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A tiny "alien creature" that washed up on the banks of a river in north-western Russia has locals and experts stumped.
At first glance it looks like something borne from the abdominal cavity of a crew member from the spacecraft Nostromo to wreak space-horror havoc on Sigourney Weaver and the human race. But the four-centimetre oddity was found in the Leningrad region in the town of Sosnovy Bor by a woman named Tamara as she waded in the shallows of the Kovashi River, according to a local television news report.
Tamara's friends thought the creature - which had what appears to be an elongated skull, shrunken frame and taloned limb - was a mutant chicken embryo.
But Tamara was not convinced the creature she found - and christened "Kesha" - was of such mundane origins. Biologist Yegor Zadareev at the Krasnoyarsk Institute of Biophysics agreed."It seems that this body is neither fish nor fowl … this creature has a mysterious skull, no neck and wings," he said according to a translation of an interview on Russian TV.
Kesha was to be sent to Moscow for further analysis, which is sufficiently vague to conjure images of top-secret underground bunker laboratories, reverse-alien probes and mitochondrial sequencing. Kesha had alien conspiracy theorists dusting off their tin-foil hats.
But the mutant chicken embryo theory is closer to the money for Sosnovy Bor locals, the key word being "mutant".
The residents of the town, which is in the shadow of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, are "naturally suspicious" of expert authority, reported the Australian duo behind the Mysterious Universe podcast report, tongues firmly in cheeks.
The plant had a history of disastrous industrial accidents and cover-ups, according to a former Russian Federal Inspectorate for Nuclear and Radiation Safety, Vladimir Kuznetsov.