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Skeptic Dogs Maine Mutant

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 24th, 2006

Cryptomundo reader and Skeptical Inquirer managing editor Ben Radford has taken on the “Maine Mutant” in a SI column published on Sunday, September 24, 2006.

Maine Mystery Beast

Click on image for full-size version

Photograph by Michelle O’Donnell. Used by permission.

In “Mystery Monster Dogs Maine” Radford overviews the story, getting all the facts right, more so than most retellings of the events. He even quotes me correctly:

When Maine monster hunter Loren Coleman was shown a photo of the creature on Aug. 13, he stated, “This is a dog, probably a feral dog or a hybrid, but a dog.”

Then Radford mentions all of you and concludes:

On the message boards at the monster-hunting Web site Cryptomundo.com, the mystery beast was a hot topic. Many posters commented that they were baffled by all the hype the creature received; after all, it was just a dog! Yet this is an excellent example of a typical lake monster or Bigfoot sighting: A person sees something he or she doesn’t recognize, and concludes that the animal is an unknown creature. As this case clearly shows, just because a creature can’t be immediately identified does not mean that someone else (perhaps a zoologist, or a dog breeder) might not know exactly what the animal is.

The only difference is that in this case (unlike, say, Bigfoot or chupacabra) we actually have a carcass to positively identify. If this animal had just been glimpsed as it bounded into a wooded area and not caught (or later found dead), it would remain a mystery monster to be written up in future books on the unexplained.

The Maine Monster is an object lesson in the ways that people can “create” monsters because of misperceptions or logical fallacies. And what of the “real” Maine Monster, the one with the eerie cry and glowing eyes? Loren Coleman maintains that the long-sought creature still lurks in the forests: “I think there is a mystery beast out there in the woods around Turner.” Until and unless it too is found, the stories and sightings will continue.

On one level, Radford merely helps along the monster-making here, pointing out the fantastic-sounding elements like “glowing eyes” and “eerie cry.” The actual physical evidence for the pre-dog sightings of the Mystery Beast still out there in the woods, such as the slashed and dead animals it has left in its wake, are perhaps too concrete to mention for him.

One is left with the feeling that our old Cryptomundo buddy Radford might not quite get it. The “Maine Mutant” story actually had little to do with the precursor “Mystery Beast” sightings. The sightings and death of the dog on Route 4 had nothing to do with the real Maine cryptid encounters that took place before the summer of 2006.

These two diverse incidents (data) with different circumstances and details (variables) that have separate story endings (outcomes) do not hold, neccessarily, the most valid (statistically significant) analogy to apply to the whole of cryptozoology. They are being combined when they are not even mirror events, and should not be linked, scientifically, to demonstrate any lessons to be learned in cryptid-sightings.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. 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.


15 Responses to “Skeptic Dogs Maine Mutant”

  1. kittenz responds:

    Reports of the “mystery beast” included glowing eyes, eerie sounds, slashed carcasses left in its wake, and TASSELLED EARS.

    Sounds like a lynx to me. Maybe Eurasian lynx. They can be twice as large as Canada lynxes. They have a fairly long lifespan. Maybe someone deliberately released one after it got too big to handle safely, or one could have escaped from a breeder or zoo.

    If a European lynx was loose in the Maine woods, in unfamiliar territory, it would probably hunt domestic stock since it is easier to catch. And the eerie cries could be a lynx searching in vain for a mate of its own species.

    Lynxes’ bodies are proportioned differently from more familiar cats’ bodies. They are a lot taller and leggier than other cats. All lynxes have tasselled ears, too. They also have very large paws with very large claws, which could be what left slash marks on the carcasses that have been found. And European lynxes are large enough to kill prey the size of large deer.

    I guess it could be a very large Canaduian lynx. Or an oversized bobcat – they are more aggressive than Canada lynxes. Whatever it is, the descriptions fit a lynx of some kind.

  2. Brindle responds:

    Good idea.

  3. planettom responds:

    You’re right Loren, there is no reason to combine the two stories. Apples and oranges, they can fit in the same basket, but they don’t come from the same tree. Even if both stories originated in Maine, that’s where the similarity ends. It’s tabloid.

