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The Montauk Monster - Mutant or Raccoon?

 On July 23, 2008, a New York newspaper called The Independent reported on a very strange carcass that had been found at Montauk, on the southeastern shore of Long Island, on July 12th.

Jenna Hewitt and three friends had discovered the carcass. She was quoted as saying "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."

Hewitt took a photo of the remains that was included in the article in The Independent and quickly spread across the Internet. The article joked that Editor Rick Murphy thought "perhaps it was Satan, and the devil's demise meant only good things would happen henceforth." They also lightheartedly suggested that it could be a "giant turtle sans shell" or "an escaped mutant victim of diabolical experiments taken by the sea from Plum Island [Animal Disease Center]."

The article went on to state that Natural Resources Director Larry Penny and Doug Johnson of Bandit Trapping and Pest Control thought the remains could be from a  raccoon with part of its upper jaw missing. The article concluded by saying that it was thought that someone had taken the carcass away.

Others had their own claims about what happened to the remains. Hewitt said that "a guy took it and put it in the woods in his backyard," though she would not say where it was taken, or by whom. Her father denied that she was trying to keep the location of the carcass a secret. Another anonymous source said that the remains were the size of a cat and had decomposed to only a skeleton by the time they got any press attention. She also said nothing about its location.

Jenna Hewitt's photo of the
"Montauk Monster"
On July 29th, 2008, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman posted the photo of the remains on the website Cryptomundo under the headline "Cryptid Washes Ashore at Montauk?" He quoted the website Gawker (that the photo was shared on) that said "This is an actual monster, some sort of rodent-like creature with a dinosaur beak. A tipster says that there is 'a government animal testing facility very close by in Long Island.'"
With cryptozoologist Loren Coleman

Coleman also noted that "Comments like 'That's a turtle, without its shell,' make no sense because of the teeth. Some fossil turtles had teeth, but no modern turtles possess real teeth." It was Coleman who first used the name "Montauk Monster" for the creature in his Cryptomundo article. The name stuck.

Though many people want to think that the Montauk Monster was some sort of government science experiment gone wrong and was covered up, it seems to have a more down-to-earth explanation. Darren Naish studied Hewitt's photo and concluded that the creature was only a raccoon. He showed that the "beak" of the creature was actually only the snout devoid of flesh. He also noted how the long, human-like fingers on the animal's feet were just like a raccoon's. Naish overlaid a sketch of a raccoon over the photo of the carcass to prove that "claims that the limb proportions of the Montauk carcass are unlike those of a raccoon are not correct." In a closeup of the creature's face, he also showed there were several teeth missing from the upper jaw, making it look like a "beak."

Though conspiracy theorists would like to think that the Montauk Monster was a hastily covered-up science experiment of the U.S. government, it is most definitely nothing of the sort.

This post is excerpted from my future book/current project Global Globsters: An Examination of "Sea Monster" Carcasses from Around the World.

My first book, Cryptid U.S., can be bought on Amazon.


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