The mystery of a washed-up 15-feet long seabeast is unravelling after experts had their say on the seemingly unidentifiable creature.
Dubbed the Ainsdale Anomaly, the stinking remains were spotted on a Merseyside beach last Wednesday and have sparked debate as far away as New Zealand.
Some people thought it was a cow, a horse, a donkey or a walrus, and some even suggested it was a wooly mammoth or a crash-landed alien.
But experts believe the creature is in fact the decayed remains of a cetacean, a grouping of animals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises.
An unidentifiable creature was spotted washed up on a Merseyside beach in Liverpool last Wednesday. Dubbed the Ainsdale Anomaly, the stinking remains were spotted on a Merseyside beach
Marine biologist Jack Thomson, a lecturer at the University of Liverpool, examined images of the creature and could see why people thought of equine species.
‘I have to admit this is a tough one,’ he said.
‘Initially I thought it may have been a horse as there are some parts which seem very hoof-like.
‘However, given its size – I’ve seen a report saying it’s approximately 15ft long – and some of the features (in one photo I can see resemblance to a skull) it is probably is a cetacean of some sort.’
It’s a view shared by Natural England, the public body which manages the Ainsdale Sand Dunes National Nature Reserve.
Stephen Ayliffe, a senior advisor at Natural England, said: ‘We can confirm that an animal in a poorly decomposed state has washed up on Ainsdale beach.
Experts believe the creature is in fact the decayed remains of a cetacean, a grouping of animals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises
‘Whilst the identification of the animal is unconfirmed it appears to be a species of whale.
‘We are working with an animal removal company to have the animal’s remains removed from the beach as soon as possible.’
Images of the mysterious remains have been published across the globe, prompting many different suggestions as to their true nature.
But even those who saw the remains up close weren’t too sure. ‘It’s very bizarre,’ said one man. ‘It’s like a mishmash of different things in one.
‘It’s 15 feet long, it has flippers, it’s furry and it seems to have another creature attached, possibly via an umbilical cord, so it could have been giving birth.
‘It was almost like a whale that had eaten a horse that had eaten a dolphin.’
The man, who asked to remain anonymous, shared photos of the seabeast with the Ainsdale community Facebook page.
And while plenty of people had suggestions, nobody could identify it for sure.
One local woman, who filmed the strange creature, said: ‘It’s been called the Ainsdale Anomaly.
‘My first assumption was it was a whale of some kind.
‘Some people think it’s a cow or a horse. I honestly have no idea. My favourite theory is that it was a wooly mammoth or a crash-landed alien.
‘It almost looked like an elephant too.’
The 32-year-old, who wished to remain nameless, said the remains smelled so bad they almost made her ill.
Baffled locals speculated that it is a woolly mammoth, a walrus, a whale, a cow, a horse, a donkey – even an alien!
‘I didn’t get too close because there were lots of flies and it stank,’ she said.
‘I made the mistake of going downwind as I worked my way around it and I nearly threw up.
‘It was badly decomposed. It looked like there were three big mounds of bodily areas, all slightly different and unidentifiable to me.
‘To me the body looked quite twisted with flaps of skin here and there.
‘There was no identifiable head, which was strange – possibly it was underneath.
‘What I believe to be rib bones were sticking out the top side of it. It looked like there was a large spine and it seemed to me that the vertebrae were showing through the skin.’