Thursday, September 25, 2008

MONSTERQUEST: Chinese Wildman

History Channel -- Original Air Date: September 21, 2008

Legends say that a wildman called the Yarin, seemingly a smaller, red-haired version of bigfoot, lives in China even today.  The MQ program takes a team and goes looking for the beast.  Could it be a misidentified version of some other, known creature?  Jeff Meldrum suggests it might be gigantopithecus -- the largest primate ancestor.  Will footprints, hair samples, and other evidence lead to a breakthrough?  The first prints they examine seem to have curled, ape-like toes -- unlike sasquatch.  The show also features the usual witness reports of sightings, including a man who spotted a group of the creatures.  Even a local naturallist/guide once saw the creature lounging on the hillside.  "It wasn't a bear," he says, though some plaster casts (not from his sighting) turn out to be probable bear tracks.  The team (from the US with local guides) sets up the two camera traps they've been allowed to bring into the country.  After a delay by the Chinese authorities, the group hikes out and sets up camp at 9500 feet, lays out bait, and uses their thermal camera (for which they had to get special permission).  In fact, they have only 36 hours to search -- not a lot of time in a very big country.

One of the scientists, Jeff Heldrum, brings a "mug book" of primates to see which of the shots eyewitnesses will pick out as being close to the creatures they've seen.  The witnesses pick orangutans, though orangs have long been extinct in China.  Hair samples from sightings are sent to the US for examination and analysis.  As usual, camera traps turn up void of anything mysterious.  Footprints are inconclusive, and no DNA is obtained from hair.  One reddish hair sample turns out to be dyed human hair.  Still, the scientists express their pleasure at having opened a new frontier for Western crypto exploration.  Despite the exotic location, this turns out to be just another of MonsterQuest's standard bigfoot shows.  It has the usual mix of interesting witnesses plus evidence that doesn't hold up to scientific scrutiny.  If you like bigfoot stories, check this episode out; if not avoid it.

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