  4. MrInspector responds:

    I’ve heard Radford’s arguments and explanations. I’m skeptical. ;)

  5. mystery_man responds:

    Hmmm, I think most people who have had a close quarters run in with an 8 foot tall hairy hominid are not jumping to conclusions that it is a mystery creature and I doubt someone else knows exactly what it is. I feel it is wrong to discount the testimony of credible witnesses and say that they couldn’t explain it so they made it into a mystery beast. We can’t just assume that every sighting of a mystery beast is just a misidentification of a known animal or that the witness is foolish enough to mistake a bear for a bipedal, ape like creature. This would be just as bad as the opposite, just assuming that every sighting is without a doubt a cryptid. The sightings have to be weighed, examined, not assumed to be one thing or the other. Sometimes the hard core skeptics jump to irrational conclusions just as much as the true believers that they claim do the same thing.

  6. kittenz responds:

    I agree.

    Be skeptical, but keep a truly open mind.

  7. Benjamin Radford responds:

    My esteemed and bearded colleague Loren writes that “One is left with the feeling that our old Cryptomundo buddy Radford might not quite get it. The “Maine Mutant” story actually had little to do with the precursor “Mystery Beast” sightings. The sightings and death of the dog on Route 4 had nothing to do with the real Maine cryptid encounters that took place before the summer of 2006.”

    True enough; actually, the point and thrust of the article was not about necessarily linking the Maine Mutant to the Mystery Beast; I was simply reporting on a connection that OTHERS had made, not that I had endorsed. I spent a total of two or three sentences on it, and instead spent the other 95% of the article on a broader examination of one of the logical flaws inherent in many cryptozoology sightings.

    I actually thought I’d get some appreciation for promoting Cryptomundo on a popular, national forum…

  8. crypto_randz responds:

    This story is never going away, it still lurks out there? Well, one way to solve this mystery once and for all is to gather a bunch of hunters together and seek out this beast. It sounds sad, I know, but to find out what it really is this, may be the only way. Remember scientists need a body to examine what it really is.

  9. Loren Coleman responds:

    Intelligent debate does not cancel out appreciation which is covertly here by linking directly to Ben’s blog. :-)

  10. Benjamin Radford responds:

    I look forward to Loren (or another cryptozoologist) finding the real Mystery Beast!

  11. quill responds:

    I agree with you, kittenz. A lynx sounds more feasible than a hyena :P

  12. stillserchin responds:

    Did anyone bother to take the corpse of this “dog” and do an in depth examination and analysis and come up with a resolution to it’s identity? It’s easy to look at the photo and make the supposition, “Well, it could be this but on the other hand it might be that.” As for me it looks to be some kind of hybrid. Thanks Loren.

  13. Loren Coleman responds:

    Please refer to old blogs on this subject that detail the DNA examinations by two labs that discovered the animal found dead on Rt. 4, at Turner, Maine, was indeed a dog.

    Specifically, begin with “100% Dog.”

  14. shineyegal responds:

    I have been quite mystified by this Maine mystery beast, I am one of those people who is just absolutely fascinated by all things unusual and all monsters, cryptids, and generally everything unexplained. However, I really believe that the “thing” found dead on route 4 was a black chow dog gone feral. They are fairly odd looking dogs and often have blue eyes, if you search for chow pics on the net, there are many pics of chows that look just like this dead mystery beast found by the road. I also think that a mystery beast that tears to shreds animals in the dead of night would not be chasing a cat down the street in the middle of the day. A predator that is capable of terrorizing the local Maine community would not be stupid enough as to get hit by a car, or be chasing a cat.

  15. shineyegal responds:

    In Cornwall, England, for years there have been stories of a beast roaming the moors of bodmin (aka the beast of bodmin moor). People have claimed that the beast of bodmin moor is a big cat, like a panther or a puma (only much larger), there have even been pictures snapped by hikers, but there is no conclusive evidence. Mystery beasts live on! Whether they are proven or not as long as people believe in them.



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