Well, Animal Planet would have you think so. In a new “documentary”, Mermaids: The New Evidence, the channel shows footage of the supposed mythical creatures, allegedly filmed in the Greenland Sea.
Perhaps the most astonishing footage was taken by a submarine crew on 6 March, which shows what looks like a webbed hand pressed up against the submarine window, and a split second shot of a very human figure swimming away – at the bottom of the ocean.
The New Evidence was a follow-up to Animal Planet’s Mermaids: The Body Found, which shows an incredible video of a boy on a beach coming across, well, a mermaid.
Both shows had millions of astonished viewers glued to their seats, earning the channel its biggest viewership of all time: The Body Found registered 3,4 million viewers and New Evidence 3,6 million.
The only catch – the documentaries were staged. The words, “Scientific theory, CGI animation and dramatic sequences are used to bring the imaginary creatures and their surroundings to life,” appeared at the end of the credits.
But even this little disclaimer couldn’t quash some viewers’ enthusiasm. When the original special ran, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US was inundated with demands for information, and felt forced to release a statement: “The belief in mermaids may have arisen at the very dawn of our species. But are mermaids real? No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. Why then do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That’s a question best left to historians, philosophers and anthropologists.”
Still, the documentaries are based (loosely) on an interesting idea – The Aquatic Ape Theory, which has actually been around since the 1960s. The theory posits that our ancestors are actually amphibious apes who eventually evolved to live on land.
Animal Planet’s adaptation of this theory is that about 6,5 million years ago, Africa was flooded and a small group of our ancestors went out to sea, and were forced to adapt to this environment.
See what Animal Planet envisioned these mermaids would look like here:
Sources: oceanservice.noaa.gov, animal.discovery.com, huffingtonpost.com, washingtonpost.com, ibtimes.com, businessinsider.com