Creepy creatures have Web abuzz

Front view of a giant isopod, as posted on Reddit.com by someone who asked, "What is this? ... Is it edible?"
Front view of a giant isopod, as posted on Reddit.com by someone who asked, "What is this? ... Is it edible?" (Peter Mucha)
Posted: April 07, 2010

Last week, news "surfaced" about a giant deep-sea bug and a nine-legged octopus.

This week, it's the creepy "Oriental yeti" as well as a new lizard species.

Learn something ewww every day.

Or so it seems online. Such critters have been crawling all over recent lists of popular searches.

"My god, it's a monster!" That was Reddit.com's headline when a someone posted a couple of grisly pictures, asking readers to ID a bizarre 2.5-foot creature found at a depth of 8,500 feet - more than a mile and a half down.

"What is this, Reddit? Is it edible?"

"It's a giant isopod. ... I love giant isopods because my girlfriend screams every time she sees a picture of one," one reader wrote. "And yes, they are edible. They're apparently quite the delicacy in Taiwan."

Soon, the Web was crawling with isopod-info seekers, who learned these critters - technically Bathynomus giganteus - are kin of wood lice, roly polys, pillbugs, shrimp and crabs.

"They're really common in the deep water in the Gulf of Mexico," an expert told MSNBC.

Nonopus? The nine-legged octopus - also from the gulf - was discovered by a Florida chef, who noticed "it seemed, well, leggier," according to the Associated Press.

In 40 years of cooking octopus, Emmanuel Psomas, head chef at Hellas Bakery and Restaurant in Tarpon Springs, had never seen a gastropod with an extra tentacle before.

"I'm like, this can't be," Psomas said. "I've seen a lot of octopus."

He plans to enjoy the mutated sea-meat soon with some vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and herbs, the AP wrote Friday.

For even more memorable dish, why not add a little giant isopod?

"Oriental yeti?" A four-legged critter found in China's Sichuan Province has been described in reports as resembling a hairless bear with a tail like a kangaroo's.

"There are local legends of a bear that used to be a man and some people think that's what we caught," a hunter said, according to the London Telegraph.

Hmm ... maybe flying all the way to China made the Jersey Devil's wings fall off, so it finally got captured!

This discovery probably isn't a mythical monster. It certainly doesn't fit the yeti-Bigfoot-Abominable Snowman mold, since those are described as apelike or humanlike. It's more like the legendary chupacabras supposedly spotted in Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Southwest.

As with chupacabras, an explanation might be that it's simply a dog or cat with mange - a disease that makes animals lose their hair.

Sounds like a cat, the hunter said.

Then it probably is a cat with mange, perhaps a civet, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman told the Christian Science Monitor.

DNA testing is expected to reveal the answer.

Tree-living lizard. A 6-foot-long golden-spotted monitor lizard found in the Phillipines has been declared a new species, according to study released today. The secretive species caught attention in 2004, after researchers on the island of Luzon saw a tribesman carrying a dead one. Confirming the creature's scientific status were the National Museum of the Philippines and the University of Kansas. It eats fruits and snails, rather than carrion, which is favored by other monitors, including the Komodo dragon.

Finding a new species of fish, frog or insect still happens regularly, but finding an unknown vertebrate is rare. Researchers recalled the 1993 discovery of the Saola ox in Vietnam and a new Tanzanian monkey in 2006.


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

Inquirer wire services contributed to this article.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|