Mermaids Embodies the Rotting Carcass of Science TV

Late last night, my friend and fellow blogger Miriam Goldstein sent me an e-mail with the title “please oh please debunk this.” I have to admit that I wasn’t exactly in the debunking mood at the time, but I couldn’t resist having a look – what rotting bit of pseudoscientific nonsense had washed ashore now?

Miriam’s e-mail led me to the promotional page for Mermaids: The Body Found. Part of Animal Planet’s inaugural Monster Week, the press release announced, the documentary-format special “paints a wildly convincing picture of the existence of mermaids.” An editor’s note at the top stated that the show “is science fiction based on some real events and scientific theory,” but the rest of the release was written as if all the imaginary evidence for fish-bodied humanoids were authentic.

This wasn’t the first time Animal Planet presented fantasy as reality. In 2004, the Discovery spin-off network aired Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real — an hour-and-a-half special about the evolution and biology of fire-breathing dragons. The speculative show hinged on the fabricated discovery of a dragon in the Carpathian Mountains, and, in a similar fashion, Mermaids relied on imaginary forensic evidence (see the video above) and audio recordings to play out its story.

Dragons and mermaids feel out of place on what ostensibly seems to be a science channel, but I can’t begrudge Animal Planet trying a bit of fantasy as long as it is advertised as such. But, as I settled in with a hard drink to watch the show, two things unsettled me about Mermaids.

The reason I decided to sacrifice an hour and a half of my life to the tedious fiction of Mermaids is that the show claimed to be partially based on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis. (Some people say “Aquatic Ape Theory,” and this makes me want to punch them in the jeans. The AAH is nonsense dressed up as science, and nowhere close to being a scientific theory.) From the press release:

Mermaids: The Body Found is a story about evolutionary possibility grounded in a radical scientific theory – the Aquatic Ape Theory, which claims that humans had an aquatic stage in our evolutionary past. While coastal flooding millions of years ago turned some of our ancestors inland, is it possible that one group of our ancestors didn’t retreat from water but rather went in deeper? Could they have ventured farther into sea out of necessity and to find food? The Aquatic Ape Theory makes it possible to believe that while we evolved into terrestrial humans, our aquatic relatives turned into something strangely similar to the fabled mermaid.

This is a convenient twist on the aquatic ape myth. The traditional version of the story is that early humans waded into shallow bodies of water and adopted an amphibious lifestyle. Over time, hominins became increasingly adapted to life at the water’s edge – AAH proponents claim that our apparent lack of body hair, erect posture, and other aspects of our natural history are all attributable to an aquatic past. One of the movement’s chief advocates, Elaine Morgan, even used the AAH to attack chauvinistic ideas about “Man the Hunter” prevalent during the 1960s and 1970s. Chasing down prey on the savannas didn’t create humanity, she argued, but instead female hominins led the way into safe little pools where infants could cling to the flowing, floating locks of their australopithecine mothers.

The Man the Hunter model of human origins was hopelessly flawed, but so was Morgan’s critique. The AAH is a classic case of picking evidence that fits a preconceived conclusion and ignoring everything else. Consider the proposal that our apparent hairlessness is an adaptation to swimming. AAH advocates point to whales and manatees as evidence that a transition to aquatic life results in hair loss. Yet we still have body hair, and the thickness of our pelts varies from person to person. And there are plenty of very furry marine mammals, including seals, sea lions, otters, and polar bears. We haven’t lost our hair, and there’s no sign that hair loss is an essential aquatic adaptation. And this is to say nothing of the lack of fossil evidence for amphibious early humans, nor the fact that – outliers like Michael Phelps aside – humans are lousy swimmers compared to other aquatic mammals.

Other writers have countered AAH claims in far more detail – Jim Moore’s Aquatic Ape website presents a comprehensive critique, and Kimberly Gerson wrote a primer on the idea’s history – but suffice it to say that there is no evidence that our ancestors went through an aquatic phase. The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis is unsupported nonsense that contributes nothing to our understanding of where we came from. As anthropologist John Hawks has pointed out, the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis is pseudoscience, driven by “charismatic personalities who do not answer questions” rather than evidence.

