Social media users in Myanmar share misleading posts about Native American mythical being

·3 min read

Social media users in Myanmar have shared two images of a humanoid creature alongside a claim it shows a "skinwalker" -- a type of evil witch from Native American folklore -- that was spotted by a geologist in the southwestern United States. However, the claim is false; the images were taken from a 1982 British cult-classic horror film called "Xtro" and have circulated as a hoax since at least 2014.

"A geologist's shocking encounter in a New Mexico forest," reads a Burmese-language Facebook post shared here on June 4, 2022.

The post, which links to a Burmese-language blog article, has been shared more than 490 times.

The blog reads in part: "Recently, some bizarre pictures have been circulating online that shocked many people in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The photos were taken when an unidentified creature came out of the forest."

Albuquerque is the largest city in the southwestern US state of New Mexico.

The article includes two images of a humanoid creature appearing to walk on all fours, which it claims were taken by a geologist who was working in an oil field.

"According to his description, that animal has hands and legs like a 'skinwalker' and that shocked him. The next day, he wrote about the event on his social media and (the pictures) spread among many people."

Screenshot taken on June 6, 2022 of the misleading post

"Skinwalkers" are mythical beings from Native American Navajo folklore, believed to be evil witches with the power to shapeshift into animals such as bears and coyotes, according to an article in the culture magazine Dazed from October 2020.

The blog article also embeds a YouTube video of a 2014 report about one of the images being circulated online from KRQE News 13, a television station in Albuquerque.

However, at the one-minute 50-second mark of the video, the reporter can be heard saying: "It didn’t take long for the picture and the story to be debunked."

"It apparently comes from an 1980s science-fiction movie 'Xtro'," she says.

Nonetheless, the claim resurfaced in Burmese-language social media posts in June, such as on Facebook here and in this YouTube video, which has been viewed more than 550 times.

Some users left comments indicating they were misled.

One wrote: "That is a type of malevolent spirit! He is paying for bad things he did in his past human life."

Another said: "According to Buddhism's stories, it is a hungry ghost. They could be around us but we won't be able to see them."

Cult-classic horror film

A Google reverse image search found the pictures were taken from "Xtro", a British cult-classic horror film released in 1982.

The film is about a man who is abducted by aliens and returns in a changed form to reconnect with his family.

The first image -- used as the thumbnail for the blog article link shared in the misleading posts -- can be seen at the 24-second mark of the film's trailer on YouTube.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image in the misleading posts (left) and the scene from the trailer (right):

Screenshot comparison of the image in the misleading posts (left) and the scene from the trailer (right)

A darker version of the image can be seen at the 22-second mark of an older version of the trailer, posted on the online film database IMDb.

A second image showing the creature at the side of a dark road can be seen at the 12-second mark of a clip from the film posted to YouTube.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image from the misleading posts (left) and the scene from YouTube (right):

Screenshot comparison of the second picture on Facebook (left) and the scene of the video on YouTube (right)

The scene, in which a couple drives past the alien creature, is also mentioned in a review of the film on Bloody Disgusting, a US-based site covering horror films and television shows.

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