Animal Predators

Hosted byIan Punnett

Animal Predators

About the show

Joining Ian Punnett, Paul A. Trout (book link), retired professor at Montana State University, for a discussion on how ancient mythology about animal predators in search of human flesh has factual roots based on mankind's early history. He traced this concept back to the Pleistocene Era, when the human species was living and evolving on the African savanna. During that time, Trout said, humans lived amongst predatory creatures, like sabre toothed tigers and birds of prey, that were far more massive than their contemporary counterparts. He cited archaeological evidence which indicates that human beings were frequently eaten by these creatures, who likely saw man as easy prey, since they had yet to develop weapons to defend themselves.

Among the predatory creatures from the Pleistocene Era that Trout detailed were giant snakes that had a diameter of 18 inches and weighed 800 pounds as well as a bird of prey which weighed 50 pounds and could lift humans off the ground. Additionally, he said, there were massive dogs, weighing 200 pounds, that hunted in packs of fifty and bears that had skulls which were 3 to 4 times the size of a modern grizzly bear. Given this extreme preponderance of predatory creatures, Trout observed that our ancestors living in this environment would likely witness "stacks of bones littering the landscape" and hear the sounds of not only victims of these predatory animals but also their calls to each other while on the hunt. "It must have been very unnerving for our ancestors to live within this milieu," Trout mused, "that was nosy with death and littered with corpses, bones, and kill sites."

Trout also suggested that these living conditions resulted in a critical change in the human psyche. "We finally realized that one of the best ways of dealing with our fear of predators was to become the predator," he explained. He pointed to early humans donning animal pelts and hunting in packs as ways that they mimicked the creatures that once feasted on them. Additionally, Trout argued that mankind's role as prey laid the foundation for our religious belief system. He contended that the first gods which humans worshipped were predatory animals, which is the basis for the proverbial "fear of God." As man grew more sophisticated, he theorized, "we wanted to identify with a divine agent that was more like us" which led to the gods found in modern religions. In turn, Trout said, the idea of a "predator god" became fused with the devils of these religions.

D.B. Cooper Update

In the first hour, Galen Cook provided an update on the D.B. Cooper mystery, which marked its 40th anniversary this past week. Cook was dismissive of the recent news reports concerning titanium found of Cooper's tie, which was left behind during the heist, because such metalurgical evidence cannot conclusively determine the identity of infamous skyjacker. Conversely, he stressed that the letters allegedly sent by Cooper following his heist provide more tangible clues as to the identity and location of the legendary robber. For a detailed look at the Cooper letters, see Cook's report here. During Cook's appearance, the neice of his prime suspect, Bill Gossett, called in to the program and recalled how Gossett would routinely give large sums of money to her family and how her older brothers jokingly called him 'D.B.'

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Saturday night's first hour guest, Galen Cook, sent us images and analysis of the letters allegedly sent by D.B. Cooper after his infamous heist. He tells us, "My research shows that four D.B. Cooper letters all surfaced within one week after America's most celebrated, unsolved air hijacking. All four letters were sent to major newspapers, not to the FBI. The sequence and timing of the letters is very important, as they show the "escape route" of D.B. Cooper. They also show a "connection" to our suspect, Bill Gossett." You can view the complete report here.

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