Friday, March 18, 2011

Don't forget to watch tonight at 9/8c, Caddy the Sea Serpent

Pat Spain Caddy
Sea Serpent of the North
For generations, fishermen have told tales of sea monsters. One of the world's most legendary monsters is a sea serpent known as Cadborosaurus, or "Caddy," which has been reported off the coast of British Columbia for more than a century. But to science, it doesn't officially exist. Now Pat travels to Vancouver Island to track it down. He questions eyewitnesses, explores the myths of the coastal people who have occupied the area for more than 5,000 years and confers with top oceanographers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Caddy the Sea Serpent

Caddy the Sea Serpent Beast Hunter
This weeks episode of Beast Hunter will include a creature called Caddy the Sea Serpent. Here is some information on the creature.

Facts Behind the Cadborosaurus
Sightings and tales of an alleged sea serpent off the coast of British Columbia have dated back to over a century ago, before the arrival of the Europeans. Depictions of sea serpents are common in native petro glyphs seen along the coast of the Pacific Northwest. The Cadborosaurus, or, as it's been nicknamed, Caddy, has been described by witnesses as more or less fifty feet in length with a large snake-like body. Beast Hunter Pat Spain travels to Vancouver Island, British Columbia to seek out the truth behind this legendary creature. Below are some interesting facts related to his hunt.

The name for the alleged local sea serpent Cadborosaurus, Caddy for short, was coined in the Victoria Daily Times on October 11th 1933 in honor of Cadboro Bay in Victoria, Vancouver Island where the creature was allegedly first sighted.

Despite being called "killer whales," Orcas (Orcinus orca) are in fact the largest members of the dolphin family, and are highly sociable creatures, living in pods and clans ranging from 5 to 40 individuals. Sizes range according to different geographical locations, and researchers often divided them into resident and transient pods as well. Active and opportunistic, killer whales are without a doubt one of the top predators in the ocean. In fact, they are one of the largest warm-blooded predators ever known.

There are four species of oarfish, but it is the Regalecus glesne or "King of Herrings" that is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest bony fish alive; the maximum reported length of the oarfish is 36 feet, though there have been unconfirmed reports of ones 56 feet long. They are very rarely sighted as they live at depths of around 600 to 3,000 feet, and are only found at the surface when sick or dying.

The oarfish swims by undulating its long dorsal fin while its body remains straight — referred to as an amiiform mode of swimming. It was also recently filmed by an ROV in the Gulf of Mexico swimming in a vertical position, in what is believed to be a method that the oarfish uses when searching for its prey.

The Census of Marine Life is a ten year study across the globe deploying a network of researchers in more than 80 nations in a definitive effort to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the oceans.

Since the Census of Marine Life began in 2000, researchers have added more than 5,600 species to the lists. The census already includes a total of more than 16 million records. Census officials estimate there may be over a million more sea plant and animal species yet to be discovered. By contrast, biologists have described only about 1.5 million terrestrial plants and animals in total.

The Lion's Mane jellyfish, Cyanea capillata, is described as the largest jellyfish in the world, sometimes reaching eight feet in diameter.

Despite its size and reputation, a sting from the Lion's Mane jellyfish can not kill a human (unlike certain species of box jellyfish) but merely causes a painful rash and a burning sensation. In fact the best treatment for the stings from a Lion's Mane jellyfish is simply an application of vinegar.

The coastal waters around British Columbia are famous for their abundant marine wildlife. Seals and sea lions are a familiar sight including the stellar sea lion — the world’s largest — which can grow to nearly 10 feet long. Orcas, porpoises, dolphins and many species of whale, including the blue whale, can also be found in the North Pacific.

The Basilosaurus (Basilosaurus cetoides) belonged to an extinct group of whales that lived 40 to 34 million years ago. It grew 40 to 65 feet in length, and was the largest known animal of its day. With an elongated body and sharp teeth, it's been described as the closest a whale ever came to a snake, and its bones were first mistaken for a sea serpent's.

