Mystery critter: Experts say it’s a badly decomposed possum, but others say it could be a lemur, native to Madagascar, known as an Aye-Aye.
Mystery critter: Experts say it’s a badly decomposed possum, but others say it could be a lemur, native to Madagascar, known as an Aye-Aye.

Mystery surrounds washed up animal

A BIZARRE story at best, the mystery of the ‘Coffs Harbour Critter’, the strange creature that washed up on Diggers Beach, has gained a cult following online.

Since pictures of the unidentified animal were published in the Coffs Coast Advocate on Wednesday, the story has gone national and international, with our own website recording more than 10,000 page views.

And the theories are equally vast – is it a sloth, a monkey, a dog?

Others said it could have be an African lemur, known as an Aye-Aye, or even an earless North Queensland possum known as a Cus Cus.

But marsupial specialists are adamant it’s a possum.

“It has lost its ears. A very obvious characteristic of the brush-tailed possums. Without those big pointy ears and no fur it may look ‘beastly’ to the average punter,” the University of New England’s Dr Karl Vernes said.

“This is probably (because) the animal floated around in the sea for a while and (was) nibbled at by various sea creatures. It is the head and face that gets people baffled – we cue in on animal faces more than any other part of them and this one doesn’t look very possum-like,” he said.

The possum theory was also supported by Taronga Zoo’s vet team and National Parks rangers, but those who saw it in the flesh don’t agree.

“It was definitely an animal that didn’t have hair at all on its face. It was not a possum,” Lynn Sunderland said.



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