The so-called “Montauk Monster” is burning up the Web. On CNN’s site, the creature copped the no. 1 story spot Monday (beating out “Racy Photos of Toddler’s Mom” and “Killer Carried Victim’s Head”).

The story so far: In mid-July a woman snapped a pic of something washed up on the shore in Long island’s East Hamptons. It looked to have the body of a mammal, the flippers of a turtle, and the schnoz of a raptor. posted the pic last week and — this being the dog days of summer in more ways than one — speculation spread like a bad smell across the blogosphere. Was it a giant deformed rodent? A half-dog, half-triceratops experiment from nearby Plum Island? A completely fake and very successful viral marketing ploy?

Wildlife experts including Jeff Corwin of “Animal Planet” weighed in on Fox News and elsewhere a with much more boring hypothesis: It’s a raccoon with its a muzzle partly rotted away, hence the beaklike protuberance.  And another photo posted at bears that theory out. Well, it was fun while it lasted.