Just over 70% of our planet is covered in water, but we've only explored about five percent of our oceans. Oceans cover 140,000,000 square miles out of a total surface area of just under 200,000,000 square miles. The average depth of the ocean is about 12,000 feet. It is at these depths that many new species remain undiscovered.

The deep sea is the Earth's largest continuous ecosystem and largest habitat for life — it is also the least studied.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Next weeks episode of Beast Hunter

Caddy the Sea Serpent
Next weeks episode is called "Sea Serpent of the North". This episode features a creature called Caddy the Sea Serpent in Vancouver, British Columbia. Heres the official description.

For generations, fishermen have told tales of sea monsters. One of the world's most legendary monsters is a sea serpent known as Cadborosaurus, or "Caddy," which has been reported off the coast of British Columbia for more than a century. But to science, it doesn't officially exist. Now Pat travels to Vancouver Island to track it down. He questions eyewitnesses, explores the myths of the coastal people who have occupied the area for more than 5,000 years and confers with top oceanographers.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

'Beast Hunter' Pat Spain credits TV show with saving his life

Pat Spain Skull
Click here for the original source.
It sounds overly dramatic, particularly for a scientist, but Pat Spain of National Geographic's "The Beast Hunter," says, "I have been saying that show saved my life."

He called Zap2it first to explain what happened and urged people to be advocates for their own health.

"The Beast Hunter" which launched last week, had Spain searching for the ape man in Sumatra. Turns out he found much more in the remote Indonesian island, where he climbed mountains, hiked through jungles and rowed across a murky lake, in a volcano.

"I was soaking wet for almost two weeks," Spain says. "I started getting trench foot and was covered in leeches."

He's not complaining as much as explaining. Then he got really sick with a stomach bug and was in violent pain -- in the middle of nowhere.

"Because of that, when I got back figured I would go to the doctor to get checked out," he says.

Spain, 30, eats organic, locally grown food, works out daily and neither smokes nor drinks. He was diagnosed with colon cancer, and has since had complications because of the surgery.

Unaware that March is Color Cancer Awareness, Spain urges people to talk to their doctors and get tested.

His message: "Absolutely early prevention. It is such a preventable cancer. You can have it removed as a polyp before it ever develops into a cancer. So if anybody is experiencing anything GI -- anything -- don't ignore it, and be your own advocate when you go to the doctor."

The first two episodes aired last Friday and tonight the third is scheduled.

Spain has more surgery, due to complications from the first, but is anxious to get back to his adventures.

"This show was obviously one of the greatest things that ever happened to me," he says. "I never imagined it would actually, in reality, save my life."

Loren Coleman reviews "Beast Hunter"

Pat Spain Canoe
Look, Pat Spain is no Josh Gates, and “Beast Hunter” is not “Destination Truth.” Frankly, I find that encouraging.

Gates is an entertainer, a likable actor with a good personality, who has been turned into the host of a program that deals with topics ranging from cryptids to ghosts, from spirit animals to haunts. There is nothing routinely cryptozoological about “Destination Truth,” actually, although I don’t hold that against it or Gates. But one should not fool yourself into thinking that DT is pure cryptozoology.

On the other hand, “Beast Hunter” is exactly that. It is hosted by a biologist and cryptozoologist, Pat Spain, who is an everyman, an ordinary cryptozoologist who has been thrust into the limelight on this program because of his interest in tracking unknown animals. There’s a lot to like about Spain and the approach this program has taken.

