December 29, 2012

Did a Bird Grab a Baby?

Can a large bird of prey pick up a human baby? It may depend on not just the size of the bird but the size of the baby. All such speculations may appear irrelevant, however, regarding the Youtube video titled "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid." That video was created by students at a design college in Montreal, Canada.

The pedestrian at upper right pays no attention to the "attack"
Before the announcement, by students of Centre NaD, that the video was an animation project, skeptics began looking for signs of a hoax. It didn't take many days to find clues.

In one frame, part of the bird's wing is missing; in another, the bird's shadow is missing. After a number of days, I had found many clues myself, most critical being the gross differences in shadow angle within a short distance in the meadow.

Other indications of hoax involve the actions or inactions of persons shown. One person walking by the scene of the apparent attack pays no attention except to look in the direction of the videographer. The mother does not even notice the large bird as it shoots towards her and her baby. Only after the bird has lifted the toddler off the ground and has begun to fly away does the mother even turn her head.

Baby is being carried away to the eagle's nest. Why is Mommy so slow?

Mommy is far away; so why does the eagle drop the baby?
As the woman calmly jogs in the direction of the apparent bird and apparent baby, she does not scream. No sound comes out of her mouth, at least not loud enough to be picked up on the video. Why then does the bird drop the child?

When the bird seems to have lost its grip on the baby, they are at least six feet off the ground, possibly eight feet. If this were an actual event, the bird would have had a firm grip on that child by the time it was over four feet above the ground. Look at some eagle talons.

Eagle talons pierce the bodies of prey

The talons of eagles are built to grab into the flesh of its victims. Any bird large enough to have carried away a toddler as large as the one shown at the end of this video---that would have been a bird larger than the one depicted, especially considering how quickly the baby seems to have been lifted well up into the air. But even if that were not the case, the talons would have been large enough to have pierced the body of the child.

How is it that the apparent eagle lost its grip? The mother was nowhere near the bird and was jogging rather slowly and did not scream. If the grip of the talons were only in the clothing, then the child might have fallen out of his clothes; but that was not depicted: Both toddler and clothing fell out of the talons of the apparent bird. There is no explanation for that except that strange things do happen on rare occasions. The problem with that apparent reasoning is this: Too many strange things happen within a few second in this video.

Why Look so Deeply When the Hoax was Admitted?

One day after the Youtube video was uploaded, animation students admitted they had created the whole thing, using 3D computer models. So why look so deeply into the video, finding signs that show that it was a hoax? We have reasons.

Within a few days, "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid" had been seen by forty million youtube viewers. I had put up a number of comments, my observations about inconsistancies in shadow directions. One Youtube fan sent me the message, "Who cares it's common knowledge that it's a hoax, move on with your life! Admitted CGI!" But that is part of the problem. We need to do more thinking; we need to look more carefully; we need to listen to other opinions.

There may still be a million persons who saw the video and believed it, yet have not yet been informed that it is a hoax. Perhaps more than a few preschoolers and babies will miss outings to city parks this holiday season. Perhaps some people will needlessly worry about birds. Perhaps somebody will shoot a Golden Eagle. I will "move on" but it will be to continue to promote the truth.

The problems are far more than just missing outings to parks, or becoming mildly paranoid about large birds, or shooting an eagle. We need to think more carefully.

We need to better understand human reasoning. Why do some persons make rash judgements and then do more than just dismiss a different opinion: They dismiss another person as an "idiot."

On Youtube, I wrote the following rather vague comment about shadows of trees:
Shadows of trees show this is a video tampered with.

On December 19th I received the following comment on Youtube:
"You're an idiot, 0:11 shadow is apparent from the tree in front. Also the ground is very uneven, shadows will be distorted."

"0:11" is less vague, but I don't know what he means, for many still images exist for this one second of video. Within that one second I see many shadows of trees, some of them proving the video was indeed tampered with. I will not respond to that person by parroting the word "idiot," to judge him, regardless of what he was looking at in that one second of video, but I made my own video to be more specific:

"Eagle Snatch or Not"

(Jonathan Whitcomb's humorous look at the Youtube video)

We need to think more clearly and judge others' more carefully than we have done. I will try to be more specific in the future, rather than use just one short sentence. But I'm not alone in being in need of improvement.

Fake Bird Attacks Fake Baby
More telling is the behavior of what seems to be the mother. She seems to see nothing as the bird flies to her baby, picking it up off the ground.

She saw, in Arkansas, a Pterosaur Soar
In the summer of 1977, at about one or two in the afternoon, the sighting involved a close encounter with an apparent pterosaur (albeit labeled "teradactyl") that had a large head and a wingspan of about eight feet.


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