This photo has been circulating around paranormal, conspiracy and dubious “news” sites like Examiner and Gather. I won’t link to those here but I took one look that this and knew what it was.
It’s been called a “gorgakh” and was photographed in Pakistan. (The Gorgakh is a World of Warcraft creature, me thinks?)
It’s a pangolin. It looks large due to the closeness of the camera and the people in the background.
Yes, I’m sure pangolins, or scaly anteaters, look really weird to those not used to seeing them. But they are not that unusual. The giveaway as an anteater is the long tongue which is a distinguishing feature of this unfortunate victim. Pangolins are found in tropical regions but not native to Pakistan. Was this an import? Could be, which would explain why people are taking pictures of it. But, let’s be clear, there is not much in this picture that is reliable. We don’t even know that it was taken in Pakistan.
The two points to be made are: one, pangolin populations are threatened – killed for food and medicinal qualities (not been proven to be of any value for that).
Pangolins have been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, but growing human populations and greater wealth across China have increased demand. Pangolin fetuses, scales, and blood are used in medicine, the meat is considered a delicacy, and stuffed pangolins are sold as souvenirs.
The decline in pangolin populations and intensified efforts to curb the illegal trade have led to rising prices for pangolin products – further enticing organized crime rings to smuggle the endangered animals. A kilogram of pangolin scales that earned only 80 yuan (US$10) in the early 1990s would now yield 1,200 yuan ($175) on the black market.
For more on their use in traditional chinese medicine, see this post on Sci American blogs:
Pangolin meat and fetuses—yes, you read that right—are considered delicacies in China. Meanwhile, their scales—which, like rhino horns, are made of medicinally useless keratin—are hawked in China and Vietnam as “cures” for everything from cancer, weight loss, improved liver function and enhanced lactation for breast-feeding women. Pangolins are also used in African traditional medicines known as “muti.” To a lesser extent, pangolin skin is also used for leather and fashion items.
And, two, we should all learn to recognize a deliberate trick photo and hyped “alien creature” account when we see it. For goodness sake, be a little skeptical you click-loving, mystery-mongering web sites. Shame on you for promoting such nonsense.