Posted by: Craig Woolheater on March 12th, 2011
Cryptomundian damon97 tipped us off to this interview of the star of Nat Geo’s Beast Hunter, Pat Spain, on Weirld.com.
I thought we would share an excerpt of that interview, performed by Gerri Miller, a veteran entertainment journalist who has contributed to a number of print and Internet outlets, including Weirld.com, BrainWorld, Glamour, Redbook, People.com, Hollywood.com, Howstuffworks.com, Latina.com and Men’s Fitness.
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.
© National Geographic Channel 2011
Gerri Miller: How does your show differ from others, such as History Channel’s Monster Quest?
Pat Spain: 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.
Gerri Miller: You did five episodes: The Man Ape of Sumatra, the Nightmare of the Amazon, the Swamp Monster of the Congo, the Sea Serpent of the North and the Mongolian Death Worm. How did you pick these?
Pat Spain: There are current sightings, credible witnesses, and there’s an ecosystem that really could support this type of life and it’s remote enough that there hasn’t been enough research done in this area. There are thousands of these crypto-zoological creatures, all these legends. And what we do is put them through some type of scientific rigor and say, ‘Where are the recent accounts? Which ones can we say are mistaken identity, ‘this is too mythical?’
Gerri Miller: Are hairy hominids like Orang Pendek, the Man Ape, more plausible?
Pat Spain: It’s so fascinating for me because the legend of the hairy hominid spans every culture. You’ve got the Yeren in in China, the Yeti in india, Bigfoot in North America, the Yowie in Australia. I think there’s something in our subconscious where we know we did coexist with other species of hominid at one point. There’s some cultural memory of this. There’s also the idea that there have been wild men through history, sighted and being seen and I think there has to be something to that. There’s a race of small humans that were found on the isle of Flores. This is a documented discovery, bones of this species. So I don’t think it can be ruled out. One of my favorite quotes in the entire show is when I went to Sumatra one of the guides that was working with us said, ‘The people who don’t believe in these animals are people who have never been to my forest.’ If you think about the migratory species of bipedal ape, they’re going to have some intelligence and exist in small numbers anyway because that’s what apes do. So I think there’s a basis in something, absolutely.
Gerri Miller: What can you tell us about the other creatures you investigated? What is the Nightmare of the Amazon?
Pat Spain: This is the legendary beast in the Amazon rainforest. Some accounts describe a 20-foot- tall mythical Cyclops creature with one eye and a giant gaping mouth in its chest and a horrible stench that kills people who abuse the forest–like an eco-superhero, which I love. But when I actually met with the natives who live in the area where the animals are found, they described a giant ground sloth. We know a giant ground sloth lived in that area but went extinct about 10,000 years ago. These people have very recent sightings of giant ground sloths. When you think about it, humans killed off the giant ground sloth. We over hunted them. And in this region the people don’t believe they can be hunted, they have this respect for them. So if there’s an ecosystem that can support it, and there is, and no one’s been hunting them for generations, it may still be there. I can’t wait for people to see this because we did capture some things that I don’t think anyone else has gotten. The crew was terrified.
Gerri Miller: Is the Sea Serpent of the North similar to the Loch Ness Monster?
Pat Spain: Similar. Nessie is usually described as kind of a plesiosaur, and this is more like a basilosaurus, kind of a long snakelike whale. It’s off the coast of Vancouver and they call it cadborosaurus. There’s a photo of it, and credible witnesses.
Read the entire interview at Weirld.com: Interview with Charles Fort’s great nephew, Pat Spain, Nat Geo’s new “Beast Hunter”