Locals in Chicago, Illinois, were left scratching their heads as to the identity of a snake like beast discovered on Montrose Beach Dunes near Lake Michigan.

Robert Loerzel, 55, found the freaky looking creature 30 to 40ft from the lake and posted photographs online to show off his 'horrific' and 'frightening' sight.

The gruesome 'furry' remains of the 'sea monster' corpse were met by a mixed reception from his 23k followers on Twitter.

Robert, a freelance journalist who specialises in the natural world, said: "It was lying on the ground, not too far from a walking path through the dunes.

"I just happened to be looking down at that moment and saw it. I was simply fascinated, but I also thought there was something almost horrific or frightening about the corpse’s appearance.

"The corpse was roughly two feet long and curled into a shape like the letter U.

"At one end, the skull was about the size of a human fist. The body itself looked very narrow, almost like a snake or an eel."

"The skin that remained on the skeleton looked shrivelled up, and almost furry in places."

Montrose Beach Dunes, located about eight miles from the centre of Chicago, is an ecosystem on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes of North America.

Robert, who visits the dunes and neighbouring beach regularly, said: "This was just too strange to keep to myself.

"I posted my photos on the iNaturalist app, which I find useful for identifying flora and fauna.

"The app’s artificial intelligence often identifies species correctly, but it was stumped by these pictures."

iNaturalist users suggested the corpse was that of a burbot, a freshwater fish, but the app recorded no nearby burbot sightings in Lake Michigan, with the closest being in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, some 80 miles to the north.

The creature was also found 30 to 40ft from the water, though Robert says it could have been carried there by another animal.

The burbot, whose appearance has been described as a cross between a catfish and an eel, are found in waters of a latitude above 40 degrees north.

"With all such animal identifications, it’s hard to say exactly when an answer is definitive," Robert said.

"Sometimes, you post a photo online and there’s really no argument that it could be anything else, simply based on the way it looks.

"It’s a little harder to be so definitive when you’re dealing with a shrivelled, almost skeletal dead body like this."

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