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Name the Mystery Fish Continued…

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 30th, 2005

The Mystery Continues: Strange Fish Remains Unidentified

Over 25,000 visits to the "Name the Mystery Fish" Cryptomundo blog produced some interesting leads, a dating for the postcard, and much speculation on what the unknown fish species might be. But the mystery continues…

Yesterday’s blog "Name the Mystery Fish" received an enormous amount of interest and generated the largest number of comments seen here yet.

It continues to stimulate speculation across the Internet. The case remains open as to when, where, and what kind of fish is pictured.

The identification of this specimen is still unsolved and your further comments are welcome at the original blog or here.

Today, I post the entire back of the Mystery Fish postcard, in this new blog, so all could see it. As you can observe, this old postcard, now determined, thanks to the research of you, Cryptomundo readers, appears to have been produced between 1904-18.

The location that is in the lead seems to be in the Pacific, perhaps the Philippines. But some still feel it might be WWI France. I don’t know.

Naming this mystery fish is an open question, and no, I don’t know the answer. No trickery here.

This is a true-life cryptozoological mystery that is unfolding right before your eyes on this blog. Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful assistance in trying to solve this one.

Mystery Fish Postcard

(Click on image to see full size version)

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

71 Responses to “Name the Mystery Fish Continued…”

  1. Godrock responds:

    It appears to be a snake and not a fish. Placement of eyes, length of mouth and absence of gills. Appears that we’re only seeing front half (or third) of an asian anaconda. South America, late 50’s/early 60’s. Best guess given this info and seeing the original.

  2. Toirtis responds:

    Most definitely not a snake….and there are no Asian Anacondas. Perhaps surprisingly to most, the heads of all the giant Boids are quite small in comparison to their bodies.

    As far as the possibility of France…the presence of palm trees would make that unlikely. The argument that the shack boards appear to have come from deciduous North American trees (as evidenced by the knots) seems to hold up well, and would point toward Florida or environs.

  3. Batgirl responds:

    Hello Mr. Coleman,

    This ‘mystery’ fish was spotted off the coast of Portugal, by my Grandfather and his brother, in 1964. I am 1000% percent sure this is the same animal because my grandfather (who painted in his spare time), including the anomaly in a painting he made of mermaids.
    My Grandfather is dead now but my Grandmother still has the painting. It’s in oil, the dimensions are pretty big and it is hanging in an old bedroom in the attic.
    As I said, I am completely certain this is the same animal and if it is that would mean there is more than one.

    Thank you for your time,

  4. marleigh responds:

    I don’t know guys, that doesn’t look much like a fish, but I very much doubt that it’s a snake. I’ve seen fish that big, no question, but the lack of fins of any kind is rather disturbing. I also can’t find any gills, which makes me more than a little suspicious, but the thing that bothers me the most is that I think I can see nostrils on it. This creature reminds me more of a lizard than anything else. Anybody else agree?

  5. shovethenos responds:

    My guess is for a large snake similar to an anaconda, as “Godrock” guessed, or some kind of giant salamander.

    Items supporting an anaconda:

    -It has an eye and nostril configuration similar to what large, semi-aquatic snakes like anacondas have – eyes and notrils at the top and toward the front of the head, so they only have to poke the very top and front of the head out of the water to breath and spot prey.

    Note the head close-ups here.

    -If what is pictured in the photo is only part of the animal, then it would be very large indeed, since the head is only a fraction of the length of most snakes. There have been accounts of anacondas that are much larger than what has been documented – over 60 feet. See this wikipedia entry.

    It is possible that the men pictured were only able to carry the head section out, only found the head section, the head section was severed by a ship propeller, etc.

    -What leads away from an anaconda or anaconda-like snake is the coloration -most anacondas seem to have a mottled camoflage pattern or dark color. The animal pictured seems to have a lighter color or some kind of bilateral coloration scheme – darker on top, light colored underbelly. Its possible that the animal was skinned or decomposed and was originally darker, but if the animal is naturally lighter-colored it would suggest something other than an anaconda or anaconda-like snake. Which brings me to the “giant salamander” guess.

    Items supporting some kind of giant salamander:

    -As mentioned above, the color would seem to indicate some kind of animal other than an anaconda. There are a number of salamanders that can be light or lighter-colored, or have bilateral coloration.

    -Also, there seems to be some kind of finlike or wispy structure on the ventral side of the animal just behind the head. This could be a set of external gills. There are several kinds of large salamanders that have these kinds of structures, like the North American mudpuppy.

    -Note also that some of the large salamanders, like the mudpuppy, have an eye and nostril configuration similar to the animal pictured.

    -What leads away from some kind of giant salamander are the lack of limbs. Again, we could be looking at only part of the animal and the limbs were severed, eaten by scavengers, or decomposed. Although I believe there are some salamanders that are legless.

  6. marleigh responds:

    Well, whatever it is, it’s still not got a name, has it? I second Rev. Bill’s son’s choice of Nemo. 😀

  7. shovethenos responds:

    Yeah, I agree with “marleigh”, upon enlarging the enhanced photo you can see that the head seems to have the notch in the front of the top jaw out of which a snake or lizard pokes its forked tongue.

