CAPE TOWN - The carcass of a strange "alien-like creature", whose thin, exaggerated torso and long limbs led many Garden Route residents to believe it is a creature from another planet, is in fact a newborn female baboon.
The creature was discovered outside Nature's Valley on Monday by 17-year-old Curt-Leigh Dixon, son of local SANParks ranger Llewellyn Dixon.
Images of the creature spread like wildfire on social media this week.
Some suggested it was a seal crossed with a monkey, while others leant towards a "dead dog" or the more humorous "Kate Moss sunburnt in Plettenberg Bay".
The Crags Vet Clinic’s Dr Magdalena Braum performed the autopsy.
She revealed the mysterious creature was a newborn female baboon.
"It was most likely killed by the bite through her skull soon after birth, possibly infanticide, which is very common in some primate species when a new male takes over the troop," she said.
"The body is misshapen and mummified because it had been carried by the mother after death. We have seen it quite often in baboon research troops, when females carry the deceased infants sometimes for as long as three to four weeks on their tail section before finally discarding them.
"That explains the unusually long and narrow mid-body segment, but it is just a stretch. Other measurements are normal for a baboon infant."
Braum said research showed baboon mothers seemed to know the infant was no longer alive.
Llewelly Dixon said his son had come across the decomposing body at Covie, an area that lies between Nature's Valley and the Tsitsikamma toll plaza, on Monday.
"Curt-Leigh is very adventurous and likes to hike a lot. This animal was actually found away from the hiking trails at the back of our house in Covie, and was lying in fybos. He said as he approached he could smell something bad and when he came across it, he was initially very scared," Dixon said.
"He realised it was an important find and because he did not want the carcass dragged away by another animal, he brought it home and we took some photos. We later took it to the vet because we didn’t know what it was."
He said although Braum had since revealed that the animal was an infant baboon, "people still wonder".
"The teeth did not seem like a baboon. While the head was slack, the legs were still very rigid. People I have told still don't believe it is a baboon."