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Paxo's Pot-pourri

Being the Website of Charles G.M. Paxton

University of St Andrews  
The Observatory                       
Buchanan Gardens                 
St Andrews                    
Fife KY16 9LZ                   
Tel: +44 (0) 1334 461811
Fax: +44 (0) 1334 461800
email: cgp2 at

I am a research fellow in the Statistics Division of the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St Andrews. More specifically I work in CREEM.

My research interests: aquatic animal behaviour & ecology, fisheries, aquatic animal abundance and diversity estimation, history of science and epistemology (especially with regard to anomalous or low frequency natural phenomena).

However you may well be here to find out about my work on the science and history behind stories of sea and freshwater monsters. In which case then go here but see the PDFs or links below.

Film geeks: if TV documentaries count, my Bacon number is 3.

Maths geeks: my Erdös number is 5.

But really I would like to calculate my Darwin number.

I very occasionally tweet @CharlesPaxton4, mainly paper announcements.


Unlike (some) other scientists, I very much encourage people to DO THEIR OWN (evidence-based peer) RESEARCH using the very best sources available. There are some recommended links here.     





Peer reviewed papers

Paxton, C.G.M. & Shine A.J. (under review) Hoops, loops and eyewitness reliability: a history of biologically impossible aquatic monsters. Archives of Natural History 

Paxton, C.G.M., Shine A.J. & Popov, V.M. (in press) Identifying biases and the relevant statistical population: the case of the Loch Ness Monster Journal of Statistics and Data Science Education

Paxton, C.G.M. (2022) Channel crossings and lifesaving: the further (mis)adventures of George Drevar. Mariner's Mirror 108, 93-100.

Paxton, C.G.M. (2021) Driven mad by the sea serpent: the strange case of Capt. George Drevar. Mariner's Mirror 107, 308-323.

Paxton, C.G.M. (2020) Comment: Identifying the Statistical Population of Relevance is Important. Zeitschrift für Anomalistik 20, 49–65.

Harris, C. M., Martin, S.W., Martin, C., Helble, T.A., Henderson, E. E., Paxton C.G.M., & Thomas, L. (2019) Changes in the spatial distribution of acoustically derived minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) tracks in response to navy training. Aquatic Mammals 45, 661-674.

Paxton, C.G.M. & Naish, D. (2019) Did nineteenth century marine vertebrate palaeontological discoveries influence influence sea serpent reports. Earth Sciences History  38(1), 16–27.

McLellan, W.A., McAlarney, R.J., Cummings, E.W., Read, A.J., Paxton, C.G.M., Bell, J.T. and Pabst, D.A. (2018) Year-round presence of multiple beaked whale species (Family Ziphiidae) off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA. Marine Mammal Science 34, 997-1017 DOI: 10.1111/mms.12500

Joshi, M., Smith, R., Von Glasow, R., Paxton, C.G.M., Lunt, D., Loptson, C. & Markwick, P. (2017) Global warming and ocean stratification: A potential result of large extraterrestrial impacts. Geophysical Research Letters 44, 3841 – 3848.


Paxton, C.G.M. (2016) Unleashing the kraken: on the maximum size of giant squid (Architeuthis dux). Journal of Zoology 300, 82 – 88. doi:10.1111/jzo.12347


Paxton, C.G.M. & Shine A.J. (2016) A checklist of historical hypotheses for the Loch Ness Monster. Journal of Cryptozoology 4, 21 - 38.


Paxton C.G.M. & Shine, A.J. (2016) Consistency in eyewitness reports of anomalies: examples from accounts of aquatic “monsters”. Journal of Scientific Exploration 30, 10 – 17.


Read, A.J., Barco, S., Bell, J., Borchers, D.L., Burt, M.L., Cummings, E.W., Dunn, J., Fougeres, M., Hazen, L., Williams-Hodge, L.E., Laura, A-M, McAlarney, R.J., Nilsson, P., Pabst, D.A., Paxton, C.G.M., Schneider, S.Z., Urian, K.W., Waples, D.M. & McLellan, W.A. (2014) Occurrence, distribution and abundance of cetaceans in Onslow Bay, North Carolina, USA. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 14, 23 - 35.