Strangely, though, Mermaids twists the AAH to fit the show’s story. Early humans – who look like they came straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey – settle down along a prehistoric shoreline. But not all of them stay. Our ancestors head back to the inland forests, but the fictional mermaid ancestors remain on the beach and become fully aquatic within just a million years. (Keep in mind that the transition between completely terrestrial and fully aquatic whales took 10 million years.) Mermaids doesn’t use the AAH to document the origin of our species, but alters the pseudoscientific idea to bring ichthyosapiens into our world.

Using the AAH to explain the existence of mermaids would be a clever twist for a Star Trek episode or SyFy original movie. But this was on a self-styled educational network. Animal Planet cashed in on its poorly earned reputation as a science channel – the network previously aired The Pet Psychic, after all – to make gullible viewers believe mermaids are real. Indeed, as Craig McClain noted in his post on Mermaids, the docufiction didn’t pull back the curtain to say “This was fiction! Fooled you!” until the very end, and by then many viewers were not paying attention. Craig shared a few of the shocked responses to the show posted on Twitter, and I trawled for “mermaid” tweets just before posting this essay – people are still writing how fascinated they are by the illusion at the center of the show.

Speculative biology can be a lot of fun – to wonder how different forms of life might have evolved. And, with the right context and presentation, Mermaids could have been a unique way to highlight evolutionary and biological ideas. But rather than being a hook for communicating actual science, Mermaids was a sensationalistic end in itself. The show was meant to titillate and deceive – yet another bit of noxious rot in what I have often called television’s bottomless chum bucket (hat-tip to Sideshow Bob). I’m sure Animal Planet would defend itself by saying that it issued a disclaimer, but clearly viewers either tuned out or just didn’t pay attention. When a science fiction show, dressed up as a documentary, presents the “Dramatic Re-Enactment” caveat at the bottom of some scenes, it’s not surprising that some viewers were confused about what they were actually seeing.

Not that my debunking will do much good. I don’t know how many people watched Mermaids, but I’m certain that many more people saw it than will ever read this post. That’s one of the most frustrating aspects of science communication. Misinformation spreads wide and fast, whether it’s coming from a fake documentary or a news report. Debunking false claims only makes a difference if people actually pay attention to the correction. And contrary to Rebecca Greenfield’s opinion at the Atlantic Wire that sensationalized misinformation might just be a regular and healthy part of the science news cycle, I’d rather do without all the bombastic prattle. While I appreciate that Rebecca singled me out as a debunker – the specific instance being the case of earth-altering dinosaur farts – my cranky takedowns usually amount to little more than damage control and are primarily read by people who are similarly annoyed with the media. It’s only when my complaints influence writers and reporters with broader platforms – like what happened during the Kraken controversy – that my efforts make much of a difference. That’s just the way it goes, and that’s why I’d much rather stop bullshit splattering all over the place than only try to clean up the mess afterward.

58 thoughts on “Mermaids Embodies the Rotting Carcass of Science TV

  1. Well, I read this so I won’t have to see the show. I remember being fond of Animal Planet when it was more about animals in the wild and less about pets, celebrities and fantasy. The Weather Channel used to feature weather reports rather than weather-related drama.

    1.  Too bad that its drama which sells and holds general interest.  The hallmark of cheap production is the current trend to constantly repeat hi-drama snippits and rehashing previous themes after each commercial. Psuedo-reality, psuedo-science, psuedo-fiction, yaddayadayada.

  2. Maybe they can merge with the History Channel and present 24/7 programming of pet psychics getting in touch with Hitler’s dog.

