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Bigfoot

[a.k.a. Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, Mapinguari (the Amazon), Sasquatch, Yowie (Australia) and Yeti (Asia)]

reconstruction of gigantopithecus blacki - the real Bigfoot?

An apelike creature reportedly sighted hundreds of times around the world since the mid-19th century. The creature is variously described as standing 7-10 ft (2-3 m) tall and weighing over 500 lb (225 kg), with footprints 17 in. (43 cm) long. The creature goes by many names, but in northern California it is known as “Bigfoot.” (It is also known as the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, Yeti or Meh-Teh [Asia], Mapinguari [the Amazon, where descriptions match that of a giant sloth thought to be extinct*], Sasquatch, and Yowie [Australia]). The creature is big business in the Pacific Northwest along a stretch of US-101 in southern Humboldt County known as the Redwood Highway. Numerous shops line the roadway, each with its own Bigfoot chainsaw-carved out of majestic redwood.

Most scientists discount the existence of Bigfoot because the evidence supporting belief in the survival of a prehistoric bipedal apelike creature of such dimensions is scant. One notable exception is Grover S. Krantz (1931-2002), an anthropologist at Washington State University. For nearly forty years, Krantz argued for the probable existence of Bigfoot,* but was unable to convince the majority of scientists. The evidence for Bigfoot’s existence consists mainly of testimony from Bigfoot enthusiasts, footprints of questionable origin, and pictures that could easily have been of apes or humans in ape suits. There are no bones, no scat, no artifacts, no dead bodies, no mothers with babies, no adolescents, no fur, no nothing. Not that there aren't "sightings" of such. There are "sightings" galore. Just check The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization's website for an uncritical list of sightings. However, there is no evidence that any individual or community of such creatures dwells anywhere near any of the “sightings.” In short, the evidence points more towards hoaxing and delusion than real discovery. Some believers dismiss all such criticism and claim that Bigfoot exists in another dimension and travels by astral projection. Such claims reinforce the skeptic’s view that the Bigfoot legend is a function of passionate fans of the paranormal, aided greatly by the mass media’s eagerness to cater to such enthusiasm.

In addition to the eyewitness testimonials of enthusiastic fans, the bulk of the evidence provided by proponents of Bigfoot consists of footprints and film. Of the few footprints available for examination in plaster casts, there is such great disparity in shape and configuration that the evidence “suggests many independent pranksters” (M. Dennett, 1996).

Probably the most well-known evidence for belief in Bigfoot’s existencedigigraph of a Bigfoot print by R. Carroll is a film shot by Bigfoot hunters Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin on Oct 20, 1967, at Bluff Creek in northern California. The film depicts a walking apelike creature with pendulous and hairy breasts. Believers estimate its height at between 6' 6'' and 7' 4'' and its weight at nearly one ton. Non-believers make more human-sized estimates and consider the "beast" to be a costumed hoaxer. Over thirty years have passed, yet no cryptozoologist has found further evidence of the creature near the site except for one alleged footprint.

The North American Science Institute claims it has spent over $100,000 to prove the film is of a genuine Bigfoot. However, according to veteran Hollywood director John Landis, “that famous piece of film of Bigfoot walking in the woods that was touted as the real thing was just a suit made by John Chambers,” who helped create the ape suits in Planet of the Apes (1968). Howard Berger, of Hollywood’s KNB Effects Group, also has claimed that it was common knowledge within the film industry that Chambers was responsible for a hoax that turned Bigfoot into a worldwide cult. According to Mark Chorvinsky, Chambers was also involved in another Bigfoot hoax (the so-called “Burbank Bigfoot”). According to  Loren Coleman, however, Chambers denied the allegations about the Patterson hoax in an interview with Bobbie Short and claimed that Landis had in fact started the rumor about him (i.e., Chambers) making the suit. Apparently, Short did not ask Chambers about the “Burbank Bigfoot” incident, nor did she interview Landis for his version of the story (Chorvinsky 1996). Short and Coleman remain convinced that the film is not of a man in an ape suit but is footage of a genuine Bigfoot. In 2004, Greg Long claimed that the Bigfoot in the Patterson film is indeed a man in a gorilla suit, but the man is Bob Heironimus, a retired Pepsi bottler from Yakima, Washington, and the suit was made in North Carolina for Patterson by a man named Philip Morris.* Bob Gimlin, Patterson's associate, issued an ambiguous statement through his lawyer in Minneapolis: "I'm authorized to tell you that nobody wore a gorilla suit or monkey suit and that Mr. Gimlin's position is that it's absolutely false and untrue." What's absolutely false and untrue?