    The end of the creature doesn’t seem to have any fins on it, so it is very possible we are only looking at part of the animal.

    It does look very reptillian, though. The dark blotch towards the top of the head back behind the eye could be an ear hole, which lizards have and snakes don’t. Maybe some kind of large monitor lizard. The fossil record suggests very large monitors in Australia. Then you have the Komodo Dragon in Indonesia. Or if the blotch isn’t an ear hole some kind of large sea snake.

    In any case its a very interesting picture. If it’s real it’s very strange.

  8. tschai responds:

    I believe the Florida location or California may be correct-and this creature is not a fish but a dead seal-or possibly a manatee. The forward flipper has been torn away, possibly by being caught up in a tow line or fishing rig or even a boat prop-this still happens in Florida. The shine on the body suggests wet fur matted against the creatures body.The blunt snout (it’s difficult to see the nostril structure even in the enhanced photo)makes me believe it to be a manatee-possibly a juvenile. This also would explain the abscence of a dorsal fin. It’s as good a guess as any. Anyone else concur?

  9. mmka responds:

    Palm trees in the background – debatable.

    Of the 28 different Snakehead species, the largest grows to only one yard in length.

    Giant squid, cuttlefish – oh please, do you see tentacles?

    Narwhal, well, they are known to have mutations.

    Crocodile, or any type of “gator”, no, the snout is all wrong.

    Ceolecanth, absolutely not. Wrong body structure.

    Pirarucu, no, again – wrong body and snout structure.

    Catfish (wels silure), not unless it is a mutant.

    Sturgeon, no, not even a shortnose.

    Pygmy sperm whale, often confused with sharks because the head and lower jaw have a shark-like in appearance – quite possible. And note the side of its head, a light, bracket-shaped mark banded by a darker line – perhaps a false gill. There is however a problem with the caudal peduncle, this is not the correct structure for cetacea.

    Chinese Giant Salamander, maybe on steroids.

    Oarfish – it would be a really fat one!

    Freak fish due to bombing certainly possible, but I wonder about growth rate from what it was suppose to have been.

    African lungfish – mmmm – but head is just not right.

    Mouth gash, no, sorry, the flesh has no torn appearance.

    Megamouth shark? Definately in the running.

    Tarpon, no, head and mouth are all wrong.

    Dakosaurus andiniensis – I wish we could see if the creature has teeth.

    Well, time marches on and Mother Nature continues to laugh at us have-to-know-it-all’s.

  10. django60617 responds:

    its the head and neck of a extremely large sea turtle.

  11. Angela7845 responds:

    It is a humpback whale calf or fetus….

  12. Skeptical... responds:

    I still think the 1904-1918 date for the pic is way too early. I assume that this type of postcard was created by taking your film down to the corner drugstore and having them print an image onto this postcard paper. While the postcard paper may date to the early 20th century, the image itself may have been (and probably was) printed onto it much, much later.

    Here’s a possible clue, men’s trousers didn’t regularly have zippers in them until the late 30s and early 40s. The pants these guys are wearing don’t look to be of the button-fly variety.


  13. Toirtis responds:

    -Not even close to an anaconda (the largest of which, by the by, have not exceeded 26′, no matter what some wikipedia entry claims).

    -If it were a giant salamander, it would need to have been a good 24′ long to manage a head anywhere near that size…and they simply do not get anywhere near that large…even the 1.8m maximum is uncommon.

    -The potential ‘gill structures’ are part of a stick underneath the corpse…jutting towards the camera and with some plant material on it.

    -Head is all wrong for a seal (or a manatee), and the body is completely the wrong shape for even a juvenile manatee….besides, the loss of the pectoral flipper would really show as a massive wound.

    -As far as a Varanid goes, again the head is wrong, and would be smaller in comparison to the body….either the front leg or the damage from the absence of it would be very obvious.

    -As far as ‘legless salamander’ goes, one could argue an Amphiuma means, based on a somewhat similar head shape (but with a significantly more sleek upper head), but at a maximum recorded length of 113cm (44½”), even the largest A. means on record would be less than 40% of the apparent length of this creature.

    -I like the ‘partially decomposed megamouth shark’ idea as well, since megamouths seem to regularly decompose into odd shapes.

    -Still sticking with the ‘partially decomposed juvenile tiger shark’ though…its the best fit that I have seen so far, and would also be supported by what we have seen of the other elements in the photo.

    To be fair, my speciality in zoology is herpetology, but I do have some reasonable experience with marine biology…so that, and photographic morphological comparison, is what I am basing my thoughts on.

  14. Godrock responds:

    D’OH! I did say asian anaconda! lol

    I had been considering the asian catfish theory and was cornfused! Of course there’s no asian anacondas…that we know about, anyway.

    The head so seriously “says” anaconda to me. Look again at the angle and length of the “grin” and the front tip of the “lips”.

  15. shovethenos responds:

    I wasn’t alleging a Chinese Giant Salamander specifically, but some kind of giant salamander species. That would explain the coloration, the eye/nose configuration, the structure just behind the head that could be external gills, etc.

    I’m skeptical of any guess other than reptile or amphibian, the eye/nostril configuration just look too reptilian. Then you have that characteristic notch in the front of the upper jaw that snakes and lizards have – where they can poke their toungue out to test the air.