  3. There obviously was much overplayed speculation in this Animal Show episode. However, your “debunking” has much of the same-o same-o blathering because it lacks any evidence itself and is solely opinion-based: What a credible debunking needs would be evidence to hit those things which are presented as facts in the show and can’t be dismissed without evidence, namely:
    . a video allegedly taken by some kids (who are they, are they real?)
    . cave drawings (what is the scientific presentation of these drawings?)
    . old photographs of “spears” (where/when/who took the picture & what was written at the time)
    . artistic depictions (all similar) allegedly across many cultures in many forms
    . the people’s credentials who posed their expert witness, including NOAA and Smithsonian scientists
    . corroboration of the Navy’s weaponry allegedly the cause of the beaching
    . Did South African’s government officials actually confiscate anything from the lab portrayed (or did the lab exist?)

    What are your journalism credentials, by the way?
     

    1.  If you read the links to the 3 posts about why Aquatic Ape Hypothesis is no good, you’ll find all the info you need. They’re the 3 posts I sent folks to as well.

    2.  There is no need to debunk the individual elements of the show, the creators (as referenced in the above article) admitted that the show was fiction.

    1. Wondering if any of you folks believe in the Bible? Most of the stories in the Bible are ridiculous and no one ever says anything about that. Also, there was a time when people believed that the earth was flat and that the existence of Giant squid was ridiculous. Just a thought.

      1.  This blog isn’t the place to discuss it, but yes, many people do point out that Bible stories are fantastic/ridiculous.  See the Skeptics Annotated Bible for just one example.  I’m not sure what that has to do with mer-people, though.

  4. Sure enough, the next day I encountered a couple of friends (neither of whom are likely Mensa members) who were all worked up about the show.  One understood when I showed her the website’s explanation that it was fiction, the other still doesn’t seem to get it.  As I was suffering through about an hour of this show I was thinking “They’re going to fool a lot of people with this.”  There wasn’t a disclaimer at the beginning, only the end?  I only watched some in the middle, but so many elements of the video and the interviews with the supposed scientists and the story about the Navy following these kids for life, etc threw me into a fit of skepticism.

  5. Absolutely agree with Spoke Umbra. I am tired of sensationalized stories being broadcast under the guise of scientific fact, but I am just as tired of those who “debunk” who are actually only spitting out their own beliefs, without any kind of scientific fact to back it up. 

    Debunk is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as  
    : to expose the sham or falseness of , and the example of debunk in a sentence is – “The results of the study debunk his theory.” 
    A person cannot expose something without evidence to bring the truth to light.
     And the word study is defined as- 
    :Consider in detail and subject to an analysis in order to discover essential features or meaning. 
    And the word analysis is defined as- 
    :An investigation of the component parts of a whole and their relations in making up the whole. 

    Therefore, if a person claims to debunk something they have to have analytical evidence to prove their own claim that something is indeed a sham. Otherwise they have done nothing different than the person putting forth their claim. 
    So please, if you are going to continue to say you have, or are going to, debunk something, please show us true evidence of the deception. Show us true evidence that you can prove the deception or analytically show why “their” evidence is false or faulty. Until then your claims are only that of a blogger stating you “feel” the claims are false. I am not trying to be hard on you, and I agree one hundred percent with you about false and imaginative claims, but without evidence on your part your claims seem unprofessional, and just as unscientific.

    1. The only thing that irritates me more than people who think an argument consists of quoting from Webster’s Dictionary is people with no reading comprehension.

      I don’t have to investigate anything. ‘Mermaids’ is FICTION – the press release and the disclaimer at the end of the show itself identifies it as such. The evidence presented by Animal Planet is fictitious because, as the network admitted, they created it for their science fiction program. It’s really that simple. Now please, trolls, find another virtual bridge to hide under.

      1.  So maybe you could have limited your vitriol to the press release …  and just called it lousy fiction? That would have kept you above the fray … but probably less buzz on your blog which wouldn’t do your hit ratio much good.  What a waste of cyberspace.

    2.  Thank you.  To do otherwise is just to ride on the coattails of someone else’s work, fiction, psuedo-science, half-truths, lies, or fact. So, Mr. Laelaps is just taking advantage of the hyped controversy.

