The worlds of Bigfoot and science collide tonight with the premiere of Spike TV's "Ten Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty."
Actor Dean Cain hosts and leads an ambitious expedition to the Pacific Northwest of America to try and discover the elusive tall, hairy creature known as Bigfoot, aka Sasquatch.
"Before the show, I was extremely skeptical, however hopeful," Cain, 47, told The Huffington Post. "Then I started doing research and found that we discover as many as 15,000 new species every year, on average, in the United States. They're usually insects and sometimes primates. There's a lot of things to be discovered that we have not laid our eyes upon."
Spike TV assembled nine teams of hunters of varying skills and experience for the programs. Certainly the big lure for these teams -- each comprised of two people -- is the financial holy grail at the end of the eight week-long series: $10 million for irrefutable proof of Bigfoot's existence.
The prize, underwritten by Lloyd's of London, is one of the largest cash prizes ever offered in TV history.
Cain was overwhelmed by the remote regions he was taken to in search of Sasquatch.
"We'd drive for five hours ... get out of our vehicles and then hike for two hours to set up where we were going to go on the hunt. And from there, it's hours -- four, six, 10 hours to hunt. So, you end up in some really remote places. I can't believe how much space is up there [in the Pacific Northwest]. We must have been to so many places where humans haven't been for decades -- it was amazing to me."
The teams are comprised of both Bigfoot hunters and big game hunters. Over the eight weeks in extremely remote wilderness areas, they will do their best to come back with both DNA proof and visual evidence.
On hand with Cain are two scientists -- referees, if you will -- to keep a close eye on the nine teams of "squatchers," as they are called. They will also provide an advanced method of DNA analysis for any possible Bigfoot evidence.
"Spike TV gave me the opportunity to gather all of the equipment one would need to set up a laboratory that could give rapid DNA results, setting up in a cabin or a large tent out in the forest," said biological anthropologist Todd Disotell who runs New York University's molecular primatology lab.
"We set up the laboratory and were able to take DNA samples, and between six and eight hours, I could narrow it down to the type of animal it was. I couldn't give a precise species identification, but I could narrow it to the close relatives -- the genus and family level -- in scientific parlance," Disotell, 50, told HuffPost.
Disotell, seen at right in his NYU laboratory, had a great deal of material to load into his portable DNA lab (pictured below).
"Basically, I said I wanted biological material. So, I got lots and lots and lots of feces. But I also got a lot of hair samples. The most exciting kind of samples that we collected were actually what we refer to as environmental DNA. I allowed [the teams] to collect biting insects, because in the belly of a mosquito -- within the first 24 or so hours after it bites something -- there is viable DNA in the mosquito. I was able to test dozens and dozens of insects to see what kind of animals they had bitten."