Dry As Dust

A Fortean in the Archives

Mike Dash "eaten by 150 foot anaconda"

Here's an interesting example of the power of the internet.

Twelve years ago, I wrote a book entitled Borderlands, which discussed, pretty sceptically, the evidence for a wide range of strange phenomena. One passage concerned the possibility that snakes far bigger than the largest scientifically recorded might exist in the Amazon - the current record for an anaconda is around 33 feet, or about 10 metres, but there are reports of animals as long as 150 feet, or about 50 metres, being seen. Tim Dinsdale, in his The Leviathans (1966), even mentioned and printed sketches of several photos he had been sent from Brazilian newspapers which purported to show snakes of this sort of size.

A couple of years ago, I noticed that my passage had been picked up and cited by several cryptozoology sites as "evidence" for the existence of giant snakes. Then it appeared on Wikipedia - correctly cited - in the article "Giant anaconda". Now comes this bit of remarkable further distortion, apparently written by someone who hasn't read even Wikipedia very closely - but is nonetheless able to cite "video evidence", even.

How the author got things this wrong I can hardly imagine. But be certain that there are people out there prepared to believe him. And you can bet that in another dozen years' time, there'll be sites out there that state, as an accepted fact, that I became supper for some giant snake.


[UPDATE (November 2009): The original link and video that accompanied it have disappeared, but - true to the ways of the internet - the article about my so-called sighting continues to be copied and posted to new sites every few weeks. You could try to read it here or here or here. The scary video that accompanied the original blog post (and which, it was implied, I had been shooting an instant before my untimely demise) is here.]

The two giant anaconda images from Tim Dinsdale's The Leviathans (1966) - both pen and ink reproductions of newspaper photos from the Brazilian press. (Download or drag to your desktop and open to see full size and read the text.)
[Update (April 2010): Since my original story appeared, copies of the original newspaper photos of the two alleged giant anacondas mentioned above have popped up on the 'net. Here they are. Scale, as mentioned, not included.]
Giant anaconda in Brazil Giant anaconda in Brazil

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