Sunday, July 6, 2008

The One That Got Away, Monster Quest looks at Giant Rats, Others

Yesterday, I finally got to catch a rerun of the Giant Rat episode of MonsterQuest. Giant Rats? I know, I know; it seems MQ is scraping the bottom of the barrel to find stories lately. Earlier episodes have dealt with escaped Burmese pythons, which witnesses swear grow to immense sizes in the wild; "werewolves" that devolve throughout the episode into obvious accounts of Bigfoot-like creatures; the "Grassman," which could be some strange hominid but for whom researchers couldn't bother to search any farther than the parking lot of some state park. And now, we have researchers plumbing the depths of New York City, searching out giant rats based on the testimony of homeless eyewitnesses, among others. We'll discount, for the moment, the recently discovered rats in Papua, New Guinea, and concentrate, as MQ has, on NYC.

As expected, the outcome of this investigation is nada, nothing, zilch, a big fat zero. To be honest, I can't recall an episode in which quality evidence ever surfaced. A couple of "hmm" moments, to be sure, but I'm talking about the meat-and-potatoes "wow" moments. I think those must come from extensive and persistent efforts in the field and not a maybe-we'll-get-lucky-but-if-not-we've-got-some-cheap-CGI-filler-and-a-voice-over philosophy. So, no giant rats.

However, when I was a kid, I went to an old three-story brick school that had a basement with a secret passage. I slipped inside once, discovering it opened onto what was once a large cavernous space, perhaps an earlier boiler room. There, in its dark recesses, I saw a rat that - to my young, eager eyes - seemed to be the size of a cat. I, of course, wasn't much larger than one myself. So, maybe perception has everything to do with how big a Burmese python appears (especially when you're not used to seeing them in the yard) or how a local Sasquatch might be viewed as a "werewolf" to a community of German descendants raised on such fables. And just perhaps a rat can seem really big to those for whom it serves as proxy in the fish-that-got-away tales of the concrete wilds of New York City.

3 comments:

Ken said...

It only goes to show that size really is relative! LOL

I've heard the tales of giant rodents and crocodiles in the sewer. Most of us just chalk it up to urban legends.

Funny you should mention Grassman too... one was allegedly sighted only 2 miles from where I live...

Cullan Hudson said...

Grassman sounds like the nickname for the dude that sells the kids pot.

Ken said...

LOL Too true...

Maybe he earned the moniker from not bathing... all that green mold on his fur...