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This photograph of the creature's corpse appeared in July 2008, quickly circulating through local papers and the Internet.

The "Montauk Monster" was an unidentified creature that allegedly washed ashore dead on a beach near Montauk New York business district in July 2008.[1][2] The identity of the creature, and the veracity of stories surrounding it, have been the subject of unresolved controversy and speculation, although the current consensus, based on dental patterns and details of the front paws, is that it was a raccoon.[3][4]

Contents

History

The story began with a July 23, 2008 article in a local newspaper, The Independent. Jenna Hewitt, 26, of Montauk, and three friends said they found the creature on July 12 at the Ditch Plains beach, two miles east of the district. The beach is a popular surfing spot at Rheinstein Estate Park owned by the town of East Hampton. Jenna Hewitt was quoted:

We were looking for a place to sit when we saw some people looking at something... We didn't know what it was... We joked that maybe it was something from Plum Island.[5]

Her color photograph ran in black and white under the headline "The Hound of Bonacville" (a take-off on the name Bonackers, which refers to the natives of East Hampton, and The Hound of the Baskervilles which is a book in the Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). The light-hearted article speculated that the creature might be a turtle or some mutant experiment from the Plum Island Animal Disease Center before noting that Larry Penny, the East Hampton Natural Resources Director, had concluded it was a raccoon with its upper jaw missing. The article concluded that "someone took it away... to be buried... we hope."[6] A local newspaper quoted an unidentified woman, who claimed that the animal was only the size of a cat, and had decomposed to a skeleton by the time of the press coverage. She would not identify its location for inspection.[7] Hewitt's father denies claims that his daughter is keeping the body's location a secret.[7]

Hewitt and her friends were interviewed on Plum-TV, a local cable television show.[8] Alanna Navitski, an employee of Evolutionary Media Group in Los Angeles, California, passed a photo of the creature to Anna Holmes at Jezebel, claiming that a friend's sister saw the monster in Montauk. Holmes then passed it along to fellow Gawker Media website Gawker.com which gave it wide attention on July 29 under the headline "Dead Monster Washes Ashore in Montauk".[9]

Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman at Cryptomundo first coined the name the "Montauk Monster" on July 29, 2008.[10] The moniker was disseminated globally on the Internet in the following days. Photographs were widely circulated via email and weblogs, and the national media picked up on it raising speculation about the creature. The potential urban legend stature of the Montauk Monster was noted by Snopes.[11]

In May 2009, the National Post reported that the owner of montauk-monster.com claimed to have found another incarnation.[12]

Possible identifications

Speculation in published reports included theories that the Montauk Monster might have been a turtle without its shell — even though a turtle's shell cannot be removed without damaging the spine nor do they have teeth as appear in the photograph[13][14]—a dog, a raccoon,[4][15] or perhaps a science experiment from the nearby government animal testing facility, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.[16] The creature's appearance was believed to have been altered through immersion in water for an extended period before coming to rest on the shore, making it difficult to identify.[4]

William Wise, director of Stony Brook University's Living Marine Resources Institute, interpreted the photo along with a colleague; they deemed the creature a fake, the result of "someone who got very creative with latex." Wise discounted the following possibilities:[17]

  • Raccoon (The legs appear to be too long in proportion to the body.)
  • Sea turtle (Sea turtles do not have teeth) The creature is said to be a turtle because it appears to have what seems to be a beak. But some photos, with different angles, show that skin and tissue are missing from the front of creature's face.
  • Rodent (Rodents have two huge, curved incisor teeth in front of their mouths)
  • Dog or other canine such as a coyote. (Prominent eye ridge and the feet don't match)
  • Sheep (Sheep have two-toed hooves, not multi-toed paws)

On August 1, Gawker[18] published pictures and X-ray images of a water rat, an Australian rodent with several similarities to the Montauk Monster, such as the beak, tail, feet, and size. On the same day, Jeff Corwin appeared on Fox News and claimed that upon close inspection of the photograph, he feels sure the monster is merely a raccoon or dog that has decomposed slightly.[4] This was backed up by Darren Naish, a British paleontologist, who examined the images and agreed that, if real, the creature was a raccoon. Naish says that "claims that the limb proportions of the Montauk carcass are unlike those of raccoons are not correct", and on his blog he furnishes an illustration of an intact raccoon corpse drawn over the corpse in the photograph. Furthermore he points out the strong resemblance of the skull profile to those of a raccoon´s and the long fingers which are typical for raccoons and unlike those of other carnivores like dogs.[4]

