Meet the Murrel, the Man-Sized Squirrel

Move over, Sasquatch! Take a hike, Yeti! Go soak your head, Nessie! There's a new urban legend in town and his name is Merle.

Well, it's actually a Murrel, a man-sized squirrel that lives in Arcata, California, and everyone is going nuts over him, even though no one can actually prove his existence.

The Murrel recently came to attention when the website, Fark, published a notice of a news story: "Help bring awareness to the plight of the elusive human-sized squirrel. It may sound like acorny hoax, but would a nut be able to offer a $1 million reward for proof of the murrel's existence?"

Um, yes? Remember when Ross Perot ran for president? That's proof that a rich nut can do anything he wants.

Offering $1 million for proof of something that doesn't exist is not such a big deal either. I'll offer $1 million right now for anyone who can introduce me to a fully-still-alive Elvis Presley. See, how hard was that?

The Murrel is one of the subjects of a pseudoscientific field called cryptozoology, which is Latin for "made-up animals studied by people whose wives want to get them out of the house."

Cryptozoology often gets lumped in with other completely batspit-crazy fields of study, like Flat Earth, Young-Earth creationism, ghost hunters, and the show House Hunters.

However, to separate itself from all the other hoaxes and cranks, the Save The Murrel website has actual "evidence" and "eyewitness" statements.

According to, the Murrel has six-inch footprints and stands "as high as a human being," which is oddly unspecific.

What's more suspect is the statement that the Murrel can run more than 40 miles an hour, at least according to one "eyewitness."

"I may have been high but I'm not crazy," said I.D., who is probably also crazy. "I know what I saw. No man on Earth could sprint 40+ mph in a heavy Squirrel costume, let alone run up a Redwood Tree with my sandwich in its mouth."

I suppose it all depends on how heavy the squirrel costume is, and more importantly, what kind of sandwich is it?

Drugs seemed to play an important part in other Murrel sightings too. Another guy, A.D., — no relation to I.D. — wrote, "A few years back while going to HSU, my roommate and I went deep into the community forest looking for a place to grow some pot plants. . ."

I think I see your problem here.

A.D. continued: ". . . we noticed this huge creature peering at us through a crotch in some tree branches, it was completely still and quiet and it was taller than me (I’m 5’8). . ."

I assume he meant the huge creature was still and quiet, and not the tree crotch.

And then there's the so-called photographic evidence. One is a photo snapped by a night-vision camera with what is either a very large squirrel or a squirrel very close to the camera.

The photo not only looks photoshopped, but the squirrel in question looks more like a stuffed animal. The squirrel made from C-4 explosives in "Caddyshack" looked more realistic.

But just in case you're tempted to dismiss this as some sort of hoax, the website is headed up by the world's leading expert on the Murrel, Dr. James Daniels.

As far as I can tell, Dr. Daniels seems to be about as real as the actual Murrel. I couldn't find any online trace of him at all, beyond this website and a poorly-constructed LinkedIn profile.

According to the LinkedIn profile, "Dr. Daniels" holds two PhDs in both Evolutionary Biology and Anthropology, with no dates of their actual completion.

This is clearly false because if there's one thing a Ph.D. will always be glad to tell you, it's when they finished their PhDs.

"Dr. Daniels" also has a Master's in "Animal Anatomy," which does not appear to be an actual thing. You can get a degree in Veterinary Science or Animal Science, but I could not find a single university with a Master's degree in "Animal Anatomy."

This is especially true at Virginia Tech University, where"Dr. Daniels" earned this degree. I suppose he got it after getting a Bachelor's degree in "Science Class."

The LinkedIn profile also says he earned his PhDs from the University of Virginia and the Catholic University of Louvain, the largest French-speaking university in Belgium.

But the University of Louvain does not seem to offer a Ph.D. in Anthropology, so either the program has been discontinued or it never existed in the first place.

The same is true for his Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Virginia. You can take classes in it, but you can't get a full degree in it.

"Dr. Daniels" doesn't seem to exist, his degrees don't exist, and now I'm starting to wonder whether there's even a real Murrel at all! I'm going to have to be convinced.

If Dr. Daniels would like to speak to me about it personally, he can get my phone number from the Sasquatch.

I gave it to him when I was house-sitting his Chupacabra.

Photo credit: (Creative Commons 0)

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