Coordinates: 41°02′21″N71°55′07″W / 41.039132°N 71.918714°W / 41.039132; -71.918714
The "Montauk Monster" was an animal carcass, thought to be a raccoon, that washed ashore on a beach near the business district of Montauk, New York in July 2008. The identity of the creature and the veracity of stories surrounding it have been the subject of controversy and speculation. It is not known what happened to the carcass; it was said to have mysteriously disappeared.
The story began on July 23, 2008 with an article in the newspaper The Independent. Jenna Hewitt, 26, of Montauk, and three friends said that 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.
Her color photograph of the creature 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 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. It then noted that Larry Penny, the East Hampton Natural Resources Director, had concluded that it was a raccoon with its upper jaw missing. There were rumors that the carcass had been taken away from the site. A local newspaper quoted an anonymous resident who claimed that the animal was only the size of a cat, and that it had decomposed to a skeleton by the time of the press coverage. She would not identify its location for inspection. Hewitt claimed that "a guy took it and put it in the woods in his backyard", but would not say who or where. Her father denied that his daughter was keeping the body's location a secret.
Hewitt and her friends were interviewed on Plum-TV, a local public-access television show. 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 Gawker Media website Gawker.com which gave it wide attention on July 29 under the headline "Dead Monster Washes Ashore in Montauk".
CryptozoologistLoren Coleman at Cryptomundo first coined the name the "Montauk Monster" on July 29, 2008. The nickname 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.
The monster has been discussed on Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura. On August 4, 2011 the Montauk Monster was featured on the second episode of the third season of Ancient Aliens, titled "Aliens and Monsters".
Initial media reports included speculation that the Montauk Monster might have been a turtle without its shell — although turtles' shells are fused with the spine and cannot be removed in this way — a dog, a large rodent, or a science experiment from the nearby government animal testing facility, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.
William Wise, director of Stony Brook University's Living Marine Resources Institute, inspected the photo along with a colleague; they deemed the creature a fake, although Wise's "next-best guess" was that the creature could be a diseased dog or coyote which had "been in the sea for a while". Wise discounted the following general possibilities:
- Raccoon – the legs appear to be too long in proportion to the body.
- Sea turtle – sea turtles do not have fur or teeth.
- Rodent – rodents have two large, distinctive incisor teeth in front of their mouths.
- Dog or other canine such as a coyote – the corpse is doglike, but the eye ridge and feet do not match.
- Sheep or other ovine – although the face looks "somewhat ovine", sheep do not have sharp teeth.
PalaeozoologistDarren Naish studied the photograph and concluded from the corpse's visible dentition, skull shape, and front paws that the creature was a raccoon, with its odd appearance merely a byproduct of decomposition and water action removing most of the animal's hair and some of its flesh. Naish disagreed with the idea that the legs were disproportionately long for a raccoon, providing an illustration of a raccoon's body superimposed over the corpse in the photograph.Jeff Corwin also identified the carcass as that of a raccoon in a Fox News interview.
In a 2009 episode of Monster Quest, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman examined a latex replica of the Montauk Monster's remains and similarly concluded that it was the remains of a raccoon, due to similar body structures and skull shape.
- ^ abc"What was the Montauk monster? : Tetrapod Zoology". Scienceblogs.com. 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- ^"Montauk Monster burning up on the Web". 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
- ^Lawson, Richard (2008-07-29). "Dead Monster Washes Ashore in Montauk – horrible things". Gawker. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- ^"Video – Breaking News Videos from". CNN.com. 2006-11-16. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- ^ abJoye Brown (2008-07-31). "The Montauk Monster: Legend or latex? – Newsday – July 31, 2008". Newsday. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- ^"The Hound of Bonacville – The Independent – July 23, 2008". Indyeastend.com. 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- ^ abHenderson, Nia (2008-08-03). "Montauk residents proud of their 'monster'". Newsday. Archived from the original on 2008-08-13. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
- ^Paging Darwin: Is Montauk Sea Monster Real or Photoshop Phantasy – plumtv.com – July 30, 2008Archived October 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine..
- ^"Investigating the Montauk Monster: The Story Deepens! – July 30, 2008". Nymag.com. 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- ^Coleman, Loren (2008-07-29). "Cryptomundo July 29, 2008". Cryptomundo.com. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- ^"The Montauk Monster – Snopes.com – August 5, 2008". Snopes.com. 2008-08-05. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- ^Hoax Slayer – Montauk 'Monster' Photograph. Retrieved on 2008–08–13.
- ^Hamptons.com – Naturalists Confirm Montauk Monster Is Relative Of Rocky Raccoon. Retrieved on 2008–08–13.
- ^Wagenseil, Paul (2008-07-31). "'Montauk Monster' Has Hamptons in a Tizzy – Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News". FOXNews.com. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- ^Brown, Joye (2008-07-31). "The Montauk Monster: Legend or latex?". Newsday. Archived from the original on 2008-08-12. Retrieved 2008-08-02.
- ^"'Montauk Monster' mystery gets more mysterious". Fox News. 1 April 2008. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- ^"MonsterQuest – Montauk Monster – Myth of Monster? – History.com Videos". History.com. Archived from the original on 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
A well-known fact in cryptozoology is that I’ve coined various original names, through recent cryptozoology history, which have, with alliteration, remained to identify certain cryptids and cryptic events. I merely give “cases” names for myself, to organize the facts at hand, and then after sharing my thoughts in articles, books, and online, a few monikers have stuck. Examples are ones like the Dover Demon, Phantom Panthers, and the Montauk Monsters. Oftentimes, my “name games” have lead to fans, foes, and distractors copycatting this habit of mine in their online essays and even books. (I am honored by the practice, even if it is done in ridicule.)