    But one of the biggest questions is one of the most basic – is this the whole creature or just part – like the head and neck? On the side opposite the head I don’t see any pronounced rear fins, or any other fins for that matter, other than whatever that is just behind the head. So I tend to lean toward this being only part of the animal, namely the head and neck.

  16. shovethenos responds:


    Good to have a herpentologist in the house.

    Upon looking at a lot of monitor pictures, I tend to agree with you. Komodo dragons do have fatter heads, but not like this.

    How about other lizards? What species have similar head configurations? (It alsmost looks like a Gila monster or Beaded lizard.) Also, what about the stripe along the side? I seem to remember seeing some monitors or other lizards with similar markings.

    I’m sceptical of any of the old “decomposed skeleton of a whale/basking shark” explanations, this seems a lot cleaner than those.

    Do you agree that the eye/nostril configuration is heavily reptilian?

  17. Kim responds:

    Hi Guys,
    Im new here! My name is Kim Del Rio. Im from Milwaukee.

    It could be some type of Giant Eel?? I dont think it’s a Lizard as there are no legs, or wounds where legs would have been.
    Either it’s a hoax photo or it’s something we havent seen before.


  18. klmmicro responds:

    Looks like a shark to me. The “nose” is a wedge like that of a great white. The first spot on from the left looks like an eye. I have to say there looks like there is an ear, but that could be damage caused when they cut the forward limb/fin off.

  19. Kim responds:

    I blew up the photo, and there apears to be a fin sticking out from under the piece of wood laying next to the creature.

  20. tschai responds:

    After englarging the photo and sharpening it I agree my original assesment of a manatee or seal were way off. I wish the tail were more visible to see if it has flukes or a bony ray pattern…if you examine the dark colorations along the dorsal region under magnification they almost appear to be skin shrunken over the spinal column-you can seem to see spinal processes and the suggestion of vertabrae. But the rest of the body does not appear shrunken? The dark region where a fin should be-or the absent flipper on my non-existant manatee 😉 is something of a mystery. The nose however under magnification really jumps out as”shark like”-and the eye as well-but the dark ridge running up to the top of the head suggesting gill cover is unconvincing as a shark as most sharks have multiple gill slits-but who knows.Again under magnifcation it appears that a rope may have been run through the mouth and “gill” perchance to aid in lugging the beastie around. Weird stuff turns up all the time-especially where the ocean is concerned. We know very little about what lives beneath the waves. Then again this could all be a clever fake-like the dragon in a jar or the “Cardiff man” in a block of ice, or the infamous Civil War era “pterodactyl” hunting photo (it sure as hell LOOKS real, doesn’t it!) But isn’t it great fun trying to figure it all out!

  21. purrlcat responds:

    Hi Everyone!
    This is Phyllis, owner of the Mystery Fish photo/postcard. I must say I was very intrigued when the comments started coming in!

    I have been trying for months to find someone to identify this sea creature and have been in email contact with Dr. Karl Shuker, in England. He is of the opinion that it is a hoax. He gave me permission to quote him, so here are his comments:

    “…I have little doubt that it is a fake – in particular, the creature’s jawline seems to have been deliberately emphasised and enlarged. I think that it is some greatly photo-modified fish that has then been inserted into an old photo to make it look as if a monster of the deep has been caught and its captors are standing alongside it.”

    At first I disagreed. I am no expert, but the fish just does not look like it was somehow later added to the photo. I examined the photo with a 10x loupe and became suspicious for other reasons, tho. Read on.

    Someone here said it looked like a Tiger Shark, so I started ‘googling’ shark sites for photos. After looking at numerous photos, I was not convinced it was a shark, so I emailed the Director of a Shark Research Centre to see if he could help identify it. Here are his comments:

    “It’s not a shark, of this I am certain. Superficially, it resembles _Necturus_, the “mudpuppy” — only, it is much too large and there do not appear to be any limbs. I suspect that this is a hoax — a plankton net, wind sock, or perhaps even an old sail sewn and stuffed to resemble a ‘sea monster’. The highlight on the ‘eye’ is in the wrong place compared to the light direction on the faces of the men (it should be more tailward) and the ‘mouth’ looks painted on, especially the part below the ‘eye’ rearward to an angle of about 45 degrees, which looks like the result of multiple brush strokes. The ‘snout tip’ is wrinkled in a suspicious way. Perhaps most suspicious, however, the upturned ‘mouth corners’ extend too far up the side of the head — actually higher than the plane of the backbone would be expected for a typical ‘lower’ vertebrate.”

    So THIS is what has convinced me that the ‘fish’ is indeed a hoax: the remark about the ‘snout tip.’ When I view the thing thru a loupe, its snout looks odd. When the Director said it could be something ‘stuffed to resemble a sea monster,’ I knew what I was seeing!

    Here’s MY theory:

    When I looked at this photo with a 10x loupe, I had trouble with the snout/nose area. It is fuzzy or undefined or something weird. Now I can see it looks like MATERIAL or FABRIC of some kind which is wrapped downward with the sides then folded inward, almost like the end of a box that is wrapped with paper! The fabric looks gauzy like maybe fine netting. And I never did like that eye and now it does look like it is PAINTED on, as the mouth certainly does. And the markings down the side could easily be horizontal, back & forth ‘brush strokes.’ (Like the hoaxer laid the thing on its side and with a foot on either side of it, just backed up as he swung the brush from side to side.)

