Cryptozoology lovers are bound to wonder just what kind of monster washed up on the shores of Big Trout Lake, Ontario a couple years ago. The mystery continues, so we’ll see if we can find the answer once and for all! CryptoVille is on the case!
On the first weekend of May 2010, a couple of nurses strolling around Big Trout Lake found a dead creature washed up on the shoreline. It measured about a foot long (30 cm) and had dark brown fur. The fur on its face and one hand was missing. The local Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) tribe called it the “Ugly One” and thus began another internet sensation. See photo to the right.
Big Trout Lake is about as remote as you can get. It’s in northern Ontario, Canada, near the Hudson Bay. People living there are mainly First Nations people, the KI tribe. A councilmember for the tribe, Darryl Sainnawap, reported that his great-uncle told a tale about a mysterious animal that lived in the swamp, eating beavers. According to an article in The Buffalo Post, Sainnawap said, “Keep in mind that was about 60 years ago. I’ve never seen the creature myself, nor has my grandfather or most of the community.”
The First Nations people refer to the beast as the “Ugly One.” They also say that they don’t see it very often, but when it is seen, that’s a bad omen for the community. Here’s the initial news report about the creature:
What Is It?
Playing Possum? At first, an unnamed zoologist from New Zealand suggested it could be an opossum which, through decomposition, was now unrecognizable. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, the North American possum isn’t suited to cold and bitter weather, so the farthest north it goes is actually Southern Ontario, well away from Big Trout Lake.
Playing Frankenstein? Another opinion concludes that the animal has likely been sewn together from other animal body parts. Paul Wallis, in his Op-Ed article on the subject, lists several reasons why he believes this:
- The face is hairless, unlike an otter’s face, and it looks sort of like a pit bull.
- The teeth are like tusks which is very different from an otter’s dentition. And the jaws look more powerful than those of an otter.
- The hairline, where it meets the face, is very straight, as though a barber cut it.
- He cites a scar on the back of the head that is at an angle and a strange fold of skin behind the head.
- The paws look like those of a rodent.
So Mr. Willis feels that this creature was sewn together on the body of an otter. He says if that’s not the case, then this must be a severely mutated otter which would bode ill for the community as it would imply some terrible contamination had taken place.
I had to find out what a scientist had to say about this animal and luckily, I was able to find one! Darren Naish writes for Science Blogs.com and is a science writer, technical editor, and a paleozoologist affiliated with the University of Southhampton, UK. I think his opinion is the most reasonable and most likely.
Darren said that the fact that mammal carcasses lose their hair, either partially or completely, when submerged in water is critical to this mystery. The face is usually the first place the hair goes due to more rapid decomposition there, probably due to all the bacteria found in the open orifices (mouth, nose, ears, eyes).
- The teeth are large, curving and canine-like.
- The snout is short as opposed to being broad.
- Its cranium is heavily muscled, something one finds in a weasel
- The claws are formed by thin digits that are all small
- Its tail is long and covered heavily with fur.
Naish added that the mustelid family includes the North American river otter (Lontra Canadensis), the American mink (Mustela vison), and the American marten (Martes america) and Fisher M. pennant, among others.
He was able to give the distinguishing characteristics of each compared to the animal pulled from the lake shore (find his full article in the References section below). He concluded that due to the small size of the animal, the fact it had a “typical mustelid snout,” and ears that were slightly pointed shows us that the animal was an American mink.
American minks (right) are beautiful and hardy animals, living in most areas of North America (see map below). Males reach between 13 and 18 inches (34-45 cm) long, females 12 -15 inches (31-37.5 cm). The males weigh between 1 and 3 pounds (500-1,580 g) while females weigh between 1 to 2 pounds (400-780 g).
So here we have another mystery solved which may disappoint some of you. But don’t lose heart because it seems that Big Trout Lake has more to offer than dead minks along its shoreline. Apparently there are legends of a giant water snake living in its depths as well as some mermaids!
Til the next time!
Artwork by Kirk Reinert.