The Montauk monster

Many people were writing me wondering wht this mysterious “Montauk monster” that has been in the news might be. It was clearly just a partially decayed mammal of some sort, but Tetrapod Zoology has the details. It’s a rotting raccoon.


  1. Ferrous Patella says

    Posting at 1AM, PedZed?!?! Now you are going to have the cracker-nannies complaining that you are staying up past your bedtime.

  2. Wowbagger says

    More posts; wasting taxpayers money when you should be writing lectures or grading papers?

    Shame, PZ, shame!

  3. says

    Yeup, a nekkid raccoon. The hands gave it away for me.

    Poor little raccoon. First you die, then yer nekified and then the whole world starts staring at you and calling you an alien.

  4. says

    Now somewhere in the black mountain hills of Montauk
    There lived a young critter named rotting raccoon

    Rotting raccoon checked into his room
    Only to find gideons bible
    Rocky had come equipped with his teeth
    To gnaw off the legs of his rival

  5. Dave in Escondido says

    What’s sad is how many people I know who will be either disappointed that arrogant science has once again removed some wonder from the world, or will simply refuse to accept the raccoon explanation and will resent science for claiming to know everything.

  6. Ichthyic says

    Poor little raccoon. First you die, then yer nekified and then the whole world starts staring at you and calling you an alien.

    poor raccoon? heck, it just might end up being the most famous raccoon of all time.

    some raccoons might give their eye-teeth for that.

    wait, looking at the picture, maybe this one did.

  7. says

    @ dave #6 Kent Hovind, in addition to his belief in conspiracy theories of all kinds also had this strange belief in cryptozoology no matter how apocryphal.

    If you can stand it, watch ten minutes of one of his delusional lectures. There’s a Jew joke about every five minutes.

    Oh, crap I just did the “minutes thing”

  8. says

    I tolja!

    OK, I hollered it at the monitor here. What happened was that the late raccoon got rolled around in the surf enough to depilate it completely even as it got all swole up with postmortem biological activity.

    Someone brought a nearly identical corpse in during the Cosco Busan oil-spill rescue, and that’s what it turned out to be. It was also quite um fragrant. Some UC post-doc was nevertheless thrilled to get her gloves on it and analyze it. All else aside, the weird skull was a clue. Damn but raccoons have weird skulls.

  9. zaardvark says

    Mr. Myers: how much are you being paid, to be part of the Montauk Monster cover-up? Or are you doing it simply out of hatred for the public?

    RaccOON, weather ballOON, landing on the mOON — don’t think there aren’t those of us who get your guys’ little inside jokes.

    When is your next Bilderberg Group meeting?


    (I think I need some sleep… :)

  10. says

    it looks like a dead sea turtle with no shell maybe some one found it before the other and tokk its shell and you see his/her back is red maybe it might of got some scrapes on its back. so I thinnk its a dried out sea turtle

  11. worg says

    Myers, what’s the matter with you?

    Can’t you see that that’s the bloated carcass of Catholicism?


  12. Bride of Shrek OM says

    Damn, that’s put me right off the raccoon stew I was having for dinner tonight. Ah, well, gator it is then.

  13. says

    I thought I had something important to say. But as it turns out, I’m just drunk. Happy Monday night! (I wish I could remember what I was going to say)

  14. themadlolscientist, FCD says

    @ Amplexus, #5:

    Don’t forget the last verse:

    Rotten Raccoon fell back in his room,
    Only to find Gideon’s Bible.
    Gideon checked out, and left it, no doubt,
    To help with young Rotten’s revival.

    Worked really well, didn’t it?

  15. Peter Ashby says

    Bride you mean the Drought has killed all the roos? Couldn’t you start on the wombats?

    Wombat stew, wombat stew….

  16. clinteas says

    Peter Ashby,

    the roos are flourishing,and theyre actually not bad in a stew ! Wombat however,theyre cutesy things,and we wouldnt eat them !! You evil man ! And btw,they end up roadkill mostly…

  17. says

    My Raccoon Story

    I used to work in the Marine Trade on “pushboats” which is the name of the boats that push barges up and down rivers.

    In the South, you get into some real backwaters, and we did some hunting off the boats occasionally.

    We were docked at some godforsaken Chemical Plant in Louisiana, and saw a raccoon, so I ‘spotted it’ with the carbon arch light, while my comrade crept up, and beat it’s head in and dragged it back to the boat where we intended to clean and eat it.

    When we got it onto the barge, to our horror, we saw that the coon had a bandage on it’s paw. This creature was somebody’s friend, and we murdered it just for something to do…
    … out of boredom.

    It’s not easy for a primate to reach across species and get the trust of a raccoon to the point of tending a wound.

    That’s an awesome connection, and we destroyed that special thing for no good reason at all.

    I have never hunted or killed an animal ever since, and I still feel like a piece of shit every time I remember this awful event.

    Which makes me ever more pissed off at the fucktards in Santa Cruz on the other thread who would threaten the life of a primate over experimenting with mice.

    There’s a lot of good people in the Animal Rights movement, and they have good points, especially where the torture of our cousin chimps are involved.

    But MICE??

    I buy mice and throw them to my ferrets for slaughter regularly, it makes them feel useful.

    I draw the line at Mammals somewhat arbitrarily, how about you?

  18. El Cid says

    I think the important lesson from this is that average people should assume that they can identify instantly any rotting animal corpse from photos, and if anything seems confusing about it, it means the corpse is obviously that of a new creature or impossible monster.

  19. Arno says

    Gledna, you are completely wrong.