    People agree that this is probably the trash area of this military unit (because of the cans in the shed), so I suspect some bored guys were disposing of an inedible fish and maybe already had wrapped it in something when they got the bright idea to make it look like some mysterious fish!

    The guy on the left looks to be a civilian. Maybe he had a camera and tripod handy and they just did it and sent a few photos home for a joke.

    I do not doubt that the clothes two of the men are wearing are from the 1904-1918 period, as I looked up WWI soldier photos and these clothes are the same.

    But I am now convinced that the Mystery Fish is an object, WRAPPED IN SOMETHING and PAINT ENHANCED.

    Oh, and has anyone noticed the guy closest to the shed looks like a young Robert Patrick who was in X-Files?!?

    Thank you everyone for your comments. I just wish we could have confirmed it was a real creature.

    After all this, I don’t suppose anyone would be interested in my ‘striped donkey’ photo?


  22. Toirtis responds:


    Although the configuration of the nostrils and eyes is not completely dissimilar to some reptiles and even a few amphibians, it is not quite correct, either.

    -As far as the ‘other species of giant salamander’ hypothesis, it seems unlikely that an undiscovered species of Caudate would be that much larger than the largest currently known species…up to 6’/2m I could believe, but the creature in the photo is no less than 8½’/2.6m, and probably closer to 11’/3.4m.

    -The shark theory works in that it looks like a tiger shark, the size fits, tiger sharks are common enough (and even more so 60-90 years ago), and if this is Florida/Hawaii/South Seas, it is within the shark’s natural range.

    Look at the following tiger shark images for head:body ratio, head-shape, body shape, etc….and remember that when sharks decompose, the fins tend to go quickly:
    Image 1
    Image 2
    Image 3

  23. Toirtis responds:

    I am by no means an expert on sharks (just out of curiosity, which director of which shark research centre confirmed that it wasn’t?), but eliminating that, there are still possibilities.

    As far as the hoax goes…it seems a bit contrived, although not completely impossible, and an awful lot of work. I would be interested to see if the original image, with top-end imaging enhancement, could give us better clues.

  24. purrlcat responds:

    I asked the Director if I could quote his answer to me, but he hasn’t emailed back yet, so I didn’t mention his name. But if he gives me permission, I will give his name and organization. Just waiting for his reply.

  25. Todd DiLaMuca responds:

    My photo mash-up of a modern tarpon with our mystery fish.

    Cryptomundo has my permission to republish the photo within this blog.

    I’ve retouched out the blood streak along the jaw of the mystery fish, and I’ve scaled the obviously smaller fish from the floridasurffishing pic.

    Note the similarities in shape, orientation, and relationship to each other of the eye, gill, pectoral fin (bloody gash on the mystery fish), anal fin (protruding under the pole in the older photo), and base of the tail.

    I contend that the mystery fish is a rotted carcass of a tarpon, with mouth parts considerably deteriorated, and other features misshapen by decomposition. Note also parallel marks across the front of the lower jaw which may result from a net, which would be consistent with recent observations above from Phyllis.

    Tarpon certainly reach this size — check out Tom Gibson’s 262-lb fish. A tarpon as large as our mystery fish would be unusual but not unheard of, and certainly worth memorializing in a dime-store postcard. It would not surprise me to find a mention of our mystery fish as a particularly large specimen which washed ashore sometime early in the last century.

  26. crazy4bears2 responds:

    No, this is not a hoax. I am a very long time antique postcard collector and history buff. This is easy! The men are soldiers from the Spanish American War. The actual date of the photo would be earlier than the reverse indicates.(Around 1899) The place is the Philipines. The fish is Galunggong or mackeral scad. You may confirm by logging onto the following web sites, (the first one is a site of the fish and is almost exactly like the vintage photo!)
    the second shows images of Spanish American War soldiers.

  27. hashkekan responds:

    crazy4bears2, the Galunggong theory is interesting. Ths creature does indeed very much resemble Decapterus ruselli, D. macrosoma or D. punctatus.

    However, the largest of these is only around 50 cm, and the jaw of mystery fish seems shorter.

  28. oll_lewis_CFZ responds:

    Hi, I think, considering what it looks like and from the looks of the plants on the beach, that the fish is an oarfish.

    It’s not rested on it’s belly but on it’s side, and the ‘slit’ that looks a bit like it might be a large mouth is in fact the base of the gills operculum.

    Oarfish are very interesting fish that grow to monstrous proportions and swim in the water with their body vertical father than horizontal.

    Website with photos and video of oarfish:

    general info on oarfish on wikipedia:

  29. Toirtis responds:

    The fish certainly looks similar, but I cannot find any reference showing any species of fish that goes under ‘galunggong’ or ‘mackeral scad’ (about 7 species in total) that is referenced as exceeding 60cm….it seems unlikely that even an exceptional giant of any of those species would get anywhere close to 300+cm. The date also seems a bit early, both for snapshots and the delay between the picture being taken and its printing.

  30. Toirtis responds:

    Oarfish heads are pretty distinctive, though.

