January 15, 2008

weirdest news stories of year 2007 - monstrous hog!

Thursday May 3, outside Anniston, Alabama, USA; the Stones claimed boy Jamison, eleven years old, hunted a giant boar in an enclosure within a commercial hunting preserve called Lost Creek Plantation. the hog according to the hunters weighed 1,051 lb (477 kg) & was 9 feet 4 inch (2.84 m) in length from the tip of its snout to the end of its tail.

the hog is known as the "Monster Pig", "Pigzilla" or even "Hogzilla II". This last name refers to Hogzilla, another giant pig that was hunted in 2004 in Alapaha, Georgia, usa.

Hogzilla according to Ken Holyoak, the man upon whose farm the boar was shot and killed, weighed 1,000 pounds (450 kg) & was 12 feet (3.6 meters) long but according to later scientists studies performed for a National Geographic Society's documentary, it actually weighed 800 lb (360 kg) and was between 7.5 and 8 feet (2.25 and 2.4 meters) long; these dimensions even if diminished still make from Hogzilla an enormous pig, and the stones claim theirs (Hogzilla II) is even bigger.

The truth about the origins & hunting of the Monster Pig

the Stones report that Jamison chased the hog for three hours through hilly woods, firing repeatedly and missing, to finally wound the animal enough times that it collapsed and died. It was thought first the animal was a feral pig, but shortly after the story became famous, it was revealed it was actually a domestic pig sold to Lost Creek Plantation only four days before it was hunted. the monster pig lived under the name of Fred in a farm owned by Phil Blissitt who purchased it in december 2004 as a Christmas gift for his wife Rhonda, the "pet" was 6 week old then. the Blissitts finally sold the beast as they decided to get rid of all the pigs at their farm.

"I just wanted the truth to be told. That wasn't a wild pig," Rhonda Blissitt said. the Blissitts said they didn't know the animal generating all the media attention was Fred till they were contacted by Andy Howell, Game Warden for the Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

"Did you see that pig on TV?" Phil Blissitt recalled Howell asking. "I said, 'Yeah, I had one about that size.' He said, 'No, that one is yours.' "That's when I knew."'

"We were told that it was a feral hog," Mike Stone, Jamison's father told the press, "and we hunted it on the pretense that it was a feral hog.".

Phil Blissitt said also he became irritated when he learned about some people who thought the photos of Fred were doctored. "That was a big hog," he said.

now what about those pictures? & what about the claimed dimentions?

some time after the story broke, suspicion started to show over the authenticity of the Stones claims, especially because of the pictures they put on their website & showed to the press. There were two kinds of accusations:
  1. that the photos were made using perspective tricks, positioning elements in a way that create an optical illusion making the pig look larger than its actual size.
  2. That some of the photos were simply digitally retouched.
Dr. Richard Brandt, a retired New York University physicist made a long report on the perspective in the pictures on StinkyJournalism.org, he used complicated calculations & also simple examples like this one on moillusions.com; but instead of that I will only show you two pictures & you decide, they really don't need any comments:

the "Photoshop" theory

here, the guys from IntraHD.com, made a long & good report with a lot of pictures taken from MonsterPig.com (the Stones site) & some news sources, plus many animated demonstrations making everything clear (at least to me), I will give you one simple example here & you decide:

SO it seems that in the photo below, in which you can see Jamison & father Mike,

was in a first step, erased the father & in a second, cloned some elements from the background, as you can see in these two animated pictures:

(Click on pics to see animations)
The final result was this photo with Jamison alone:

Notice the interior of the red circle I added, you can see a white imperfection, that's most likely a part of the father's clothes, I really wonder what would be the point of tricking such a picture?!!

The stones continue to deny that the images were modified via their website, this article by Mike Stone is a good example.

Weight controversy

Anniston Star reported that the pig was weighed at the Clay County Farmer's Exchange in Lineville. Workers at the co-op verified that the basic truck scales used were recently certified by the state. But no workers from the co-op were present when the hog was weighed.

The problem is the number 1051 (the hog's weight), Jeff Kinder, the scale owner, who didn't witness the weigh-in, said he was baffled to hear the reported weight of 1,051 pounds because his scale — an old, manual style with sliding weights — only measures to the nearest 10.

"I didn't quite understand that," he said.

Mike Stone said the scale balanced one notch past the 1,050-pound mark, and he thought it meant a weight of 1,051 pounds.

"It probably weighed 1,060 pounds. We were just afraid to change it once the story was out," he said ...... Yeah Right!