Tetrapod Zoology

Yet again the world is going nuts over a weird, ugly carcass that is being identified by some as an alien, as a genetic mutation ‘of some sort’ (duh?), as a deformed dolphin (seriously: what?), or as an unidentified ‘monster’ that perhaps represents a new species. I’ve lost track of how many emails I received yesterday about the thing. It’s being dubbed the Cerro Azul Monster or Blue Stream Monster or Blue Hill Horror and was discovered at Cerro Azul, Panama. As was the case with the Montauk Monster, the animal’s real identity is bloody obvious and this is no mystery.


The (almost definitely bogus) story behind the carcass is that four teenagers (aged 14-16) encountered the creature as it emerged from a cave near Cerro Azul Stream last Saturday. It began to approach them by climbing over the rocks; they took to throwing stones at it (ahh, how I so love our species), killed it, and then threw it in the water. Note that it is NOT supposed to have washed up on a beach, or been discovered at the seaside, or anything like that. We have no idea whether this story is true or not, and it probably isn’t.


The animal’s short face, peculiar body shape (wide belly but very narrow, tapering chest) and very long, slender arms – all very obvious in the photos shown here – immediately show that it’s a sloth (albeit a hairless one: read on). Many people have already made this identification, mostly because the long, slim, curved claws on the right hand can be seen in one of the photos (might be the left hand, as note that the same image is flipped in the montage shown at top). I would speculate that the people who found the carcass staged it in position for the photos, and made up the story stated above. I assume – or, at least, I hope – that people who live in the more rural regions of Panama are familiar with sloths, but even so a hairless one would still look pretty unusual, and unusual enough to palm off as some sort of monster.


Of the two living kinds of sloth, the Bradypus species (the three-toed sloths) have really short snouts and their nostrils are close to the mouth. The Choloepus species (two-toed sloths) have a rather more protruding snout, with the nostrils being further away from the mouth. The Cerro Azul animal therefore seems to be a Bradypus, though it’s not possible to say which species (though, based on range, B. variegatus is most likely). Again: case closed. This is what sloths look like! However…

The weird thing is the absence of hair. As I’ve mentioned before (when discussing the ‘Montauk Monster’ case), rotting carcasses that spend a while in the water tend to lose their hair, and they can end up completely naked. This might have happened in this case, but it’s also possible that the animal was suffering from a condition such as, I dunno, chronic dermatitis or alopecia or something. I’m not aware of any reports of such ‘naked sloths’, but naked foxes, raccoons and other mammals are on record. Having said all that, the carcass is not completely naked: if you look at the photo at top left in the montage, you can see brownish, shaggy hair on the animal’s side and belly.


The sloth identity is further confirmed by the photo above: it appeared on Cryptomundo. This decomposing carcass is, without doubt at all, that of a three-toed sloth, though there’s some slight uncertainty as to whether or not this really does represent the same animal as that shown above. If it does then the cranial tissues have suffered from some incredibly rapid decomposition, as we can see a fully exposed skull (the right zygomatic arch is visible on the left, and the opening of the nasal cavity is facing towards us).

So, sorry, no monster, no alien, no deformity, no ‘genetic mutant’: just another ordinary and familiar animal. Again.

For other Tet Zoo articles on ‘monster’ carcasses see…

And for sloths and other xenarthrans see…


  1. #1 David Marjanović, OM
    September 18, 2009

    That’s one thing I like about Tet Zoo: the quick reactions!

  2. #2 Mark Lees
    September 18, 2009

    I agree it is very obviously a sloth – and I cannot believe that anyone who knew what a sloth looks like thought otherwise.

    Sloths look a bit freakish with hair – they look truely bizarre without.

  3. #3 Sigmund
    September 18, 2009

    It looks like something from a Dr Seuss book.

  4. #4 Jerzy
    September 18, 2009

    That’s E.T.! Bastards!