Hammond,P.S. Gillespie,G., Lovell,P. Samarra,F., Swift,R., Macleod, K., Tasker, M.L., Berggren, P., Borchers, D. L. Louise Burt, L., Paxton, C.G.M., Cañadas, A., Desportes,G., Donovan, G.P., Gilles, A., Lehnert, K., Siebert, U, Gordon, J., Leaper, R. Leopold, M. Scheidat, M., Øien, N. Ridoux, V., Rogan, E., Skov, H., Teilmann, J., Canneyt, O. Vázquez, J.O. (2014) Large scale surveys for cetaceans: Line transect assumptions, reliability of abundance estimates and improving survey efficiency – A response to MacLeod. Biological Conservation, 170, 338-339.


Hammond, P.S., Macleod, K., Berggren, P., Borchers, D.L., Burt, L., Cañadas, A.,  Desportes, G.,  Donovan, G.P.,  Gilles, A.,  Gillespie, D., Gordon, J., Hiby, L., Kuklik, I., Leaper, R., Lehnert,K., Leopold, M., Lovell, P., Øien, N., Paxton, C.G.M., Ridoux, V., Rogan, E., Samarra, F., Scheidat, M.,  Sequeira, M., Siebert, U., Skov, H.,  Swift, R., Tasker, M.L., Teilmann, J., Van Canneyt, O. &  Vázquez, J.A. (2013)  Cetacean abundance and distribution in European Atlantic shelf waters to inform conservation and management.  Biological Conservation, 164, 107 – 122.


Johnston, I.A., Kristjson, B.K., Paxton, C.G.M., Vieira, V.L.A., MacQueen, D.J., Ball, M.A.  (2012) Universal scaling rules predict evolutionary patterns of myogenesis in species with indeterminate growth. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B. 279, 2255 – 2261.


Paxton, C.G.M., Hedley, S. & Bannister, J.L. (2012) Group IV Humpback whales: their status from aerial and land-based surveys off Western Australia. Journal of Cetacean Research & Management, Special Issue 3, 223 – 234.


MacQueen, D.J., Kristjson, B.K., Paxton, C.G.M., Vieira, V.L.A. Johnston, I.A.  (2011) The parallel evolution of dwarfism in Arctic charr is accompanied by adaptive divergence in mTOR-pathway gene expression. Molecular Ecology 20, 3167 – 3184. 


Paxton, C.G.M. (2009) The plural of “anecdote” can be “data”: statistical analysis of viewing distances in reports of unidentified giant marine animals 1758 – 2000. Journal of Zoology 279, 381 –387. 


Pike, D.G., Paxton, C.G.M., Gunnlaugsson, Th. & Víkingsson, G.A. (2009) Trends in the abundance of cetaceans from aerial surveys in Icelandic coastal waters, 1986-2001. NAMMCO Scientific Publications 7, 117 – 142.


Paxton, C.G.M., Burt, M.L., Hedley S. & Víkingsson, G.A., Gunnlaugsson, Th. & Desportes, G. (2009) Density surface fitting to estimate the abundance of humpback whales based on the NASS-95 and NASS-2001 aerial and shipboard surveys. NAMMCO Scientific Publications 7, 143 – 160. 


Paxton, C.G.M., Winfield, I.J. Fletcher, J.M., George, D. G., & Hewitt, D.P.  (2009) Investigation of first year biotic and abiotic influences on the recruitment of pike (Esox lucius) in Windermere, U.K. using Generalized Additive Models. Journal of Fish Biology 74, 2279 – 2298


Macqueen, D.J., Robb, D.H.F., Olsen, T. Melstveit, L., Paxton, C.G.M. & Johnston, I.A. (2008)  Temperature until the ‘eyed stage’ of embryogenesis programmes the growth trajectory and muscle phenotype of adult Atlantic salmon. Biology Letters 4(3), 294 - 298.