Read his full review here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Beast Hunter Tonight at 9/8c

Beast Hunter Sketches
A new episode of Beast Hunter airs tonight. This episode is about the Mokele-mbembe, which is a "river monster".
Swamp Monster of the Congo
Ever since the earliest missionaries and explorers returned from Africa, stories have been told of strange water-dwelling monsters living in the Congo Basin. The native Pygmy tribes speak of the Mokele-mbembe, an animal with a long, thin neck and a body the size of an elephant that seems to resemble a sauropod dinosaur. Could there be a population of dinosaurs living in the remote jungle?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pat Spain on Twitter and Facebook

Pat Spain Twitter Facebook
Pat Spain has been posting updates on both Twitter and Facebook. Follow him today!

Pat Spain - Twitter
Pat Spain - Facebook

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Interview with Pat Spain -

Pat Spain Beast Hunter
Pat Spain answers questions about the show in the interview.

Looking a bit like Justin Timberlake with an easy grin and an enthusiasm that’s infectious, Pat Spain is a wildlife scientist with a special interest in crypto-zoological creatures, ones that may or may not exist, and he’s traveled the globe to investigate them for the new National Geographic Channel series Beast Hunter, premiering Mar. 4. Having grown up the middle of three kids in Wynantskill, New York and earned his Bachelor of Science from Suffolk University in Boston, Spain created a Web series called Nature Calls in 2005, which ultimately put him on Nat Geo’s radar. “I’m so excited to be doing this and it means a lot that other people are getting interested in it too,” he says. He had a lot more to say in the following conversation.

How does your show differ from others, such as History Channel’s Monster Quest?
I feel like a lot of these shows rely on the ‘we just don’t know’ factor, quick camera turns and ‘what was that?’ Blair Witch style stuff. It’s a quest for an animal without doing the upfront work. I’m not saying it specifically about Monster Quest but a lot of these shows really bother me, like when it’s a diurnal animal and they go out with night vision cameras, looking for it at night. And they don’t call it by the correct regional name. What’s different about our show is that we’re doing an initial reconnaissance mission. We’re saying. ‘Should science look closer at this creature? Is there real evidence that this is there?’ On the investigations we were doing, if we stumbled across something it would be great but we didn’t go out there with collecting kits. This is more about learning the plausibility of this creature.

Read the full interview here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wearing a Glove of Venomous Ants

Clip from "Beast Hunter: Nightmare in the Amazon" when Pat Spain sticks his hand into a glove of bullet ants.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

About the Mokele-mbembe

Mokele-Mbembe Beast Hunter
The next episode of Beast Hunter goes in search of the Mokele-mbembe. Here is some information on the creature.

Facts Behind the Mokele-Mbembe
Ever since the first missionaries and early explorers returned from the dark heart of Africa, there have been stories told of strange, water-dwelling monsters living in the forests of the Congo basin. Natives of the area, the Pygmy tribes, speak of an animal roughly the size of an elephant with a long thin neck — they call it Mokele-mbembe. Beast Hunter Pat Spain travels deep into the inhospitable Cameroon jungle to investigate if there is a logical, scientific explanation to these stories. Below are some interesting facts related to his hunt.

The translation of Mokele-mbembe is 'one that stops the flow of rivers.'

In 2008, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society discovered a previously unknown population of 125,000 western lowland gorillas living in the Republic of Congo. Previously, scientists had estimated the number remaining in the wild to have been only about 50,000.

The Dzanga Forest Elephant Study now in its 21st year is the longest ongoing study of forest elephants, Loxodonta cyclotis. Researchers have identified over 3,000 elephants in a "bai" or forest clearing.

The Dzanga Clearing in the Central African Republic attracts more forest elephants than any other clearing in the Central Africa region. On any given day, 40 to 100 elephants can be seen, whereas forest elephants are otherwise hard to find in the dense tropical forest.

Elephants are present in the Dzanga clearing 24 hours a day and are attracted to the area by the availability of mineral salts, which are found below the surface of the clearing. During the dry season, when the surface of the clearing is drier, the elephants dig holes making minerals available to other animals, including forest buffalo, bongo, giant forest hog, and red river hogs.

