New Mystery Animal Photograph

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 13th, 2006

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.

Obviously, your thoughts via comments may still be registered below, regarding what kind of cryptid, animal, feline, canid, or beast the object in the photograph might be. Various comparative photographs of felines, for analytical reasons only, are posted below. I am not suggesting any firm “answer” for this “Mystery Animal” photograph.

Florida Panther

The Florida Panther (above), the southernmost verified subspecies of mountain lion or cougar, is found in the USA. The coat of the Florida Panther frequently appears to have dusty gray tones.

Mountain Lion

The mountain lion shown (above) demonstrates an extension of the body and legs, somewhat similiar to that found in the Mystery Animal photograph.


The above is a photograph of a caracal, also called a Persian lynx or an African lynx (Caracal caracal, sometimes Felis caracal), a felid obviously not naturally found in North America. The position of the caracal’s body mirrors what can be seen in that of the Mystery Animal, and this is the reason I have placed it here.

Mystery Cat

The Mystery Animal is pictured again.

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.

66 Responses to “New Mystery Animal Photograph”

  1. VoiceOfReason responds:

    It looks like a picture of an animal thats head is blocked out by a branch. Or maybe its a new undiscovered animal that has a branch for a head. I am officially starting the legend of “Branch Head.” Havn’t you ever wondered why cryptid’s faces and bodies always seem to be blocked by shrubbs? Well now you know. They have evolved to have bodies that look like trees are blocking them or heads that look like branches are covering their faces. Oh and they also evolved to look blurry. Thats why we always think pictures are out of focus. Woahhh! I just blew my mind!

  2. shovethenos responds:

    People – look at the mystery animal picture.

    Then look at the second mountain lion picture that Loren posted – the mounted one that is perched on the rocks.

    Then look at the mystery animal picture again. There is a long tail that curls up at the end in nearly the same position in relation to the back leg. The tail is lighter in the mystery animal than in the dummy animal, but it is in nearly the exact same position.

    There’s only one thing that color that could be out in the woods like that with a tail that long – a mountain lion.

  3. xenobia responds:

    My first thought was “someone’s pet caracal got loose”.
    But it could be a mountain lion.
    Definitely feline.

  4. xenobia responds:

    BTW, I just asked my boyfriend, sitting across the room from me, “whats this a picture of” with no explanation of the “mystery animal” sighting.

    He said “It’s a cat”.

    Makes me wonder how much SAYING an animal is a “mystery animal” makes our brains look for weird explanations.

  5. Rabbit responds:

    The head isn’t very clear, but looks like a cat’s face rather than a dog.

    I’d go with mountain lion. If one starts by assuming a mountain lion and then seek to find any reason why it isn’t, nothing seems to definatively say it isn’t to me. First impression was that the haunches seemed more dog like, but the back leg which is visible isn’t quite at the right angle to be sure of the shape of its haunches. I’ll warrant if it was seen side on the doubt would dissapear.

  6. Rabbit responds:

    I think I can see the tail just behind the knee joint to, and that would then be a cat’s tail. If a dog then any tail would more likely have been up in the air as it stepped down from the log, this seems to be a natural balancing reaction to stepping down for dogs, fore quarters go down, tail goes up.

    Mountain lion seems to be the result of apllying Occams razor.

  7. shovethenos responds:

    The positioning of the rear leg does make the figure look sort of un-catlike. But once you pick out the tail the mystery’s solved – nothing recognized in North America has a tail that long.

  8. MrInspector responds:

    There is no tail in the picture. See the enhanced version. It’s still a Deer.

  9. Capt. Jack responds:

    Why the heck do all these “mystery” animal photo’s always have a critical, identifying feature of the animal obscured!?

    I vote for some sort of hound/great dane. The hind quarters look too skinny to be a mtn. lion, IMHO.

  10. crosscrypto responds:

    Hawaiiman is right. Dog. Yellow lab. Not a mystery. Not a cat. Deer? Are you kidding me? For people interested in this stuff you people sure don’t recognize animals very well.

  11. Karon Booth responds:

    Maned lions are one of the cryptic animals that appear out of place ranging as far north as Alaska.

  12. cor2879 responds:

    My personal opinion is that it is a mountain lion

  13. Maer responds:

    At first I thought maybe a deer? but there is no way that haunch is a deer. I also thought “dog” and in ways I still do, because of the way the back of the animal is “tucked” down. However, after playing with the image a bit, the face is very feline (what is visible), but that can be angle. The haunch and the leg are not feline, the squareness of the rump is canine. Babble babble babble..

  14. Maer responds:

    You know what else is bothering me? Where’s the tail? There is no indication of a tail which, on such a kitty, would be very long and visible somewhere in the photo, especially on that angle, it would be out for balance.

  15. Babiepups responds:

    Well it could be a couger because recently scientists are trying to build up the population again

  16. Broon Ward responds:

    A golden retriever, nothing more, nothing less!

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