Ever since we started tackling marine cryptids (not to be confused with real cryptic species) during our annual Week of Ocean Pseudoscience, people occasionally e-mail me with new “rotting rodent” style monsters. This news story – Behold: The San Diego Demonoid – has been making the twitter and e-mails rounds today. Like the Montauk Monster a few years back, a waterlogged, decomposed critter washed up on a beach, this time in San Diego, and people unfamiliar with what decomposing varmints look like branded it some sort of cryptid. To the right is the uncredited photo (now credited to Josh Menard) that’s been cropping up in various corners of the internet. Like many “cryptic critter” photos leaked to the press, the ones associated with this story fail to show the entire animal or provide any sense of scale. That should be red flag #1 that it is, in fact, a common local resident that is being dressed up to appear more monstrous than it really is.
Now, I’m not a marsupial specialists, but I’ve seen my fair share of possums (Opposums for our non-southern readers) in all states of decay, so those nasty teeth immediately clued me in. Here’s a possum skull (from a Virginia possum) for comparisons: