Mystery Beast Photos Withdrawn

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 19th, 2006

Update: Ms. O’Donnell changed her mind about the following, and the photographs are to be found on Cryptomundo. August 21, 2006.

All of the photographs taken by Michelle O’Donnell of the "Mystery Beast" or "Maine Mutant" have been removed from Cryptomundo. This has been done at her request because she wants Cryptomundo to block anyone from pirating them. Ms. O’Donnell of Route 4, Turner, Maine, also wishes to be paid the sum of one hundred dollars per picture, if you want to order a copy of any of the photographs. Apparently someone at the Associated Press gave her some advice that she has turned on Cryptomundo as the "bad guy" even though the AP pictures of the "Mystery Beast," uncredited to Ms. O’Donnell, are the ones you will see in newspapers and on websites around the world.

Please note, these photographs were shared with me for research purposes originally by the newspaper that published them, and permission was received from the newspaper to publish and post them here to gain insights from the Cryptomundo community about what someone out their might see in the photographs. Nevertheless, based upon Ms. O’Donnell’s request, we find it necessary to remove the photos now.

Overnight, Ms. O’Donnell emailed requesting the photos be removed and that people be directed to her for the photos, for purchase.

Cryptomundo hesitates putting Ms. O’Donnell’s direct telephone or email contact information on the net because we do not wish to be accused of causing her undue harassment from unwanted callers and angry emailers. We await word on how best to send people her way who wish to buy her photos. In the meantime, the photograph of the body and the head of the beast remain on AP websites worldwide for anyone’s viewing.

Ms. O’Donnell says that she "directed alot of people to your site in the last 3 days and my pictures were pirated from your site."

She wrote: "I want my pictures to be blocked from ANYONE pirating from your site and directed to me for purchase."

The most secure way to prevent downloading of photographs is to remove them. Cryptomundo has.

Intriguingly, since the two (body and head) photographs were published by the Lewiston paper and immediately carried by AP, anyone will find those two photos are the ones showing up all over the globe, from the Drudge Report to Boing Boing. There is no evidence that Cryptomundo has been used to pirate photos. The widest dissemination of the photos has occurred across over 300 newspapers online worldwide that have reproduced her two AP-carried photos. Unfortunately, this may be a case of Ms. O’Donnell having her frustratation with the media misdirected away from the big guys at AP, and instead to the small independent, web-based-only operation here at Cryptomundo.

This Mystery Beast story has drifted and what I am feeling has happened is that Ms. O’Donnell is upset with me because in various edited quotations I am being used as the "skeptical voice" to say this animal is "definitely" a feral dog. Inviting a "world famous cryptozoologist" to comment, from the beginning, added, not subtracted, from making her photos part of a bigger story, and yet the media has slowly used me to be the "skeptical out" for them. Of course, as correctly quoted by the Sun Journal on this point, I’ve never said anything definitely can be known about this animal until the DNA test results come back. I certainly have tried to be reasonable and level-headed about what this body and the photos told me.

But note the AP this morning is back to this published position: "The mystery remains according to Loren Coleman, a Portland, Maine author and cryptozoologist."

I am sorry if Ms. O’Donnell feels that I have done something to betray her. It has always been about the evidence, which I have not taken as a personal extension of her. She did a good thing by taking the photographs, and they will become part of the lore of this story long after we are gone. If anything, I have remained clear in all the interviews I have given that the real Mystery Beast probably remains out there in the Maine woods, despite what we finally discover this dead animal was or is. As a cryptozoologist, I must be truthful about the strange mysteries that remain, as well as the mundane discoveries that are made.

Ms. O’Donnell appears to have enjoyed all the media attention, the interviews, and such, but there’s always the downside when the frenzy becomes so demanding. I wish her well and hope she makes all the money she feels she deserves in selling her photographs.

But now there’s a new mystery. Ms. O’Donnell appears to be withholding something, as she tells me overnight that she did not give me or the reporter "the opportunity to see the part of the animal that is still "missing’."

I can only assume that this means she probably has retained the skull or the tail, items that reporter Mark LaFlamme and I were looking for on Wednesday. The skull would be helpful in determining identification, but at this point, the DNA samples sent off by the Sun Journal should do the trick.

Sometimes it is difficult to be the center of the vortex of such a media frenzy. My best to Ms. O’Donnell.

[Cryptomundo is a sane, kid-friendly site. Comments that are insulting, personality-driven remarks directed at Ms. O’Donnell will be removed immediately.]

Maine Mystery Beast

Photograph of the Maine Mystery Beast’s dew claws, by Douglas Van Reeth, Sun Journal. Used with permission.

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.

