Laura's article on Monsters does acknowledge that the picture may be fake:
Going in another direction, a photograph was recently sent to my by a correspondent. I shared this photo with our discussion group, and a number of members declared outright that it was a fake because they could "detect" anomalies.
Well, Ark and I did some experiments with photos that we crumpled and drew on the back of, and these experiments produced precisely the effects that the critics were claiming were proof that this photo was not "real." We subjected the photo to various graphic modification filters and enhancements, and even though we are not experts, we had expert guidance. In the end, we came to the conclusion that we could not discard it as "faked."
You can see a crease across the photo which is consistent with the fact that the story I was told was that it was carried around in someone's pocket for quite awhile.
There are some odd geometric markings that show up with enhancement, but, as noted, we did some experiments with drawing on the back of a photo and then scanning it, and the same effect is produced. It looks like someone drew a map on the back of the photo.
Now, the thing that struck me about this photo was the hands, elbows and feet of the creature. Look at them closely and then look again at the "Chicken Man" creature in the jar above.
Is it real? Do any readers have more info on it? I would appreciate any further data if it is available.
Update August 2002: Several readers have written to inform me that the above "creature" was/is "a creature carved into the rock at Cheddar Gorge, a tourist attraction in England. The gorge system has many mythical creatures carved into its rock, and this "imp" photo has been doing the ufological rounds for ages before someone pointed out what it actually was!"
When I received the first email with this information, I attempted to confirm it with the folks at the Cheddar Gorge attraction. No one there seemed to be aware of it or the claims that it was supposed to be in the cave.
Nevertheless, another reader not only wrote with the above information, he tracked down the source of that information: Fortean Times magazine. He also forwarded an image of the article:
Even though it then seemed that we had proof that the photo was a hoaxed monster, so to say, I must add that the folks at the Cheddar Caves refute the above Fortean Times claim:
From: mailto:email@example.com Cheddar Caves
Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2002 3:39 AM
Subject: Re: A QUESTION ON THE CAVE
Unfortunately, this particular plaster goblin is not one of our exhibits. However we do have plaster goblins, but perhaps not as evil looking as the picture you sent! If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to e-mail me.
Personal Assistant Cheddar Caves and Gorge
So, we are at an impasse with this one. It still may be a REAL Imp!