US wildlife experts have been left baffled by a “wolf-like” animal that was shot dead by a farmer protecting his livestock.
The creature was killed by a rancher near the town of Denton in Montana last week.
However experts have been unable to determine what type of animal it is.
The front claws and teeth are too small, and front claws and ears too large for it to be a wolf, Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) spokesman Bruce Auchly said.
It was originally reported as a wolf, however speculation has been rife on social media due to its strange features.
Some have suggested it is a dire wolf, one of the most famous prehistoric carnivores in North America that is now extinct.
Others have suggested it is the legendary Chupacabra, or "goat-sucker", sightings of which have been reported as far north as Maine.
However Wolf management specialist Ty Smucker said the animal could be a wolf-dog hybrid.
The confusion has prompted State wildlife officials to take DNA samples to determine what type of animal it was. The results of the DNA tests are yet to be determined.
In a news release, Montana FWP said it was a “young, non-lactating female and a candid, a member of the dog family, which includes dogs, foxes, coyotes and wolves”.
The wildlife agency added that the rancher was within his rights to kill the animal because it was seen near livestock, domestic dogs and children.