On August 5, 2008, Fox News Channel's Morning Show repeated speculation that the beast is a decayed corpse of a capybara, even though capybaras do not have tails.[19] The next day, the same program reported that an unnamed man claimed that the animal's carcass had been stolen from his front yard.[20]

In an episode of the History Channel show Monster Quest, a representative from Plum Island Animal Disease Center speculated, after seeing other, close-up photos of the creature's face, that it was a dog, specifically a Boxer. On August 7, 2008, State and government officials have stated the undefined creature is most likely a dog, as for the corpse it will be taken to a nearby facility for future analysis and study.

See also

References

  1. ^ Lawson, Richard (2008-07-29). "Dead Monster Washes Ashore in Montauk - horrible things". Gawker. http://gawker.com/5030531/dead-monster-washes-ashore-in-montauk. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  2. ^ "Video - Breaking News Videos from". CNN.com. 2006-11-16. http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2008/07/31/moos.montauk.monster.cnn?iref=videosearch. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  3. ^ http://www.animachina.com/images/whatisit/montauk_monster_racoon.jpg
  4. ^ a b c d e "What was the Montauk monster? : Tetrapod Zoology". Scienceblogs.com. 2008-08-04. http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2008/08/the_montauk_monster.php. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  5. ^ Joye Brown July 31, 2008 (2008-07-31). "The Montauk Monster: Legend or latex? - Newsday - July 31, 2008". Newsday. http://www.newsday.com/news/printedition/longisland/ny-lijoy315783175jul31,0,7319518.column. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  6. ^ "The Hound of Bonacville - The Independent - July 23, 2008". Indyeastend.com. 2008-07-23. http://www.indyeastend.com/PicPaperBody.lasso?-token.issue=2008-07-23&-token.page=10. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  7. ^ a b Henderson, Nia (2008-08-03). "Montauk residents proud of their 'monster'". Newsday. http://www.newsday.com/news/local/suffolk/ny-limont5787623aug03,0,6128341.story. Retrieved 2008-08-03. 
  8. ^ Paging Darwin: Is Montauk Sea Monster Real or Photoshop Phantasy - plumtv.com - July 30, 2008.
  9. ^ "Investigating the Montauk Monster: The Story Deepens! - July 30, 2008". Nymag.com. 2008-07-30. http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2008/07/the_monster_of_montauk.html. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  10. ^ Coleman, Loren (2008-07-29). "Cryptomundo July 29, 2008". Cryptomundo.com. http://www.cryptomundo.com/cryptozoo-news/montauk-monster/. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  11. ^ "The Montauk Monster - Snopes.com - August 5, 2008". Snopes.com. 2008-08-05. http://www.snopes.com/photos/animals/montauk.asp. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  12. ^ Frenette, Brad (2009-05-11). "The Montauk Monster returns to New York". National Post. http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/theampersand/archive/2009/05/11/monty-2-the-montauk-monster-returns.aspx. Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
  13. ^ Hoax Slayer — Montauk 'Monster' Photograph. Retrieved on 2008–08–13.
  14. ^ Hamptons.com — Naturalists Confirm Montauk Monster Is Relative Of Rocky Raccoon. Retrieved on 2008–08–13.
  15. ^ "Montauk Monster burning up on the Web". 2008. http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/26252274.html. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  16. ^ Wagenseil, Paul (2008-07-31). "'Montauk Monster' Has Hamptons in a Tizzy - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News". FOXNews.com. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,395294,00.html. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  17. ^ Brown, Joye (2008-07-31). "The Montauk Monster: Legend or latex?". Newsday. http://www.newsday.com/news/local/suffolk/ny-lijoye0731,0,7880502.column. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  18. ^ "Montauk Monster: Vole or Satan ??". 2008-08-01. http://gawker.com/5032170/montauk-monster-vole-or-satan. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  19. ^ Capybara. British Broadcasting Corp.: Science and Nature: Animals. Retrieved on December 16, 2007.
  20. ^ 15 FOX & Friends with Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade, Wednesday, August 06, 2008 5 am, PST. A recent History Channel episode of Monsterquest (Devils in New Jersey) revisited this incident, and provides expert analysis claiming that this carcass most resembles a partially decomposed bulldog.

External links

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