Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. He is the author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), Dragons: A Natural History (1995), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), The Unexplained (1996), From Flying Toads To Snakes With Wings (1997), Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999), The Hidden Powers of Animals (2001), The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003), Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture (2013), The Menagerie of Marvels (2014), A Manifestation of Monsters (2015), Here's Nessie! (2016), and what is widely considered to be his cryptozoological magnum opus, Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors (2016) - plus, very excitingly, his first two long-awaited, much-requested ShukerNature blog books (2019, 2020).

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Thursday 13 February 2014


I have decided not to display the image under consideration in this present ShukerNature blog article, but it is available widely online - click here to view it if you so wish.

Over the years, certain online photos of bizarre but allegedly real entities have surfaced and resurfaced with monotonous regularity, in spite of repeated discrediting as hoaxes or misidentifications by cryptozoological researchers. I recently exposed ten of the most persistent offenders (click here), but at least most such photos are at worst tedious and at best somewhat amusing. However, there are certain others that are anything but amusing – on the contrary, they are both tragic and disturbing on account of what they truly depict, and are therefore in particular need of serious investigation and exposure. The photograph that is the subject of this present ShukerNature blog post is, I believe, a prime example of that latter category, which is why I feel it necessary to assess its credentials and credibility herewith.

As far as I have been able to discover, the photograph first began to attract serious online attention during November 2011, when it was circulated widely on Facebook and other social networking sites. The story accompanying it was that the depicted entity originated in Haiti (situated on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola), and that people there were actually fleeing their homes in terror because it apparently resembled a malign supernatural Haitian being known as a buck. Moreover, suggested/claimed identities by posters to the sites presenting it ranged wildly - from an aborted human foetus with developmental abnormalities, some form of grotesque mutation, or a photo-manipulated creation, to such bizarre notions as an alien baby, the aforementioned demonic buck, or a human-rabbit hybrid of either natural or artificial propagation.

(Worth noting, incidentally, is that in 2003 a team of Chinese scientists in Shanghai did succeed in creating human-rabbit chimaera cells in the laboratory by fusing human skin cells (contributing human nuclear DNA) with the egg cells of rabbits (contributing rabbit mitochondrial DNA), but these chimaeras were killed a few days later in order to retrieve embryonic stem cells, though it is not believed that viable foetuses would have resulted anyway, as humans and rabbits are far too distantly related taxonomically.)

After a few months, interest died down, then in November 2012 the photograph resurfaced and was recirculated widely online, but this time with a new back-story and an entirely different supposed provenance. It was even featured in serious, highly-respected media, such as Australia's Daily Telegraph, which reproduced the photo in an article released on 19 November 2012 (click here to access it). According to this source, the entity had been photographed not in Haiti but in the southwest African country of Namibia. Moreover, according to the story, a shooting party had encountered it foraging for food in dense jungle, and one of the party had shot but only wounded it, causing it to flee away into thick brush. However, the party succeeded in tracking it back to its nearby lair, where they found three other beings of the same kind. The wounded entity then attempted to attack the party, who shot it dead, but the other three beings escaped into the brush. The corpse of the dead entity was then taken back to the party's camp, and police took it away for a full forensic investigation. Needless to say, no follow-up reports revealing what this supposed investigation had discovered have been made public (at least not to my knowledge).

In February 2013 and also in October/November 2013, the photograph resurfaced yet again online, in sites such as Reddit and Triggspot, but now the provenance of its depicted entity had switched back to Haiti, though stories concerning it incorporated variations upon the Namibian plotline as well as the earlier lines of speculation from posters re human-rabbit hybrids or aliens.

And earlier this month (February 2014), a friend informed me that he had recently seen the photo being reported online with a third provenance - New Guinea.

So what is the truth about this contentious photograph and, most of all, what precisely does it portray? If we ignore for the time being the entity's bizarre head, and concentrate upon the rest of its body and what we can see of the person holding it, I think it most plausible that what we are looking at is either a newborn male human infant (possibly delivered by caesarean) or an extremely late aborted male human infant. The streaks of blood on its body would be normal and expected in either case, and the white waxy substance also present on its body would thus be vernix caseosa – a substance composed primarily of sebum, which begins to form upon the human foetus from around the eighteenth week of pregnancy. The infant's umbilical cord is readily visible hanging down the left side of its body (and thus seen on the right side in the photo, in which we are viewing the infant from the front), and using the size of the hand of the person holding it as a scale, the infant is the correct size for a newborn or late abort. In addition, the blue attire of the person holding the infant corresponds with hospital attire, as does the blue surgical glove worn by the person's hand.

