The discovery channel recently aired a documentary suggesting the existence of mermaids. They had actors playing the supposedly involved members of the NOAA and various reputable organizations. Here’s the gist:
2 boys stumbled upon a mass whale beaching in Washington State and took a picture of an unknown creature with their camera phone. Officials in HAZMAT suits tried to convince them they had only seen a seal. NOAA investigated the beaching and believed it was related to Navy sonar testing. People in HAZMAT suits cornered off part of the beach. Meanwhile, Dr. Paul Robertson and researcher Rebecca Davis of the marine mammals division analyzed the bodies to determine the cause of death. Each whale had blood coming from its ears as if it had undergone some sort of trauma. Upon closer inspection, they found small lesions in the intestinal tissue in all the of the whales. They believed the whales had them as a result of the sonar blast. The NOAA had inadvertently recorded the entire event, which I heard, and it was heartbreaking (nothing like hearing a majestic creature scream in pain as it is being brutally killed.) The NOAA continued to investigate whale beachings as they unfortunately continued around the world. They wanted to know what was killing the whales in order to stop it, but they were also interested in a creature rumored to be washing up with the whale carcasses. Their recording had caught the sounds of a creature unlike a whale or dolphins, strangely similar to the 1997 Bloop recording. They called in Dr. Rodney Webster, an expert in animal language and vocalizations. After accounting for the spectrogram frequencies above the range of human hearing, Dr. Webster confirmed it was unlike any recording of whales or dolphins he had studied in for the past thirty years. When decreasing the speed to one-third the original, Dr. Webster was able to distinguish six different voiceprints and thousands of signifiers, or as we call them, words. The creatures were using language.
Scientists in South Africa contacted the researchers after recording what they believed was the same creature, just prior to another sonar blast resulting in more dead whales. The recording sounded as if the creatures were speaking with dolphins. The NOAA petitioned the Navy about their tests killing whales and dolphins and received no response. The NOAA discovered a shark killed by the sonar blasts, which had ingested several animals such as seals and dolphins but also contained remains of an unknown species. They had no way of explaining the source of puncture marks on the shark, with a stingray tail within it. Hammerhead sharks are known to eat stingrays but this shark was a Great White shark and they don’t mess with stingrays. The scientists wondered where the stingray tail had come from. After discarding the bones they recognized as belonging to seals or dolphins they were left with the remains of an unknown creature. They set aside DNA to be tested and examined each part left behind. The creature had a hinged rib cage, an evolutionary trait allowing marine mammals to be able to dive. They found teeth and were surprised to find different kinds of teeth (including molars, incisors, and canines.) Marine mammals have all of the same teeth.
The researchers were able to recover an estimated 30% of the creature’s body. At first they wondered if perhaps it was a manatee species thought to be extinct, since the creature had a similar tail fluke. Then they found the creature had bones inside their tail fluke a feature no manatee has, living or extinct. The scientists were able to recover part of the skull, enough to send it away for reconstruction. They noted that the skull had a pronounced ridge on the forehead, allowing the creature to cut through the water for better speed. The femur bones they found were long, unlike any marine mammal. So at this point they knew it was not a seal, not a manatee, talks to dolphins, but it is not a dolphin. They were puzzled to find a whalebone with a notch inside of it until they were able to fit the stingray tail from the puncture wound inside the notch and it fit perfectly. It looked like the creature had been using a handcrafted tool. After analyzing the phalanges they had trouble getting the arrangement to work, so they called in Dr. Stephen Pielson of the Smithsonian an expert on animal structure. He was amazed to realize the hip structure was actually very familiar, it had high ridge crest to support weight and had similar crests on hips. They formed the same structure as an animal that walks up on two legs, the only animal known to do so being humans (and Bigfoot, of course). They found small bones they believed were part of the fins or flippers but no structure proposed would fit. Then they realized the bones actually fit if arranged into a hand structure. They found an enlarged spleen, an important organ for marine mammals allowing them to store oxygen for deep dives.