  5. #5 Jerzy
    September 18, 2009

    About three-toed sloths. I assumed them to be ungainly on the ground. To my surprise, in Venezuela, we saw a female with a baby on a lone youngish Cercopia in a clump of trees on a cattle pasture in the long deforested area. So, obviously it must have migrated acrooss the grass, and male who impregnated her, and perhaps many more sloth living in such habitats.

    So, how well and how often they walk?

  6. #6 Darren Naish
    September 18, 2009

    How well do they walk? Well enough…





    They’re not fast, but they’re not that slow either. Judging from youtube, they must cross roads fairly often. I bet they suffer from high mortality caused by traffic.

  7. #7 Michael P. Taylor
    September 18, 2009

    Those sloth-crossing-a-road videos are about the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen. How any sloth survives more then 30 seconds in the wild, I can hardly imagine. Still, there is always Terry: http://www.angryflower.com/terryi.html

  8. #8 SlothFan?
    September 18, 2009

    One thing I noticed more than the lack of hair was the fact that the nose wasn’t pigmented and the eyes looked poorly formed in close-ups. The eyes could be due to decomposition but is loss of skin pigmentation a common occurrance in dead animals? I initially thought it might be a fetal sloth posed on a small rock without a sense of scale due to the nose.

  9. #9 Darren Naish
    September 18, 2009

    Ah, good point. Fetal status would explain the glistening, rubbery look. I did wonder about the pink (rather than dark) snout.

    And, Mike: try picking up a wild sloth some time (though not in the curb-crawling sense).

  10. #10 Sordes
    September 18, 2009

    A user at Cryptomundo posted a link to a photo of Bradypus tridactylus fetus in formalin:
    It shows the striking similarity to the carcass. But the proportions are different, and the “monster” seems to be an adult specimen and no juvenile or even fetus. Again, as usual in such cases, we have no size comparison…
    I suppose the animal did not loose its hair during life, the body looks bloated and the skin seems to indicated the developement of gravewax, so it seems more probable that it was in water for some time.

  11. #11 Dave H
    September 18, 2009

    I lived in Panama for a year during the late 1980s. As I remember, sloths were quite common even in the densely-populated central part of the country around the canal. There is (was?) still quite a bit of forest cover there. I would imagine that rural Panamanians at least would be familiar with them. They were also often seen as roadkill, so yes, they do come to grief when trying to cross the highways.

  12. #12 Craig York
    September 18, 2009

    I don’t think its a fetus, either. I grant its difficult
    to judge scale in the first images, but the rocks just
    don’t look “small”. Given that the story of its dicovery
    is pretty suspect, I’d bet its some varient on the Fiji
    mermaid scam. The poor critter was killed,then shaved, or
    diplitated in some fashion. Fairly quickly too, I’d wager-
    I could be wrong, but the tounge looks pretty wet.

  13. #13 Emma
    September 18, 2009

    Am I the only person distressed by this? If the teenagers’ tale is true, then an animal has been beaten to death. If it’s untrue, then we’re all gawking at a foetus for novelty value.

  14. #14 Boesse
    September 18, 2009

    Hey Folks,

    It’s not E.T., a deformed dolphin, or a sloth. An article last night correctly identified it as “Gollum”. Clearly, Central America = Middle Earth.

  15. #15 Boesse
    September 18, 2009

    Speaking of “sloaths”, check out this video (slightly hilarious for those of us with a black heart or twisted sense of humor):

  16. #16 Raymond Ho
    September 18, 2009

    Here’s a video from a newscast of this (now that you have more than just a few pics of this critter)


    It really baffles me how that corpse ended up on the hill. I suspect the kids saw a bloated, shiny and semi-hairless floating object down by the water and dragged it up the hill.

  17. #17 CB
    September 18, 2009

    My 6 year old son saw the sad pictures of the poor “monster” animal and said, “That’s a sloth.” He’s 6. Those awful teenagers who killed it should be punished. My little boy was so affected by the torment of the tortured thing, that he drew a nice picture of himself hugging a sloth.

  18. #18 Jerzy
    September 18, 2009

    Actually, some fur remains on the belly. I think it is decomposing adult.

