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Sep 19 2009

Suppose You Found An Actual Alien…

Daringly, erringly,
Children in Panama
Saw a strange being, and
All held their breath:

Certain the creature was
Extraterrestrial,
Showed they were human, and
Beat it to death.

In some of the pictures, the “creature” looks like E.T., or “a fetus”, or some unidentifiable alien being. In the video, it is fairly clearly (to my eye, anyway) a three-toed tree sloth. But “teens beat sloth to death” is not nearly so cool a headline as “unidentifiable creature found in Panama” (the title of the linked video). Note the use of “unidentifiable” rather than “unidentified”; a small but crucial difference.

There are a great many stories already, and there will be more. Even CNN is going with the “unknown/unknowable” angle. As of this writing, Google news lists a mere 120 news articles. Any bets?

My favorite coverage thus far is this nicely skeptical article:

The story begins at a waterfall near the town of Cerro Azul, Panama. A group of teens, four in all, were playing in the area when the mystery creature, a large hairless monster, shuffled out from a cave hidden by the waterfall. According to most accounts, the creature approached the boys. Growing alarmed, they began to throw rocks at the monster. They continued to do so until it — Gollum, E.T., monster, whatever — stopped moving. Satisfied that they had killed the hairless mystery creature, the Panamanian emissaries of Earth tossed E.T. into the water.

But in all the pictures being circulated on the web, E.T./Gollum looks more like a hairless sloth (and has been identified as such by many who have seen a full body picture of the Panamanian mystery creature), which means that the animal moves at an extremely slow pace (it is difficult to move across the ground on its hooked-claw feet). Which means that the teens might have been alarmed when they first saw the creature but could have easily outran it, so remaining frightened at something that presents no real danger probably did not occur. And they certainly did not have to pelt the mystery creature with stones until it died. That the teens decided to make a sport out of hitting the mystery creature with rocks sounds like a typical teen reaction. But it is doubtful they did it out of fear.

So they lied. They’re teenagers. It’s what they do best, besides eat and sleep and whine about being bored.

There are other news outlets showing evidence that it is a sloth:

Nevertheless the local media has played up the story, reporting that zoologists are unable to identify the “alien-like” creature. But DNA testing should soon confirm what most are saying: the animal is a sloth.

As a consequence of a slow news cycle towards the end of summer, August and September tend to be peak months for sightings of “strange” and “unidentified” creatures including unusual marine life, malformed animals and the mythological beasts like the Chupacabra, the Mongolian Death Worm, Big Foot, and the Loch Ness Monster.

I wonder how long it will take CNN to correct themselves?

It’s a sloth. They are teenagers. Ignorance->fear->kill it. No wonder the aliens all choose to show themselves to isolated individuals with lousy cameras. They are scared!

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