Our first thought when we saw this photo of a sea creature carcass, laid out on a beach in Eastern Russia, was "...what the hell is that?" Our second thought, which was very much like our first thought, was "...seriously, what the hell is that?"
The marine mammal, which is about twice the size of a human, was found washed ashore on Sakhalin Island. According to local media, residents in the area found the creature and described it as being 'dinosauresque' with a "a huge nose like a bird's beak."
Some have suggested that the mysterious animal is an endangered Ganges River, all the way from India. That being said, the remains of this creature are much larger than the average river dolphin and it's unlikely that a freshwater animal such as this could have made it all the way to the North Pacific.
Nikolay Kim, Deputy Head of the Forecasting department of the Sakhalin Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (try saying that when you're hungover), has been asked by The Siberian Times for his thoughts on the matter:
"Judging by the appearance of the head, this is clearly some big dolphin. According to a characteristic of the skin, it is a rare special...I can confidently say that this is some kind of dolphin. However, it has fur. It's unusual. Dolphins do not have fur."
So, is that the mystery solved then? Is it some sort of strange furry dolphin? Well, not necessarily because whale researchers Alisa Schulman-Janiger and Wojtek Bachara have stated that it's actually a Baird's beaked whale.
Bachara is an expert on beaked whales, which is certainly not something many people can claim to be, and his suggestion would seem to make sense based on the size of the carcass and the unusual skull.
As for the so-called fur, Schulman-Janiger has guessed that this is actually exposed fibers caused by the "breakdown process" of the decomposing animal.
Just when you think nature has hit optimum levels of weirdness, it pops up with something even weirder. The mystery of this animal carcass appears to have been solved, but that doesn't make the photographs of it any less surreal.