  19. #19 kendalltaylor111@gmail.com
    September 18, 2009

    Check this out, if you haven’t seen it already. Scroll down a bit…


  20. #20 Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
    September 18, 2009


    Interesting video. Although this (and the latest issue of Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology) inspired me to consider an alternative (perhaps for “Quaternary Fight Club“): The Sloth’s Revenge: Harpagornis vs. Megatherium. Okay, they are from opposite sides of the planet, but still…

  21. #21 kendalltaylor111@gmail.com
    September 18, 2009

    Sorry, I guess somebody did post that already.
    Yeah, gawking at it won’t kill it any more than it already is dead, and, considering what evidence is apparent, I don’t think any teenagers brutalized it. What’s bad is that somebody had to touch it. Gross.
    I feel most sorry for Panamanians, since they apparently feel they have to one-up the U.S. by throwing a dead animal on some rocks and calling it mysterious.

  22. #22 Jim Thomerson
    September 18, 2009

    I’ve seen a video of a sloth swimming. They swim OK, just not fast. I recall reading that sloths are more abundant than you would think, and have the highest biomass of any large canopy animal. There was a paper years ago in Association for Tropical Biology publication as to how fast an agitated sloth could move. I don’t recall the numbers but it was faster than I expected.

  23. #23 Jim Robins
    September 18, 2009

    Jerzy said: “Actually, some fur remains on the belly.”

    Come on, at least read the article!

  24. #24 Boesse
    September 18, 2009


    Wonderful idea – we only have to find someone named ‘Mammal Bob” or “Pleistocene Bill” and we’d have ourselves a show.

  25. #25 FujiApples
    September 18, 2009

    Wow I hate the human race.

  26. #26 deang
    September 18, 2009

    Emma at #13: I’m distressed by it too, and I assume many others are.

  27. #27 Tim Morris
    September 18, 2009

    OH GOD!

    how did that get there?!

  28. #28 M. O. Erickson
    September 18, 2009

    Emma and CB: I too am very upset and disturbed by this.

    “Those awful teenagers who killed it should be punished.”

    I agree, assuming that their story is even true.

  29. #29 DVMKurmes
    September 19, 2009

    Arrgh-the Phoenix AZ TV news just showed this story, complete with the “fight” with teenagers reported without question, and “zoologists are baffled”. Um, No.

  30. #30 alice
    September 19, 2009

    what a pity to an innocent animal, and yet trying to twist around by telling the public about being attacked by it is another sin. After report by the press, some might even think it’s our right to kill when see creatures they themselves regard as ‘strange’. I am sorry for the pity animal but more to the mankind!

  31. #31 jesse
    September 19, 2009

    i think if you just try to compair pictures thats not realy proven fact thats just more bull sh;t adding to the story maby a cover up for the truth that you dont know an actual disecting and real anlieze proof of the creatur then one might belive theory belive nothing that you hear and less than half of what you see

  32. #32 Warren Beattie
    September 19, 2009

    “Yet again the world is going nuts…”

    TBH this is the first I’ve heard of it. I’m feeling pretty smug that I looked at it and thought ‘sloth’ too, though. I’m as smart as a 6-year-old!

    As for the people hand-wringing about the frightful yobs attacking a poor animal (this comments thread reminds me of that Private Eye column.): that’s assuming they didn’t just find it washed up somewhere. Let’s keep the sackcloth and ashes until we have the real story…

  33. #33 ad
    September 19, 2009


  34. #34 David Marjanović
    September 20, 2009

    jesse, do you know what a sentence is?

    Because… it’s difficult to find out what you actually mean.

    In case I guessed it anyway: sloths are easily recognizable from the outside; you don’t need to cut something up to find out whether it’s a sloth. The photos are good enough.

  35. #35 JuliaM
    September 20, 2009

    Well, even if it wouldn’t fool anyone, at least in Panama your wildlife does look a little freaky and exotic when flashed around the world.

    Pity the poor reporters of Lambeth, who have to resort to this:


    “Is this the Palace Panther?”