  31. tomkat1983 responds:

    Looking at the background behind the men,there appears to be palm trees and a swamp.Quite possibly the photo was taken in the Florida Everglades. To me, it doesnt look like a fish, but a skinned alligator with a sack over its head.

  32. purrlcat responds:

    I don’t see any resemblance to a galunggong or scad. Nor is this card from the 1800s!

    Note to Todd DiLaMuca: This type of card is not a ‘dime-store postcard.’ In this time period, when you had your film developed, it was usually printed with a postcard back. So any photos of home, family, personal shots, vacations, etc., would be printed with postcard backs, like this one. What I am trying to say is, this is a personal photo, not some commercially made, posed or printed postcard. Unless copies were made at the time, this is probably the only one!

  33. shovethenos responds:

    I’m still unconvinced that it’s a fish.

    The superimposed Tarpon picture was interesting, but the fins aren’t that pronounced in the picture.

    As far as a decomposed shark is concerned: there are no gill slits, the eyes are oval and snake-like rather than round and shark-like, and the coloration is not very shark-like.

    As far as the galunggong is concerned, the coloring and other aspects seem off. The picture does look like it could be from just after the Spanish-American war, when the Philipines were being occupied by US troops.

    Of course I’m treating the large line toward the front as a mouth, and I think only part of the animal is pictured. So if the picture is real and my assumptions are correct I think it is some kind of reptile. I’m not thoroughly convinced its a hoax.


    I’d love to see the “striped donkey” pics. There have been all kinds of horse-zebra hybrids, so a donkey-zebra hybrid isn’t that farfetched. In any case I’d like to see it.

  34. Kim responds:

    Im sure the postcard photo is Not from the 1800’s. The man on our right side is wearing a wrist watch. People didnt start wearing wrist watchs until around 1910.
    I think the photo is between 1920 and 1930.
    Im an Antique Dealer. I specialize in vintage clothing. The clothing the men are wearing in the photo are not from the 1800s, or even early 1900’s…

  35. embrynat2000 responds:

    I agree with the decomposed tarpon theory. This picture was probably taken in the Florida Keys, there is a naval base on Key West, and I personally have caught tarpon that big myself.

  36. shovethenos responds:


    Your picture is interesting but the “gash” or “blood drip” looks very pronounced and regular for my taste, a lot like an open mouth. And the way it bends upward with no dripping the other way is curious. (I realize it could have been hung by the tail or in some other way for a long period while the blood dried, but it is worth mentioning.)

    Also the positioning of the mouth or where the mouth used to be is off. And wouldn’t the heavily cartilegenous (sp?, but you know what I mean) parts of the mouth be some of the last things to decompose. I realize predicting the manner of fish decomposition is nothing like an exact science, but from what I seem to remember its usually fins, skin, and innards first and a pretty intact head left.

    Any chance of you linking another version with just the tarpon superimposed and no retouching of the “mystery animal”?

  37. tschai responds:

    O.K. I went back and enlarged this again after reading a comment about a skinned out gator with a bag over it’s head-I believe the ENTIRE animal is wrapped in canvas or something-the dark spot just behind the “head”near the stick beneath the animal I believe corresponds with the position of the foreleg-with blood or mud??? staining the cloth (?) wrapping. If you look at the rear portion forward of the tail region there is what appears to be a lump which would correspond to the position of the rear leg if it were folded back under the animals’ body somewhat.If you look at the over-all shape and imagine an alligator wrapped up inside the shape fits pretty well I think.And the eye? I think someone was trying to be funny and painted an “eye” on the outside of the wrapping!Maybe same goes for the “mouth” which has everyone mystified. It(the eye) doesn’t correspond to where the gators’ eye would actually be, which would be further back on the head. Kudos 😉 to the person who saw an alligator! I think you got ‘er!As far as the time period-could these guys be Civil Engineers in or near the Everglades or perhaps during the building of a canal or something?And as to why he’s wrapped up? He’s GARBAGE!!

  38. Todd DiLaMuca responds:

    shovethenos —

    A more productive approach may be to ask for a better scan of the head area from Loren. Evidently, there is detail in the original photo which we’re not seeing on-line. I may be halucinating, but I think I can see traces at least of the mouth parts of a tarpon. It seems conceivable that some combination of swelling and abrasion disfigured the mouth parts enough to be unrecognizable.

    More to the point, I’m wagering that there is some other record of this fish, and that if it’s a tarpon somewhere in Florida, some present-day fisherman or guide service either knows of the incident or has corroberating proof. Time permiting, I intend to get in touch with sources in the Tampa area who can begin this process.

    Phyllis — We’re talking about the same thing, but I threw out the “dime-store” term without thinking. Thanks for the correction.

  39. purrlcat responds:

    Finally! Someone (Tschai) who is starting to see what I see about my ‘mystery fish!’ I really think it is SOMETHING WRAPPED UP and was probably garbage. Someone got the idea to paint it and have some fun.

    Shovethenos: I don’t know how to put a link in to my ‘striped donkey’ photo. But I think I emailed it to Mr. Coleman the same time as sending the fish photo, so maybe he can post it.

    Toirtis: I got permission, so here is the info on the shark expert. He is R. Aidan Martin, Director, ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research.