  6. Animal Planet, much like the Discovery Channel, have less and less to do with anything approaching science, and everything approaching cheap sensationalism.

    A beautiful article, this: good debunking!

  7. I fount this post mainly because I didn’t know if all of it was fake I knew the videos where fake, but where all the possible conclusion not real as well. Now I know, but sometimes you have to think the world is big so yeah there might be something out there that is like this but not like they make it out to be. I think there might be something like a new species of seals or dolphins, which is possible. I am just glad i fount this post so i can stop woundering 😛 thank you

  8. Isn’t it just fun to sit back and watch so many people tear themselves apart arguing over the necessary validation of a fictional show on a channel that usually broadcasts factual documentation.  There was a disclaimer before and after. At least on the reprieve of the show.

  9. YOU PEOPLE NEED TO GET OUT MORE OFTEN!! The beauty of life is that you can believe what you want. Let your imagination run wild. If someone tells you they believe in mermaids, go with it as if you swam with one the other day at sea world or someshit. What im trying to get at is why waste your time writing about what you think when no one else gives a damn. Stay classey San Diego…

    1.  Because things like science education and critical thinking are important… if a large proportion of people in our country believe in mermaids, unicorns, sasquatch, aliens, black helicopters, and a bunch of other weird crap, it doesn’t say much for the future.

      I’ll put it this way. Do you want someone who believes in unicorns to be:
      A) doing your taxes?
      B) teaching your children?
      C) conducting brain surgery on you?
      D) designing safety features in cars or airplanes?

  10. What the what? It’s pure fiction and was presented as much, don’t get your panties in a wad. Good grief, I’m all for fact in science but some of you people are coming across as fundie as the religious nut jobs out there. It’s. Just. Entertainment.

    Calm down Bevis.

    1. If Animal Planet wants to be an entertainment channel, that’s fine. But if they want to be a science channel then they need to stick to the facts. As for the “fundies” accusation…  please. We deal with enough disinformation coming from fundies. Why do we also have to deal with it coming from an otherwise respectable education channel? And when we do see it why should we be complacent about it? Your complaint sounds more like an appeal for apathy than anything else. No, this is something people should care about.

  11. I would like to point out a huge blooper in the show. If the “video” shown was shot with a camera phone in 2005, there weren’t any cell phone cameras with that kind of zoom. The video is much too staged. The “mermaid” is a different color than the lifeless blob shown lying there. Furthermore, when the kid is scared off, why do you only see his shoes as he runs away? If I were that scared and running away from danger, I wouldn’t be aiming the camera at my feet as I ran. I’d be running with both arms moving with the momentum. The video is clearly a ridiculous hoax.

    1.  The running feet is cut-in for dramatic effect that’s it. The same could be said of the random shots of whales and dolphins and the cute self-sacrificing merman protecting his pod. It was cute that the editors managed to keep one kid’s shoes in red, the other in blue. Unfortunately, discrediting parts is insufficient empirical evidence for overturning the whole.

  12. Sure, asking “what if” is an important part of science – but you then have to determine “what is”.  That second part is not boring – the answers we get are usually more beautiful than we can imagine.  It’s a pity that some TV folks don’t seem to credit audiences with the ability to appreciate that any more.

    Does this kind of “counterfactual” stuff matter?  Well, some physics educators have noted a decline in students’ grasp of basic mechanics, thanks to Hollywood and despite its output clearly being fiction (just Google CJ Efthimiou’s 2007 paper in Praxis der Naturwissenschaften Physik).  In the UK, we had one guy die trying to jump his car across the gap in a harbour wall without a ramp.  And a teenager committed suicide while convinced by the 2012 Mayan prophesy crap.  So I think blurring fantasy and reality *on a documentary channel* does matter, and disclaimers are no excuse for lazy, ratings-driven programming.

    Here’s a snippet of an email from the parent of a ten-year old who recently attended a talk about real deep-sea research:

    “Throughout the rest of the day he kept asking me if what he had seen was ‘real’ (a sad testament to a generation raised on cgi and special fx)”

    …so perhaps this kind of stuff risks stifling wonder, rather than stimulating it.