    No. Next question?

  36. #36 William Miller
    September 20, 2009

    Thankfully the comments on that article point out that it’s just a domestic cat.

  37. #37 JuliaM
    September 20, 2009

    Indeed, but one of them was me!

  38. #38 seabold
    September 20, 2009

    This makes more sense. The initial time I saw the carcass the credits listed it as having been found in England. Not exactly sloth territory. 🙂

  39. #39 kris
    September 20, 2009

    darren, i suppose it must be frustrating to get requests for such “cases” time and again, but i think this is absolutely great. if you were to write a book about debunking monsters, i’d be sure to buy it.

  40. #40 A Nonny Moose
    September 20, 2009

    jesse @ #31: Are you high or something? That must be some heavy stuff you’re on, as you seem to be unaware of a nice little thing called MAKING SOME FREAKING SENSE.

  41. #41 Lea
    September 20, 2009

    This is a drowned SLOTH, no doubt about it! I´ve seen a drowned lynx (bob cat) or dog nearby rapids (in Finland) and it looked just the same because of loosing fur coat.
    To make sure it is a sloth check right hand nails and shape of it´s head from picture.

  42. #42 Alien Sloth
    September 20, 2009

    Why do you humans all make fun of my hairless brother? Some of you are hairless too! We come to your planet and your children kill us with rocks! Well no more! We Sloths are going to make a stand, WE WILL TAKE OVER THIS PLANET! But first a short nap… mmmmmm

  43. #43 Skeptic Swede
    September 20, 2009

    The headline in the tabloid was: Creature mystifies a whole world.
    Probably not the whole world, I thought, typed hairless Panama site:scienceblogs.com into Google, and clicked on I’m Feeling Lucky.

    Nice blog! First time I’m here …

  44. #44 lkjsfoijwlkj
    September 20, 2009

    I thought it was George W. Bush without his suit and wig.

  45. #45 Jason S
    September 20, 2009

    Worst way to survive in this economy #23,567: Stage a scene from a cheap 1950’s monster B-movie somewhere in the wilderness and try to make money off the publicity.

  46. #46 Furball
    September 20, 2009

    Whatever happened, it seems tragic. The story of the boys, the photos, the whole thing is very very sad somehow.

  47. #47 The Other Alien Sloth
    September 20, 2009

    I have stepped in because my cousin at comment 42 has dozed off. You may think all this is funny NOW, but soon you will be running for your lives! The death of my cousin’s brother WILL BE AVENGED! If you earthlings think you can get away with allowing your disturbed rock-weilding children to go caveman on our butts like this THINK AGAIN! HA HA HA! THE SLOTHS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH! Whoa, I’m getting sleepy… mmmmmm… z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z…

  48. #48 Tim Morris
    September 20, 2009

    Oh god, dont tell the Darwinists.

  49. #49 Cr@cked0utnl!br@ry
    September 20, 2009

    In my opinion, this creature is very obviously the Manbearpig…half man, half bear, and half pig.

  50. #50 wendy
    September 20, 2009

    #48 So that would clearly make it 1 AND a half. Brilliant. you must be right.

  51. #51 WTF
    September 21, 2009

    WOW…this one comment section sums up most of the issues with the word today….you have some people that want to tar and feather these kids before they even know what REALLY happened…..you have others that are POSITIVE that it is a SLOTH….it is so obvious that a 6 year old can see it and be moved to the point of artistic expression..others decide to ignore the conflict but still want to feel a sense of belonging, so they just joke and poke fun at the situation…then you have the ones like me….that just show up and criticize without offering an opinion of our own. Here is my opinion, if I were out there in the woods and this creature came towards me…I would beat it with everything I could find….either that or run away. I damn sure wouldn’t think, “Awww, its cute.” Get off of your high horses and try to think like a 12 year old….

  52. #52 JuliaM
    September 21, 2009

    “WOW…this one comment section sums up most of the issues with the word today..”

    What is the word for today, then? Umbrella? Wheelclamp? Ambidextrous?

    No-one told me!

