A. Krempf.
In 1899, the ship HMS Narcissus was traveling near Cape Falcon, Algeria, when the sailors aboard sighted a "sea monster". Estimated at 45 meters in length, the animal possessed an "immense number of fins", which propelled it through the water with enough speed to keep pace with the ship. The creature was observed for 30 minutes.
Bernard Heuvelmans theorized that such animals were armored basilosaurs, and pointed out that ancient whale fossils had been known to possess bony dermal plaques. However, such plaques present in association with whale fossils are now known to come from other species. Thus, there is no evidence that armored basilosaurs ever existed.
Ecologist and cryptozoologist Michael A Woodley suggested in In the Wake of Bernard Heuvelmans3 that the evidence points towards an invertebrate rather than a cetacean identity, and has speculated that the con-rit might be a fully aquatic descendent of the giant myriapod Arthropleura, which became extinct at the beginning of the Permian period. He has also suggested an alternative to Heuvelman's original binomial name for it in the form ofMariascolpendra aelani, which translates as 'Aelian's sea centipede'.
Great Sea Centipede
Description: This unique marine animal generally is quite large, 30 to 60 feet in length, with a relatively thin neck. Its body may be segmented and displays lateral projections, plates, or fins that stick out prominently from its sides. This animal routinely sprouts what appears to be water vapor from its hairy nose or mouth area. This visible breath is one of the diagnostic features of this kind of Sea Serpent.
Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans called this type the Many Finned, and noted that its many lateral fins and segmented, jointed armor of bony dermal plaques “were common among archaic whales.” The multiple finned structures have been reported in a variety of configurations, and Heuvelmans points out that the rigid nature of the animal may cause the fins to be seen from different angles when the animal turns radically. Because of the animal’s movement, therefore, these triangular fins can give an appearance of a massive jagged crest, when the cryptid is swimming on its side.
We have renamed Heuvelmans’ Many Finned, the Great Sea Centipede, which hacks back to the original—and more appropriate– original Roman name.
Range: Heuvelmans said this type is found only in the belt of tropical and subtropical waters around the world, living in some of world’s warmest waters. A close study of the distribution of sightings of this distinctive creature appears to demonstrate a restricted range for this tropical marine animal, from south of Asia to Arabia, at 15 degrees north, to 15 degrees south near Madagascar, with only a few reports coming out of the normal range. A specific, well-documented population has historically been reported from the South China Sea off of the old Indochina, east to the Gulf of Aden. Reports from Madagascar to the south, and sightings in the Mediterranean Sea reinforce the restrictions of this type to the world’s warmer marine environs.
History: The first modern discussion of these animals took place in the sixteenth-century work, L’Histoire entiere des poissons by the “Father of Ichthyology” Guillaume Rondelet. What he called the “cetacean centipede,” had “a multitude of feet,” the “oars with which it propels itself.” This cetacean, which was frequently seen in the Indies, stated Rondelet, was first described by Aelian (d. 230 A.D.) in his On the Nature of Animals (200 A.D.), as the “great sea-centipede.” Aeliad told how this animal sometimes beached and witnesses would describe the lobster-like tail and hairs of the large nostrils. Though the legacy of the Great Sea Centipede is centered on the South China Sea, sightings in other parts of the world give hints of an earlier, more widespread, distribution of this type. One detailed record of a sighting was noted by the Illustrated London News. It came in the form of a letter from Edmund J. Wheeler, who was quoting from the log book of his company’s ship, Princess, recently returned from China. When going around South Africa (latitude 34 degrees 56’ S, longitude 18 degrees 14’ E), Captain Tremearne saw a “large fish, with a head like a walrus, and twelve fins,” six on each side, a great tail, and some 20-30 feet in length. It was sprouting something from its mouth. The Princess’ crew fired on it and felt they had hit it around the head. This all took place at 1 P.M. on July 8, 1856. Commander Hugh L. Pearson, captain of the Royal Yacht and his Lieutenant W. P. Haynes, both of the H. M. S. Osborne, cited in an official report to the Admiralty, that they had seen a sea monster, but not one that was serpent-like, off Cape Vito, near the north coast of Sicily, on May 2, 1877. Remarkably, it displayed a long row of fins, over thirty feet long, which appear to have been seen sticking out from the side of the animal, rather than from the back, as Sea Serpents are sometimes described. This certainly appears to be the case, because when the gentlemen grew closer to the creature, it showed a head with a smoothness down its back “like a seal” and front flippers. The next year, another sighting followed in which the witness told an investigator that what she saw looked exactly like what had been seen from the Osborne. In December 1878, an Englishwoman named Mrs. Turner was aboard the P & O liner Poonah anchored off Suez or Aden (she could not remember which), at