33 Responses to “Mystery Beast Photos Withdrawn”

  1. shovethenos responds:

    Might be a good idea to review what is known about the “mystery animal” that is allegedly still out there…

  2. oldbutnotstupid responds:

    This is not a great setback. There is little market for dead dog photos, so lets forget it and move forward, there are real discoverys to be made out there.

  3. JJCRUZN responds:

    Oh well. I totally agree with Loren on his opinions of what this creature may have been but that DNA testing would be conclusive. He is the expert on these matters. But I still believe there is something strange out there since my husband and I have heard the blood curling screams in the night others have reported. But it is probably not this poor animal that looks like a dog maybe feral that may never had a chance for a good life.

  4. BurningStarFour responds:

    Little did this poor dog (or Mystery beast) know that he would be more famous in death then in life…

  5. sausage1 responds:

    $100 for a picture of a dead dog??? Boy am I in the wrong business!!

  6. greywolf responds:

    Well I wonder if she talked to Tom B.? But $100.00 for a picture of a dead dog is a tad much. Any way all Cryptomundo did was present the facts in the case just as the original News paper report. If I remember correctly if you turn the photos over to the News paper for publication with or without payment the photos become public domain.

  7. greywolf responds:

    Just a second thought if the dog/critter went wild and had been running for a long time the dew claw would grow longer than if the dog was groomed and trimed like a proper pet is.

  8. jayman responds:

    Maybe people are just sick of looking at pictures of dead dogs. 😉

  9. twblack responds:

    I guess I do not get what she would be mad at. If the pic’s are all in the papers. But oh well I still agree with Loren it is not much here but a dead feral dog. So we must move on to the next cryptd.

  10. crypto_randz responds:

    Dont worry Loren, you didnt do nothing wrong it was a good find that for sure. The mystery beast situation could be aliitle coverup, what else is she hiding there might be more to this story. When i look at the picture to me it looks like a werewolf its just my observation. The dog like creature is perhaps a mix.

  11. crypto_randz responds:

    Its a tough picture, all of you here have very good observations and opinions but it does look like something out of a fairy tale story. it looks mythical its just my opinion.

  12. talthar responds:

    It disappoints me that Ms. O’Donnell would decide to take her pictures back, for lack of a better way to put it. As Loren pointed out, the pics have already been splashed all over the ‘net by the AP and other sites, to why just blame Cryptomundo for this?

    A lot of folks seem convinced that what the pics showed was a feral dog, but I’m holding out for the DNA tests. Will it be some unknown canine cryptid? Probably not, but I don’t want to make that decision yet.

  13. One Eyed Cat responds:

    Hopefully the DNA will answer some questions. Unhapppily it may take another victim of the ‘Mystery Beast’ to put some sanity back into all this.

    A pity this wrinkle developed, but it did now let us move on.

  14. mauka responds:

    It was nice of her to at least let us see them.

  15. ufosrhere responds:

    Good work Loren, you are doing a great job at keeping this incident under scrutiny and a watchful eye. It does sound like the woman in question is enjoying her 15 minutes of fame tooo much…..thus always making people wonder about the legitimacy of the story The animal seems like a feral dog I would think.

  16. LanceFoster responds:

    Hi Loren

    In regards to the photo here—The dewclaws of a dog will often keep growing if not trimmed, the main reason that if they are not, they will grow all funky and be a cause of pain and disfigurement. Sometimes they are even removed by the veterinarian. Sort of like in the case of a rodent…if a rat did not keep gnawing away, the incisors would keep growing and curve out and up and into its skull.

    It was hopeful to hear you think this poor dead dog is not the “Mystery Beast” that the lady posting here heard. That screaming sounds more like the shunka warak’in I told you about some years ago.

    All the best,
    Lance Foster

  17. wesawthat... responds:

    the first place that we saw a foto of the mystery beast was on the drudge report.

  18. buzzmustdie responds:

    i think we have the right to see them pic even if someone does something like that, that is when you make it so that they can not do any thing to the pic and cause i would like to see stuff like that and i like this site but that is not cool

  19. Sky King responds:

    sausage1 Says:

    $100 for a picture of a dead dog??? Boy am I in the wrong business!!

    You beat me to it, Sausage 1! My thoughts exactly.

    And, in saying this, it’s all that need be said. Plus, we avoid saying anything personal about you-know-who.

