New York's Spider-Man has nothing on Northern Utah

Jul 29 2012 - 12:05am

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So, the mystery of the Goat Man of Ben Lomond Peak has already been solved.

Just like that. Case closed. Roll credits. Move along, nothing to see here. Go back to your lives, citizens. Show's over.

Well. How utterly convenient.

Earlier this month, the Standard-Examiner broke the story of a hiker coming across a person in a goat suit, wandering near some mountain goats on Ben Lomond Peak. The hiker even took photos, grainy images that vaguely call to mind the famous Bigfoot footage from the late 1960s.

Speculation ran rampant. All sorts of theories began surfacing about who, or what, this half-human, half-goat creature was -- everything from some crazy homeless guy with a goat fetish, to a brand-new Justice League superhero.

And then, almost as quickly as it began, it was over. Last week, the Goat Man allegedly came forward, contacting the Division of Wildlife Resources and identifying himself as nothing more than a mild-mannered 57-year-old hunter from Southern California. Mystery solved.

Not so fast.

Does anybody else think it's just a wee bit fishy that this was resolved almost overnight? I mean, are we to believe that the guy just turned himself in?

Please. It's all just a little too tidy. Listen, I'm not one given to wild conspiracy theories, but I'm beginning to smell a cover-up.

What makes me say that? Well, a few dozen miles to the northeast of Ben Lomond Peak -- Goat Man epicenter -- is Utah State University. And it just so happens that for the last year or so, researchers at that school have been tinkering with genetically altered goats. Hmmm ...

A little over a year ago, molecular biologist Randy Lewis -- who had been working at the University of Wyoming -- moved to Utah State University in Logan, bringing with him his so-called "spider goats" research.

Think about it: For hundreds of years -- nay, thousands of years -- nothing even remotely resembling a "goat man" has turned up in Wasatch Front lore. And now, just a year after scientists in Logan start playing god with goats, we suddenly have some sort of satyr-type creature bopping around our mountains.

Coincidence? You connect the dots.

Lewis' cover story is that he's been trying to create new fibers by mingling the DNA of spiders with goats, creating "lactating spider goats." You milk the goats, and extract the spider silk it supposedly contains.

Yeah, whatever. Here's my theory on the Goat Man of Ben Lomond Peak: My guess -- and I'm rarely wrong about these sorts of things -- is that one morning earlier this spring, some hapless assistant in Dr. Lewis' lab decided to have a bowl of cereal for breakfast. He went to the lab refrigerator, grabbed the wrong bottle of milk and -- shazam! -- Peter Parker suddenly transforms into a billy goat that can walk across ceilings.

That's right, people. I don't think we're just talking about a mere Goat Man in the hills above North Ogden. We're talking about some sort of mutated Spider-Goat Man. Which is a whole 'nother ballgame.

And if that is indeed the case -- that we now have some weird, superhuman cross between a spider, a goat and a man wandering the wilds of Northern Utah -- well, all I can say is: Heaven help us all.

Seriously, what's the worst a superhero (or, shudder, a supervillain) named "Goat Man" could do? Butt you in the crotch with his head? Eat all the tin cans in your recycling bin?

Big deal.

But "Spider-Goat Man"? First, he'd butt you in the crotch with his head. Then, while you're doubled over in pain, he'd wrap you up in a sticky-strong web emanating from his cloven hooves. And maybe even bite you with his arachnid-like fangs that inject paralysis-inducing venom into your body.

And THEN, when you're completely, helplessly at the mercy of Spider-Goat Man ...

... he'd eat all your tin cans.

Dude. Somebody needs to ask the governor to call up the National Guard.

And it gets worse. Because in June, the Standard-Examiner reported that Logan researchers are now cloning these spider goats. Spider-goat CLONES, folks. Game over.

One of Lewis' colleagues -- Irina Polejaeva, who was on the team of geneticists that first cloned a pig -- had the bright idea to start cloning spider goats. The first two sets of twins have already been born.

Danger, Will Robinson.

Cloning pigs is one thing. Because, well, because you can never have too much bacon. But cloning spider goats? Are you trying to get Mother Nature to biatch-slap you?

At the very least, the Utah Legislature needs to pull all funding from USU until officials there can offer assurances that they've stopped attempting to clone our own destruction. Because I have it on good authority that once our intrepid molecular biologist has worked the bugs out of his mutant spider goats, he's moving on to other "transgenic" creatures.

Anybody wanna guess what you get when you cross a sea gull with a badger?

Frankly, I don't wanna know. But you can bet it won't wait for you to drop that french fry.

Mark Saal's not kidding. Contact him at 801-625-4272 or msaal@standard.net.

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