  13. A clarification to your headline: I think you mean “US science TV”. Here in the UK, science TV has never been stronger. We have David Attenborough and the BBC’s Natural History Unit. We have Jim Al-Khallili, Alice Roberts, Brian Cox, Adam Rutherford. We have the Inside Nature’s Giants blissfully cutting up animals on primetime slots. It’s entertaining AND educational. 

  14. I’d like to comment on one detail in your blog – the ‘hypothesis’ vs. ‘theory’ viewpoints. As Gould rightly points out, there is no climbing ladder form speculation to hypothesis to theory to fact. Epistemologically, hypotheses cannot really be differentiated from theories, leading many epistemologists to use the term ‘theory’ exclusively (see ‘hypothesis’ in the glossary of Curd & Cover’s Philosophy of Science and articles therein). So with that in mind, the term ‘Aquatic Ape Theory’ is justified, even if the theory is wrong.

    I would differentiate theories and hypotheses by their position in a typical modern research cycle; i.e. a theory would be part of the conclusion of a piece of research, while a hypothesis would be at its beginning. When in doubt, use the word ‘theory’. Since there seems to be no scientific research going on in the field of our supposed aquatic ancestors, neither term is really appropriate. But while ‘theory’ has connotations outside of a research cycle, ‘hypothesis’ does not. A hypothesis implies actual scientific work, a theory, in its epistemological sense, can refer to a wide variety of ideas that people try to push into the accepted body of scientific knowledge.

    1.  Very good. A great example of this confounding is the Darwin vs Creationism as theories. One has a basis in observable, potentially re-creatable cause/effect evidence, and the other does not.

    2. The problem with philosophy is that it isn’t applicable to empirical things, which ultimately science is as a phenomena.

      I think the real problem is that there are no hard definitions made. For example, “theory” means one thing in mathematics, quite another in science, and something other again colloquially.

      That said, you can make useful definitions. Statistics have a meaningful definition in hypothesis testing, a statistical empirical hypothesis makes exactly one testable prediction. Such hypotheses can be in the states of untested and tested (and “don’t know”, naturally), bridging the gap between mostly untestable speculation over specifying testing to actually doing it. 

      This statistics usage makes theories simply interconnected sets of hypotheses. They are stronger, so there is again a quantitative shift to a qualitative difference.

      As for how an area starts can differ in practice. String theory is a theory in the mathematical sense, but if it is successfully tested it would immediately come into being as a physics theory. Many physics theories like classical Newton gravity theory or Maxwell EM theory were similar instant theories.

      Maxwells work on EM theory is an interesting case study. His first models were gear and cog models arriving at the equations, later he replaced it with the simpler and correct field. A theory instantly (well, historically speaking) replaced another.

      Evolution makes another interesting case study. If Wallace had been the sole originator, it would have started out as a hypothesis I think, the idea of natural selection unless I am mistaken. With Darwin it sprung forth as a full fledged theory, incorporating many mechanisms.

      1. It is a misconception that philosophy isn’t applicable to empirical things. Philosophy of science articles regularly refer to historical case studies, especially since Thomas Kuhn’s book.

        Looking for definitions is always an interesting enterprise, but in this particular case the author actually gave some fairly good handholds for definitions of what a theory and what a hypothesis is: Gould’s article (linked in the blogpost). In it he specifically criticises the urge to make a climbing scale of conjectures – hypotheses – theories – facts. I agree. These terms are divided heuristically, not by a scale of certainty. In other words: a hypothesis is a different scientific tool from a theory, not an idea that is less credible. Such a view allows for different formulation of what a theory actually is, something that indeed will be treated differently in various scientific fields.

        And it is the contextuality that strengthens my point that the Aquatic Ape meme does not deserve to be called a hypothesis. There is no scientific field connected to it. For the term ‘theory’ this does not matter, since it is common to use that term for a wide range of epistemological concepts. AAT it should therefore be.

