The "Montauk Monster" was an unidentified creature that washed ashore dead, 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 unresolved controversy and speculation.
It is unknown what happened to the carcass.
Although the creature's body was never reported as recovered or physically examined.
The story began on July 23, 2008 with an article in a local newspaper, The Independent. Jenna Hewitt, 26, of Montauk, and three friends said 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.
A 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 which is a book in the Sherlock Holmes series 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.
There were rumors that the carcass had been taken away from the site.
A local newspaper quoted Aidan Christian, 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 fellow Gawker Media website Gawker.com which gave it wide attention on July 29 under the headline "Dead Monster Washes Ashore in Montauk".
Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman at Cryptomundo 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.
Speculation in published reports included theories that the Montauk Monster might have been a turtle without its shell, even though a turtle's shell cannot be removed without damaging the spine nor do they have teeth as appear in the photograph a dog, a raccoon, or perhaps a science experiment from the nearby government animal testing facility, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.
The creature's appearance was believed to have been altered through immersion in water for an extended period before coming to rest on the shore, making it difficult to identify.
William Wise, director of Stony Brook University's Living Marine Resources Institute, interpreted the photo along with a colleague; they deemed the creature a fake, most likely the result of "someone who got very creative with latex", although his "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 teeth, and the body cannot be removed from the shell without doing damage to muscle and skin tissue and the spine.
Rodent - rodents have two huge, curved incisor teeth in front of their mouths.
Dog or other canine such as a coyote - the prominent eye ridge does not match the creature's feet.
Sheep or other ovine - sheep have two-toed hooves, not multi-toed paws.
On August 1, Gawker published pictures and X-ray images of a water rat, an Australian rodent with several similarities to the Montauk Monster, such as the beak, tail, feet, and size.
On the same day, 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.
On August 5, 2008, Fox News Channel's Morning Show repeated speculation that the beast is a decayed corpse of a capybara, even though capybaras do not have tails. The next day, the same program reported that an unnamed man claimed that the animal's carcass had been stolen from his front yard.
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.
What is the truth?
What is this creature?
Is it an animal from the animal testing facility who escaped?
A beast deformed by cruel tests?
Is it even real?
Or just a well build latex monster, made by people who are against the testing facility and want to scare people with this creature?
A palaeozoologist named 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.
He also showed an illustration of an intact raccoon corpse drawn over the corpse in the photograph. Furthermore he points out the strong resemblance of the skull profile to that of a raccoon, and the long fingers, which are typical of raccoons, and unlike those of other carnivores.
If you look at the skull it is very clear to be a raccoon! So there is nothing special or mysterious about this so called monster.
But the theory of a creature escaped from the Plum Island Animal Disease Center is amazing.
However the truth say otherwise.