In the case of the Montauk Monster, found July 12, 2008, on a beach near Montauk, New York, it’s been rather well-established I coined the name. (It appears to have been only a cosmic coincidence or cryptid joke that the discovery was made on my birthday.)
Wikipedia notes these Montauk Monster naming facts, here:
Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman…first coined the name the “Montauk Monster” on July 29, 2008. 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.
The monster has been discussed on Jesse Ventura’s Conspiracy Theory.
On August 4, 2011 the Montauk Monster was featured on the second episode of the third season of Ancient Aliens, titled “Aliens and Monsters”.
In a 2009 episode of Monster Quest, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman examined a latex replica of the Montauk Monster’s remains and proposed that it was the remains of a raccoon, due to similar body structures and skull shape.
You can find that first mention archived here, “Cryptid Washes Ashore At Montauk,” now at CryptoZooNews, and watch me on Ancient Aliens, talking about the Montauk Monster, in my only appearance ever on Ancient Aliens.
Montauk Monster: July 12, 2008
On February 28, 2013, Sharon Hill, at Doubtful News posted a long entry, “Freakout Over Hairless Mystery Beasts.”
Hill surveys eight or more individual cases of dead carcasses being found that were made into “monsters” or “cryptids,” mostly by the media. All of the bodies were rather easily identified.
Here is Hill’s overview of the Montauk Monster:
“This bloated body, missing some flesh as well as hair, was discovered on a Long Island beach. Speculation was that it was an escapee from the offshore laboratories of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center. Paleontologist Dr. Darren Naish provided a direct comparison of skulls to show, definitively, that this poor beasty was a raccoon rendered hairless and deformed by the action of the seawater and natural decay with perhaps some assistance by hungry sea and shore creatures. Ah, nature at work. Mystery solved. Long live the monster. What happened to the carcass is unknown.” ~ Sharon Hill
I’m not taking Hill to task for her survey, which I found fine and comprehensive. I am merely pointing out that her Montauk Monster posting is only the latest example making it sound like no one knew what the thing on the beach was until Naish told us. Even Naish, I’m sure, is startled by the way the history as unfolded with regard to the Montauk Monster, around his late role in the affair.
The Naish role is reinforced in Wikipedia here, as their lead to their identification section: “Palaeozoologist Darren Naish studied the photograph and concluded from visible dentition and the front paws that the creature was a raccoon, with its odd appearance merely a byproduct of decomposition and water action removing most of the animal’s hair and some of its flesh.”
“On August 1,…, 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. This was backed up by Darren Naish, a British paleontologist, who examined the images and agreed that, if real, the creature was a raccoon.”
On August 4, 2008, Darren Naish first wrote a posting for his blog stating the conclusion that is most quoted has the thoughtful source of the finding that the Montauk Monster was a bloated, decomposing carcass of a raccoon. Others before him are routinely forgotten in general online retellings of the Montauk Monster misidentification findings.
But outside of the media and academia, others had identified the carcass initially as a raccoon.
What appears to have been dropped from the historical retellings of the identification of the Montauk Monster is how it was the day after I coined the name that I also suggested the species behind the body was a raccoon. See here, for July 30, 2008, “Montauk Monster: Raccoon?”
I am not bringing this up to get some credit for myself, but to reach back and capture attention for the first responders who actually solved this mystery early in the story. I noted in my posting (“Montauk Monster: Raccoon?“) that the Montauk Monster looked like a raccoon to me. But I also posted a copy of this local Montauk area newspaper’s declaration of July 23, 2008, that “Town Natural Resources Director Larry Penny and Doug Johnston, of Bandit Trapping and Pest Control, both deemed the deceased a raccoon with its upper jaw missing.”
Elsewhere, Penny told another local newspaper, The East Hampton Star, on July 30, 2008, that “raccoons get old, they wander off to marshes to die. High tide might have floated one out of a marsh and into the sea.”
The Star also quoted local Montauk resident Noel Arikian saying, “In photos there appeared to be a beak. It was just a tricky angle. It’s a dead raccoon. That’s what it is. It’s undoubtedly a raccoon, the same teeth, paws, the right size. No other animal has a body like that.”
Some writers in the mainstream tend to have a bias that only academia-linked scientists have the correct answers. But in the case of the Montaur Monster, insightful local people aware of animal physiology saw the answer from the beginning. Several people, before Naish, should get original credit, where credit is due.
This is not about Darren Naish, whose work and whom personally I like. This is about the proper history of cryptozoology. Cryptozoology is not made up of buffoons who don’t know animals – and raccoons – when they see them.
See also here..
by Loren Coleman on March 2, 2013 in Breaking News, Cryptotourism, CryptoZoo News, Cryptozoologists, Globster, Media Appearances, Men in Cryptozoology, Women in Cryptozoology| Tagged Darren Naish, Doug Johnston, Dover Demon, Larry Penny, Loren Coleman, Montauk Monster, Name Game, Noel Arikian, Phantom Panthers, Sharon Hill