Summary: A circulating photograph of a strange looking creature apparently washed ashore at Montauk, Long Island New York has generated a great deal of Internet discussion and debate as to its origin (Full commentary below).
Status: Origin unclear - Some experts suggest that the 'monster' is probably a raccoon
Example:(Submitted, August 2008)
Subject: Monster washed up in Montauk, N.Y
This strange creature was washed ashore at Montauk. No one knows what it is....
An unidentified animal washed ashore near Montauk on the south shore of Long Island, New York in July 2008 has generated a great deal of Internet discussion and controversy. The great Montauk Monster debate exploded after photos of the creature were posted on Gawker.com and elsewhere on the Internet.
The seemingly strange snout of the creature along with a somewhat dog-like body and what appears to be flippered legs has created a furore of speculation as to its true identity and origin. Some have suggested that the animal is some manner of mutant dog or rodent, the unfortunate result of a secret government experiment, a previously undiscovered species, a downed alien, or even a deliberate fake created as part of a viral marketing campaign for an undisclosed product. As per usual with images of strange looking animals, many self-proclaimed experts have claimed that the images have been "photoshopped".
The real explanation may well be considerably more mundane. Several expert commentators, including well-known wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin, suggest that the animal is just a run-of-the-mill raccoon that looks unusual because of its stage of decomposition and apparent fairly lengthy immersion in water. Corwin also dismisses speculation that the animal might be a turtle without its shell. He points out that a turtle's spine is connected to the inside of its shell, so a "separated" turtle would be unlikely to have a smooth back like the creature in the photograph. Animal experts also note that bottom teeth like the ones visible in the photograph are not those of a turtle.
In reality, although the "decaying raccoon" theory may well be correct, the truth may never be known for certain. Strangely enough, the body of the Montauk Monster has apparently now gone missing. Locals on the scene report that an unidentified "old guy" took possession of the body, telling onlookers that he intended to mount the creature and display it on his wall.
Whatever the hapless animal's true origin and the manner of its unfortunate demise, it has certainly gained posthumous fame and notoriety in the blogosphere and beyond.