Over the past few days, the internets have tied themselves in knots over the identification of a very odd piece of roadkill discovered in the middle of the road in rural Minnesota. Could it be a possum? A mange-addled pit bull? Perhaps an escaped lab experiment freak?
Now, a University of Minnesota-Morris professor has examined the carcass. Another researcher also took a look at its jawbones and skull.
The results are in.[jump]
According to Department of Natural Resources specialist Jason Abraham, the thing was hit by a car south of Alexandria. Somehow it was pushed into the middle of the road, which is how motorists noticed it and began taking pictures of it. Those pictures eventually made their way to the DNR, whose experts weren't able to say with total certainty what the white-skinned creature was. That lead to rampant speculation -- our own rigorous polling determined that it was definitely the legendary chupacabra.
But then science had to stick its ugly snout into the debate and ruin all our fun.
"We knew all along it's a badger," says Abraham. "Ninety-nine percent sure it's a badger."
Abraham explains the thing must have been dead for a very long time before it was shoved into the roadway. It had enough decomposition time to lose all of its hair, save that stripe down the back, and the strangely muscular looking neck is actually just a pocket of fluid.
"Badger skins are pretty loose on them anyway," says Abraham. "The amount of fluid and swelling that build up underneath is pretty substantial."
After a quick glance at its teeth, biologists were able to determine with certainty that this is nothing more than a common juvenile badger, probably less than a year old.
What a giant disappointment. Oh, well. Good-night, sweet prince.