Aug 1 2008 8:22pm

The Montauk Monster--Just a Scout?

Cryptozoologists of the world, rejoice. If you haven't seen it already, the blogosphere and real-world-o-sphere alike are buzzing with excitement about an amazing find:

The Montauk Monster?

Seriously, what the hell is that thing?

I raise the issue here because I want your feedback. If this little guy is more than just an everyday cryptid, more than just a previously unknown species or some sort of freakishly mutated cat, if it's a scout—I've always believed that, should an alien invasion actually come to pass, SF fans are the ones to keep company with if you want to survive.

As we all know, those stodgy scientists, locked into their rigid, academic paradigms, simply don't have the imagination to accept the paranormal or extranormal when they're face to face with it, which is why they usually shout something like "But, that's impossible!" before ending up as a blood-soaked pancake in the back of the lab, while their so-called mutant cat—in reality a flesh-eating, wall-crawling predator from the star next door—runs amok.

The geeks are always the first to figure out that an attack is afoot, and the first to figure out a countermeasure. I think it's too much to hope that Tauky, as I've nicknamed him, and his kin are vulnerable to water, despite the fact that his corspe was found on the beach. That would be too easy. So let's get logical about this. Let us know your thoughts about the following in the comments:

  • Where is Tauky from? (Outer space is an obvious choice, but extra points for alternate dimensions, hidden nooks of the ocean floor, and "inner space.")
  • What are his alien powers? (Bonus points for counter-intuitive ones like "love.")
  • What is his weakness? (Whether or not he's here to bring us love, we're still going to cap his ass, so let's figure out how.)

It's probably a good idea to bookmark this post in case the Tauky attack actually occurs. That way, you can check back in the comments for advice from your fellow SF aficionados—on your EVDO-enabled laptop, during a break from running for your life. And remember, if you find a baby Tauky, no matter how cute it is, don't lean in for a closer look.

Really, if you're a nerd, you should know better.

Melissa Ann Singer
1. masinger
There's a much better photo on flickr but it's not available on Creative Commons.
Dan Rattiner
2. Dan Rattiner
The original owners of Montauk Manor have returned
Melissa Ann Singer
3. masinger
btw, some people believe that the thing in the flickr photo is a different thing; if it's the same thing, it's been rolled onto its other side.
Gabe Carr
4. Okorikuma
For some reason, its shape reminds me of a shell-less turtle. Perhaps a turtle that evolved beyond the need for shells? Why keep a shell for protection when you've evolved hands that can grip basic weapons, sharp teeth and beak, and stylish 17th century mutton chops? (Unless that's some kind of seaweed-fluff clinging to its sideburn area).
Jamie Grove
5. jamiegrove
Well, it's either a dog that's been in the pool a wee bit too long or it's a baby Gigan.
Hildo Biersma
6. connatic
If you look at the teeth you can see it's a dog.

People aren't used to seeing doc skulls from the side, and find it hard to imagine what bones are below the fluffy snout; that doesn't make it any less so.

Do a test - put your hand over the skull and look at the rest of the animal. Then look at just the teeth while ignoring the rest of the picture. I think the juxtaposition of the body and the defleshed skull is what confuses most people.
La Tlönista
7. tlonista
But something short-nosed, like a bulldog.
David Moldawer
8. Dave
A dog? My dog doesn't have a pointy butt like that. That's no dog butt.

However, a shell-less turtle has been suggested by others and that seems a bit more plausible.

But seriously people, don't let the alien's camouflage fool you. Let's start thinking defense strategies.
Dan Rattiner
9. CraigVal
So where was it found? I assume Mauntauk Point on Long Island?

My first inclination is this is a hoax. I'd like to see if a Vet or other scientist has examined the body. So far all we've got is a picture and no facts. Personnally I have a little difficutly in rectifying what looks like a crab front end and what looks like hooves on the rear end.
Hildo Biersma
10. connatic
Dave @8: The shell of a turtle is attached to its spine. You can see how getting a turtle out of its shell would cause some damage to its body, right?
Jeffrey Richard
11. neutronjockey
Looks like a pit-bull mix dog that has severe salt-water bloat (from the pictures here).

That's all I see:
Dan Rattiner
12. di11rod
If it's a dog, where is the hair? You might suggest that it fell out due to decay. But its eyelids are intact. Even the eyeballs are intact underneath. Any dead mammal I've ever found has lost those way before the hair.

I might guess it's a fetus that got delivered premature or the mother was killed and this fell out of the mother prematurely, which might explain lack of hair.

Corey Punches
13. cpunches
Shoot, that there is a Chupacabra. A dead Chupacabra acourse, but a Chupacabra none the less.
Jeffrey Richard
14. neutronjockey
@Seth you'll see in the link I provided some tufts of hair remaining. What you are looking at is a dog in a state known as putrefaction --- that picture looks as if the salt-water is beginning to release to atmo and entering black putrefaction stages. The picture/article I linked to showed a heavier bloated beastie probably fresh out of the water.

Now, I must get back to my dinner please. ;)
careY t.
15. carey.tse
@neutronjockey Omg, you can still eat after that pic? Stomach of *steel*.
David Moldawer
16. Dave
Looks like there's a pretty good chance this is a viral marketing thing for Fringe, the new J.J. Abrams show.

Screw Gawker.
Dan Rattiner
18. Bartholomew Smeenge
It is very clearly the corpse of a giant sea vole.

