Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Frame 352, and all that

For some time now I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a blog post about sasquatch, North America’s legendary cryptic ape. And, generally, I’ve decided that doing so would be a really bad idea: I am chicken, and as someone trying to gain a reputation within the academic world, I think that even expressing an interest in issues like this is a bad idea. That’s ridiculously unfair of course, stemming only from ill-informed knee-jerk negativity to this subject, and given that scientific inquiry of any phenomenon is a worthwhile pursuit, I like to think that more zoologists should actually get informed about mystery animals (for a previous post making the same argument go here). I note that hardly any hard-line sceptics of things such as sasquatch display familiarity with the literature on the subject [adjacent image shows frame 310 of the Patterson film: see below].

In the interests of hypothesis testing, I finally decided: what the hell. My hypothesis is: will writing about sasquatch negatively affect my career prospects? Well, let’s test the hypothesis. Let me state from the start that I do not “believe” in sasquatch, nor am I planning to promote either an anti-sasquatch, or a pro-sasquatch, point of view. What I have learnt from research on this area is that – contrary to the assertions of some – the evidence for sasquatch is, at the very least, scientifically interesting and worthy of investigation.

While purported evidence for the supposed reality of sasquatch continues to attract strong criticism, more interesting in my view is that a number of academically qualified primatologists have recently gone on record in stating that the evidence for sasquatch is scientifically compelling. These people do not only include well-known sasquatch proponents, such as the late Grover Krantz (1931-2002) of Washington State University, or Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University. Daris Swindler (professor emeritus of physical anthropology at the University of Washington, author of Atlas of Primate Anatomy) stated, after examining the Skookum body cast (a large impression, made in mud, from Washington state, apparently created by a reclining man-like primate), that the heel impression visible on the cast is definitely that of a giant unknown primate. J. H. Chilcutt, an expert on human and non-human primate fingerprints (who initially examined casts of sasquatch tracks because he felt confident that he could debunk them), has expressed his absolute confidence in the validity of dermal ridges on footprints as demonstrative of the reality of sasquatch. On the Whitewolf Entertainment TV documentary ‘Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science’ (2003) he stated “I stake my career on it”.

Here I am going to discuss one particular piece of evidence for sasquatch: the Patterson-Gimlin film. This is that famous short piece of film that you’ve probably seen on TV many times: it depicts what appears to be an obviously female sasquatch striding across a clearing from left to right [for M. K. Davis’ stabilised version of the film go here]. You’ve probably heard that the film has been revealed to be a hoax. Well, sorry, that ain’t true.

On October 20th 1967, Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin claimed to capture on film an unexpected encounter with an adult female sasquatch. The resulting footage, filmed at Bluff Creek, northern California, contains 952 frames, but uncertainty over the filming speed affects the real-time duration of the event. Patterson’s camera was either set at 16 or 24 frames per second (fps), with 16 fps now considered more likely. It is not true that the footage is grainy or blurry, and high-resolution enlargements such as those produced by M. K. Davis (here shown standing next to the best of the enlargements) reveal a surprising amount of detail. Literally whole books have been written about the footage (e.g. Bayanov 1997), so I will try and keep these comments brief. In order to be impartial, I will refer to the alleged sasquatch as TAS (= The Alleged Sasquatch).

1. TAS looks genuine. Its coat is glossy, conforms to the underlying contours, muscular bulges, joints and other structures in the body, and looks realistic compared to living mammals. What appears to be a shallow parting extends axially along the spine and between the buttocks [in adjacent image, note the demarcated buttocks and apparent wear on the buttocks]. As TAS moves, its muscles (in its legs and elsewhere) can be seen to bulge and flex beneath the fur as they do in living mammals. TAS’s gait is fluid and natural and it differs in subtle details of posture and proportion from humans (see points 2 and 3). Its toes are seen to lift at one point. Its large breasts bounce and sway in a manner which looks realistic compared to how unsupported human breasts move during locomotion. It is also intriguing that TAS’s compliant gait and protruding heel match features reported by eyewitnesses (see point 2). High quality enlargements have been published of key frames from the footage several times (e.g. Bayanov 1997, Murphy et al. 2004) so it is easy to check all of these assertions. Put in its simplest terms: despite claims to the contrary, TAS looks realistic.

