February 22, 2009

Are photographs a fake of a giant snake?

A grainy photograph of a 100-foot snake in a river in Borneo may be as real as similar shots of Big Foot or the Loch Ness monster, a computer expert says.

The photo ran Thursday in The Telegraph, a London newspaper that did not claim it is authentic. The Guardian said it was supposedly taken by a member of a disaster team surveying potential flood areas in Indonesia who spotted the snake from a helicopter flying over the Baleh River.

Another shot was supposedly taken from the bank of the river.

Hany Farid, a computer science professor at Dartmouth in New Hampshire, told Scientific American that the low resolution of the photographs is one reason to be suspicious. Another is that in both, the giant is out in the middle of the water, not interacting with any other animals or objects -- which would be harder to fake.

Farid refused to label the photographs as definitely faked. But he has a rule of thumb: When you look at images, you should think about, 'How hard would this be to do?'