the Gulf of Aden when saw her creature. She related her experience to Robert P. Greg, who subsequently wrote a letter to biologist Antoon Cornelis Oudemans. What she said she saw, a mere 150 feet away, was a strange animal motionless on the surface. Greg relayed that “She saw both the head and 7 or 8 fins of the back, all at the same time in a line. She cannot remember exactly how many dorsal fins there were, but they were large, slightly curved back and not all the same size…. The head looked 4-6 feet diameter, like a large tree trunk…. The color was nearly black like a whale. The whole length appeared considerable, perhaps as long as an ordinary tree, or moderate sized ship!” But most of the sightings of the Great Sea Centipede are tied to Indochina, and the excellent records the French kept of sightings from 1890s through the early 1900s, as French and others ships were opening the markets off the South China Sea. A record of a stranding of one of these animals took place in 1883 (see descriptive case). Good sightings of sea-going unknowns with many fins occurred off of Indochina in 1893, 1896, 1898, 1902, 1903, 1904, and 1908. Sightings near Somalia occurred in 1923 and 1928, and near Madagascar in 1926. In the 1920s, A. Krempf, Director of the Oceanographic and Fisheries Service of Indo-China, formally considered these animals to be real and part of the zoological sphere to be described and collected. Heuvelmans’ view is that this Vietnamese cryptid is the prototype for the Oriental dragon. More recent sightings are rare, but one report of a Sea Serpent seen by Chinese students in about 1968, near Hong Kong, suggests the continued existence of this type. . Candidate: Dermal plating has been an evolutionary adaptation for aquatic environments, as it is to be found in certain fish groups, including the ancient fossil plated fish (Placodermi), and the present day examples of the sturgeon (Chondrostei), the seahorse (Teleostei), and the armored catfish (Teleostei, Loricariidae, Hypoptopoma). Even the coelacanth, of course, possesses a form of dermal plating that survives from 65 millions years ago. Having the body covered with an exoskeleton of horny epidermal scales with the addition sometimes of bony dermal plates, is the design of most reptiles (alligators, turtles, snakes). But did ancient whales have dermal plating? Convergent evolution could have produced some ancient whales with armored dermal plating. Bernard Heuvelmans certainly thought so and designated this animal and its relatives, the Cetioscolopendra aeliani (“Aelian’s cetacean centipede”), linking it to the ancient whales – perhaps even the zeuglodons. One such a primitive, extinct whale (or zeuglodon) that Heuvelmans thought may have evolved a plated form was the Basilosaurus, an Archaeoceti whale from the Eocene epoch, 50 million of years ago. This snake-like whale had 44 teeth in its long jaws. It was about 65 ft (20 m) long, and had small hind legs and a reduced pelvis. Heuvelmans noted that a few dermal scutes had been discovered in association with one basilosaur fossil, and some amorphous rounded lumps were found in associated with a fossil squalodont (a primitive toothed whale). Both finds were interpreted as evidence that primitive cetaceans were “armored.” However, in private correspondence in 2002, British paleontologist Darren Naish reports that the basilosaur scutes turned out to be from a leathery turtle and the squalodont “lumps” were either petrified wood or unidentifiable. No evidence of dermal plating, therefore, exists for cetaceans, extant or extinct. Due to this lack of precedent, the rarity of good sightings, and their limited range, most cryptozoologists today feel that the Great Sea Centipede is one of the least likely of the Sea Serpent types. But actual plating is not necessary for the Great Sea Centipede to look as if it has plates. The plated nature of some archaeocetes may be due in part to the encrusted, stalked nature of epizootic barnacles and characteristics of the skin not recorded in the fossil record. Yet another possibility may exist, of course. The lateral “plates” may not be plates at all, but merely fins. We propose an additional function for these reported lateral fins – heat dispersal. The Great Sea Centipede appear to live in rather warm waters and they may have adapted to the high temperatures with these body attachments, which would have aided in cooling the animals.
Type: Great Sea Centipede Descriptive Incident: Con Rit Date: 1883 Location: Hongay, Along Bay, Vietnam Witness: Tran Van Con
Con rit is Vietnamese for “millipede,” a name applied to the special form of Sea Serpent found in the oceans off South East Asia. French doctor Armand Krempf, Founder and Director of the Oceanographic and Fisheries Service of Indo-China, conducted initial research on the Con Rit in the 1920s. He interviewed a first hand eyewitness, a 56-year-old Annamite native, Tran Van Con, who reportedly touched a beached Con Rit in 1883. The body (without a head) was sixty feet long and three feet wide. Dark brown above and light yellow below, the animal had regular armored segments every two feet along its body (thus its millipede and centipede names), and three feet wide. It had a pair of appendages 2 feet, 4 inches long. The segments, when stuck with a stick, rang “like sheet-metal.” The Con Rit turns up as the dragon of ancient Vietnamese legends, not as a snake but as an animal seen in the Gulf of Tonkin, fabulously long “like a centipede.”
