A two-headed alligator may have been spotted near a Florida river. Photos of the supposed creature, however, are making people think twice about whether it's a hoax.
Justin Arnold claims he was walking his dog in Seminole Heights this past weekend when he spotted a crowd near the Hillsborough River. Walking closer he saw what he claims was a living two-head alligator and posted a photo on Facebook.
So far, the photo has been shared more than 4,300 times, but popularity breeds skepticism, least of all from Florida wildlife officials.
In his post, Arnold claims that officials from Florida Fish & Game have heard reports about the double-domed reptile, but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told WTSP TV that they've received no reports of a two-headed alligator in the area.
University of Florida wildlife ecology professor Frank Mazzotti, known as the "Croc Doc," told the station that while it was "not impossible" that such a creature might exist in the wild, it was not likely.
"Conventional knowledge is that when these deformities occur, the hatchlings do not survive unless cared for [by humans] and often, not even then," Mazzotti said.
The two-headed gator also has attracted skeptical comments from non-scientists like Aaron Conrad of Lutz, Florida.
He saw Arnold's alleged gator photo on the front page of the Tampa Bay Times and immediately cried foul.
"The gator looks dried and stuffed like something from a tourist shop," he wrote. "The front and back legs aren't even touching the ground and the tail looks dead. The skin looks like it is covered in lacquer. I think you need to take a closer look. I think you have been had."
The paper explained they published the photo by saying they had also received a photo of the creature from a man named Andy Stern, but promised to be more skeptical about reader-submitted photos in the future.
It's unknown whether Stern was in cahoots with Arnold, who has not returned media inquiries about the alleged two-headed alligator.
According to My Fox Tampa Bay, Arnold is an artist who likes to create paintings and sculptures of unusual creatures and post them on a Tumblr blog.
Meanwhile, wildlife officials have sent out trappers to the area of the alleged two-headed alligator sighting just in case the creature actually exists, South Tampa Patch reports.