Southwell, C., Paxton, C.G.M. & Borchers, D.L. (2008). Detectability of penguins in aerial surveys over the pack-ice off Antarctica. Wildlife Research 35(4), 349  -357.


Southwell, C., Paxton, C.G.M., Rogers, T., Borchers, D.L., Boveng, P. and de la Mare, W.K. (2008). Uncommon or cryptic? Challenges in estimating leopard seal abundance by conventional but state-of-the-art methods. Deep Sea Research Part I , 55, 519 – 531.


Southwell, C., Paxton C.G.M., Borchers, D., Boveng, P., and de la Mare, W. (2008). Taking account of dependent species in management of the Southern Ocean krill fishery: estimatingcrabeater seal abundance off east Antarctica. Journal of Applied Ecology 45(2), 622 – 631.  doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2007.01399.x


Southwell, C., Paxton C.G.M., Borchers, D.L., Boveng, P., Blix, A.S., and Nordøy, E.S. (2008). Estimating population status under conditions of uncertainty: the Ross seal in east Antarctica. Antarctic Science 20, 123 - 133. doi:10.1017/S0954102007000879


Southwell, C., Borchers, D., de la Mare, B., Paxton, C.G.M., Burt, L., de la Mare, W. (2007)  Estimation of detection probability on aerial surveys of Antarctic pack-ice seals. Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics 12, 1 – 14.


Borchers, D.L., Laake, J.L. Southwell, C.  & Paxton, C.G.M. (2006) Accommodating  unmodelled  heterogeneity in double-observer distance sampling surveys. Biometrics 62, 372-378


Paxton, C.G.M. & Holland, R. (2005) Was Steenstrup right? A new interpretation of the 16th century sea monk of the Øresund. Steenstrupia 29, 39-47.  


Paxton, C.G.M., Knatterud, E. & Hedley, S.L. (2005) Cetaceans, sex & sea serpents: an analysis of the Egede accounts of a “Most Dreadful Monster” seen off the coast of Greenland in 1734. Archives of Natural History 32, 1-9. 


Paxton, C.G.M., Winfield, I.J., Fletcher, J.M., George, G.L. & Hewitt, D.P. (2004) Abiotic and biotic influences on the recruitment of Windermere perch (Perca fluviatilis). Journal of Fish Biology 65, 1622–1642


Cotter, J., Burt, L., Paxton, C.G.M., Fernandez, C., Buckland, S.T. & Pan, J.X. (2004) Are stock assessment methods too complicated?  A critical review centred on North Sea demersal stocks. Fish & Fisheries 5, 235-254.


Johnston, I.A, Manthri, S., Alderson, R., Smart, A., Campbell, P., Nickell, D., Robertson, B., Paxton, C.G.M. & Burt, M.L. (2003) Freshwater environment affects growth rate and muscle fibre recruitment in sea water stages of the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.)  Journal of Experimental Biology 206, 1337-1351.


Paxton, C.G.M. & Winfield, I.J. (2000) Some statistical aspects of the long-term gill net monitoring programme for pike Esox lucius in Windermere (English Lake District). Freshwater Forum 14, 35-50.


Paxton, C.G.M. & Willoughby, L.G. (2000) Resistance of perch eggs to attack by aquatic fungi. Journal of Fish Biology 57, 562-570


Paxton, C.G.M., Winfield, I.J, Fletcher, J.M. & Hewitt, D.P. (1999) Sex ratio changes in the long term Windermere pike and perch monitoring programme. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 8, 78-84.


Paxton, C.G.M. (1998) A cumulative species description curve for large open water marine animals. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK 78, 1389-1391.