The Baka tribe is traditionally nomadic but has recently become less so due to the rate of deforestation, which is increasingly depriving the pygmies of the natural resources essential to their survival. The forest is the basis of their entire culture.

The Baka religion is animist; they believe that every living thing has a spirit or a soul. Generally they live in peace and harmony but can also fear retribution from the spirit world, for any wrongs committed.

Baka people have no written history so all stories and beliefs are passed down through the generations through songs and stories.

The herbivorous sauropod dinosaurs of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods were the largest animals to have ever inhabited the land, reaching upwards of 50 tons. Their huge sizes may have been in part due to their long necks which allowed them to reach food that would otherwise be inaccessible to other, smaller creatures.

Fossilised sauropod teeth have been found in the Koum Basin in Cameroon, so large dinosaurs did therefore once roam through this region.

The Congo Basin covers 700,000 square miles across six countries and constitutes one fifth of the world's remaining closed-canopy tropical rain forest. It contains a vast range of biodiversity including over 10,000 species of plants, 1,000 species of birds, and 400 species of mammals, including three of the four species of great apes.

Many rare and unusual creatures have been identified in the Congo Basin such as the Okapi and the Bonobo, and new discoveries are being made each year. In 2008, Harvard scientists uncovered a new species of frog that, when threatened, punctures its own skin with its bones, which then act as claws.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Next weeks episode of Beast Hunter

Beast Hunter Pat Spain
I hope everyone liked the show last night. I've heard good reviews of the show so far. Next weeks episode(Fri March 11) will be featuring a creature called the Mokele-mbembe, which is basically an alleged lake monster. Heres the decription from the Nat Geo website.

Swamp Monster of the Congo
Ever since the earliest missionaries and explorers returned from Africa, stories have been told of strange water-dwelling monsters living in the Congo Basin. The native Pygmy tribes speak of the Mokele-mbembe, an animal with a long, thin neck and a body the size of an elephant that seems to resemble a sauropod dinosaur. Could there be a population of dinosaurs living in the remote jungle?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Beast Hunter premiers tonight at 9/8c

Beast Hunter
Beast Hunter premiers tonight on Nat Geo starting at 9pm/8c. They are showing two episodes right away. The first is "Man Ape of Sumatra" which includes the Orang Pendek. The second episode will follow right aftertitled "Nightmare of the Amazon". This episode includes the Mapinguari. For more information on either episode check out these previous blog posts here and here.

I also found a pretty good commercial discussing the series below.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Song from Beast Hunter commercial

A lot of people have been asking about a song from one of the Beast Hunter commercials being shown on Nat Geo. I was able to find the song on YouTube. The song is "Hunter" by 30 seconds to Mars.

'Beast Hunter' Pat Spain talks creature conservation

Pat Spain shares a little about his life and the upcoming series.

Read the full article at

New Nat Geo show host, Pat Spain, works hard to share his passion for animals.

"Eating local and organic is a huge thing for me," says wildlife scientist Pat Spain, host of National Geographic Channel's new series "Beast Hunter," and an avid supporter of marine life and animal conservation groups like the World Wildlife Fund. As a crypto-zoologist specializing in strange creatures that just may be real rather than mythical, he's especially interested in what you might call monster conservation. "An area, a massive reserve, was just dedicated in the Himalayas for the Yeti," he points out. "Crypto-zoology benefits biology in ways that I think a lot of people don't realize. One of the main aspects of getting an animal named and in the public eye is it could lead to more conservation."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pat Spain's Memoir on Charles Fort

Charles Fort and Pat Spain
My Great Uncle Charles Fort
By Pat Spain

It's interesting. I didn't know Charles Fort was my relative until long after I had developed a love for the unknown and for science in general. It's almost like it was in my DNA.

