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Mystery Solved: Scientists Identify Weird Monstrous Sea Creature in Indonesia

May 18, 2017 11:08 AM EDT

It's a mystery that piqued the curiosity of the world: a monstrous 49-foot carcass washed up on the shores of Seram Island, Indonesia. By the time it was found, the marine animal was rotting and beyond recognition, so it seemed like a monster from another world.

The first reports from Jakarta Globe called the mysterious creature a giant squid, but further observations by experts say otherwise. According to a report from Huffington Post, three marine experts have determined the species of the creature appears to be a baleen whale.

"Giant squid are invertebrates and there are clearly bones visible (jaw, skull, vertebrae) so I am very comfortable saying it's some type of rorqual whale," Whale and Dolphin Conservation executive director Regina Asmutis-Silvia said. "Certain species of baleen whales (rorquals) have 'ventral grooves' which run from their chin to their belly button. It is stretchy tissue that expands when they feed."

Ocean Research & Conservation Association CEO and senior scientist Edith Widder agreed, saying that while it's difficult to know for sure from videos and photos, some of the images do indeed show something that looks like baleen plates.

"Trying to identify huge ocean creatures half a [world] away from a grainy video is tough to do; but once people start sharing specific information that begins to narrow in on defining characteristics of the creature, the identity begins to come into focus," Ocean Conservancy chief scientist George Leonard explained.

The animal was so huge that the first witnesses who stumbled onto the carcass actually thought it was a boat. Even several days after its discovery, researchers are still uncertain what caused the whale's death. It's also quite difficult to determine the cause because of the state of the remains. Because the animal is already beginning to decay, residents asked the government to help them remove the remains.

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