Panama “alien” revealed to be a dead, bloated sloth

November 10th, 2009 - 1:30 pm ICT by ANI  

National Geographic Washington, November 10 (ANI): Analysis has revealed that an “alien” discovered by a group of teenagers in a Panama creek, was actually a dead and bloated sloth.

“I was in the river and I felt something grabbing my legs,” one of the boys told the local television program Telemetro Reporta a few days after the sighting in the Cerro Azul region of Panama City in September.

“We took it out of the water and started throwing rocks and sticks at it. We had never seen anything like that,” he added.

After beating the creature until they thought it was dead, the teenagers threw it back into the water, returning later to snap photos of the body sprawled on a rock.

Their pictures of the dead “alien” posted online quickly earned the creature the nickname “Panama ET.”

But, according to a report in National Geographic News, an autopsy has now revealed that the purported alien was actually a species of sloth that had died and started to decay before the boys’ discovery.

“Most people know how a dead animal looks like in a dry environment,” said Andre Sena Maia, a veterinarian at Niteroi Zoo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“The body must have got stuck under the water, and the movement of the currents gave (the boys) the false impression that it was alive,” he added.

Panamanian officials recovered the “alien” four days after the teenagers had thrown it back into the creek.

A biopsy done at the National Environmental Authority of Panama (ANAM) concluded that the creature was a male Bradypus variegates, also known as a three-toed sloth, a common species in Central and South America.

“The sloth had severe signs of trauma on its body, as shown in the necropsy,” said Melquiades Ramos, a veterinarian at the ANAM Department of Protected Areas and Wild Lives.

“From the state it is shown in the pictures, we can estimate it had been in the water for about two days before being found,” he added.

The body’s unearthly appearance is the normal state for a putrefying animal immersed in water, according to Maia, of the Niteroi Zoo.

“That’s because water accelerates the loss of fur and gives the dead animal smooth and almost glowing skin,” he said.

In addition, bacteria decomposing the body created gases that made the organs swell, adding to the creature’s extraordinary appearance. (ANI)

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