Science (What Else?) Reveals the Secret of the Montauk Monster

By Boonsri Dickinson | August 11, 2008 4:47 pm

montauk monsterJust for the record, DISCOVER’s official stance on the Montauk monster is that it’s a raccoon.

When the mysterious, decaying animal washed up on Montauk shore in Long Island in July, the rumors started. After the East Hampton newspaper The Independent first ran pictures of the dead animal and Gawker posted them online, interest in the creature, dubbed the “Montauk Monster” reached a fever pitch. As curious readers across the country speculated as to what exactly the “dog with a beak” was, several experts took a stab at figuring out the animal’s true origin.

The bloated carcass wasn’t in perfect shape— it was missing some teeth, had long legs, and had quickly turned to bones. Upon closer look at the photos, the animal appeared to be a raccoon. “We thought it could be a raccoon that was skinned and has its upper jaw missing,” says Larry Penny, director of Natural Resources for the Town of East Hampton.

Nonetheless, paleontologist Darren Naish wrote a pretty convincing argument that the monster is a Raccoon Procyon lotor. “It was the digits of the hands that gave this away for me: the Montauk carcass has very strange, elongate, almost human-like fingers with short claws,” Naish says. “Raccoons are well known for having particularly dextrous fingers that lack the sort of interdigital webbing normally present in carnivorans. If you’re surprised by the length of the Montauk animal’s limbs, note that raccoons are actually surprisingly leggy.”

The case for its raccoon origins is bolstered by the fact that raccoons are home to East End’s coastal marshes and often run through residential neighborhoods. Perhaps this raccoon got swept away like the handful of unfortunate people who freakishly died around the same time from the strong rip currents in the area.

We would ask scientists to step up and do some experiments already, though unfortunately it seems the body of the animal has disappeared. As such, the monster may well be following Big Foot’s footsteps, going down in history as suburban legend.

Image: Gawker

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Uncategorized
  • Mythical Me

    Uhmm. Did you happen to see the 2nd picture on Gawker attributed to this thingee? It looked just like a boiled dog, had it’s upper jaw, and no beak. What’s up with that? (Raccoon my pitootee.) There was a video on yahoo, for five minutes, of a bunch of frat boys who claimed they are keeping it as a trophy to show their friends. They said it was “fun.” It was in a garbage bag, or what was left of it, which they displayed for the camera, and they were holding up the skull with a stick. Maybe someone should track them down and find out if they still have it. Every story is about how it’s “disappeared,” but those dumbsh*ts shouldn’t be that hard to find.

  • OpenMindedSkeptic

    The Montauk Monster has since been claimed as a prop for an unnamed independant horror movie. That’s why it disappeared.

  • Pingback: We Call Bullsh*t on the Montauk Monster, the Goat-Sucker, Bigfoot, etc. | Discoblog | Discover Magazine()

  • http://hazardjsimpson.blogspot.com Hazard J Simpson

    It’s not a movie prop — the movie makers of said independent film were trying to capitalize on the whole thing and quickly took it down from their website. L2Google better. Probably a raccoon, and if not, who knows.

  • http://www.doctoratlantis.com William Smith

    I’m inclined to think the “indy filmmakers” were just hopping onto the hype surrounding the creature. That’s a mystery unto itself. But the skull shape more closely matches a racoon than a dog.

    But I did like the photo where it was blue. I’ve never de-furred a racoon before but I’m curious about the blue tint. The later pictures look like it was skinned/de-furred and the sun baked it. I’ve seen the same color on cold-smoked/dried hams.

  • http://www.freewebs/eslfriends.com cheri pierce

    I heard there were thoughts that it was a seaturtle without its shell. I don’t know how feasible that is but it seemed more reasonable than a racoon (I bought the seaturtle theory). Of course, we haven’t seen it up close and haven’t had the opportunity to examine it . . . and aren’t scientists. It is indeed neat, no matter what it really is and a reminder to us humans that we could never live long enough on this planet to see all there is to see.

  • Robert Smith

    Interesting article here, well written and much to think about. I wound up in a discussion with my wife over this subject earlier.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/2008/08/11/science-what-else-reveals-the-secret-of-the-montauk-monster/#comment-23064 Anna

    The mystery is solved I think that the black hole somewhat dropped the monster here in Earth, maybe the monster was an very early human.

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