It's the Internet's latest viral sensation, which has now made it's way onto news programs, gaining nation-wide attention.
So, I set to work to try to get to the bottom of it, posting the photo on a popular discussion board.
I was quickly linked to the following spooky video, which, remarkably, seems to capture the same creature:
Not one to be easily swayed, however, I ignored this and continued on my quest for the truth.
The first real explanation I came upon, was that it was a viral marketing campaign by Insomniac Games, to promote their new PS3 game, Resistance 3. Feeling that the game developer's tongue-in-cheek Twitter posting was proof enough:
However, this did not satisfy me as adequate proof of responsibility, and the creature in the pic didn't look much like a Grim, so I kept digging.
Similarly, others believed that it was instead a viral marketing campaign for the upcoming movie Super 8, but their proof was extremely weak, claiming that "inside sources close to the production" had confirmed it, and linking a video of a young girl describing her scene in which she was "blocked by a wall, and there was a zombie coming towards us":
Checking comments on various news sites, I was finally led to what appears to be the source of the picture, a thread on a hunting forum, ArcheryTalk.com:
(Click to enlarge)
You have to register to see the pictures, but I've uploaded all the relevant photos here, so you don't have to!
First of all, notice that the thread was started on December 2nd, and the timestamp on the posted photograph is 11/30/2010, whereas the photo being spread like wildfire in the media reads 12/04/2010.
This forum user, Hillbilly Willi, claims to be the camera owner, and therefore the source of this viral image. I'm inclined to believe him, as several days later he produces three additional pictures from the same camera:
While it was certainly fun to believe that such a horrendous monster could exist out there in the deep dark woods, I think it's safe to say this little mystery is debunked. :)
Thanks for reading!