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Montauk Monster is a mysterious animal carcass that was discovered on a beach in Montauk, New York in July of 2008. A photograph of the animal spread quickly online, leading many to speculate about which species the creature belonged to.
On July 12th, 2008, New York resident Jenna Hewitt photographed a hairless animal carcass on a beach at Ditch Plains in Montauk, New York. On July 23rd, 2008, the photograph was published in an article titled “The Hound of Bonacville” in the East Hampton newspaper The Independent, which reported that some speculated it was a sea turtle missing its shell but both the Town Natural Resources Director Larry Penny and Doug Johnston of Bandit Trappings and Pest Control concluded that the animal was a raccoon missing its upper jaw.
On July 29th, 2008, Gawker published a post titled “Dead Monster Washes Ashore in Montauk”, citing an anonymous tipster’s claim that there was “a government animal testing facility very close by in Long Island.” The same day, Gawker published a follow-up article titled “Montauk ‘Dead Monster’ Maybe Tied to Cartoon Network Show”, revealing that the photo was sent to Gawker from an employee at the marketing company Evolutionary Media Group that may have been promoting the Cartoon Network show Cryptids are Real. Also on July 29th, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman coined the name “Montauk Monster” in a post on the blog Cryptomundo. On July 30th, New York Magazine published an article titled “Investigating the Montauk Monster: The Story Deepens!”, which quoted the Evolutionary Media Group employee Alanna Navitski who denied that the photograph was part of a campaign:
“I got this e-mail and opened it from my girlfriend who works at Harris Publications, which has nothing to do with anything. Anyway, my girlfriend’s sister was there with her friends and one of them took the picture. And we were like, ‘This is the scariest shit we’ve ever seen.’ And so -- I’m in marketing -- we were like, ‘Maybe we should send it to a few blogs and see if anyone else is as freaked out as we are.’ We had no idea that it would turn into this. Now it’s literally a beast of its own. But it has nothing to do with any kind of campaign.”
On August 1st, internet news blog BoingBoing published an article titled “More on the Montauk Monster”, highlighting a new photograph of the creature from a different angle (shown below). The same day, the blog Montauk-Monster was launched by New York resident Nicky Papers to serve as the resource site for news stories, theories and history of the cryptid.
On August 4th, 2008, Science Blogs published a post titled “What was the Montauk Monster?”, which speculated that the creature was a deceased raccoon of the species Procyon lotor. To illustrate the point, the article was accompanied by an edited photo of the Montauk Monster with a raccoon drawing overlaid, which was created by artist and Animachina blogger Grant Niesner.
Photographs of the creature inspired many fan illustrations which can be found on the art sharing website DeviantArt.
Search query volume for “Montauk Monster” first rose in August of 2008 after the late July news coverage. The second peak in searches occurred when Animal Planet placed the Montauk Monster at #4 in their “Top 10 Animal Stories of 2008” in December of 2008.
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