2. TAS walks with a compliant gait, and not with the same striding knee-locking gait of humans [adjacent image shows frame 352, the most famous and oft-shown part of the film]. Its knee is never fully straightened in its step cycle, even in the supporting phase. Its arms swing slightly more than those of humans, and its hands and wrists are held supinated and slightly flexed with the fingers curved (this is unlike the normal hand posture of humans). It’s clearly possible that all of these features could be faked by a knowledgeable human, and Daegling & Schmitt (1999) argued that the gait and speed used by TAS can be reproduced by humans. That person would, however, have to not only conform physically to the dimensions of TAS (see point 3), but would also have to be very good at walking with an unusual gait which is practised so well that it has convinced experts in biomechanics and primate anatomy (see point 4). That person would also have to be an expert, or at least supervised by one, on the eyewitness data (which describes identical points of posture and morphology). It is unlikely that such a person exists and/or was available to Patterson and/or Gimlin in 1967, and extensive biographical research on Patterson and Gimlin and their friends and colleagues has failed to uncover the existence of any such person.

3. TAS is physically large and with proportions that appear to be unlike those of our species. Its intermembral index (the ratio of humerus + radius length to femur + tibia length) is between 80 and 90, whereas in our species it averages 72*, and its breadth across its shoulders is about 35% of its total height. Krantz (1999) asserted that some humans (including inuit people) have a shoulder breadth that exceeds 30% of total height (this is apparently not the case in people that exceed 2 m in height), and that other data also indicates that the creature exceeds in torso width any human. Krantz (1999) concluded on the basis of this evidence ‘I can confidently state that no man of that stature is built that broadly’. However, Daegling & Schmitt (1999) challenged this torso-breadth data, and argued that the estimates do overlap with that from tall humans.

* In chimps and gorillas the intermembral indices are 106 and 117, respectively. TAS therefore seems intermediate between chimps and humans with regard to this feature.

Patterson and Gimlin photographed, and took casts from, a trackway which (they asserted) was made by TAS. These photographs and tracks survive today and both (i) appear genuine* and (ii) correspond with the details of TAS’s size and gait as seen in the footage. Average track length was 36.8 cm, and because the full length of TAS’s foot sole can be seen in several frames, the sole : total height ratio of about 1 : 5 gives a rough height of 184 cm. A similar height has been estimated by triangulation, by working out how the stride length used by TAS matches with humans of various statures, and by other methods.

* That is, like other ‘good’ sasquatch prints, they appear to have been made by a large, very heavy hominid with a flexible foot that exhibits several consistent anatomical novelties.

4. Several workers experienced with primate biomechanics and locomotion have examined the footage, and in several cases have published comments on it. All have concluded either that the film is genuine and depicts a non-human primate, or have admitted that their examination was inconclusive.

Dmitri Donskoy [Chief of the Chair of Biomechanics at the USSR Central Institute of Physical Culture, Moscow] concluded ‘[my analysis reveals] the walk of the creature as a natural movement without any signs of artfulness which would appear in intentional imitation. At the same time, with all the diversity of human gaits, such a walk as demonstrated by the creature in the film is absolutely nontypical of man’.

D. W. Grieve [Reader in Biomechanics, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London] concluded ‘The possibility of fakery is ruled out if the speed of the film was 16 or 18 fps [as mentioned above, it was apparently filmed at 16 fps]. In these conditions a normal human being could not duplicate the observed pattern, which would suggest that the sasquatch must possess a very different locomotor system to that of man’.

Grover Krantz, well known as an advocate of sasquatch but nonetheless still an experienced and qualified anthropologist, argued that the creature’s size, proportions and gait demonstrated its genuine nature, concluding ‘there is no possibility that the film can be a man in a fur suit’. Bayanov (1997) cited views from several Russian biomechanists who thought that the creature’s gait could not be reproduced by a human. Jürgen Konczak [associate professor in the
School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboraties at Minnesota University] concluded that the creature’s gait indicated that it was genuine and non-human. Other ‘positive’ interpretations of the footage, voiced by experienced, qualified biomechanists and/or primatologists, were broadcast in the Whitewolf Entertainment TV documentary ‘Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science’ (2003).

