Saturday, June 27, 2009

MONSTERQUEST - Flying Monsters

History Channel - Original Air Date: 6/3/09

Near Australia, Papua New Guinea is remote, forbidding, and almost the size of Texas. People report sighting flying monsters with leathery wings and a wingspan of up to 30 feet -- the reports resemble a pterodactyl (and that's what the show's recreation depicts). After WWII, a man reports seeing a pterodactyl-like creature, and in the last 65 years, there are many similar reports. Garth Guessman is a researcher looking for these creatures on the largely unexplored island; Dr. Dave Martill also hopes to find an unknown animal. He thinks the "demon flyer" is likely a frigatebird or a new species of bat. Guessman says people aren't spotting the creatures because they're nocturnal, and claims to have seen the creature's lights (supposedly given off from its belly) himself. He will lead a MQ expedition to an area with recent sightings. A map from the 1600s depicts mosters as living on the island. One of the scientists lays out a quetzecoatalus diagram next to an SUV for scale -- the wingspan is more than twice as long as the truck. A cryptozoologist claims to have video of two bioluminescent creatures at night, which MQ looks at -- but the resolution is too low for standard analysis. So the show brings in a high-power analyst, who says the lights are not consistent with fires or known objects or species. Locals tell tales of night-flying, glowing scavengers and spirit creatures from the mountains. But perhaps they are only Flying Foxes -- bats with up to 6-foot wingspans. The team rousts some bats so they can see the fruit bats fly.

The trek into the jungle is long and treacherous. The team sets up their gear on a precipitous hillside. Despite their vigil, they turn up no new evidence -- just bugs and flying foxes. The lights they spot are merely campfires across the valley. They do catch a small bat in their bat net. The camera traps turn up only bugs and bats, as well. In the end, all the team has to for their efforts is witness stories.

This MQ show is filled with above-average use of animation to represent the flying creatures. Oddly, this show eschews calling the beast by it's common, cryptozoological name, "ropen" (mentioning it once ot twice) -- prefering to call it the "demon flyer." Whether they did this to avoid the controversy surrounding the ropen and creationist attempts to use it to disprove evolution, remains a mystery.

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