A resident of Seram Island in Indonesia discovered a giant carcass that washed up on the shore of the island on Tuesday evening.
Thirty-seven-year-old Asrul Tuanakota first thought that the creature was a stranded boat amid the darkness but later realized it was a rotting body of a dead animal.
Initial reports said that the 49-foot dead creature is a giant squid that has likely been dead for at least three days before it was discovered.
If the animal is a squid, the creature would be a particularly large specimen. Giant squids are massive sea creatures that grow at least 33 feet when they have fully grown. They are also known as the world's largest invertebrate.
The eight-armed creatures are rarely seen and most of the information that researchers know about this marine animal come from finding carcasses that have washed up on beaches.
The giant squid and its cousin, the colossal squid, have the largest eyes known in the animal kingdom measuring about 10 inches in diameter, which help them see in the ocean.
They are characterized by eight arms and two whip-like tentacles that they use to bring their food, which include shrimp, fish, and other squids, into their beak-like mouth. Some think that these enormous animals also attack and prey on small whales.
Mysterious Creature Not A Giant Squid, According To Marine Experts
Marine experts who examined the images of the mysterious creature that washed up on Indonesian shores, however, think that the animal is not likely a giant squid but a type of whale.
"Giant squid are invertebrates and there are clearly bones visible (jaw, skull, vertebrate) so I am very comfortable saying it's some type of rorqual whale," said Whale and Dolphin Conservation Executive Director Regina Asmutis-Silvia, who pointed out what she thinks are the jaw bone and skull of the whale in the images.
"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."
UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme Project Manager Rob Deaville also said that the remains are definitely of a baleen whale pointing out distinct whale features that the creature has, which include what appears to be a vertebrae that squids do not have. Baleen whales are characterized by two blowholes that can be seen on the top of their heads.
Edith Widder, of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association, acknowledged it was hard to determine what the creature is based on the images alone but some of the photos show what appear to be baleen plates.
A baleen is made of keratin, the same protein found in the human hair and fingernails. Baleen whales, such as humpback whales, have about 600 baleen plates in their upper jaw which works like a strainer when they feed.
The hairs on the baleen plates strain the saltwater that whales cannot drink to catch fish and plankton.
Results from lab tests are expected to confirm the species of the mysterious creature.