    And I think the Internet has far more than its fair share of people thinking like 12 year olds…

  53. #53 Dartian
    September 21, 2009

    if I were out there in the woods and this creature came towards me…I would beat it with everything I could find….either that or run away

    You don’t need to run away from a sloth, ya’know. You can just walk away from it. (Hint: it’s called ‘sloth’ for a reason). Though there is really no need for that either, as sloths are completely harmless to humans.

    I damn sure wouldn’t think, “Awww, its cute.”

    Not even if it was a baby sloth like this?

  54. #54 Rosco
    September 21, 2009

    Do sloths suffer from sarcoptic mange?

    That could lead to the gross hair loss.

  55. #55 smidget
    September 21, 2009


    Wendy has clearly never seen South Park.


    Don’t be a b!tch, Wendy. Just because you didn’t get the joke doesn’t mean that Cr@cked0utnl!br@ry is the idiot, here.

  56. #56 Smack
    September 21, 2009

    They’ve been running this story at cnn.com for two days now. It’s on the home page as I type this. No mention that it even *might* be a sloth. They also report that zoologists in Panama don’t know what it is.

    God, CNN sucks.

    Fox News, on the other hand, is reporting that it probably IS an alien that died while trying to swim to the US for free health care. Those damn illegal aliens!

  57. #57 Joshua
    September 21, 2009

    I wish that it really was some previously unknown creature, but it’s not. It is almost certainly a sloth. Admittedly, I hadn’t realized just how bizarre such creatures looked, especially when bald, but a quick Google images search convinced me.
    Now, I do have two questions: 1) why is its nose no longer black; 2) why is its mouth so wide (that’s the only part of it that doesn’t look like a sloth)?

  58. #58 ThisIsDumbAndNotAnAlien
    September 21, 2009

    Another stupid story from yet the “media” looking to cash in. Can you believe this is all over the news??? Are media outlets really that desperate for a story???
    It is obvious that the “dumb” kids are not telling the truth. This is just another “youtube” piece of garbage that “UFO” believers will eat up and ponder for years. I’d like to throw rocks and sticks at the idiot kids who killed this Sloth, shaved it down, and placed it the rocks. Come on people… don’t be so gullible. 🙂

  59. #59 Joao S. Lopes
    September 21, 2009

    Aliens and naked sloths apart, there’s lot of good tetrapod stuff appearing: Raptorex, Spinophorosaurus, Albalophosaurus, “de-lionized” Panthera atrox, Kinkonychelys, etc.

  60. #60 Jennifer
    September 21, 2009

    When I saw it I right away said sloth. Especially with those long hooked claws.
    I don’t think the kids killed the animal. There is no edvidence of any cuts, brusies, etc on the animal any where in the photos and video. It is definently a bloated sloth washed up on the shore.
    If you compare these pics with some of this author’s other blogs on animals amd decomposition in the water you will see that there are many animals that look VERY unrecognizable after being in the water for who knows how long.

  61. #61 M. O. Erickson
    September 21, 2009

    It is the best zoological blog out there, period.

  62. #62 Paul W
    September 21, 2009

    I want to hear more about this “de-lionized” Panthera atrox. What’s the go there?

  63. #63 M. O. Erickson
    September 21, 2009

    “I want to hear more about this “de-lionized” Panthera atrox”

    Second that one! I’ve been Googling for an hour now and can’t find squat. Tell us please!

  64. #64 Tim Morris
    September 21, 2009


  65. #65 sara
    September 22, 2009

    You were just cited on the local news as Dr. Naish, “animal expert.” 🙂

  66. #66 Richard Hing
    September 22, 2009

    Two papers have come out this year on American lions that I’m aware of. There’s this one:

    Barnett et al. 2009. Phylogeography of lions (Panthera leo ssp.) reveals three distinct taxa and a late Pleistocene reduction in genetic diversity. Molecular Ecology, 18: 1668 – 1677.