So far, so straight forward. When examining the infant's head, however, matters become rather more complex. The infant's face is very distorted and/or mis-shaped, leading to two possibilities. This is either the result of photo-manipulation, i.e. a deliberate attempt to create a monstrous visage by computer-generated trickery; or, tragically, the infant's face is truly deformed, with maldeveloped eyes, nose, and mouth (fellow Fortean researcher Bob Skinner has opined that its mouth may be exhibiting a bilateral hare-lip condition, and I agree with him). One of its ears is also clearly visible, but apart from seeming a little large, this appears quite normal – in stark contrast to the grotesque length of what seems to be fleshy tissue emerging just above it and hanging downwards in a gross parody of a rabbit's ear. It is of course this grotesque structure that is responsible for the 'human-rabbit hybrid' claims – made by persons who evidently hadn’t noticed the infant's real, normal human ear!

What could this long fleshy expanse of tissue be? It is possible that it is not actually part of the infant's head at all, but is merely a section of the detached placenta that subsequently became attached to the infant's head during its delivery/abortion. Alternatively, it may be a portion of the infant's cranial tissue or even a portion of its brain if the cranium has been damaged during embryonic development and/or the brain has not developed correctly. There is a condition known as anencephaly, in which a sizeable portion of the brain, cranium, and skull cap do not develop, due to the rostral (anterior) neuropore - the temporary opening at the embryonic forebrain's extreme cephalic (rostral) pole - not closing during early embryogenesis (at approximately Day 25 in humans). Consequently, the portion of the brain that does develop is exposed and thus can theoretically emerge from the open, unprotected top of the skull, together with associated nervous tissue. However, the amount of flesh visible in the photograph seems more than might be expected if this were the case. Conversely, it is of course conceivable that part or all of this flesh is merely the product of photo-manipulation, to yield something reminiscent of a rabbit ear.

Finally, but most tragic of all: the positions of the infant's limbs (its right hand, incidentally, seems to have malformed digits), and also the expression on its face (if not added by photo-manipulation), are highly suggestive of the prospect that it was alive when the photograph was taken. This in turn makes the extremely rough, callous way in which it is being held even more heart-breaking.

Still requiring assessment is the location portrayed in the photograph. Might the latter have been snapped at a makeshift, impromptu field hospital in some remote tropical zone, which could also explain the presence of the bottle on the ground in the foreground? If not, then what else but photo-manipulation can plausibly reconcile the apparent presence of a correctly-attired hospital worker holding a newborn/late aborted infant in the middle of a jungle? (In the latter scenario, the bottle could have also been added via some deft, digital manipulation.) In any event, the stories of encountering this and similar entities in the jungle are obviously complete, nonsensical inventions that have been supplied to the media by person(s) unknown, as indeed has the photograph itself. I have been unsuccessful in tracing this controversial photograph's origin, and also in tracing any photos online that contain either the precise jungle scene in this photograph or the person standing behind the infant in it. So if, as seems most likely, these aspects of the photograph have indeed been incorporated into it from other sources, their origins currently remain unknown too.

However, I do feel it likely that the identity offered here by me for the entity is the correct one – a probably deformed newborn/aborted male human infant, alive when delivered but likely to have died from its condition shortly afterwards. I have no idea who could possibly have thought it novel or amusing to have created such a disturbing image, but I wholeheartedly believe it high time that this photograph be seen by all for what it truly is - a terrible indictment of humanity's inhumanity.

Consequently, I pray that this too-long-perused image's tragic little subject will now be left in peace, spared from any further attention of the freak-show variety, and granted the dignity in death that it was denied during its sad and all-too-brief span of life.

"Have pity on them all, for it is we who are the real monsters."

Dr Bernard Heuvelmans – On the Track of Unknown Animals


  1. I think you're right. How disgusting someone would use this tragedy as a cryptid hoax

  2. I think so too, which is why I felt it high time that this photograph was rigorously investigated and the ridiculous claims concerning it quashed. The poor infant deserves nothing less

  3. Thank you, this was very interesting and sad. Hopefully you will track down the original picture and solve the mystery

  4. Dr. Karl,

    Have a look at the video of a similar creature.


    It is apparent that it is some sort congenital birth disorder. I have no idea where this was taken but the language characters were Islamic accompanying the original post.

    1. Hi Lyall, I tried to access the video in the link that you gave, but the link wouldn't open. Sorry, Karl

    2. I made a copy of video and try this link to photobucket:

      You may have to scroll down some - mp4 format.


    3. Hi Lyall, Yes, I could access it this time - what a poor tragic infant. Probably anencephaly.

    4. anencephaly is exactly what i thought the first time i saw this image as well.
      If that is the case, and the facial deformation and small cranial size point to it being anencephaly, that tissue hanging off the back of the head is probably a meningocele.
      If it makes anybody feel any better, this birth defect is almost always fatal.

