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Corpse Fuels Beast of Exmoor Speculation

Paul Harris
Daily Mail Online
Jan, 9, 2009 2:03 AM

The head reveals an imposing set of fangs.
It was the teeth that everyone noticed first.

Great fangs jutted from its huge jaw, gleaming in the afternoon sun.

Then there was the carcass. Up to 5-feet long, powerful chest, and what could be the remains of a tail.

Had it been washed up on any other shore, it might simply have been dismissed as the unfortunate remains of a large dog.

But this was North Devon. And folk in these parts have learned that sightings of mystery animals are likely to mean only one thing - the Beast of Exmoor is back.

The puma-like creature has allegedly roamed the countryside here since some fleeting glimpses in the 1970s.

In 1983, it came to national attention after 100 sheep were mauled and killed. Blurred photographs and a succession of intriguing sightings followed.

At one stage the legend rivalled that of the Loch Ness Monster, striking terror into the hearts of farmers and tourists, and filling small children with dread.

Yet countless bounty hunts, safaris and expeditions - one conducted by Royal Marines - failed to pin it down.

Sheep and farm animals continued to be mysteriously slaughtered across Exmoor.

So one thing was probably on the minds of Sergeant Jeff Pearce and PC Chris Tucker when they were called to investigate a long-dead but fearsome creature washed up near Croyde Bay.

The mysterious corpse that triggered so much speculation.
Had they finally solved the riddle of the Beast?

A woman had reported spotting the remains of a creature "the size of a calf with canine teeth."

She is said to have used the B-word.

The officers were duly scrambled. Once at the scene, a cursory glance revealed: Too big for a dog or domestic cat; too small for a pony. Wrong teeth for a cow. A seal? Not with those legs, it wasn't.

"It almost definitely looks like it could be a Beast of Exmoor," said Sergeant Pearce, with admirable caution.

"It's only about five miles away to Exmoor by sea, it could easily have floated down."

PC Tucker added: "It's a good 5 feet and it has black fur. It certainly looks quite beast-like with those teeth."

So has the mystery been solved? Not quite. Samples sent for analysis revealed that the Beast of Croyde Bay was simply a grey seal.

Decomposition meant its flippers had vanished to reveal bones that looked like they might have been limbs.

Likewise, all that time in the water had given it a menacing snarl.

And the real Beast? There hasn't been a sighting for some time now, probably a week at least.

The legend lives on.