MIKATA, Hyogo Pref. — The recent discovery of an unusual reptile in this small skiing town is being touted by some as the first recorded capture of the mythical "tsuchinoko," a legendary snakelike creature first documented in the eighth century.

The creature was first mentioned in the "Kojiki," a text from the eighth century that is Japan's oldest existing chronicle and the oldest book written in Japanese.

While unproven sightings of creatures believed to be tsuchinoko have been common in the postwar period, they have been met with skepticism as none has ever been found and studied.