Enhanced Mystery Pix

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 14th, 2006

Mystery Animal

Mystery Animal

These versions (above) of the enhanced original photograph (below) by brineblank shows support for the "deer" camp. What would other enhancements demonstrate?


Or is it a felid, like the caracal above? Or canid, like that dog running across your road?

Mystery Cat

Is this photograph the "Mystery Animal" seen for decades in West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands?

This picture was taken by an automatic digital camera set on private property in a 3000 acre wilderness in which no human inhabitants live. It was caught on film on August 8, 2006 at 0700 Hours.

Since the original owners do not want to become embroiled in the heated Eastern Mountain Lion mystery debate, the Eastern Puma Research Network will be fielding all responses for this photograph. The EPRN can be reached via email at epuma [at] beaconnet [dot] net.

Photograph courtesy of the initial West Virginia photographer/owner of the digital camera, via John Lutz of EPRN.

To gain permission to show the "Mystery Animal" photograph (top), the above italicized statement was required to be published with it.


Update: Cryptomundo reader Fred Facker sends along these new enhancements, in which he "bumped the levels, contrast, hues, etc looking for colorations that didn’t match the rest of the plant in hopes of finding some sort of outline. Here’s what I came up with. It’s really hard not to let the texture and shading of the bushes trick us into thinking they are part of the animal. That’s why I like to make it unrecognizable and then look for an outline."

Mystery Animal

Mystery Animal

Mystery Animal

Mystery Animal

Mystery Animal

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.

77 Responses to “Enhanced Mystery Pix”

  1. kittenz responds:

    I still see a dog. The proportions are not right for a lynx. It is too heavy and round in the rear, and the coat is too short and sleek. It has that awkward sort of stance in the rear that a big dog has when walking over a log.

  2. Dorian West responds:


    I feel very sure of myself about what this animal might be. The enhancement is wrong because it adds noise to make it look like a caribou. The animal is most probably a rare (extinct?) Red Wolf. Thank you and take care.


  3. shovethenos responds:

    That is a mountain lion tail if there ever was one. It is even at the same basic angle and curl as the tail on the stuffed one in the other thread. I think if you could enlarge that part of the picture – right beside the rear leg – you could see that it is a mountain lion. It’s a long, beige mountain lion tail with a brown tip.

  4. texasgirl responds:

    I did 2x sharpen on the picture and put a negative color scheme on it and I see a very different picture like this and this.

  5. MojoHotep responds:

    Cougar. That was my first impulse upon seeing the pic. Most of the time, if you have spent alot of time in the woods, your first impulse is correct. However, one foggy morning, I was sitting on a ridge looking down a valley and saw a whole pack of coyotes coming toward me, when they topped the ridge where I was, it was a herd of doe whitetail deer. Trick of perspective and lighting. There are now and have been for many years, cougars all the way over into north mississippi, middle tennessee, northern alabama and middle kentucky. I know this for a fact, not speculation. It would not be a stretch to find one in the Virginias. Some biologist want to explain it as florida panters, but this isnt the case, these cats are there (or here, depending on where you are). I personally dont think they ever left this region of the USA. They just learned to hide a little better.

    The posture of the animal is what makes me say cougar. That front right paw and leg, in that position is more cougar than dog. Also the angle of the head. But, who knows, could be a pack of wild coyotes.

  6. shovethenos responds:

    Wow – check out texasgirl going all CSI on everyone.

    Yeah, there it is, tail and all.

    Mountain lion.

    I wonder if a mountain lion is the mystery killer in this Virginia case.

  7. CryptoGoji responds:

    Well this has gone on for long enough, don’t you all think?

    Let it be what it will be, but there is nothing “unusual” about this animal, it is either a deer or a mountain lion and let’s leave it at that.

    This whole, who’s right and who’s not is getting too much to bear right now.

  8. captainadam_21 responds:

    Texasgirl whoever you are… most excellent!!

  9. SPCBAT242 responds:

    It looks like an African Antelope.

  10. swnoel responds:

    Texasgirl thanks this

    Upon viewing your enhancements it is a doe deer and for some reason she is not jumping , standing in this downward angle.

    You can clearly see that her head is angled backwards as though she is licking.

    You can clearly see the eye with the white around it, the nose and muzzle , the white under the chin, and the ear.

    Unless of course this photo has been manipulated.

  11. texasgirl responds:

    I can tell you that I didn’t manipulate the photo other than sharpening it and reversing the color.

    I originally believed it was a deer as well but now I think it might be a mountain lion. At any rate it was an interesting picture, but probably nothing more than a local animal walking through the woods that happened to take a strange picture.

  12. mauka responds:

    Deer in the original photo. I see nothing even close to a tail that length.

  13. shovethenos responds:

    The tail is a long mountain lion tail that reaches the ground and curls up. It is immediately to the left of the visible hind leg. The tip is pointing up because it curls up.

    It’s at basically the same angle as the stuffed mountain lion pictured in the other “mystery picture” thread. It has a dark brown tip, like mountain lion tails do.

  14. carnivore responds:

    Just seems natural for a deer to jump over that log, not step over it. Someone mentioned earlier that a cats legs move parallel. Both legs forward on one side, both legs back on the other side. Deers legs meet on one side and are spread apart on the other. Doesn’t look like its jumping. more like its stepping over the log.