According to David J. Daegling and Daniel O. Schmitt, “it is not possible to evaluate the identity of the film subject with any confidence” (Daegling 1999). Their argument centers on uncertainties in subject and camera positions, and the reproducibility of the compliant gait by humans matching the speed and stride of the film subject.

According to Michael Wallace, Bigfoot is a hoax that was launched in August 1958 by his father Ray L. Wallace (1918-2002), an inveterate prankster. Shortly after Ray’s death, Michael revealed the details of the hoax, which were reported widely in the press. Ray had a friend carve him 16-inch-long feet  that he could  strap on and make prints with. Wallace owned a construction company that built logging roads at the time and he set the prints around one of his bulldozers in Humboldt County. Jerry Crew, a bulldozer operator, reported the prints and The Humboldt Times ran a front-page story about “Bigfoot.” The legend was born. However, a former logger, 71-year-old John Auman, claims Wallace left the giant footprints to scare away thieves and vandals who'd been targeting his vehicles. His hoaxes didn't begin until after he'd seen what a stir he'd created.

Copyright 2002 Dave Rubert Photography

 

 

Ray Wallace's nephew Dale with the carved feet

Copyright 2002 Dave Rubert Photography

Over the years, Ray Wallace produced Bigfoot audio recordings, films, and photographs. At one time, he even put out a press release offering $1 million for a baby Bigfoot. He published one of his photos as a poster depicting Bigfoot having lunch with other animals. He also published photos and films of Bigfeet eating elk, frogs, and cereal. Michael Wallace claims that his mother told him that she participated in some of the pranks and had been photographed in a Bigfoot suit. Chorvinsky claims that Ray told him that the Patterson film was a hoax and that he had alerted Patterson of the sighting at Bluff Creek. According to Chorvinsky, Ray knew who was in the Patterson suit, but said he had nothing to do with it (Young, Bob. 2002. “Lovable trickster created a monster with Bigfoot hoax,” The Seattle Times, December 5).

The news of Wallace’s 1958 hoax did not daunt Bigfoot enthusiasts such as Loren Coleman or Idaho State University anatomy professor Dr. Jeff Meldrum, who has casts of 40 to 50 big footprints. Coleman asks

Why is the testimony of an admitted liar, now being feted by a skeptical magician as the truth, having the newspapers believe it all? The media mixing of the lies and rumors with a few facts in the Wallace story is pushing this one to the edge. This is Ray Wallace's ultimate hoax and bitter seed.

Meldrum believes such a large number of casts couldn’t all be hoaxes (ibid.). The same has been said about the large number of crop circles, but it appears that hoaxers are not deterred from their activities by the belief that their numbers are small.

The interest in Bigfoot seems to have been succinctly captured in the saying of an old Sherpa: There is a Yeti in the back of everyone’s mind; only the blessed are not haunted by it.


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reader comments

further reading

books and articles

Daegling, David J. (2005). Bigfoot Exposed : An Anthropologist Examines America's Enduring Legend. Rowman & Littlefield.

Daegling, David J. and Daniel O. Schmitt. "Bigfoot's Screen Test," Skeptical Inquirer, May/June 1999.

Dennett, Michael R. "Bigfoot," in The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal edited by Gordon Stein (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996).

Dennett, Michael R. "Bigfoot Jokester Reveals Punchline--Finally," Skeptical Inquirer, Fall 1982.

Long, Greg (2004). The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story. Prometheus Books.

Napier, John. Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality. (N.Y.: E. P. Dutton and Co Inc., 1972).

Randi, James. An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural (N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1995).