    Here the skeleton of a turtle, with the shell conveniently opened. Notice how empty it is inside.
    And from the site that provided this picture (
    “All turtles have a bony shell consisting of a carapace formed from costal bones with fused ribs, neural bones with fused thoracic vertebrae, and peripheral bones; a plastron formed from interclavicle, clavicle, and three to five additional pairs of dermal bones sutured together.”

    Turtle with no shell = without ribs, spine, etc. Does the Montauk monster look like an animal without its spine and ribs?

    P.S. The answer is “No, it doesn’t look like one”

  20. says

    Uncommon Descent was joking about this “chimera” yesterday. They do know the significance of the fact that there are no chimeras is, right?

  21. Lago says

    I am going to hit the next person who says “turtle.”

    I am serious…

    No, …that means you!

    Do not even think about it!

  22. SEF says

    I am going to hit the next person who says “turtle.”

    Erm… It’s raccoons all the way down? Or perhaps the plural of the word would still have been OK. ;-)

  23. s1mplex says

    But but but I saw a turtle take off its shell on a cartoon once. Take that, science!

  24. LisaJ says

    I don’t believe it. A raccoon? Come on. Clearly the Cloverfield monster is reproducing in those New York waters.

  25. Duvenoy says

    I think it’s a nutria, a raccoon-sized rodent native to Central & South America and imported here to farm for it’s fur. No raccoon ever had the incisors this guy has.

    As might be expected, the species got into the wild and became a serious nuisance everywhere it became established. I think that this one was part of an all but exterminated, Chesapeake Bay population that died and drifted north on the currents.


  26. Graculus says

    Fur tends to distort our concept of body shape on a lot of mammals. Soak one of those bastids down with a hose and you get those body proportions, minus the bloat. (Raccoons are only cute when they aren’t in your stuff.)

    I grew up in a rural area, where stray corpses aren’t whisked out of sight of the kiddies immediately. I don’t see anything particularly interesting about this one, to be honest.

  27. Donnie B. says

    My Rotting Mammal Story

    A few years back, a squirrel decided to take up residence in my basement. I came face to face with the guy a few times, and tried everything I could think of to get him to leave peaceably — there’s a grade level entrance that I left open so he could leave any time, and twice I tried to chase him out, but he decided otherwise.

    Finally, it became clear that he was doing too much damage and I laid out some rat poison. After a few days I decided it had done the job and forgot about it.

    Then came the smell…

    The poor little guy had crawled into a section of downspout and died there. By the time I located the corpse it was, well, juicy. And the hair had all come off the tail, making the critter closely resemble what my nephew calls them: “tree rat”.

    Mice are one thing — they sort of dry up without rotting. But this was a truly nauseating experience. Some of you probably have experienced this: the stench of decomposition stays in the nose for a long time after the source has been removed.

    I regret having to kill the critter, but I really gave him a more than fair chance to leave peacefully. Squirrels just aren’t indoor-friendly.

  28. says

    Duvenoy: It’s not the incisors you’re looking at. The snout has been defleshed, exposing the bone. If you take a look at the Tetrapod Zoology post, there are other photos that show this more clearly. The “beak” is actually just the bones of the animal’s snout.

  29. Duvenoy says

    “Duvenoy: It’s not the incisors you’re looking at. The snout has been defleshed, exposing the bone. If you take a look at the Tetrapod Zoology post, there are other photos that show this more clearly. The “beak” is actually just the bones of the animal’s snout.”

    I stand corrected. I should have read farther down the article.

    I might remark, though, that nutria are a lot better eating than raccoons.


  30. Sili says

    Idly, what’s the difference between tetrapods and quadropeds – aside from the language?

  31. says

    This little episode shows us one thing–people are extremely divorced from the messy side of life, or rather, of death.

    Christ, this “monster” looks like nothing but some poor rotting carcass (iow, the “chupacabra” that someone else found, and turned out to be a rotting coyote or some such thing). In times past, when people still saw dead animals (and sometimes humans) lying about the landscape, there wouldn’t be much doubt.

    Then too, part of the phenomenon seems to be some of that hope for the bizarre and/or magical that keeps creationism around. Not that I wouldn’t like the bizarre and magical to exist, too, but journalists hyping the mundane like they have is the opposite of the careful analysis to which they are supposed to be committed.

    Glen D

  32. bezoar says

    This is NOT a raccoon. It is so patently obvious that this poor creature is a shell-less turtle (not a joke). Just look at the beak, claws and tail. It is NO raccoon. So much for intelligent design!

  33. Longtime Lurker says

    Rats, I thought this was a specimen of… the dreaded OWLBEAR!!!

    Just parading my geekdom in a big way.

  34. says

    Sili #40

    Quadruped refers to the animals’ method of locomotion,. Humans and birds are bipeds, most other mammals use all four legs to get about. Snakes and whales are not quadrupedal.

    Tetrapod is a term used to describe the group of animals that includes the amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals and their fossil relatives. The most noticeable characteristic they share are four limbs. Snakes and whales did evolve from animals with four legs (whales still have their front legs, and both groups preserve elements of the hip bones).

  35. Ichthyic says

    …wait, I smell a poor attempt at parody, now that Kenny’s stench is starting to wane.

  36. Arnosium Upinarum says

    Poor thing. Here it lies (in the photo) whilst critters with allegedly more capable brains debated about what it was.

    I know exactly what it was. Once. A little baby raccoon, full of wide-eyed curiosity and ready to take on the world.

    It got by pretty decently for quite awhile too…in spite of all the big-brained idiots that dominated his/her world.