Hairless, toothy mystery carcass in Santa Barbara has a normal ID

It’s hairless, bloated and decomposing. Of course people will freak out and speculate wildly.

It's a dead mammal. No doubt about that. But it's "MONSTROUS" so go viral.

It’s a dead mammal. No doubt about that. But it’s “MONSTROUS” so go viral.

Unusual Creature Puzzles People on a Santa Barbara Beach | News – KEYT.

A brownish creature, with sharp teeth and claws, is deceased on the beach in Santa Barbara after the latest storm, and many people are wondering what it is.

It was found near a drain washout, but also near an area where the sandy water from the harbor is coming out of a dredging pipe east of Stearns Wharf.

Of course, if you are another news source picking this up, you add some flair:
Mysterious Creature With ‘Ridiculously Large Canines’ Discovered On California Beach, Local Residents Baffled.

The animal is about 2 feet long and “had the body shape of a pig – kind of a fat stomach, middle area. And the canines were just ridiculously large,” Josh Menard, a 19-year-old snowboarder from Lake Tahoe, said. He also took a picture of the mysterious animal.

He may know how to take a picture but I really don’t think he saw a dead animal up close before. The fat stomach is from decomposition gases bloating the carcass. It’s canines look rather normal but because the fur is gone and skin is distorted, they look large, as do the long claws. This is typical of such carcasses exposed to water. The people who are “baffled” are those who a.) don’t follow these stories on the news apparently, and b.) don’t know much of anything about the local animal life. It’s just not that unusual.

Some very silly people have called it a dinosaur because it looks old. (Oh, dear. Thank you science education in the US) or remark on its “fangs”. First guess for me would be badger which is more obvious in this picture.

dead badger

The American BadgerTaxidea taxus – guess is seconded by several knowledgable people on Group of Fort.

This explains the head shape, nose, long digging claws, and formidable dentition.


The original Montauk Monster, lo those many years ago, was the first mystery carcass viral internet story. Raccoons often creep people out. Compare this critter to the East River raccoon carcass of 2012. There are some similarities. People STILL do not believe it was a raccoon but some mutant or hybrid. It’s best to check with biologists or zoologists who are far more versed in looking at these things in all their forms.

New mysterious hairless freaky-looking things appear two or three times a year in the news. You can see an array of them here: Freak Out over Hairless Mystery Beasts. Dogs, cats, seals, minks, opossum, badgers, you name it, animals look weird when dead and are missing the traits we most readily identify them by.

Remember, if you come upon such a carcass and don’t want to bring it home, use a scale object in the picture for size and carefully photograph at least the head, TEETH and the FEET which can be used to ID the creature. And, take more than one picture! But above all, don’t poke it with a stick.

  15 comments for “Hairless, toothy mystery carcass in Santa Barbara has a normal ID

  1. idoubtit
    December 18, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    Do me a favor, folks. Please add this link to any comment threads you come across on this story. It’s a good way to send new people to the website.


  2. Bill T.
    December 18, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    I don’t have any standing on which to form an opinion, don’t have any idea what it is I’m looking at, therefore I conclude it’s an alien. Good luck trying to change my mind, I won’t understand your arguments therefore I’ll reject them.

  3. idoubtit
    December 18, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    At least you are “honest” which is more than I can say for the hoards of speculators to come. 😉

  4. fredthe chemist
    December 18, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    I agree with Bill.

  5. Ronald H. Pine
    December 18, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    I say badger, also.

  6. Richard Smith
    December 18, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    It cannot be a badger: I see no sign of either mushrooms or snakes!

  7. Richard
    December 18, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    Badger is plausible, but could it be a coyote?

    And good advice about poking with a stick, once while a teenager I was walking with my cousin on the Lake Huron shoreline and came across an odd and bloated animal, Mark poked it, we regretted it …..

  8. Kurt
    December 18, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    I was one of the Facebook folks who IDed it as a badger – I’m a Southern California wildlife biologist. So, keys to ID:
    -location: California only has a few larger land mammals. Exotics do appear, but California has stricter laws against owning exotic mammals than some other areas of the country.
    -size: One site listed it as about 2 feet I believe. Most coyotes are going to be much longer.
    -teeth: The teeth alone could, at a glance, be a variety of species but compare our common roadkills of that size – raccoon, bobcat, coyote, and badger.
    -front legs: note how short they are and how stocky.
    -feet: Those feet, appearing almost without toes but with lengthy claws, look VERY much like badgers. Compare them to the other species I mentioned.
    -the face: The general shape of the face and nose just says badger.
    Put all these characters together and that’s my educated guess. California does have wolverines, but not many and not near Santa Barbara. The species most likely to look very similar – size and shape – is raccoon, but raccoons have ‘people hands’ and the teeth look a little different.

  9. Bill T.
    December 18, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    The claws don’t look canid, but the teeth look plausible. Possibly someone with better credentials than I will chime in.

    While I was editing this, Kurt chimed in.

  10. Bill T.
    December 18, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    Kurt, I’m NOT a biologist or comparative anatomist, etc., but the claws don’t look canid to me, they appear less curved, sharper, and longer but that could be because flesh has drawn away, exposing more claw than I’m used to seeing?

    On second thought, I think I’ll just stick with alien.

  11. idoubtit
    December 19, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    Darren Naish thinks skunk. It’s very hard to discern between the badger/skunk but the carcass seems rather a bit large and robust for a skunk?

  12. idoubtit
    December 19, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    And, another professional vote for badger.

  13. December 20, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    Voting striped skunk for this one. It’d really help if we could get some sort of reference of scale here. It’d also help to know its tail length (if present). Skunks have surprisingly long front claws, though not as long as badger claws. I’m seeing skunk claws here — unlike badger claws, they aren’t a near-uniform length. The nose also looks more skunk-like, and not as wide as a badger’s nose. Several years ago I found a skunk washed ashore on Lake Superior in this same state of decay ( It was full of maggots and looked extremely freaky, but certainly not a “monster.”

  14. Ronald H. Pine
    December 22, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    As time goes on, I’m leaning more toward skunk, as opposed to badger. I sent an e-mail to the guy at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, who identified it as a badger, asking him why he discounted skunk, but I’ve received no answer back as yet.

  15. Golsteijn
    December 23, 2014 at 5:41 AM

    Though there are not many living in California, it might be a wolverine

Comments are closed.