  5. Hi, i noticed one thing in the picture when I zoomed in att the bottle at the bottom of the picture. Right above little to the right, it looks like "something" is looking up. I think it looks like an eye and a mouth... Maybe just me..

  6. Dr Shuker,.thanks for your work here. I feel strongly against hoaxing,and the fabrication of any evidence,that would be an attempt to do/provide anything to any field except for truth,.and understanding in regards to our favorite subjects and topics.
    That being said..yes Sir,,this is an absolutely heartbreaking situation,and photo.and.,i totally agree,.this is tragic,and uncalled for. Hopefully the rightful owners/creators of this gruesome picture will be found soon,and appropriate charges/actions taken,although I'm not sure what,if any,there could be. Of course,there's the old standby,,some call it Karma,I tend to see it as it is,.as in more often than not,,folks seem to get what they put in. If that's love,kindness,care,understanding,and many other positive,and helpful traits,.it may take a few days,or many,many years,.it seems the good comes back,.in a great way! Of course,.for those who invest in the bad,,they may have the worst to look forward to,..this may be the case here.

  7. This poor unfortunate is as you rightly summise is a human foetus or new born human with severe abnormalities. It look very similar to some specimins kept at the Gordon Museum in London.

  8. there is just one probolim. this is a white baby suronded by jungle people who are not the same skin colour meaning that this is not their baby. even if the mother had white skin the baby would still like more look those people in the background. also the head looks like a dwarf person you would see in the movie hobbit. I don't think this is a human baby i think it is a different speices

    1. I didn't say that it was their baby - I speculated that it was a hospital scene with computer-superimposed jungle scenery, and that the people in the scene where hospital staff, one of whom is holding a newborn baby or near-fullterm aborted foetus with severe developmental abnormalities.

    2. Black babies are very light skinned when they are born. They can even look white. It takes time for the pigment to set it.

  9. I think this is so terribly sad. To think a child no matter how deformed could be treated so barbarically. I thank you for finding out the truth and hope this picture will be laid to rest just like that poor little boy.

  10. what is it sir?????????????????

    what shall we call it???????????????

    ts look so ...... its really too terrible and too sad.

  11. Looks to me as photo manipulation or a child born with a severe case of trisomy

  12. Call it Yutu , a mythical half rabbit half man that lives on/in the Earths moon , China named their lunar rover in honor of Yutu , in Gaelic it the Pooka a six foot tall white rabbit from County Kerry

  13. In my professional, I would say it's a calcium deficiency. He needs some milk.

  14. Sad, disturbing that anyone could find this amusing. Souless bastards! Makes my heart ache as no matter what the situation that man is holding "him" like a beer can.

  15. Dr. Shukar

    This is definitely a photomanipulated image of an anencephalic newborn - examination with various tools show that the infant's left side, with the other eye, also open, and the ragged form of the top of the skull have been
    blurred sufficiently to make them disappear into the foliage. I don't know which software was used to sink the foreground of the image into the background, but it has been done ineptly enough that it is easy to detect the mismatched (foreground/background, foliage) parts of the picture. People ought to be ashamed of themselves but they are not, so we will be exposed to further "alternative facts" in every area of human interest.

  16. I don't know if anyone has said it yet but my best guess is that this was taken in Haiti. I lived there for a few years and though there isn't a huge picture of the background a few things seem very familiar to me. For one it's looks like a tropical area. The trees on the back ground but also the rock they are standing on. Haiti doesn't have much top soil left and most (not all) of the ground is covered in rock and coral. Second would the trash on the ground. The bottle is a pink Tampico bottle. It is very popular down there and seeing them littered all over the ground is not uncommon. Last is the plastic bag on the ground to the left of the baby. Its a bag of Culligan water. Another common sighting littered around Haiti. They are small square bags of water. I never saw them until I went there. I don't know what Africa is like but it definitely seems like Haiti to me and I think you are right on with it being some sort of deformed fetus.

  17. I don't know if anyone has said it yet but my best guess is that this was taken in Haiti. I lived there for a few years and though there isn't a huge picture of the background a few things seem very familiar to me. For one it's looks like a tropical area. The trees on the back ground but also the rock they are standing on. Haiti doesn't have much top soil left and most (not all) of the ground is covered in rock and coral. Second would the trash on the ground. The bottle is a pink Tampico bottle. It is very popular down there and seeing them littered all over the ground is not uncommon. Last is the plastic bag on the ground to the left of the baby. Its a bag of Culligan water. They are square bags of water and you can find them littered all over the ground there as well. Anyway, I don't know much about Africa but this definitely seems like Haiti to me and I think you are right about it probably being a deformed male fetus. It's sad that it ended up being made into some huge Internet hoax.

  18. Is it in anyway possible that this could be a deformed sloth phoetus?