Did you see this “Eaten Alive” stunt that aired on Discovery yesterday? It was pretty hard to miss, with all the promotion that was circulating around the Internet in the weeks leading up to the event. Basically, “naturalist” and “herpetologist” Paul Rosolie decided to raise awareness about habitat destruction by intentionally getting eaten by a green anaconda, because reasons. Scare quotes have been used liberally by yours truly because I was questioning the man’s credentials when the first promotion blast went out weeks ago.
So the plan is to make an indestructible suit and equip it with all kinds of safety features, get doused in pig’s blood, get swallowed by an anaconda, and then get regurgitated. Great plan. Shitty in terms of actual science but amazing spectacle, right?
And all of the hype! All the articles, the previews, it all made it sound like it had really happened. But it didn’t and it couldn’t. And anyone who has even the slightest understanding of actual herpetology could have told you that it was fucking impossible.
So Rosolie suits up in his snakeproof suit, gets wrapped up, the snake bites onto his head and . . . wait, it’s too much, stop, abort! And of course the Internet explodes with rage that “we were promised Eaten Alive, not constricted for a while and then it bit my head.”
But even if he hadn’t called it off, it still couldn’t have happened. It’s just flat-out fucking impossible.
I will state, categorically and unequivocally that it is impossible for an anaconda to completely swallow an adult human male. For the record, once again: it’s impossible to be eaten by an anaconda. It’s not a question of weight, because anacondas do eat animals that are as heavy or heavier than the average human adult. It’s a question of proportions and ours just don’t work for snakes.
Why? Look at any of the actual footage of the snake, in that show or any other. Sure, snake jaws have the ability to expand (they don’t actually unhinge, as a point of fact) but that ability isn’t infinite. Humans have a unique silhouette in the animal kingdom; our shoulders and bipedal build mean that from a head-on perspective, we’re comparatively wider than the animals that snakes eat. There’s no way the snake’s jaws are going to get around a human’s shoulders; honestly, even our relatively large heads are pretty tough to swallow.
That doesn’t mean that an anaconda can’t kill a human adult. They absolutely can do that, if you’re foolish or unwary enough to allow one to wrap around your chest or neck. They are massively strong animals and their coils can generate more than enough force to asphyxiate a person. Assuming one did constrict you to death, you can be certain you’re in for a rather horrific final few moments. But it’s not going to be able to eat you after you’re dead. But that’s only if it gets around you; you’ll notice there are countless images of people safely holding these terrifying monster snakes all over the place.
Could a child or an otherwise very small person get swallowed by an anaconda? Yes, potentially. Certainly it’s very, very unlikely and you’d most likely have to be grossly negligent as a parent for something like that to happen. But a small child would be vulnerable. An adult, however? No. Absolutely not.
One final time: there was no way this Eaten Alive stunt could have worked. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for why Rosolie and Discovery are absolutely egregious pieces of shit for hyping this garbage. Here are a few more reasons:
I followed most of the promotion and prior to the airing of the special, everything Rosolie and his team said in interviews, not to mention Discovery’s own promotion, made it sound like it had already happened, which of course, it didn’t. They basically lied about the success of the stunt to drum up viewership.
Rosolie’s plan to survive was to have “regurgitation induced” but that’s completely ignorant of the fact that regurgitation is an extremely harmful thing for a snake. Snakes generally only regurgitate meals during periods of extreme stress, such as needing to evade a predator. A full snake might expel a meal to remove the bulky prey from its body so it can slither to safety. This is an extreme survival mechanism, however, and it’s only done in times of great stress, when the snake believes it is in mortal danger. The fact is that regurgitation can kill the snake because it can choke to death during the process.
There’s also the fact that, even if Rosolie had managed to be swallowed, that would have killed the snake anyway, because snakes can rupture themselves from consuming prey that’s too large. It’s rare, but it happens. There’s a picture of a Burmese python that ruptured after swallowing an alligator in the Everglades demonstrating exactly that.
So literally everything about this was tantamount to torture for the snake, no matter how it actually played out.
The worst part, however, is that this all perpetuates the demonization of snakes in the popular consciousness. Snakes are still monsters. It’s acceptable to torture them and kill them. People see snakes as villains and cheerleaders like Rosolie and Discovery just keep that narrative moving right along. There’s nothing in Rosolie’s “special” that talks about actual conservation efforts. There’s no effort to describe the actual biology or ecology of the green anaconda. It’s just hype, hype, hype, oh, we’re in so much danger, no wait, we’re not. And the majority of the Internet is pissed, not because of any of the offenses inflicted on the animal itself, but because Rosolie was a lying sack of shit and you can’t get swallowed by an anaconda.
Anacondas are fascinating, amazing creatures. It’s a shame we don’t get too much specials about any of the wonderful or interesting things there are to learn about them.
One final note: if Rosolie really wants to be eaten by a snake, he should look into cloning extinct reptiles. There’s a species called the Titanoboa that grew to a length of around 40 feet and would probably be large enough to do the job. Unfortunately for Rosolie and his nightmare fetishists, Titanoboa went extinct around 60 million years ago.