The idea of a human being eaten alive by a giant anaconda, and living to tell about it, may sound incredible, or even a little fishy (despite having nothing to do with fish, for you literalists out there). But this is precisely what a new documentary has claimed: that a man clad in "snake-proof armor" managed to survive the ordeal... but was it in the name of science, or pure sensationalism?
This one had me scratching my head when a friend brought it to my attention over the weekend; and frankly, it sounded more like a silly prank than anything remotely feasible. Then, I was offered a link to the promotional trailer for the program, which both seemed to shed some credibility on the matter, as well as raising the red flags of skepticism a bit higher. The reason for the latter has everything to do with the network in question, which we'll get to in a moment, but first, the synopsis:
The documentary centers around the adventurous Paul Rosolie, a traveler and chronicler of the Amazon, who purportedly donned a "snake-proof" protective suit, and essentially fed himself to a giant anaconda which had been captured and wrestled ashore, before being presented with a free meal.
Presumably, what happens next is the snake consumes the man, and then he manages to survive being eaten. We should note, however, that Rosolie has actively been promoting the documentary, titled Eaten Alive, on social media. Hence, we know he made out of the belly of the beast, and further states that no giant, man-eating anacondas were harmed in the making of the program.
"I would never hurt a living thing," Rosolie Tweeted, encouraging his followers to watch the documentary for the full story.
Okay, so maybe a human could be swallowed whole by a giant snake, and presumably still survive the ordeal, especially if the situation had been under the control of others to prevent any unintended mishaps during such an "experiment." Granted, the dissenting opinion was offered by Bronx Zoo herpetologist Frank Indiviglio, who not only said the stunt was "not possible," but further decried Discovery Channel's previous attempts at pulling the wool over the public's eyes with silly, fake documentaries.
That's right, Discovery is behind the "Eaten Alive" thrill-show, a point which, arguably, does diminish the credibility of the program. Let us not forget the fiasco associated with their infamous Megalodon "mockumentary," which was billed as though it presented factual information. Following suit with a similar fiesta of nonsense, the next round would feature mermaid silliness that aired on both Discovery Channel and Animal Planet; then things were further rounded-out by the laughable Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives, which supposed that the infamous Dyatlov Pass incident could be explained by a mysterious Russian cousin of Bigfoot that attacked and killed the young hikers from the Russian Polytechnic Institute.
In short, Discovery doesn't have the best track record with producing credible content over the last few years, which causes more than a few of us to roll our eyes and wonder whether a man could, indeed, be swallowed alive by a snake, and still escape unscathed.
At present, however, the story does appear to be true... or at least, it's being billed that way. Which, in turn, actually has resulted in a petition being filed at change.org where, at last count, more than 20,000 people had supported a boycott of Discovery for choosing to air the program in the first place.
The petition argues that the program features "animal abuse to the highest degree and [is] absolutely disgusting, and could kill the snake - an adult green anaconda cannot fit the width of an adult man's shoulders into it's body. It once again reinforces the negative stereotype of snakes, which one would think would be the opposite of what Discovery should be trying to do."
Whether the documentaries the network airs are purely fake, or as this case seems to indicate, are simply aimed at shocking their audience, the content Discovery Channel continues to air seems to show little concern for merit, or credibility. Which, in turn, makes it hard to guess whether such programs as Eaten Alive will pose merit of any kind to science... something the network, at one time, seemed to still hold in some regard.
But then again, if you want real science, it's safest to go online and buy a textbook. Television is just entertainment, after all... a point that is becoming more and more apparent with time, and with programs like these.