Yesterday morning I came into the office to be greeted, almost immediately, by a headline reading something to the effect of "Is this another Montauk Monster?" and a series of pictures of a noisome carcass on a Staten Island beach.
Well, as those of you with long enough memories will remember, the so-called Montauk Monster was a dead raccoon, hairless and bloated, that washed up on a beach near the notorious Plum Island experimental Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) which was established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1954.
The raccoon had been found dead by a bunch of stoned surfer types who decided to give it a Viking Funeral, making a makeshift raft for it, and setting it all on fire before putting it out to sea. It was one of those ideas which probably made perfect sense when you were wasted, and although it has been a long time since I was in that condition, I recollect that mindset quite well. When the corpse washed up again near Plum Island, a lot of people jumped to unwarranted (though not entirely surprising) conclusions, and the legend of the Montauk Monster was born with several people who really should have known better jumping on the bandwagon.
When they sent us the pictures of the Montauk creature all those years ago, Richard and I took a good look, said that it was a small carnivore, possibly a raccoon or a skunk, and forgot all about it.
We were as a result ignored.
So, this time around I want to lay out our stall in advance. We have sent the pictures to four different people: animal bone experts @MelanieGbones and @Skull_Bloke whom I know from Twitter, our old warhorse Lars Thomas from Copenhagen, and my lovely wife Corinna.
The Twitter contingent have shot my original idea down in flames and said that it is not a North American River Otter (something with which Corinna concurs) and they suggest that it is another raccoon. Corinna suggests because most raccoon claws are dark and these aren't that it might be an opossum, but Lars went along with the raccoon theory.
No-one can say the CFZ aren't on the ball this time around.