Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for the 'Criptozoology' Category

The Curious Case of the Snake with Foot


Shortly before the Blue Hill Sloth, a curious creature showed up in China:

“A snake with a single clawed foot has been discovered in China, according to reports. Dean Qiongxiu, 66, said she discovered the reptile clinging to the wall of her bedroom with its talons in the middle of the night.
[Telegraph: Snake with foot found in China]

Snakes with limbs are not unheard of, since their ancestor did have limbs, but that claw does not looks right. This is how it usually happens:


Fellow Roberto Takata, from Gene Repórter, emphasized the strangeness of the supposed mutation:

The leg doesn’t fit. It if it was a case of atavism, I would expect the leg to be in the right orientation, but it seems to point in the wrong direction, besides not being in the right position – judging by fossils and the sexual hook of the jiboia, atavic legs should come up near the anus. The coloration pattern, although similar, also doesn’t quite match. And in a case of atavism, perhaps the most usual would be to find two legs, not only one, though a combination of congenital malformation could explain it.”

What would be the explanation for this curious case then? Takata also gives the answer:

I would say the poor animal had a lateral burst and the leg of its last meal is coming out. Or, better yet, its arm. I suspect it’s a frog’s arm – modern frogs and amphibians have four fingers in their front legs, in general, without claws.”

He also reminded of a previous case of a python who “bursted” after swallowing an alligator in the Everglades:


Here too, the two animals seem fused into one and one can’t quite easily tell where one begins and the other ends. And as in the case of the Panamanian sloth’s carcass, the explanation seems obvious… but only in retrospect. Kudos to Takata for solving this.

I was in doubt if the leg coming out of the Chinese snake wasn’t perhaps of another reptile, perhaps a small gator, and Takata kindly provided an illustration to support his suggestion that it was indeed a frog (click to enlarge):


The four fingers probably seal the deal: it’s a frog. Speaking of frogs, that also reminded me of a previous case that also came to the media spotlight. The three-headed frog:

That one made to the BBC… and like the sloth, like the burst snake, was a simple misinterpretation. Not a three-headed frog, just three frogs, with one-head each, in amorous embrace, as Ray Girvan pointed out.

And that ends the curious case of the snake with a foot. From a frog.

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A Panamanian Montauk Monster that almost were


“F**k the Montauk Monster, this is beyond f**ed-up”, wrote Steve Huff in his Tumblr. The images and information come from Telemetro, Panama, and I translate the story here:

Strange creature found in Cerro Azul
The finding of a strange creature in Cerro Azul has started a buzz among the locals, as even though some claim it is a being from another planet, others believe it’s merely an animal.
Four teenagers between 14 and 16 years-old found it in the Cerro Azul stream last Saturday while playing around.
According to the story told by one of them, they noticed a creature was coming out of a curve behind the water stream. On seeing its appearance and that it started to climb the rocks towards one of them, they got scared and started to throw rocks and logs at it, to which they managed to kill it, took it out of the water and fled.”

The photos were taken by the teenagers themselves and given to the newspaper. The story made it to Fark, and in a couple of hours Vidani Huff quoted a “believable, real-world explanation for this strangeness”. I didn’t want to spoil it for you, so it’s also after the jump.

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Popularity: 4% [?]


Unknown lifeform in North Carolina sewer

Well, it was unknown, because in a few hours it was identified. Those are colonies of tubificid worms, specifically T. tubifex, smaller than a tennis ball. They are not giant blobs about to eat humans, as the small video camera may suggest to the viewer. They are small clusters of hundreds of worms attached to the sewer pipes in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The identification, made by Dr. Timothy Wood on DeepSeaNews and also by Roberto Takata on Massa Crítica, has been confirmed by Ed Buchan, environmental coordinator at the Raleigh Public Utilities Department, to the local TV, News 14 Carolina.

According to Buchan, the tubifex worm colonies attach themselves to roots that work themselves into weak points in the pipes. Other staff members in the department have seen it before, although sightings aren’t particularly common.

Tubifex (video above) are harmless, commonly used as fish food, and it’s probable those in the sewer came directly from a domestic aquarium.

Their pulsating behavior, as if the whole colony was one bigger organism, is perhaps the most interesting feature. Schools of fishes and swarms of birds also exhibit a similar, beautiful collective behavior, well studied, but sticking to the disgustingly sticky, we may refer to slime mold.

One particular species, P. polycephalum, unicellular but with many nuclei, is even capable of “solving” a maze:


The secret is the food placed in the start and finish points – the slime mold converges to the shortest path between them. The research, published on Nature, earned the authors an IgNobel award last year.

P. polycephalum slime mold may be as intelligent as T. tubifex worms are dangerous, but now you know amoebas can solve mazes and fish food can be terrifying, at least when viewed on Youtube.

It’s worth noting that the horrid sewer creature was made popular by the io9 blog, from the same blog network that made the Montauk Monster popular a year ago. Gawker, your source for terrible unidentified creatures.

UPDATE: A couple more images of Tubifex that may make things even clearer (and nastier):



That’s yummy Tubifex worms sold in Japan. Case closed.

Popularity: 3% [?]

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The Screamin’ Demon of Mexico: Monkey Business


“Sometime around May 11, 2007, a wealthy Mexican rancher named Marao Lopez found this creature, less than one foot tall, in a steel trap. The property was in Metepec, … Mexico. … The creature was alive, shrieking and scared. … the ranchers decided to kill and preserve it the morning of the third day … They dunked it in water … for many hours, and it finally drowned. It’s ability to survive so long underwater has made many feel it was amphibious.
Within days, word about the strange creature had gotten to Jaime [Maussán]. … Jaime considered Marao Lopez an honorable man. Since Lopez was wealthy, and money was never mentioned as a variable in this situation, Jaime sees no motivation for a hoax. Jaime requested access to the body, now mummified, for tests at various universities. Around this period of time, Marao Lopez died mysteriously.”
The Screamin’ Demon Of Mexico By Joshua P. Warren

A very cheesy mystery thriller, full of plot holes and told by Jaime Maussán, illustrious member of Ufology’s Hall of Shame. So it’s really no surprise twist that the “Screamin’ Demon of Metepec” is just another hoax. Keep reading for the video and some ordinary investigations.

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Humongous Earthworms


Is this real? If you have the stomach, click on the image to head to an image gallery and our very ordinary investigation.

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Popularity: 5% [?]