Larry Penny, the town's resource director, doesn't think so. (At least about the Montauk Monster.)
"It could be a dog," he said. "Or, looking at the picture, we thought it could be a raccoon that was skinned and has its upper jaw missing."
The elongated paws -- and the presence of trappers in the town -- led him to the conclusion, he said.
But William Wise, director of Stony Brook University's Living Marine Resources Institute, after looking at the photo and consulting with a fellow biologist (who knows land creatures), disagrees.
He knows what it isn't.
A raccoon. ("The legs appear to be too long in proportion to the body.")
A sea turtle. ("Sea turtles do not have teeth.")
A rodent. ("Rodents have two huge, curved incisor teeth in front of their mouths.")
He said the general body shape looks like a dog or other canine ("Coyote?"). But that the "prominent eye ridge and the feet" don't match.
He said the feet and face look "somewhat ovine" -- that would be like a sheep -- but sheep don't have sharp teeth.
Wise's best, educated guess: "A talented someone who got very creative with latex."
In other words, a fake -- which would place Wise with the skeptics. (Many of whom believe the image could have been manipulated with computer software.)
But Wise also offered what he called a next-best guess: "A dog or coyote that was diseased and has been in the sea for a while."
So which is it?
Something real? Something imagined? Without the body, no body can say.
And where's the Montauk Monster now?
Hewitt said she knows.
"A guy took it and put it in the woods in his backyard; he has a big backyard," she said. "The thing is rotting there."
But she wouldn't say who; wouldn't say where.
The beastie's a legend now. Fodder for campfire tales, T-shirts and stuffed animals.
Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.
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