    Here are his latest comments to me –

    “I find your skeptical analysis of this case to be highly encouraging — some cryptozoology people want to believe so desperately, they will ignore or decry evidence against a given cryptid. I believe that there are many undiscovered creatures Out There, undoubtedly some large and spectacular. But that does not mean we should surrender skepticism and rationality.” Amen to that!

    Also, he adds –
    “We are presently re-designing our website and will add several new sections plus numerous new pages to existing sections. Two of these will involve cryptozoology: 1) examination of claims for existence of a new species of Manta Ray, and 2) a brief survey of antiquarian woodcuts of ‘sea monsters’ and ‘fabulous fish’ that turned out to be real sharks or rays.”

    Sounds like a nice addition to check out. The website is:

    Sorry my ‘fish’ is MOST LIKELY NOT a cryptid. I will continue collecting ‘odd animal’ postcards/ephemera. Who knows what I might find? A picture of a bunch of guys standing in front of a barn with…..?!?

  40. Todd DiLaMuca responds:

    ps to shovethenos —

    If the dark spot on the left end of the blood streak is presumed to be a mouth, its orientation makes no sense, neither does its size. Think of the carcass as seen from about a 45-degree angle from below and sllightly to the front, and this dark spot would be an awfully tiny mouth twisted diagonally to the plane of the body.

    To my eye, this is entirely a streak originating at the gill slit, which is why I retouched it out, because it is confusing if one is trying to resolve the anatomy.

  41. DVics responds:

    As far as I can see the body has all appearances of a fish lying on its side, except that there are no apparent fins or gills. The head is a totally different story, it seems to be resting flat, while the body is on its side. The head does look very much snake-like but there aren’t any apparent snake-like textures. Any snake I’ve seen has well defined patterns and scales, this does not.

    Look at the tail end, it looks like the scaly body portion gives way to a tail fin. That area doesn’t look as if it’s been chopped or damaged. The damaged portion appears to be near the head, just behind the jaw. This could be where it was hooked to haul aboard a boat, or maybe speared as it swam by.

    There are some good suggestions here as to what it could be. To me it almost looks like a cross between a fish and a snake, which shouldn’t be able to happen in nature. Could it be another case of trickery like the Merman of Aden? That was presented on a postcard too.

    A closer look reveals that there may be a fin or two remaining, along the bottom of the fish’s flank, half way down, poking out just beneath the pole.

    Are these guys park rangers or something? The man in the middle has an interesting choice of hat, and his belt matches with the guy’s on the right. He also looks rather proud of this discovery. The guy on the left look puzzled, maybe even grossed out a bit. The guy on the right seems distracted by someone off camera, and is he wearing a slight smile?

    Someone in the other blog for this mystery suggested that the postcard was a combination of three separate images. I disagree. Everything here seems consistent with regard to lighting and shadows. The sand to the left appears like damp beach sand, the area to the right appears drier with some shor grass. There is a harsh transition between the two but that isn’t necessarily due to image compositing. Could easily be just a defined edge between one grassy area of the beach and a sandy spot.

  42. Arithon responds:

    Not sure if it helps, or if its been mentioned already but halfway along the horizontal part of the longer “mouth” theres appears to be a shadow of something either sticking out of the mouth, or sitting beside the creature.

    Playing with the levels of the picture a bit and with a touch more sharpening you can see that behind the trash shed (which may or may not have glass, probably netting??) there was beach-type grasses, then water, then more land, then water again, and then more land.

    There also a raised walkway that looks to start just behind the trash shed and lead to the right, and possibly another one further back and to the left.

  43. Arithon responds:

    Can I also second the call for a much higher resolution scan of the postcard so we can get more detail from it? Something in the region of 300dpi? I’m sure someone would be able to host it.

  44. shovethenos responds:


    This picture is really like the ‘Old Crone / Young Woman’ picture, (second one down).

    I’m not thinking of the dark oval all the way to the left as the whole mouth, just a small part. The notch that snakes and lizards poke their tongues through when their mouthes are closed.

    The way I’m looking at the picture, the whole line is the mouth line. The oval at the end of the line is the notch that snakes and lizards have for their tongue. The dark dot in the middle is the eye, and the lighter dot above the mouth is a nostril.

    The whole object is the first part – head and partial neck – of a snake-like or eel-like animal. It’s not sitting exactly on its side or belly, but mushed down at around a 45 degree angle tilted away from the camera.

    As far as a skinned alligator or crocodile is concerned, I don’t see that. The proportions seem wrong.

    It doesn’t look like anything wrapped in canvas or cloth either. Why pose for a picture, when pictures were few and far between, in front of a lump wrapped in canvas? And the coloring doesn’t look like canvas to me – it looks like bilateral coloration: Darker beige/gray/tan top, dark line down the side, and a lighter or pale underbelly.

    As far as why scales aren’t more apparent: Could be the lighting, I’ve seen some pictures of reptiles where the scales aren’t as apparent. There do seem to be some rough patches that suggest scales. Could be an amphibian or eel, which can have smooth skin.

    I don’t see convincing fins on the rear side. But with fish its hard because the fins often fold up when they dry out. To me from what can be seen it could just as easily be a shredded or cut edge.