My parents tell stories about me collecting bees while I was still in diapers despite getting stung over and over, or bringing me to the New England Aquarium and having to physically move me from exhibit to exhibit because I would stand at one all day. Once I discovered Fort was my great uncle, I wanted to know everything about him. I re-read his works (having read bits of them before this revelation) and found I was most impressed with his sense of awe for the world; he marveled at the mysteries of it and encouraged everyone to do the same. Fort never let ridicule or concern about what others would think stand in the way of something that he loved.

Jim Steinmeyer, Fort's biographer, summed up my feelings on Fort and my hopes to continue his legacy incredibly well in a letter to me a year ago: "There's always a place for us to be intrigued, mystified, and fascinated by the world that surrounds us. It's a genuine emotion that deserves to be celebrated. It can be done responsibly, and scientifically, and with a real sense of fun. It's something that Fort did, with his limited education and experience, and I hope that you're able to continue that tradition, in your own way and with your own expertise." I try to live up to that on every shoot.

Einstein said, "The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."

Pat Spain's Journal

Pat Spain
Beast Hunter host, Pat Spain, discusses filming part of the show.

New York, NY

Filming in NYC was so different! It was strange being on camera in front of people…I know that’s a weird statement, but it was distracting and strange. We did a shot I've always wanted to do... the shot everyone has to do in NYC... me standing still, in Times Square, for 5 mins while the world moves around me…so much fun! People didn't know what to make of it. Lots of stares and people talking to me and funny expressions. It was really cool. Also scared the crap out of 4 cabbies when I asked them to drive me 1 block and drop me off near the camera crew. Hahhaha. They were TERRIFIED... but all did it for $5…I should have gotten it in 1 take, but it took me 4…of course.

Ate at Meatball... delicious!

The New York Public Library was gorgeous and massive! The room we were allowed in was like heaven to me…so many old, rare books. They had a Guttenburg Bible! Original notes from Salinger and Darwin, etc. I could spend a week in that room. Holding Charles Fort’s notes in my hand was surreal. I’ve seen his handwriting on various things from my Grandmother, and I recognized it immediately (it’s messy and somewhat similar to mine), but to see his actual notes…wow. He wrote down so many random thoughts that my father began referring to the notes as "Twitter from the 1900s." His research was so thorough, each story he clipped had numerous follow-up articles, and letters he wrote to the authors, if he received a response, etc. Found a lot on sea-serpents, which was very exciting. Seems he did have an interest in them more than his works (other than Lo!) let on.

Boston, MA

Having the crew in Boston was so much fun! I loved getting to show them around my town. Being that they are British, I kept pointing out all of the revolutionary landmarks and teased them about the Freedom trail. It was great to be able to bring them to some of my favorite spots and show them my normal life...hopefully, filming will soon become “normal”.

Filming at the MCZ [Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University] was surreal also. It’s a place I’ve loved since 1998 when I first started going there for research projects, a place that really spoke to me about the history of my field. It’s kind of a hidden jewel in Boston, not many people know the incredible collection housed there. Being there before it opened to the public was a real treat…having access to rooms and areas not open to the public made me feel like a kid in a candy shop. I wanted to see it all!

The shoot turned into a much longer day than any of us expected, but it was a lot of fun sharing one of my favourite places with the crew. It was also great having Dom, my camera-man from "Nature Calls" and one of my closest friends with us as a photographer. He got some really cool shots!

I was terrified to hold the Savage skull (the actual holotype gorilla skull Savage brought back from Africa to describe the species!). I was more scared to hold that than I am holding a venomous snake. Its historical and scientific significance make it priceless... and I was able to HOLD IT! Crazy. Being a nature show host brings some incredible perks.

Having them at Genzyme was the icing. Being able to show the labs, where I have spent so much of my life, and explain concepts and equipment to a group of people who have seen so much...but never anything like what I was showing them, was really exciting! It’s easy for me to take things like the Sterility Workstation Isolators for granted, because I practically lived in them, but to see the reactions to this group of people unfazed by charging elephants, yet amazed by a CLIMET was really something. Also, it was probably the most fun I have ever had in that building. Sometimes, it’s great to take a step back from Genzyme in order to really appreciate what an amazing place it is and how important the work we do there is to the patients. Explaining what it is we do to new people really helps drive that home for me, it makes me appreciate it all over again.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Mapinguari

Mapinguari Beast Hunter
Yesterday we talked about the second episode consisting of the legendary Mapinguari. Here is some info on this bizarre creature.

