When it appeared on the southern coast of South Africa, residents in the surrounding town were aghast, believing they had found proof that extraterrestrial life had lived and died on Planet Earth.
In the end, the long, spindly carcass with gnarled teeth and a shrunken head was revealed to be nothing more than a mummified baby baboon. But not before images of the creature went viral, with star-gazers among the many who thought they could explain the origin of the bizarre “alien-like creature”.
According to some, it was a seal crossed with a monkey charred beyond recognition. To others, she was a badly shrivelled "dead dog". For one, the mystery was simple: "Kate Moss sunburnt in Plettenberg Bay".
It was local veterinarian who put an end to contestations by performing an autopsy that finally revealed the corpse to have come from much closer to home - to the great disappoint of many.
“It was a newborn female baboon, with umbilical cord still attached to her body,” Dr Magdalena Braum explained. “It was most likely killed by the bite through her scull soon after birth, possibly infanticide, which is very common in some primate species when a new male takes over the troop."
“The body is misshapen and mummified because it had been carried by the mother after death. We have seen it quite often in baboon research troops, when females carry the deceased infants sometimes for as long as three to four weeks on their tail section before finally discarding them.”
“That explains the unusually long and narrow mid-body segment, but it is just a stretch. Other measurements are normal for a baboon infant.”
A park ranger for the area, Llewelly Dixon, whose son made the initial discovery, said residents remained resolute that the body came from somewhere less conventional.
“People still wonder,” he said. “The teeth did not seem like a baboon. While the head was slack, the legs were still very rigid. People I have told still don't believe it is a baboon.”Reuse content