Builder John Robertson, 50, stumbled across the rotting carcass on a path in Cullen, Moray, while out with his wife, Pauline, and their two dogs on Monday morning.
On a nearby cliff-top lay the mangled remains of half a dozen seagulls which appear to have been the beast’s last meal before it plunged to its death below.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said. “I have never seen so many dead birds in one area.
“They were completely mauled, they had their guts totally ripped out of them lying on the ground.
“Then a little further on we came across a horrible rotting smell which was this big cat. It looks like it’s feasted on the seagulls and maybe it has fallen down the cliff nearby, injured itself and just lay there till it died.”
John’s eye was caught by the frightening sharp teeth and 18 inch-long tail, but he said the most terrifying thing of all was that it may have been a cub.
“I didn’t have a tape measurer on me to measure the tail, but I’m a builder so I have a pretty good idea that it’s about 18 inches long.
“I reckon it’s a cub though, its teeth are too clean and there isn’t enough damage to them, which means they must be pretty new. You can imagine how big it’s mother would be.
“I’m sure we’ll find out from the DNA tests what type of cat it is, but it certainly seems like one of the big cats.”
I hate to burst anyone’s bubble.
But it’s not any kind of cat.
It’s a Eurasian otter.
You can see the extensive webbing between the toes hasn’t rotted away, and the head clearly has the wedge shape of a Eurasian otter. The tail is also long and flat and possesses a pointed tip.
None of these traits are indicative of a big cat.
It’s an otter.
Otters are making a comeback in the United Kingdom, and Scotland is one of their strongholds.
Confusing this animal with any kind of cat shows that the knowledge about the natural world is quite limited among the public.
This isn’t even a particularly decomposed carcass. One can still see that it has definite otter characteristics.
But no, it must be a big cat.
It’s good for headlines, and it’s good for getting attention.
But I don’t think it helps the discourse at all.
Misidentifying decomposed carcasses is a major problem in the modern internet-driven world.
At least they didn’t contrive this animal into something so bizarrely impossible that it would have to be the result of extraterrestrials or some nefarious government cover up.
You know, like the Montauk monster.