  15. Missed the beginning of the show, so it had me fooled until the part where the boy supposedly filmed the creature on his cellphone.  That pricked my attention to the point that I began to doubt until my husband found this article about the hoax.  Even so, the documentary was well-filmed, believable unless you saw the disclaimer, and enjoyable. 

  16.  Here are the key words in your own quote: “… based on some real events and scientific theory.”  That is the problem with just ranting, and tossing everything because of obvious trickery and non-linear editing techniques. IF you are going to debunk on a public forum/blog with your name on it, YOU have to do the work. If you believe it is insane, but have not any substantive evidence, find something that you can do more than just opine about. Get it now?

    1. Add quote mining to reading difficulties. The show confesses it is made up. 

      The AAH is deemed pseudoscience by scientists, see the article, so you have to do the legwork to show why it should be “scientific theory”. Just referencing the shows problematic view isn’t going to cut it.

    2.  Sorry, friend, it’s quite the other way around. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – if someone is going to hypothesis that mermaids (I can barely type this without laughing) of all things exist, then THEY have to substantiate it. Science has failed to document their existence over the last several hundred years of biological exploration, and the onus is on mermaid believers.

      Since claiming mermaids exist is so far beyond extraordinary, and perhaps even beyond the realm of silliness – Brian is totally justified for making fun of it.

      And that’s all ignoring the fact that the ‘documentary’ is not intended to be serious. That little piece of information invalidates everything you’ve attempted to say. Sorry.

  17.  Thanks. I thought the show was intriguing. Better than the final episode of “House,” and, yes, I jumped in on this because I expect more out of Wired than trash.

  18. In my opinion… Your Claims that AAH are unscientific is the only point made that was not back with enough or much facts/ evidence to support. As Colleeen Hannah has pointed out you shouldn’t call something fictional when you aren’t even able to support those claims with facts. You give EVIDENCE that AAH is unscientific than maybe you have a valid point. But until then, this was just a rant on personal beliefs…

    1. Have you looked at article references? Many scientists observes that it is pseudoscience and explains why they think so.

      And that is enough. There is no requirement for science to look at outside ideas and deem them “scientific” or “unscientific”. In most cases it takes a lot of work, mainly because you have to do the science to identify it. (But not here, as pseudoscience is identifiable.)

    2.  OK, fine. All hairless marine mammals are hairless because they have blubber. All other marine mammal groups are insulated with fur and hair. With the possible exception of a lot of my fellow Americans, humans do not have blubber. Central tenet of AAH = dead.

    3. So, you think anything is scientific until proven unscientific? How’s that working out for you? In my opinion, people who start their rebuttal to science posts with “In my opinion” overestimate their opinion.

  19. See also “1,000 Ways to Die!” People I work with think that’s real. Reality TV and docu-fiction need to go away, or I’ll never get cable again. 

  20. since science began, so called “scientists” have loved to speculate about the past. how many times have we all watched shows in which characteristics of dinosaurs that couldn’t possably be learned from the fossil record are presented as fact? how many times have we seen entire skeletons created, based on a couple of small bones or even a few teeth? sure, we can make deductions based on how animals look and act today, but in the end its all guess work. in the past, this type of speculative “science” was done usually for the fame and glory of making a big discovery, but now we have reached a new stage in which its done just to make money. its true that animal planet called the show fiction, buts its equally true that the disclamer was put where few people would see it and the hype from the show would lead to more watchers. people are taught from an early age that they can trust the science community. this show betrays that trust and reinforces the fact that people need to learn to think for themselves.

  21. Animal Planet’s Mermaid nonsense is actually an insult to fiction and more, to Science Fiction.The central dictate writers learn early on about writing fiction is that one must adhere as close to reality, truth, as possible. The same applies with even greater intensity to Science Fiction. (The 1977 novel Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle is an example. No laws of science were even bent, let alone broken, and the novel contained no technology that did not already exist in 1977.)
    That Animal Planet would air what amounts to a hallucination deeply degrades the programming of content they do produce and as such devalues science in general.