  20. nbnorthman responds:

    Good day all,

    I was quite surprised to see the pictures of the creature. From the ‘legends’ my old aunts told me long ago from northern New Brunswick ( where they grew up ) explains of a creature that’s a man-beast. An old man called Snook found this creature ( or so it was told ). Snook was a poor french acadian man living in a shanty in Flemming New Brunswick. This creature used to follow people along the sides of the roads of rural Flemming NB but it never troubled anyone. They called it ‘bete a Snook’ ( Snook’s Beast ). There is no ‘exact’ physical description of it, only that it might have resulted from a human breeding with a animal…which type of animal? Who is to say, but from the legend I was told is that it was that of a cow. The ‘bete a snook’ had the body of an animal but human facial features like the eyes and the higher intelligence not found in animals. The intelligent eyes which were oddly melancholical, that maybe it longed to be fully human, that’s why it followed people to listen to what they were saying. The fact and the matter is that it lived and its legend lives on in our minds.

  21. LaFlamme responds:

    I hear your pain, Loren. It seems ironic that you and I — the only two people interested in this story from the beginning — are the only people who have complied with Mrs. O’Donnell’s request. And for clarity’s sake, Michelle passed the photos on to me because she wanted me to write a story about her find. I passed them on to Loren because I needed a professional opinion. Fair use of the photos that, at the beginning, had no value whatsoever. The pictures were sought out later only because of our interest them in the beginning.

  22. dianaward responds:

    Boy, did I miss it! I found a “Nefarious Flat Dog” in Texas, and didn’t even photograph it, much less call Loren. How stupid of me! It was completely shaped like a dog, but only about 2 inches thick, lying in a river access parking lot. I thought it was just a dessicated corpse that had been run over many times, but now I’m disturbed to discover that it was probably an new alien species and I could have made millions on the pix.

    Always a day late and a dollar short, I am

  23. Dark-Obsessor responds:

    Those pictures are all over the place: other blogs I’ve been to, newspapers, other websites. Everywhere!

    For God’s sake, I saved one to send to my friend.

    What’s the big deal, anyway? Why take them down? It’s like the Thylacine photographs.

  24. chrisandclauida2 responds:

    tell her she ought to buy some lube for the job the AP is giving her.

    i also suggest she not put a down payment on anything she thinks the cash from the photos will buy her.

  25. harleyb responds:

    That’s just lowdown when the AP has the pictures everywhere but oh no not Cryptomundo someone might download them, please.

  26. Scotty responds:

    Just keep doing the excellent job you have been Loren… it’ll take a lot more than Ms. O’Donnell’s photos of a dead dog to discredit you and this site, in any way! This just another fine example of “shooting the messenger”, ha!ha!

  27. Lesley responds:

    That is fine by me. I am tired of looking at that poor creature. I feel sorry for him, just a dog with no home who met a horrible end.

  28. mooppoint responds:

    greywolf, you are correct. Once permission is given to use photographs in a publication royalty-free, they are public domain. This woman relinquished her legal financial rights to those photos when she allowed the Sun Journal to publish them. She doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on now. (I’m not a lawyer, but I’m a member of the media, and have run into the situation many times.)

    This also helps explain her insistence that the photos depict something other than a dead dog when the vast majority of the rest of the world see a “dead dog.”

    If she can make money off the prints, that’s fine too, but this blog handled the matter in a professional and correct manner. In fact, she owes much of her notoriety to Cryptomundo, as one of its authors is a world-renowned expert who actually investigated the case.

    This latest revelation from the photographer seems to move this from the “mystery” catagory to “hoax,” in my opinion.

  29. mooppoint responds:

    And I just logged onto the Associated Press wire service, and found that three of the photos remain there. As a member of the AP, I have the right to download those photos and use them at my discretion in any of our publications, print or electronic media. Of course I won’t, because this sensationalization of a picture of a dead dog has gone far enough.

    I suspect that the comments about the photographer not wanting to take on the “big boys” and take the path of least resistance is correct, and I commend Loren for handling this with grace and dignity. His reputation is more solid than ever after this episode, although I can’t say the same for all involved, particularly those wielding a camera during this fiasco.

  30. UKCryptid responds:

    I’m not a skeptic of the photos, I saw an unfortunately dead dog like anybody else. As said above, there isn’t much market for dead dog pictures, even ones with slight deformaties.

  31. Maineman responds:

    Oh my, there is that poor dead dog in Maine photo over at Earthfiles.

    Somehow I don’t think that Linda Moulton Howe has paid or would pay a $100.00 for that photo, obviously once you allow your photos to go out into the public realm then they become available to anyone wishing to save them for whatever reason, demanding money for them after the fact, once there out there is ludicrous.

  32. animal responds:

    Just goes to show that the love of money really is the root of all evil. Now I REALLY hope that animal isn’t the mystery beast. Then the pics won’t be worth a cent. Serves her right. And if she really has the “missing parts”, can’t she be charged with something like withholding evidence or some other legal action?

  33. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    You know, you could always pay for AP rights for Cryptomundo and run them to your hearts content.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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