Source: Krempf, A. “Carcass on coast of Annam, 1883,” in Gruvel, Abel. L’Indochine Ses richesses marines et fluviales. Exploitation actuelle. Avenir, Paris: Société d’Editions Géographiques, Maritimes et Coloniales, p. 123, 1925.
Type: Great Sea Centipede Descriptive Incident: Date: May 21, 1899 Location: Cape Falcon, near Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria Witness: Lieutenant Boothby, several sailors
This sighting in the Mediterranean occurred when sailors aboard the H. M. S. Narcissus, saw a creature they said was 150 feet long, near Cape Falcon, Algeria. Lieutenant Boothby was on watch at 5 A.M. when he observed a “sea monster” from the port bow. He wrote in the log that it was “propelled by large fins, and lying very low in the water.” Boothby and sailors on board observed it for thirty minutes. A London newspaper reporter asked one of the sailors if he did not think it wasn’t a line of porpoises. The sailor said that they has seen “some porpoises just after and their motion was not the same. You could see the porpoises jump and tumble over, but this creature lay steadily on the surface, gently gliding through the water.” The signalman witness reported the monster was “propelled by an immense number of fins.” The movement of the fins was strong enough to keep the creature thrusting along at the same speed as their ship. He noticed the fins were on both sides of the animal, turned over and over, and were located all the way to the tail. The head could not be seen because of the water being kicked up by all those fins. Curiously, the animal “spouted up water like a whale, only the sprouts were very small and came from various parts of the body,” one witness recalled. Heuvelmans speculates that some of this water seen spraying up was “splashes raised by rows of fins along the sides.”
Source: Heuvelmans, Bernard. In the Wake of the Sea Serpents. New York: Hill and Wang, 1965, 1968; “Sea Serpent at it Again.”Daily Mail, London, May 31, 1899.
But others have had some difference takes on this cryptid.
Darren Naish recently wrote a short Fortean Times piece, in which he briefly discusses this topic:
Bernard Heuvelmans regarded two of his nine sea monster kinds as basilosaurids. However, rather than regarding the long-bodied, serpentine types as modern representatives of this group, he proposed that the armour-plated ‘many-finned’ and bumpy-backed ‘many-humped’ were both basilosaur ids. His logic was somewhat obtuse: absolutely integral to his identification of the ‘many-finned’ was his interpret ation of the 1883 Vietnamese con rit account conveyed by Dr A Krempf in 1921. Yet this account described a gigantic segmented creature, covered in plate-like armour sheets that “rang like sheet metal” when struck. This fantastic description remains an enigma, but Heuvelmans’s conclusion that the creature was an armour-plated whale is peculiar and rests on the idea that basilosaurids were armoured, a proposal that had been disproved decades earlier.
There are many ways to view this armor-plated oddity.
The following is from George Eberhart’s Mysterious Creatures:
Con rít. Sea monster of the China Sea. Etymology: Vietnamese (Austroasiatic) name for a millipede with a toxic bite. Physical description: Length, 60 feet. Dark brown above, light yellow below. Body composed of armored segments 2 feet long and 3 feet wide. A pair of thin appendages, 2 feet 4 inches long, is attached to each segment. Distribution: Halong Bay, Vietnam. Significant sighting: Tran Van Con and other Vietnamese found a carcass washed ashore at Hong Gai, Vietnam, around 1883. The head was gone, but the remainder was formed of odd segmented joints that rang like sheet metal when hit with a stick. It smelled so badly that it was towed out to sea. Possible explanations: (1) The backbone of a whale, though the vertebral structure should have been obvious and described in a different way. (2) The caudal vertebrae of an Oarfish (Regalecus glesne). However, its bones are shaped differently and this fish generally only grows to 36 feet. (3) Surviving archaic Basilosaurid whale, similar to those in Heuvelmans’s Multifinned sea monster category, which he theorized had armored plates. However, it’s now known that Basilosaurids were not armored. (4) A surviving Sea scorpion (Class Eurypterida), a group of arthropods that flourished from the Ordovician to the Permian periods, 500–250 million years ago, had an abdomen divided into 12 segments, but no appendages were attached to them. In addition, they actually lived in brackish or fresh water instead of the open sea, and the largest one, a species of Pterygotus, only reached 10 feet in length. (5) A giant crustacean of an unknown type, proposed by Karl Shuker. The carcass represents only the exoskeleton and limbs. However, the largest known living crustacean is the Japanese spider crab (Macrocheira kaempferi), which has a claw span of 10–12 feet but a body size not much over one foot—nowhere near the size of the Con rit.