  22. This is what is wrong with these cable based stations; they claim to be a “Science” network but in reality they show pure unadulterated crap science programming so that the viewing public has no way of separating facts from fiction. This feeds into the uneducated portion of the publics belief in all sorts of non-existent creatures and science about the world around them.

    Absolutely disgusting – this is all done purely for revenue and shock value. They shouldn’t be able to call themselves science channels if they show crap like this as if it could be true.

  23. Until Spoke Umbra spoke its piece I would never have imagined such misunderstanding between science and fiction possible.

  24. I don’t know which is worse: TV networks that have to rely on cheap docudramas to maintain their ratings, or people who are all for a return to a paternalistic system of media dissemination in which each program has to be carefully labeled in order not to confuse the little minds of the masses.

    Which attitude insults the intelligence of the viewers more?

  25. Did anyone else just like ti for the sake of the story? I know it’s a BS story, it’s fake, etc. But should we really chew out Animal Planet for this specific show? I can think of a lot of reason to chew them out, rather than on them ;3

    But more to the point, I grew up on the coastline, listening to “fish stories” of old sailors, and I knew even as a child, they were also BS (mostly), but I liked it for the story. The aquatic ape theory is a stretch, yes, but the story is interesting enough. I recommend all of you go take a walk on a beach at some point of your life, look down and see what you find. You would be surprised how much knowledge you gather from “a good story.” If you are upset that much of Animal Planet “ruining science tv” then you are no better than the people who believed this was real. It’s just a story, it does no harm unto you unless you let it consume your mind.

  26. What a horrible waste of “science” programming.  Perhaps if the producers had conducted a study on the viewers and how easy it is to dupe them with a slick documentary, it might have been worthwhile.

    Animal Planet, History Channel, TLC (which at one time stood for The Learning Channel), and now even National Geographic has tarnished its once sterling reputation with garbage like “Alaska State Troopers: Armed and Dangerous” and “Doomsday Preppers”.  Embarrassing.  At least there’s Khan Academy, so maybe there’s hope.

  27. if you dont belive there could possibly be other humanoid life at some point on this planet you have to be dumb, look what we have done to this planet? the countless animals wev forced in to extinction. if there was other “intelligent” life like us id hope theyed be smart enough to hide, just like big foot, mermaids, lizard people. 

  28. “That’s just the way it goes, and that’s why I’d much rather stop bullshit splattering all over the place than only try to clean up the mess afterward”. 

    Friend, in this day and age and in this kind of situation, there ain’t enough time and effort available in the universe for the former, nor a big enough shovel for the latter.

  29. First of all, semiaquatic mammals are found in a large variety of mammalian orders. So there is nothing pseudo scientific about semiaquatic mammals.  The giant extinct lemurs of Madagascar have been repeatedly hypothesized to have been semiaquatic primates. The bipedal  swamp ape, Oreopithecus, has been repeatedly noted for its preference for wetland areas on the ancient island of Tuscany-Sardinia.

    The evidence that humans are of semiaquatic origin, is simply overwhelming! The aquatic ape hypothesis was conceived by knighted marine biologist Sir Alister Hardy. The hypothesis is simple: formerly quadrupedal human apelike ancestors became obligatory bipeds because they began to specialize in wading into shallow water for benthic invertebrates. We see such bipedal wading behavior in modern hunter-gather communities that live near marine environments today and occasionally amongst other primate species, especially in the forest gorilla which wades bipedally into swamps for to feed on aquatic plants.

    But human ancestors appear to be the only primates ever to become specialist at the such behavior probably over the course of a few million years.

    There is also strong evidence that humans went through an extensive semiaquatic  marine phase. This is clearly evident in the radical modification of the human kidney and in the reactivated corporeal eccrine sweat glands. Humans are the only  catarrhine  primates that commonly exhibit kidneys with multipyramidal medullas, a feature that is nearly universal in marine mammals and found only in terrestrial mammals who had marine ancestors and terrestrial camels which consumes plants with salt contents actually higher than that of seawater.