Bubier, N.E., Paxton, C.G.M., Bowers, P. & Deeming, D.C. (1998) Courtship behaviour of ostriches (Struthio camelus) towards humans under farming conditions in Britain. British Poultry Science 39, 477-481. (2002 Ig Nobel Biology Prize Winner!)


Paxton, C.G.M. (1997) Shoaling and activity levels in Corydoras catfish (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae). Journal of Fish Biology 51, 496-502.


Paxton, C.G.M., Bubier, N.E. & Deeming, D.C. (1997) Feeding and pecking behaviour in ostrich (Struthio camelus) chicks in captivityBritish Poultry Science 38, 151-155. Erratum


Paxton, C.G.M. (1996) Isolation and the development of shoaling in two populations of the guppy, Poecilia reticulata. Journal of Fish Biology 49, 514-520.


Magurran, A.E., Paxton, C.G.M., Seghers, B.H., Shaw, P.W., & Carvalho, G.R. (1996) Genetic divergence, female choice and male mating success in Trinidadian guppies. Behaviour 133, 503-517.


Paxton, C.G.M., Crampton, W.G.C. & Burgess, P. (1996) Miocene deposits in the Amazonian foreland basin. Science 273, 123.


Paxton, C.G.M. & Magurran, A.E. (1994) Brightly coloured schools and red herrings: a reply to Roccanova. Animal Behaviour 48, 1459-1460.


Paxton, C.G.M., Magurran, A.E. & Zschokke, S. (1994) Caudal eyespots on fish predators influence the inspection behaviour of Trinidadian guppies, Poecilia reticulata. Journal of Fish Biology 44, 175-177.



Non-Peer Reviewed Scholarly Articles

Paxton, C.G.M.  (in press) Weird things some skeptics believe about scienceSkeptical Inquirer.

Paxton, C.G.M.  (2022) Are skeptics wrong about the value of anecdotes? Skeptical Inquirer 46(5). 46 - 57.

Paxton, C.G.M.  (2022) Creating a monster: the case of the Eachy. Skeptical Inquirer 46(1). 46 - 48.


Paxton, C.G.M. (2011) Putting the “ology” into cryptozoology. Biofortean Notes 1, 7 - 20. 


Paxton, C.G.M.  (2004) Giant squids are red herrings: why Architeuthis is an unlikely source of sea monster sightings. The Cryptozoology Review 4(2), 10-16. Also in slightly modified form (2006) Skeptical Intelligencer 6, 18 – 26. 


Paxton, C.G.M. (2001) Predicting pelagic peculiarities: some thoughts on future discoveries in the open seas. Cryptos Dracontology Special 1, 60-65.


Popular Articles


Paxton C. (2018) High priests and kraken soup. Fortean Times 362, 56 – 57.

Paxton C.G.M. (2015) Nessie: daughter of Kong? Fortean Times 323, 54 – 55.


Paxton C.G.M. (2010) The Monster Manual. Fortean Times 265, 54.


Paxton, C.G.M. (2002) In search of monsters? A defense of cryptozoology. The Skeptic 15(3). Also in slightly edited form in Why Statues Weep (eds. W.M. Grossman & C.C. French, 2010). Philosophy Press. London pp. 10-14.  


Winfield, I.J. & Paxton, C.G.M.  (1998). The Windermere long-term pike monitoring programme.  Pikelines 81, 19-21.


Book Reviews


Paxton C.G.M. (2016) Animal cannibalism: the dark side of evolution. Journal of Fish Biology 88, 1673–1674. doi:10.1111/jfb.12927

Paxton C.G.M. (2013) Systematics, biology, and distribution of the species of the oceanic oarfish genus Regalecus (Teleostei, Lampridiformes, Regalecidae) by T. R. Roberts. Journal of Fish Biology 83, 231–232.


Paxton C.G.M. Fortean Times

Paxton C.G.M. Fortean Times 184, 75 (about the Lambton worm being associated with lampreys)









Last modified: June 2024

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