Facts Behind the Mapinguari
Deep in the Brazilian Amazon lurk tales of a massive one-eyed monster. With slashing claws, savage howl, noxious stench and a gaping mouth in its body, the locals tremble to repeat its name: Mapinguari. For some it exists only in the spirit world, but for those who've been attacked it is brutally real. On his search for the truth about the Mapinguari, Beast Hunter Pat Spain interviews natives who claim to have seen the beast, and investigates potential biological connections with other known animals. Below are some interesting facts related to his hunt.

In 1937, there was a report from Central Brazil that claimed a mapinguari had gone on a three week rampage killing over 100 cows and ripping out the tongues from the bovine carcasses.

In 2005 scientists used radiocarbon dating on bones found on Cuba and Hispaniola to prove that ground sloths, although not giant ones, were present on the island as recently as 4,400 years ago and have speculated that their demise and extinction coincided with the arrival of modern humans on the islands.

One of the largest giant ground sloths found to date is the Megatherium americanum which was one of the largest mammals of its time. Growing up to 20 feet long and weighing over three tons, it used its huge and powerful claws for tearing down leaves and branches.

Sloths move so slowly that green algae forms on their fur which helps to camouflage them from predators. In fact their fur provides an entire ecosystem to many creatures, including beetles and moths.

There are both two-toed and three-toed modern-day sloths. They are built for a life almost entirely in the trees, where they mate and even give birth. On the ground, they are awkward and clumsy, making them vulnerable to predators. In fact they are better swimmers than walkers.

When sleeping, sloths often curl up in a ball in the fork of a tree.

Sloths eat, sleep, mate, and give birth all while hanging upside down.

Tree-dwelling sloths have extra vertebrae in their neck enabling them to rotate their head an incredible 270 degrees. They also have a famously high pitched call.

The pain caused by the bullet ant's sting is ranked the highest on the Schmidt Pain Index being described as: "Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel."

For a vertebrate, it has been estimated that about 14 bullet ant stings per pound is enough to kill.

Giant anteaters are found in Central and South America from southern Mexico to northern Argentina and prefer grassland, savanna and tropical forest areas.

Anteaters have no teeth, which is known as being edentate; however they use their long tongues (up to two feet long) to transport the insects into their mouth.

Anteaters can eat up to 30,000 insects in a single day.

The Karitiana tribe of the Porto Velho region in Brazil experienced a dramatic decline in their population after they were first contacted by the outside civilization, through contracting new diseases for which they had no immunity or medication. This is still a major threat to un-contacted tribes today. The Karitiana tribes drop in numbers became so severe they were considered extinct in 1957. A program of vigorous re-population was adopted to ensure the tribes survival.

Brazil’s Amazon is home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere in the world. The Brazilian government department (FUNAI) specializing in protecting the rights of the indigenous tribes has estimated there could be up to 70 isolated groups in the rain forest.

Here is some information from Wikipedia as well
Many cryptozoologists are intrigued by reports of this creature, though some have dismissed it as a folkloric/mythologic creature, or a long-preserved folk memory of the giant animals that existed in South America in the Pleistocene, in particular the giant ground sloth Mylodon.

Among the many researchers who have tried to find evidence for the existence of the Mapinguari is the ornithologist David Oren. During his various expeditions, he has collected a range of material some of which was later shown to be agouti fur, anteater feces, and casts of tracks that were inconclusive. Nevertheless, Oren still considers the creature to be real, but highly elusive, and nowadays extremely rare, avoiding contact with humans whenever possible.