A mystery giant sea creature with fur on its tail and a bird- or dolphin-like beak recently washed up on to a beach in eastern Russia.
The bizarre-looking creature has baffled scientists, who are unable to identify its species. But they note its similarity to dolphins. However, the specimen is about twice the size of an adult human being, which is unusually large for a dolphin.
The Siberian Times published photos of the mysterious sea creature. The photos show the creature with a matted coat of fur on its tail. The thick fur is a puzzle to marine experts, who say that although the creature looks like a dolphin, none of the known 40 dolphin species has a coat of fur.
Dolphins are born with short hair, but they shed the hair soon after birth.
Nikolay Kim, of the Forecasting Department at the Sakhalin Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography, said the beast looks likes an unusually large dolphin. He said the carcass might have surfaced due to a rise in temperature of sea water.
"According to a characteristic of the skin, it is a rare species. I doubt that it lived in our waters. Most likely, the animal was brought by a warm current. We often get tropical and subtropical species here and when they cool down they stay here and then die.Images of the mysterious creature posted to Russian social media have gone viral, sparking a debate about what it is.
I can confidently say that this is some kind of a dolphin. However, it has fur. It's unusual. Dolphins do not have any fur."
"It looks like some mutant sea monster with a beak."
"Probably, our summer is so cold that even the Indian Dolphins getting into local waters, are covered with fur."
Some Russian social media users noted the resemblance of the creature to the Ganges River dolphin, which has a triangular hump in place of a dorsal fin. Ganges River dolphins are found in fresh water habitats in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
But some marine experts said the creature could not be a Ganges River dolphin because the species grow only to about 2.5 meters, compared with the carcass of the mysterious sea creature that was well over 3.5 meters long.
Other experts also pointed out that Ganges River dolphins are exclusively freshwater mammals and do not venture far into salty ocean. However, this does not rule out the possibility that the carcass was brought to eastern Russia by warm ocean currents.
According to the Daily Mail, Professor David Smith, a marine expert at Essex University, and Professor Alex Rogers at Oxford University, agreed that the creature could be a prehistoric specimen preserved for thousands of years in permafrost, but recently released from thawed ice into the sea.
[Images via the Siberian Times]