Randi, James. Flim-Flam! (Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books,1982),

For a contrary view, see

Coleman, Loren Bigfoot! - The True Story of Apes in America (Pocket Books 2003).

Krantz, Grover. Bigfoot Sasquatch: Evidence. 2nd revised edition (Hancock House Pub Ltd. 1999).

websites

Interviews Provided To Rense.com with Greg Long, Michaela Kocis and Kal Korff

Bigfoot at 50 - Evaluating a Half-Century of Bigfoot Evidence by Benjamin Radford

Science Looks for Bigfoot by Benjamin Radford

The Makeup Man and the Monster: John Chambers and the Patterson Bigfoot Suit An Investigation by Mark Chorvinsky

The Patterson Film - D. Trull

Bigfoot - D. Trull

The Bigfoot-Giganto Hypothesis by Matt Moneymaker

Bigfoot Links (for true believers)

The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization

From the Teeth of the Dragon - Gigantopithecus blackiby Eric Pettifor

Is Bigfoot Really Dead? by Loren Coleman

Evidence of 'jungle yeti' found By David Green - BBC - Oct 12, 2004

UF Study: Bigfoot Myth Persists Because It Depicts Humans’ Wild Side

Funk: The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story by Greg Long

Bigfoot symposium a big deal By John Driscoll

Lovable trickster created a monster with Bigfoot hoax By Bob Young

Grover Krantz, foremost Bigfoot expert, dies at 70 By Mark Rahner Seattle Times staff reporter

news stories

[new] Randy Lee Tenley, 44, of Kalispell, Montana, reportedly was wearing a Ghillie suit and trying to pull a Bigfoot hoax sighting on U.S. Highway 93 in Montana when he was hit by two cars and killed. Cryptomundo has the story. [/new]

The Patterson Gimlin Film Hoax PROVEN "I'm claiming that during the footage of Patterson casting a track there should be an impression visible past the one he is casting. There is not. During the footage showing 4 impressions there is now a footprint present past the one Patterson was casting previously. The ground in the footage of Patterson making the cast shows flat mud and no impression. (no following track present!) I'm also identifying the two scenes as one in the same location and impression. (the right impression being cast, is the same right footprint cast Patterson represents coming from the film subject)."

Search is on for Yeti, Russian Researchers Say "The Russians are setting out to do what no one has done before: Find Yeti. Yeti, otherwise known as Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman or Sasquatch, has titillated explorers for over a century, with sightings of large footprints in mud or snow....the governor of Siberia's Kemerovo region, Aman Tuleyev, has taken the notion seriously and will host a conference with scientists from Russia, the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Estonia, Mongolia and China evaluating evidence of the Bigfoot. The gigantic legend is thought by some to still roam densely wooded areas in western North America, the North Caucasus between Russia and Turkey and parts of Siberia. (Check out this piece of evidence!)

Science may start tracking the Yeti Officials in coal-mining region of Kemerovo Oblast announced plans today to open a Yeti Institute at the Kemerovo State University, a 38-year-old higher education entity in western Siberia. KSU boasts 31,000 students and is best known for reviving regional languages, like Shor.

Yeti researcher Igor Burtsev reportedly claimed that 30 Russian scientists are currently studying yetis, or Abominable Snowmen, and the Institute could allow them to better collaborate. "We think that the yeti is a separate branch of human evolution. It lives in harmony with nature," Burtsev was quoted as saying. Burtsev believes there may be a local community of these creatures that are Neandertals who survived extinction.

The Russians, no doubt, expect their Yeti studies to be as important as their work on psychics.

Bigfoot tricksters blame hoax on promoter

Huge Amazon Monster Is Only a Myth. Or Is It?

journal article

Predicting the distribution of Sasquatch in western North America: anything goes with ecological niche modelling A sort of humorous approach to identifying one of the misperceptions involved in many Bigfoot sightings. The authors constructed an Ecological Niche Model using Bigfoot sightings and nine climate variables. They found a very close fit with an ENM for the black bear (Ursus americanus).

Last updated 16-Oct-2012

© Copyright 1994-2012 Robert T. Carroll * This page was designed by Cristian Popa.