Monday, September 21, 2009

Mystery Corpse: Extraterrestrial Visitor or Balding Sloth?

Four teens insist they killed unidentified creature in self-defense

OK, this is weird…

…but rest assured that scientists will (probably) soon have a logical explanation for the bizarre pinkish carcass recently recovered in Cerro Azul, Panama. British hoax debunker Dr. Darren Naish makes a convincing case that the so-called “Blue Hill Monster” is nothing more exotic than a native three-toed sloth of the Bradypus species that had somehow lost most of its fur coat. However, if DNA tests do by chance fail to conclusively ID the victim as a known denizen of this planet, the FBI should send any top-secret real-life equivalent of Fringe Division they may have south of the border pronto in search of a crashed spaceship.

Whatever biologists eventually determine this creature to be, the pertinent part of the story from an animal rights perspective is that the teens (four males, aged 14 to 16) claim it was living when they saw it come out of a cave, and they killed it simply because it was crawling in their direction. Of course, the adolescents assumed that being approached meant they were about to be attacked, so they threw rocks at their alleged assailant until it was stone cold dead. Then they dumped the body in a nearby creek, returning only days later to photograph the remains and alert the authorities.

Now, I don’t feel it’s my place to pass judgment against these kids: if their account of events is true (which some doubt), it’s easy to imagine them being freaked out by the shocking reality of something they had never seen before, so their violent reaction may well have been borne from a visceral terror of the utterly unknown. Which would mean that the encounter triggered their autonomic “fight or flight” response, causing them to reflexively weaponize whatever objects lay most conveniently close at hand. Yet this only serves to illuminate an unsettlingly dark aspect of human nature: faced with a unique lifeform they did not understand, the boys savagely destroyed it in the most primitive possible manner instead of pausing to assess the actual threat level — an alarming outcome that intimates implications for everything from race relations and war to our wanton destruction of the environment, and ultimately our species’ prospects for avoiding self-imposed extinction.

That the creature bears a disturbing resemblance to many of the humanoid aliens commonly depicted in our movies and mythology invests the murder with an even more universal theme. I mean, the iconic blockbuster E.T: The Extraterrestrial wouldn’t have been nearly so endearing (or popular) if young Elliot had just repeatedly pummeled the nighttime stowaway in his family’s shed to death with that baseball, right? With the thought-provoking District 9 currently straining the veracity of Steven Spielberg’s more hopeful fairy tales in multiplexes worldwide, let this unfortunate incident be a lesson to any intelligent beings out there cruising the cosmos who may be thinking about a visit to Earth: “We come in peace” is probably not going to cut it down here!


  1. Are you aware there is a probles with the video ?

    I love slothts and feel outraged by those boys reaction.

  2. Anonymous8:11 AM

    The whole story is most probably not true, because the animal was already for a longer time dead when the photos were taken. It was probably floating in water for some time where it lost its hair and the tissue began to bloat. There are also furthermore no signs of violance at the carcass, what is hard to believe it was acutally "stoned" or beaten to death.

  3. Christne from SF11:37 AM

    I'm not sure who the "Anonymous" person is, but why is it so difficult to believe a story that kids threw rocks at something/one and killed it, him, or her? Kids and adults love killing for pleasure or just merely to pass the time... (i.e. fishing, bull fighting, eating....) I heard about this and merely thought - "humans." Their actions don't shock me at all. I believe the recipient of violence upon others merely changes: sometimes it's a bug, sometimes a kitten, sometimes it's an immigrant on a boarder-town in Texas, other times a black person in the wrong part of town. Thanks for your piece Mat.

  4. Anonymous5:27 PM

    Good lord, you're gullible. With absolutely no proof that there's any truth to this story at all, without even any cuts or bruises on the body that would suggest that it had been beaten and delicate limbs that don't look broken, your reaction is to start getting all outraged about the hoax-corpse-beast's rights? Come on.

  5. Anonymous10:17 AM

    Whether this creature happens to be an earthy hairless sloth or otherwise a newfound specie it doesn't give these punks the right to kill it, they all should be stoned to death the same way & see hows it feels.