    Maybe there’s more detail in the original that would be more conclusive. I’m just skeptical of the explanations proposed so far. None of them have seemed particularly convincing. Call me a skeptic of easy explanations. I haven’t ruled out hoax or cryptid yet.

  45. KONAKAT responds:

    GIANT SQUID as per Earl Dorman, marine biologiest in Hawaii.

    Looks like somewhere in the S. Pacific. Reminds me of some WWII photos my dad had.

  46. shovethenos responds:


    Where are the arms?

    The flaps/fins that squids have on the pointy side?

    The funnel, the tube that squids use as water jets just behind the head?

    Where is the eye? Squids have large, perfectly round ones, not ovals.

    I’m not saying he’s wrong, but what is he basing his opinion on?

    For reference, see.

  47. PVarring responds:

    Stumbled across the picture on, and can identify this FOR SURE! There´s no doubt that it´s a Goonch catfish Goonch/Giant Bagaririus(thailand)(Bagarius yarelli). It´s one of the few fish species I can identify from the eyes alone(they look SOOO mean), and it´s “overbite” which is not common among catfish. I´ll post a picture in a few days when I visit my brother (dont have a scanner at home).

    Peter Varring Jensen

    PS: Yes, the front fins(dont know the english word) has been cut off.

  48. AfterShock responds:


    Sorry, but there’s no way at all that the animal in question is the bagarius yarelli. The “overbite” you speak of is inversed. In the suspect photo, the UPPER part of the mouth is much thicker than the lower, and quite the opposite is true of the Goonch catfish. Here’s a photo for reference.

    Additionally, the placement of the “eye” in the suspect photo does not match the location of the eye on the bagarius yarelli. These eyes appear to be further apart and centered more on the sides of the head as opposed to the top-center placement of the eyes on your catfish. And another obvious reason as to why this cannot be the catfish is the markings. The bagarius yarelli does not have any horizontal striping patterns; rather, it has a splotchy pattern encompassing the entire body.

    Also, there is no way that this animal is a crocodilian of any sort. The head proportions do not match and there are no teeth visible, not to mention the fact that the body tapers much too rapidly to be a crocodilian with a head of that size. Furthermore, crocodilians have eyes that project outward and upward from the head, residing in a “mound” of cartilage and tissue. The eye in this photo is clearly set IN the head.

    I don’t know exactly what it is, but I do know what it is not.

  49. shovethenos responds:


    Good to see someone’s still posting on this thread. The picture intrigues me, even if its a hoax I want to know how they did it. If it’s a hoax I don’t think its Photoshop, I seem to remember seeing this in a book long before Photoshop days.

    What are you leaning towards as far as guesses?

  50. purrlcat responds:

    I am still leaning towards a hoax by the guys in the photo. Like they did it just as a joke for the service newsletter or to send back home.

    But I am still contacting Ichthyology experts and shark research centers and anyone else I think who may be able to identify this ‘thing’, just in case it IS real.

    I wish I had access to OLD ichthyology books, say from the 1800s. Those would be fun and interesting to look thru – old drawings, etchings, plates of weird-looking fish…

  51. ahanlon responds:

    Umm, does anyone else think that this whole debate is a joke? I mean it is clearly a shark with its fin cut/abraided off; you can see the lower fins in the picture!?! It even has a pointed head like a shark..

    follow the stick laying next to it until you see the pointed fin of many species of shark, my guess is tiger.

  52. PVarring responds:

    It IS a goonch catfish. Apperently there´s A LOT of different species, but I got several photos of a Goonch catfish whose eyes and mouth AND marking are EXACT matches with the one on the postcard. Just a couple more days and I´ll post it.

    Peter Varring Jensen

    Ps: the catfish I mentioned was caught on rod and reel. Try looking through some angling pages.

  53. shovethenos responds:


    If you’re going with the traumatized and decomposing shark theory there are a lot of problems with it. Just off the top of my head: No dorsal. No front side fins or scars/stubs where they were. Coloration is unusual. Eyes are off. Snout is off. No pronounced gill slits and if you’re saying its been skinned there would probably be portions of the underlying gill structures visible. And I’m not sure what you’re looking at when you describe the “fin”, but the most prominent thing I see is a twig that casts its own discrete shadow.

    I’m perfectly willing to admit it could be a hoax or a known species, it’s just an unusual picture and I haven’t been convinced by the explanations so far.


    Anxiously awaiting your evidence. The more pictures and links the better.

  54. PVarring responds:

    My miserable computer skills won´t allow me to post pictures here, but I´ve got a couple of photos I can mail to you(maybe you can post them?)


  55. AfterShock responds:


    If I had to guess what this creature is, I’d have to say it’s a tiger shark. Sure, there are no fins, the body seems a little small for the head, etc., but decomposition can do many strange things, especially with aquatic species.


    You can use to post any pictures for free. And I don’t believe I’m getting the point of whether the catfish was caught on a rod or not. The fish would look the same regardles….

  56. shovethenos responds:


    I’m skeptical of the rotting shark theory. The tiger shark has these huge eyes that are right by the nostril, that wouldn’t change much through decomposition. If you can still see them both, they should be at the right proportions.