    Lions were the most widespread carnivores in the late Pleistocene, ranging from southern Africa to the southern USA, but little is known about the evolutionary relationships among these Pleistocene populations or the dynamics that led to their extinction. Using ancient DNA techniques, we obtained mitochondrial sequences from 52 individuals sampled across the present and former range of lions. Phylogenetic analysis revealed three distinct clusters: (i) modern lions, Panthera leo; (ii) extinct Pleistocene cave lions, which formed a homogeneous population extending from Europe across Beringia (Siberia,
    Alaska and western Canada); and (iii) extinct American lions, which formed a separate population south of the Pleistocene ice sheets. The American lion appears to have become genetically isolated around 340 000 years ago, despite the apparent lack of significant barriers to gene flow with Beringian populations through much of the late Pleistocene. We found potential evidence of a severe population bottleneck in the cave lion during the previous interstadial, sometime after 48 000 years, adding to evidence from bison, mammoths, horses and brown bears that megafaunal populations underwent major genetic alterations throughout the last interstadial, potentially presaging the processes involved in the subsequent end-Pleistocene mass extinctions.


    And this one that’s just come out:

    Christianson and Harris. 2009. Craniomandibular Morphology and Phylogenetic Affinities of Panthera atrox: Implications for the Evolution and Paleobiology of the Lion Lineage. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 29: 934-945.

    The great North American Pleistocene pantherine felid Panthera atrox has had a turbulent phylogenetic history, and has been claimed to show affinities to both the jaguar and the tiger; currently, it is most often regarded as a subspecies of the extant lion. The cranial, mandibular, and dental morphology of Panthera atrox was compared with those of extant lions, jaguars, and tigers using bivariate, multivariate, and shape analyses. Results indicate that the skull of Panthera atrox shows lion affinities, but also deviates from lions in numerous aspects. Mandibular morphology is more similar to jaguars and tigers and, as with cranial morphology, the mandible shows a number of traits not present among extant pantherines. Multivariate analyses grouped Panthera atrox separately from other pantherines. Panthera atrox was no lion, and cannot be assigned to any of the extant pantherines; it constituted a separate species. A possible scenario for evolution of P. atrox is that it formed part of a pantherine lineage that entered the Americas in the mid-Pleistocene and gave rise to the extant jaguar and Panthera atrox in the late Pleistocene of North America. These studies suggest that previous models of lion biogeography are incorrect, and although lions may have been present in Beringia, they did not penetrate into the American mainland.


  67. #67 Paul W
    September 22, 2009

    Thanks Richard.

    Since I can’t get the second paper, I wonder if Darren has a take on all this (hint).

  68. #68 Mat Thomas
    September 22, 2009

    For anyone interested, I recently wrote a blog post about this incident from an animal rights perspective: http://animalrighter.blogspot.com/2009/09/mystery-corpse-extraterrestrial-visitor.html

  69. #69 Nathan Myers
    September 22, 2009

    Hi Sara! I thought you’d disappeared from Earth. (Any news on wax-eating behavior in your bulbul?) What station’s news mentioned “Dr. Naish, animal expert”? Did they suggest what kind of animal he is, or what he’s expert on?

  70. #70 sara
    September 22, 2009

    Hi Nathan! It was Ch. 8 news. “Animal expert” seemed a strange name for his qualification.

    As for “kera-phagy” in Bulbuls, I did not leave any more candles out for Bulbuls to devour.

  71. #71 Nathan Myers
    September 22, 2009

    I guess a zoologist studies zoos.

    I thought by now you might have got your bulbul some beeswax — maybe even a honeycomb — for a treat.

  72. #72 Lasarina
    September 23, 2009

    wow it looks freakishly A W E S O M E………



  73. #73 Alan Kellogg
    September 23, 2009

    sara, #70

    Another San Diegan I see. I saw the story as Channel 8 ran it on Monday evening, and sent them a link to this post. They are sorta right concerning Darren, insofar as paleontology is about animals. Long dead animals, but animals.

  74. #74 Alan Kellogg
    September 23, 2009

    KGTV in San Diego has a slide show up about the creature.

