Footage from a Russian filmmaker's personal history project was altered to create a widely discussed – and now thoroughly debunked – sighting of a woolly mammoth.
Last week, a new video surfaced claiming to show a live woolly mammoth — an animal scientists think has been extinct for at least four millennia — crossing a river in Russia. The suspiciously blurry footage was allegedly "caught by a government-employed engineer last summer in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug region of Siberia," according to a story in The Sun newspaper.
The video became an Internet sensation, making headlines around the world. Some Bigfoot believers and Loch Ness Monster lovers murmured their tentative approval, hoping it proved that large unknown (or assumed extinct) animals still exist in Earth's remote wilds.
While most people didn't believe that the animal in the video was really a woolly mammoth as claimed, viewers were sharply divided about what exactly it was.
Some suspected the video is an outright hoax — a computer-generated mammoth digitally inserted into a real river scene. Many others, however, were convinced that the animal was real: not a mammoth, but instead a bear with a large fish hanging from its mouth. That would explain its relatively small size, the shape of the "trunk" on its head, and the color. Experts cast doubts on the video's authenticity; Derek Serra, a Hollywood video effects artist, concluded that it "appears to have been intentionally blurred."