    I have problems getting attachments, can you try to post them? If not let me know and I’ll e-mail. It would be handy if posted because everyone can link to it as well.

  57. purrlcat responds:

    Here’s the ‘striped donkey’ photo Shovethenos wanted to see. Hope this works. I went to ImageShack like suggested above, but I still don’t know what I am doing.

    Anyway, I believe the donkey is wearing a tiger or zebra skin under his saddle with exposed areas painted with stripes. OR he is just painted with stripes all over. I hear the (Mexican?) vendors decorated their donkeys in hope of luring in tourists. (And still practice this.) This photo has NO clue on the back, not even a stamp box. But I think the women’s clothing screams ‘the 50s.’ Any comments?

  58. Crystalwren responds:

    Could it be a goblin shark? There was a case of one earlier this year, that swallowed an anchor and was subsquently pulled up to the surface; on a USA naval boat if memory serves. If it washed up, decomposition might explain further oddities.

  59. max cooper responds:

    This is printed on AZO postcard paper. The paper may be dated by looking at the four triangles at the corners of the stamp area. On this one, they are all pointing upward, and between the triangles appears the word ‘AZO’. The four upward triangles denote AZO postcard paper manufactured anywhere from 1904 to 1918.


    This is most certainly a one-off postcard, as mentioned already. I think that this is either not an actual animal, or it is one that has been modified.

  60. shovethenos responds:


    Thanks. For reference here are some zebra/donkey (zedonkey) and zebra/ass pictures.

    These hybrids are real and people have been breeding them since colonial times. You can find a lot of pictures by googling things like “zebra hybrid”, etc.

    As for your picture, the animal in question is blurry and off-center, but it looks to me like a full-blood zebra that has been saddled and trained to accept a rider. This has also been done before, you can probably get a picture example by googling as well.

    The reason why I say this is the animal’s stripes look too pronounced – most of the hybrid pictures of zedonkeys and zorses I’ve seen show some faded striping on the body with some more pronounced striping on the legs. Maybe it could be a 3/4 zebra hybrid, although I don’t know how many zedonkeys or zorses are fertile.

    In any case thanks again for posting it, looks like you are building quite a collection of odd photos there.

  61. shovethenos responds:


    Boy goblin sharks are ugly, I’ve never seen one before.

    I’m still a skeptic of the decomposed shark theory. The decomposed tarpon theory too.

  62. bobsmith responds:

    For what its worth, check out these photos of a washed up megamouth shark.

  63. AfterShock responds:

    bobsmith –

    Interesting photos! And there’s some pretty strong similarities as well. Thanks.

  64. AFFA responds:

    I have no idea what the fish is, but it’s common in Tijuana for tourists to get photos taken with “striped donkeys.” I suspect that’s where the other photo was taken.

    I don’t know if they’re zebras, dyed donkeys, or hybrids. Hybrids are possible, but usually zebra hybrids only have stripes over part of the body and/or have much fainter stripes and more of them. I suspect they are actually donkeys with dyed hair, but I don’t know if anyone’s ever looked into it.

  65. purrlcat responds:

    I think maybe, if the donkey is not wearing the skin of a tiger or zebra, the he has been painted by the owner. The stripes don’t look consistent enough to be natural. Also, would a Mexican street vendor really be able to acquire an actual zebra or even a hybrid?? Doesn’t seem likely. At least not back in the 50s.

  66. shovethenos responds:

    Here’s a bunch of zebra riding pictures. Also elk and ostrich riding.

    Pretty strange. If you posted these here I bet a bunch of people would come out of the woodwork saying they were photoshopped or hoaxed.

    As far as the possibility of zebra hybrids in Mexico, I wouldn’t doubt it. There’s been zoos, circuses, carnivals, etc. all over the place since before the turn of the century. But in my opinion the white stripes in purrlcat’s picture look pretty real.

  67. jmsage responds:

    It has a vertical tail, indicating a fish of some kind, as the obvious gill supports as well. I’m seeing a shark-like head, one gill slit, an eel-like body, and a small tail. I’m genuinely stumped.

  68. youcantryreachingme responds:

    stay tuned… the photo is from 1912 and a town named San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua…

  69. stillserchin responds:

    As far as where the picture was taken you have a choice of the following areas where these Marines were possibly located:
    Philippines 1899-1902
    Panama 1901-1902, 1903-1904
    Nicaragua 1909-1910, 1912-1913
    Dominican Republic 1903-1904, 1916-1924
    Cuba 1906-1909, 1912,1917
    Mexico 1914
    Haiti 1915-1934
    I still woudn’t rule out A WWII locale.
    As far as what species of fish, shark, eel or “something else” this critter might be is anybody’s guess. Looking closely at the background behind the shed is what appears to be a river and marsh, fresh water type. Anyway the Marines have surely caught “The Mystery Catch of the Day.”

  70. perfectlymistaken responds:

    I think it’s an Oarfish.

    In this newspaper clipping there is even a reference to what I think is in this picture.

    Sorry if it’s been solved, I just find it fascinating.

  71. cryptomaniac responds:

    The fish does look skinned,gutted and definned the head does resemble a shark or a wels (a type of giant catfish) and with the pile of wood behind these guys, they quite possibly are getting ready to smoke or cook it.

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