Using the skull reconstruction they were able to predict the size of different parts of the brain based on our own brain structure. The opening of the frontal skull was concave and had an extensive system of sinuses inside the skull allowing for the creature to broadcast an incredible range of sound. Based on the proportions of the skull, the sound interpretation center would have been twice as large. The sonar tests continued, a man working the Navy stated they were trying make sound into a weapon so they could disable enemies from far distances by rattling their internal organs. The blast originated from an apparatus securely locked inside of sealed, waterproof cases placed underwater. The cases were capable of withstanding huge amounts of pressure, but the Navy was baffled to find the cases pulled off. No creature should have been able to do that and no one besides the Navy knew of their position. The NOAA was amazed to realize the 1997 Bloop, the 2004 Bloop they recorded at the whale beaching, and the South African Bloop were all the same creature. The one they had found inside the belly of the shark. The creature only fit the appearance of marine human, or a mermaid. Mermaids have been reported for thousands of years all over the world, even by different civilizations that had never interacted.
The show went on to explain the Aquatic Ape theory, the idea that during the transition from our last common ancestor from apes to hominid (human), humans went through an aquatic stage. In this stage aquatic-ape like creatures are believed to have developed. Coastal flooding millions of years ago may have brought some of our ancestors deeper into water in order to acquire food. While we evolved from apes into terrestrial humans, our aquatic relatives would have evolved into creatures evocative of the fabled mermaid. According their website, The evidence for this theory lies in the strange differences between humans and primates as well as the features we have in common with marine mammals. • Webbing between fingers (other primates don’t have this) • Subcutaneous fat (insulating from cold water) • Control over breath (humans can hold breath up to 20 minutes, longer than any other terrestrial animal) • Loss of body hair (hair creates drag in water) • Instinctive ability to swim (human babies are able to do this) A highly developed brain, which depends on nutrients provided by seafood The Aquatic phase took place more than 5 million years ago. Since then, Homo has had five million years to re-adapt to terrestrial life. It is not surprising that the traces of aquatic adaptation have become partially obliterated and have gone unrecognized for so long. Here is how they depict the hypothetical common ancestor:
According to the scientists, some sort of police officials came early in the morning on 8/8/05 and confiscated all their work including the files, the body, and the skull reconstruction. What they did not take was the recording; either because they didn’t know it was there or could not take it. They came in with all the right sort of documentation and clearances and confiscated everything they could get their hands on. The scientists were extremely upset about this. All of the scientists then had their visas revoked immediately and had to return the U.S. One member of their team left the NOAA to search for the creature. The rest went to track down the kids who had first seen the strange creature at the whale beaching in Washington State. The kids showed them a picture they had drew matching the depiction the scientists had developed. Then, the boy brought out his camera phone. The officials who talked to the boys and tried to convince them they had just seen a dead seal, which looked very strange from decomposition, had not thought to check their phones. The picture looked just like the scientist’s reconstruction. The scientists went on to petition the American and South African governments for the return of their research but were denied. The American government contacted them to tell them they had tested the DNA and said it must have been contaminated with human DNA because the findings were too close. They basically wrote this discovery out of history. Rather than acknowledging the discovery of a new relative to humans they said human DNA must have contaminated it.
Though the scientists could not get their research back, they decided they would continue in their study. They looked at the different spots where whales had been beached and realized they were migratory routes. The creature reported to have washed up with them must have been traveling with them. As they knew the migratory routes the whales traveled, they tried to find them. They believe they saw them that day. Though it may have been a radically significant scientific discovery they came to realize it may be best we don’t know about them, since when our species lived alongside Neanderthals we wiped them out. They still fervently believe the mermaids are out there.
They point to the unique behavior of dolphins in places like Brazil, SW Africa, and SE Asia as further evidence. There, fisherman go into the shallows and call to the dolphins, who corral schools of fish toward them and into the fisherman’s nets. The dolphins know it is okay if they get caught in the net because they will be released. Upon catching, the dolphins are given their share of the haul. How did this cooperation develop? The scientists believe it is a natural result of our evolutionary relatives long companionship with dolphins.