The sea vole is a hairless cousin to the garden vole. They are common around the Jersey shore but not usually seen as they feed only at night. What you cannot see is the vole's very long, elephantine snout (it appears to have been eaten off or perhaps rotted). The snout, usually over 10 meters long, is extended up to the surface of the water and used by the vole to breath while they graze on the seabed. During the day most voles find a hidden place to sleep and then enter a sort of state of suspended animation which enables them to live off of one breath during their sleep phase.

It isn't commonly known but Australian animal pestering expert Steve Irwin was actually killed by a sea vole, not a stingray. If disturbed in their sleep phase a vole will be roused with a vicious temper and they have been known to kill on more than one occasion (besides Irwin they have been implicated in the deaths of Yves Cousteau, Bert Kennedy, Amelia Earhart, several early members of the Beach Boys, Left-Eye Lopez, the guy who created Spongebob Squarepants and Tashkent Hilton... Paris Hilton's older brother... the Tashkent Hilton rocks, by the way).
Jeffrey Richard
19. neutronjockey
@ carry.tse Chewy leftover chicken fingers from earlier today nonetheless...I was eating AND posting at the same time.

*Rebel without a clue!*
James Nicoll
20. JamesDavisNicoll
"Outer space is an obvious choice"

No, it's not. The body plan is clearly that of a tetrapod, a terrestrial lineage that is quite well known . It's not from amphibia or sauropsida, and that hind leg sure looks canine or feline to me. Decayed (and possibly photoshopped) house-cat would be my guess but it might be a dog.

1: One of the problems with Larry Niven's Known Space claim that humans come from another planet is that our skeletons mark us as part of a purely local group of animals that go back in the fossil record than 365 million years (well, and farther once you get into the lobed fish). ET isn't going to have our internal structure of supports.
Samantha Brandt
21. Talia
There has been some pretty solid evidence presented that it's a dog corpse that's just decayed some.

Hair may have been lost in the decaying process or some have suggested the corpse was exposed to fire.

Mystery's gone off it for me, I've heard and seen enough I'm convinced the poor thing was once a doggy. Question now is how did the poor fellow die :(
James Nicoll
22. JamesDavisNicoll
"Question now is how did the poor fellow die :("

Ever wonder how Dr. Gregory House got so good at *almost* killing his patients before revealing the proper diagnosis (which he obviously had in mind since he first saw the patient)? Animal experimentation, that's how.
Earl Cooley
23. shiva7663
I say cut to the chase; speculation is useless without definitive DNA evidence.
Dan Rattiner
24. Naamah
Oh, people. People. I understand how fun it is to make up scary stories, but really.

It's a dog or a raccoon. Immersion in moving water strips away hair and the moisture and rot bloats bodies adn distorts proportions, fish eat soft parts like noses, and sometimes soft bits get worn away by, say, getting dragged over a beach by waves. It has no upper teeth because teeth fall out in water frequently as decay loosens them. Ask anyone who has ever macerated animal skulls for fun. The "beak" is the front part of the toothless upper snout, sans flesh, lying at just the right angle to look creepy.

I have seen animal corpses after they've been in water long enough to lose their fur, and yes, some still had their eyes and lids intact, and their ears.

It is not a turtle. Please.

It's not a rodent. Look at the dentition.

It's not a cat. It's teeth are wrong.

It's either a dog or a raccoon. I could tell you for sure if I could see more of the lower teeth, or more of the paws. It certainly is not some sort of alien being or unknown animal.

The second picture, which may or may not be of the same animal (I believe it is, taken possibly before the other), gives more credence to this theory, as you can see the animal's penis. That's not how cats or rats or turtles are hung. Again, please, people. Let's not forget basic animal anatomy in our rush to believe in the next big mystery.

I love cryptids, and I do believe there's stuff out there we haven't identified. Sadly, this isn't one of them. It's a perfectly ordinary creature.

Let's all back away slowly and go study our osteology and anatomy, shall we?
Eric Tolle
25. ErictheTolle
From the paws in the previous pictures I've seen, it's most likely a raccoon. In fact, on the WTF_Nature Livejournal community, they have pictures with an overlay of a raccoons body plan over the corpse.

The fact that there's this silly controversy over a bloated animal corpse on the beach is simply an indication of how isolated our urbanized population is from actual nature.
Del C
26. del
Darren Naish of the Tetrapod Zoology blog says raccoon, with illustrations and some thoughts on taphonomy.
Torie Atkinson
27. Torie
@ 25 ErictheTolle

The fact that there's this silly controversy over a bloated animal corpse on the beach is simply an indication of how isolated our urbanized population is from actual nature.

Really? I think it says a lot more about the human imagination and our inherent eagerness to believe fantastic stories. It's an exercise in science fiction.
David Siegel
28. bigscary
I'm with Torie here. Half-rotted animals of various sorts are apparently behind a lot of sea-monster myth. As the uncanny valley tells us, things that are like the well-known, rather than being the well-known thing or truly bizarre, are the most intriguing and repellent.
Dan Rattiner
29. Jon Hendry
"Half-rotted animals of various sorts are apparently behind a lot of sea-monster myth"

And vampire myths. The Eastern European vampire, before the romanticism, fit the description of a bloated corpse. Decaying bodies can emit bloodlike fluid from the mouth, or produce sound when staked or decapitated. So I hear, I hasten to add.
Dan Rattiner
30. cbyler
It's a creature from the Procyon system!

...Oh, wait, it's from the Procyon *genus*. Well, that certainly explains the resemblance to terrestrial lifeforms.

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