    I should also note that the semiaquatic theory for the origin of bipedalism in hominin ancestors is also one of the popular theories for the origin of bipedalism in archosaurs.

    The flawed paradigms that are currently offered by most paleoanthropologist radically change from year to year and usually fail to explain any of the modern features that distinguish humans from most other hominoid primate species.

    Marcel F. Williams

  30.  ….are you on crack?  There was no “compelling evidence” or “testimony.”  Those weren’t “researchers” – they were actors.  You might as well say the Transformers are real because the movie had some scenes at the Pentagon, which is real. 

  31. Apparently there are still a lot of misunderstandings (outdated info?) here about what the so-called aquatic ape theory is about. The “littoral theory” of Homo (a better term than “aquatic ape”) is about Pleistocene Homo populations trekking to different continents & even islands (eg, Flores >18 km oversea >800 ka, long before any evidence of boats) along coasts & from there inland along rivers. It has nothing to do with Australopithecus, Ardipithecus, Orrorin, Sahelanthropus or other “apes”, but it’s about Homo much later during the Ice Ages (<2.5 Ma), adapting to a littoral lifestyle: wading, beach-combing & frequently diving for shellfish & possibly sea-weeds (& probably also collecting waterside foods, eg, drowned ungulates, stranded whales, cattails, rice, coconuts, turtles, birds & eggs etc.). Homo fossils or tools 1.8 Ma are found from Mojokerto in Java to Dmanisi in Georgia to Aïn-Hanech in Algeria to East Turkana in the Rift (1.8 Ma, stingrays also appeared in Lake Turkana). Homo didn’t get there running over open plains as some paleo-anthroplogists still seem to think (google econiche Homo), but along the coasts & rivers: the sleketons of erectus & other archaic Homo were simply much too brittle & heavy to run (google pachyosteosclerosis). All tetrapods with pachyosteosclerotic skulls are slow & shallow divers for sessile foods — there's no reason why erectus & relatives (or at least their immediate ancestors) must have been an exception. This would also explain the appearance of an external nose, of their flattened skull, their flattened femora, their large thorax & very wide pelvis (flaring ilia) etc., as well as our huge brain (thanks to the brain-specific nutrients in aquatic foods: iodine, DHA etc.), our body build with head-spine-legs in 1 line (hydrodynamics), our thick subcutaneous fat tissues & our fur loss. If some relatives of ours ever lived in savannahs, it must have been along the rivers & lakes there. For recent info on the littoral theory, google Vaneechoutte Tobias, or contact me. If one wants to discuss waterside hypotheses of human evolution, one should at least inform properly.

  32. If I told you 50 years ago that there was a species of fish that still exists after a 100 a hundred million years you’d call me nuts too. However , since a few so callled extinct animals are sstill around , I wouldn’t discount anything until scientific evidence is submited and verified

  33. Rebel – The evidence could not be more clear. The programs are works of *fiction*, labeled as such by Animal Planet itself. There’s no evidence of information being “seeded”, and the scientists in the program are not even real! They are actors. It really is that simple. – Brian

    I’d like everyone to consider the following:
    1. What if thestatements of the three scientists are true?
    2. If you found evidence and it was taken away from you, why would you commit career suicide and present this information to the public knowing full well that all the other scientists in your field would laugh you out your career .?
    3.wouldn’t it be prudent to just put it out as fiction just to seed the minds of the public? and not suffer a career meltdown?
    Cases as examples
    Almost all scientists whom brought forthnew and radicle theories have suffered from some degree (some worse than others) detrimental career
    affects and even risked jail or death.

    Our latest fiasco is on the global warming issues..
    Astronauts, and miltary officers have come forth with surprising information regarding Roswell NM and things seen in space after their careers have wound down, or they were close to meeting their maker.

    Ever wonder about that?

    I wouldn’t discount anything until the jury is back.
    Keep inmind this seeding of informaton spurs more people to find more information or proof.

    The Rebel

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