  75. #75 Nathan Myers
    September 23, 2009

    The KGTV slide show fails to identify it as a sloth. Plus points for citing Darren, minus points for obscurantism.

  76. #76 Fingertier
    September 24, 2009

    In Korea, some stupid news articles say that it is ‘Gollum’ from ‘Lord of rings’;;

  77. #77 seabold
    September 24, 2009

    Well, that’s just preciousssssssssssss. 🙂

  78. #78 sara
    September 24, 2009

    Nathan, no, I did not give her any wax yet. I gave her cigarettes, instead :/

    Alan, I was pleased to see that Dr. Naish was cited, but “animal expert” sounded like some made up title for someone who got his degrees online or something strange. They could have said “Dr. Naish, a guy who does science,” and that would have been worse . . . for Dr. Naish and for science. Maybe they think that “paleontologist” is too big a word for the masses? I hope not.

  79. #79 valagos
    September 27, 2009

    Hey, since we are on the topic od sloths, any chance we can get another post on xenarthrans. They are just fascinatingly weird, and it is remarkable how little we get to hear from them. If I recall you owe us a post on anteaters…

  80. #80 David Marjanović
    September 27, 2009

    […] “animal expert” sounded like some made up title for someone who got his degrees online or something strange.

    It sounds like “dinosaur expert”, which is what George Blasing was said to be in Jurassic Fight Club… JF being just about all that anyone has ever heard of him…

    If I recall you owe us a post on anteaters…



  81. #81 Julie McCalpin
    September 29, 2009

    Thanks for clearing that up. For those of us out here in the real world who were left wondering, and are not capable of identifying a hairless sloth on sight (or any sloth except for Snook on It’s a Big Big World on PBS) I appreciate finding an informed, intelligent, opinion. I only wish the news would report on the rational update, and not just the initial mystery, but that doesn’t lure in nearly as many viewers, does it? Thanks again. I saw the initial report, knew that there had to be a real answer by now, and am very glad to have found it.

  82. #82 valagos
    September 29, 2009

    Hmm… yes, temnospondyls are also fascinating creatures, but even more obscure for us mere mortals to follow in the literature given their even more extraneous skeletal structure. I´m not a scientist, but I try to devour as much as I can grasp from this blog since I love paleontology and this is one of the few places in which one can get real meaningful details. It sometimes takes me several days and quite a few trips into google to make sense of some of the concepts expounded here, but it is always a trip worth taking. Thanks for the pointer, though, it actually led me to searching for a few very interesting papers on these ancient amphibians in the web…

  83. #83 Finland
    October 1, 2009

    Can you find any trustworthy sources about this? Or even relatively trustworthy…if yes, could you please post a link..

  84. #84 Onur
    October 1, 2009

    what about its nose?

  85. #85 Jukka
    October 14, 2009

    On the subject of the nose, I notice the racoon and drowned cat in the Montauk Monster post both lacked any visible pigmentation. Could it have been caused by prolonged submersion in water? This sloth looks very shiny and moist to me.

  86. #86 carol
    October 24, 2009

    Why are the rocks in the two pictures so completely different ?

    If this was a truly decomposed carcass to that advanced of a degree, people sure spent a lot of time carrying it’s delicate body about. Might explain the head trauma, if so.

    I have some faith in the zoologists and wildlife experts in Panama. Plus, as you said, they are quite familiar with their own animals. It would only have taken a couple of days to confirm it being a “normal sloth” by any tests. An anomoly or two of mutation is not unusual in our world. It happens regularly.

    Rumour has it that the US government stepped in to ship it out after initiating tests disproved its identity as a ‘normal sloth’, so…who knows if we will ever know the ‘true identity’ of this creature.

    It seems, however, that any truly credible science would have revealed it immediately, not taken months to say, “um, btw, this is ‘just a normal sloth’.” If someone was to say that NOW, which, I have not found yet — I would find it far more suspect than not of being ‘something unusual’.

  87. #87 carol
    October 24, 2009

    P.S. – my initiating question regarding the rocks, might also refer to the possibility/probability of those NOT being pictures of the same animal.

