The Siberian "Demon Baby," Explained

David Ryckaert III via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
David Ryckaert III via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain / David Ryckaert III via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Bad news for those of you who placed your bets on “weird dinosaur”: it appears the Siberian demon baby was a mammal, and a recent one at that.

Allow us to rewind the clock for those of you who have not been watching the demon baby story unfold. On Tuesday, August 9, the Siberian Times reported that workers in the Udachny diamond mine had discovered the weird, desiccated remains of some unfortunate creature.

Udachny is a pretty weird place to begin with. The frozen town, which lies about 9 miles south of the Arctic circle, is best known for its natural trove of diamond-studded rocks. Since mining began there in 1955, the pit has become one of the deepest mines in the world, and is believed to hold at least 120 million carats’ worth of diamonds. For obvious reasons, companies are willing to go to great lengths to get those diamonds out. In 1974, those great lengths included detonating an atomic bomb underground in order to make room for mining waste.

So that’s Udachny. Now, for the baby. The miners who found the “monster mummy,” as they called it, guessed that the twisted body had once belonged to a never-before-seen species of dinosaur.

The monster was slated to be taken more than a thousand miles to the regional capital of Yakutsk for further inspection.

But there’s no need for that, says one expert, because she knows exactly what the monster is. It’s a polecat.

Look at these monsters. Image credit: Peter Trimming via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Specimen preparator Darien Baysinger has been working with mummified remains for 25 years. Speaking to Earth Touch News, she said she was pretty confident that the so-called demon baby was simply the dried-out body of a Russian fitch, also known as a polecat.

Just as the demon baby is neither baby nor demon, polecats are neither cats nor poles. They’re members of the mustelid family, which also includes weasels, ferrets, minks, and martens.

The body isn’t fossilized, she says, and it must be relatively new, since the mine has only been open for several decades. Udachny’s absurdly cold climate (averaging -31.4°F to -46.5°F in January) likely kept the body relatively free of bacteria, which allowed it to dry out instead of liquefying.

“It would be easier to say with certainty if we had a top-down view,” Baysinger said, “and it's possible that I'm wrong—but not likely."

But even she is not immune to the allure of the demon baby: “I would love to get my hands on that thing.”

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