Monster Week is well underway over on Animal Planet, and the preview for their spectacular new production airing Sunday night looks great! The show is called Yeti Or Not and it claims to be an investigation of Bigfoot’s big white cousin living around Nepal. Is this a serious investigation, or just another round of entertainment? Let’s investigate!
Remember Animal Planet’s Mermaid Movie (Mermaids: The Body Found) from a couple years ago? Everyone was in an uproar believing proof had finally been found indicating mermaids truly exist. But after reading the fine print on their website, I realized it was just another scripted work of fiction. Enjoyable, but not true.
Last year, they gave us Cannibal in the Jungle about the Ebu Gogo. People were agog to know if that creature really existed or not. That show was also an enjoyable, but definite work of fiction. If you want to see my previous articles about both topics you’ll find the links in the reference section below.
Yeti or Not
So this year, they’re treating us to a show about the Yeti described on the Animal Planet website as “a mission to sift fact from folklore and distill the plausible from the possible.” I can only hope that’s true.
Dr. Mark Evans (pictured left) will be our guide and they describe him as a veterinarian and explorer. Turns out he has been hosting TV programs for quite a few years now on BBC channels, National Geographic, and on Animal Planet. Sorry to say I didn’t catch them, but I think it’s important to note he knows how to work a camera and put on a show.
A few years ago, Dr. Evans assisted Bryan Sykes in collecting DNA evidence purportedly from Bigfoots around the world. This effort was a real scientific endeavor. Evans mentions on his website that his search for Bigfoot is totally based on science. Now that I like!
But will Animal Planet want to embellish on that theme for the sake of a Monster Week show?
According to TheWrap, a Hollywood news and insider report site, “Evan’s globe-spanning investigation evaluates mysterious footprints, Yeti-hunting Nazis and real-life “hobbits.” He travels to Nepal’s wild Tibetan frontier in search of new, untested remains believed to be from Yetis. Will the DNA from these and other samples finally solve the world’s most intriguing zoological puzzle? Can science play a role in solving this mystery?”
I’m feeling increasingly hopeful that this show is going to be a valid exploration of whether a Yeti exists or not, at least in the opinion of scientists. For instance, Dr. Evans takes a bunch of DNA samples collected from people throughout the region of the Himalayan countries of Nepal and Tibet and brings them to the University at Buffalo’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences in the United States.
He asks Charlotte Lindqvist, Ph.D. (photo with Evans, above right), assistant professor in biological sciences and researcher at UB’s College of Arts and Science, to analyze the DNA samples. Why Dr. Lindqvist? Because she is an internationally known expert on bear genomics.
Well it seems both Evans and Lindqvist are working from the premise that the natives living in and around the Himalaya mountains are actually seeing bears and mistaking them for the Yeti. Their fervor is fueled by the DNA results obtained from Dr. Syke’s investigations. He found DNA from a hybrid bear that has been extinct for a long time. But as no one can traipse around those treacherous mountains, I have to ask, how can they be sure it’s extinct?
Anyway the other thing that annoys me from the start is the assumption that the locals are mistaking bears for the Yeti. They do this to the Native Americans and First Nations people of Canada too. They describe the native tales of Bigfoot encounters as “folklore” and mistaken identities.
My opinion is they can think what they darn well want – it’s more important to put well vetted DNA samples in front of them because if they discover one day that there is another ape or hominid roaming around the planet, they will believe it because THEY have done the analysis. So let them knock themselves out!
This program could go either way: descend to the sensational or prevail with scientific scrutiny. Right now it seems like they are going for a real scientific inquiry. I hope so!
I’m looking forward to the program. Are you?