  15. Sky King responds:

    “it still just looks to me to be moving like a cat.”

    How can you see it move? It’s a still picture?

  16. Sky King responds:

    I see no rack at ALL. And if that’s a tail, it’s inexplicably quite transparent in several sections. There is no tail that can be identified as such. I’m not saying there is none, although tailless big cats must exist. This is NOT a Lynx, or Bobcat.

    That said, I am making a 100% reversal of my earlier opinion and declaring I’m pretty doggone sure this is a……
    (Scroll down!)



  17. Sky King responds:

    Mojohotep: I have heard quite a number of people in Southwest Virginia assure me that the Cougars are there. They’re finding tracks occasionally and hearing the screams a lot more often. And mostly I heard this twenty years or more ago.

  18. kamoeba responds:

    I agree, what most of us have been assuming is the animal’s right eye looks to me to be it’s right ear. It’s face is obscured by the foliage, and the foliage additionally is being mistaken for a rack of antlers. It’s at an odd angle and some characteristics seem feline, others canine. I think the foliage actually makes it look like the thing has a mangy mane (I’m betting it doesn’t). I think this is either a regular-sized dog or a big cat. The biggest mystery to me isn’t the creature’s identity, but who’s the genius who mounts a game camera behind a bunch of foliage?

    Also, I would like to add something else to ponder. My wife gets US Weekly magazine which is a People-style magazine. I like it myself because there are always pictures of Eva Longoria and other Hollywood hotties in it. Anyway, the magazine occasionaly has a feature where they ask ‘experts’ to view photos of famous couples and using the body language on display decipher what the celebrities are thinking about their significant others. A typical comment is something like “He has his hand on her arm which means he wants to be in control”, or “She’s touching his shoulder but looking away, which shows she’s not really into him”. The so-called ‘experts’ are judging these people on a tiny fraction of a second of their lives. I’d think to accurately judge what these people are thinking by using their body language you’d have to actually watch them in motion, or at least see a sequence of photos taken in a tight order. It’s like looking at a picture of someone mid-sneeze and saying “Her face is contorted–she’s extremely angry and sleepy right now”. I guess what I’m saying is that given just one or two more frames we could probably get a positive identification on this animal and there’d be no mystery at all. And that Eva Longoria is hot.

  19. BendyWVa responds:

    The front leg that is most visible seems to be over-extended while the hind leg appears to be well up under the animal.
    An animal caught in a trap would possibly have its leg over-extended in that manner in an attempt to pull its foot out of the trap. This appears to be an animal that is moving backwards, not forwards. So, whatever it is, I believe it may be in a trap. See if you can find some video of a live trapped animal and you will see what I mean.

  20. shovethenos responds:

    Sky King-

    The view of the tail is obscured by leaves or underbrush the same color as the background in a couple places, but it isn’t invisible. It’s quite prominent – it reaches the ground and curls up.

    As far as how it moves, I think its just a puma casually gliding through the woods. It seems to have hopped on top of the log for a moment and is stepping off to continue where it was going.

  21. Sky King responds:

    I believe what you take to be a tail is just a random leaf pattern. The cougar may well have a tail, but it can’t be found in this picture.

  22. MojoHotep responds:

    I know this is a done deal, but one more thing is on my mind. I have spent alot of time in the woods watching mule deer, white tail deer, moose, and elk. Not one time, not once, have I ever seen a deer step on top of or stand on a log of the size in this picture. It just is not their nature. However, I have seen goats stand on and step on top of logs this size. But this picture “ain’t no goat”.

  23. One Eyed Cat responds:

    Good arguments for and against the possibilities here. I’m not sure yet what to think.

    What I have noticed is that in the lower enhancements what is construed as the tail may actually be the other hind leg.

  24. DissingCryptids responds:

    Like most images on here that are quickly adulated as truth, I see nothing in here other than an animal- but not a mountain lion or deer. It more resembles a dog or something of the like.

    And the ‘tail’ that you outlined is either not there (most likely) or I am going blind, for I do not see it in the original, grainy, and already distorted first image.

    I do not understand it. If I say ‘Go in the woods and take a picture of that tree,’ I will get a dozen perfect pix. But, then, if I ask ‘Get me a picture of that cryptid!’ I get a dozen grainy and difficult to decipher pictures?

    It’s a thinker!

    Oh, and I’m new! Hi all!

  25. Craig Woolheater responds:


    Getting a picture of a tree is quite different than getting a picture of a rare, elusive animal…

    The animals tend to move around. The trees…not so much.

  26. MojoHotep responds:

    Sometimes, it is better to remain quiet and appear intelligent, than to open the mouth and remove all doubt.

    Ask any local Colorado resident in the sticks, “how many cougars have you ever seen in the wild?”, most can answer with their index finger. AND cougars are plentiful enough in Colorado to have a legal hunting season. Now divide that by 10,000, and thats how hard it would be to get a glimps of a rare/unknown critter. In Colorado, they used dogs to hunt cougars, because they are so HARD to find. That tree statement removed all doubt.

  27. Axis123 responds:

    It’s a deer. I am originally from WV. My father and I own property there. I have seen hundreds of thousands of deer in the wild. This particular picture (the original) is a deer for sure. In a few weeks of the year, a male deer will shed its horns. The original picture seems to show a buck, with the loss of one side of his rack shed. This is not unusual.

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