  88. #88 David Marjanović
    October 25, 2009

    Rumour has it that the US government

    Always those Americans who desperately believe their government has something against them! It’s so ridiculous!

    Why the fuck would they steal a sloth carcass, or in fact anything, from Panama (another country, you know) and make it disappear!?! TSIB.

  89. #89 Heather Rena'
    November 18, 2009

    I think that no one should kill anything unless it is man made. And since this alien looking thing didn’t do nothin 2 no1 it should live…Gosh, it ain’t your place to kill any thing man…read the Bible.

  90. #90 Naliju
    February 7, 2010

    Well I made an article about this subject a few months ago, trying to identify the animal, comparing the photos with sloths and for me, there is not doubt about it. The body and the head are the same than of sloths ; but more than a Bradypus, I think that is more likely a two toed sloth, Choloepus Hoffmanii (common in Panama) because, justly, of the shape of the head, but perhaps I am wrong.

    The interesting fact is that C. Hoffmanii is the first reservoir of Leishmania braziliensis in Panama. Also, they discovered many others virus and bacterias in this animal. So perhaps he was infected by some kind of germs… leishmaniose, perhaps ? We can speculate.

    My article is written in French, thus sorry for no french readers…


  91. #91 jayd
    April 12, 2010

    poor lil sloth. stupid racist kids, killin sloths just cuz it was a cracker.(sorry)

  92. #92 Watson
    April 14, 2010

    *Upper left hand corner of full upper body pic* Is that fur I spy there? There is no way this is not a sloth. Its just lost its fur due to decay.

  93. #93 Tony Lucas
    May 1, 2010

    It is amazing how drowning, or long [eriods of water emersion can alter a body, through bloating and the fur falling off.
    I came across this last year with a possum body that had been washed up after a storm on the beach in Gisbourne, New Zealand.
    Jon Downes and I decided to put it on the CFZ bloggo to see what the responses would be. Luckily there are a lot of very smart people out there who managed to recognise it for what it was, but even so it stumped others.
    But throughout Cryptozoological history there have been numerous instances we’re quite mundane things have been mistaken for something else. There’s quite often happens with chunks of the whale blubber that washed ashore and become some of the mysterious blobs.

    It actually makes you wonder what people from centuries ago, with the lack of education and under encouraged scientific curiosity thought of the dead things that washed up on the beaches.

  94. #94 wtfbeotchessss
    November 17, 2010


  95. #95 Gabby
    January 26, 2011

    Well the thing is, the kids didn’t know what it was. And it was comming after them, if i were them I would arm myself. Also, I can’t IMAGINE that thing comming after me. CREEPY!!

  96. #96 Steve317
    March 29, 2011

    This animal had been dead for quite some time before the photo was taken. No way the boys saw it alive!

  97. #97 Naruto XD LOL
    March 29, 2011

    Shave a sloth then see if it similar. That all.

  98. #98 russ
    March 30, 2011

    Anyone seen the Montauk Monster ? Looks very similar to cerro azul beast … Theory is that they came from Plum Island . Thoughts???

  99. #99 David Marjanović
    March 30, 2011

    Anyone seen the Montauk Monster ?

    A bit below the top left corner of this page, there’s a search engine. Enter “Montauk Monster” there, and look what happens.

    In short, it’s a dead, rotting raccoon.

  100. #100 G
    March 30, 2011

    lol @ the idea of people claiming to be ‘chased’ by a sloth. Would be much happier if the kids washed up after being pummeled by rocks. Garbage.

  101. #101 Colin
    April 29, 2011

    My first reaction to the picture was that it looked like the cave salamanders they recently discovered that are completely blind and pale due to living in complete darkness. It was interesting to then read that the witnesses claimed to have seen the creature emerge from a cave. The animal definitely looks like a sloth, but almost like an albino sloth. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was some genetic or decomposition anomaly.. ..Although it would be exciting if it were a new species that lived in just one specific cave like those salamanders 😉

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