In view of this large number of ‘positive’ interpretations, most of which come from authoritative, technically qualified experts who do not have any axe to grind on the issue of sasquatch, what evidence has been marshalled by those who assert that the film is faked? To date, none. No analysis has been performed which shows that the creature can be explained as a man in a suit. Published objections have either asserted that the animal walks in a manner ‘consistent in general terms with the bipedal striding gait of modern man’ (Napier 1974), or have pointed to the presence of furry breasts, the presence of a sagittal cranial crest in a female, or the presence of breasts in a creature without female-like hips and a waist, as problems showing that the film must have been faked. These objections are all clearly erroneous (e.g. it is difficult to be confident that furry breasts are somehow impossible – while many primates do sport naked pectoral skin around their nipples and areolae, human breasts are hairy, it’s just that the hairs are very small and thin; sagittal crests are size-related, and only absent in the females of most hominid species because females do not match adult males in the size of their cranial musculature; broad hips and a waist are characters of our species, and not of other hominids or primates [gorilla skeleton at left]). Napier’s objections were vague and have not been supported by other workers experienced in biomechanics.

David Daegling [associate professor of anthropology at Yale University] and Daniel
Schmitt [assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, Duke University Medical Center] published an article in Skeptical Inquirer in which they argued that TAS’s size and style of gait can be reproduced by people. They were still unable to assert that it was fake however, concluding ‘Based on our analysis of gait and problems inherent in estimating subject dimensions, it is our opinion that it is not possible to evaluate the identity of the film subject with any confidence’.

Multiple claims have been made that the footage was faked by a known individual, and that this individual has provided a death-bed confession, or something like that. It has been easy to knock down all of these claims and show them to be fabrications (e.g. Coleman 2003, Murphy et al. 2004, Vella 2004, Perez 2005).

5. In view of these observations, it is difficult to take seriously claims that TAS is actually some tall guy in a gorilla costume. Even today there is no maker of fake/synthetic fur, or of animal costumes, who can reproduce something this realistic, nor are there any suits which look so realistic, which allow the mimicry of moving musculature and breasts, and which are anatomically accurate compared to living primates. Two serious attempts have been made to reproduce the film using a man in a specially designed suit: one for the BBC TV series ‘The X Creatures’ [image at left]; the second for Kal Korff’s documentary ‘The Making of Bigfoot’. In both instances the resulting attempt to discredit the Patterson-Gimlin film backfired: their results look like a man in a monkey suit, and in no way come even close to resembling TAS in the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film. Several special effects experts have been consulted on how possible it might be to reproduce what’s seen in the footage (this is particularly relevant as there have been repeated claims that someone in the Hollywood special effects community manufactured a suit for Patterson), including John Chambers [designer of the ape costumes seen in ‘Planet of the Apes’]. While some have claimed that the construction of a suit matching what’s seen in the Patterson film would be easy or possible, I am troubled by the fact that no-one has yet replicated it. At least some special effects people have stated that the creature seen in the footage exceeds in accuracy and realism the special effects available to workshops today, let alone those existing in 1967.

There’s a lot more that could be said on this subject, but I’ll leave it at that. I have not discussed Roger Patterson’s personal circumstances (relevant to claims that he faked the footage for money or fame), nor have I touched on the interesting story of what a farce Patterson and Gimlin’s eventual development and treatment of the film was. As Richard Greenwell (1942-2005) – former secretary of the International Society of Cryptozoology – said to me in a letter of March 2000: ‘In the big picture it matters little if Bigfoot exists or not; what matters is that proper procedure be followed in examining such evidence – or any evidence’.

UPDATE (29-11-2006): Loren Coleman has written a blog post about this one - see Napier, Naish, and Frame 352. For the latest news on Tetrapod Zoology please go here.

Refs - -

Bayanov, D. 1997. America’s Bigfoot: Fact, Not Fiction. Crypto Logos, Moscow.

Daegling, D. J. & Schmitt, D. O. 1999. Bigfoot’s screen test. Skeptical Inquirer May/June 1999, 20-25.

Coleman, L. 2003. Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America. Paraview Pocket Books, New York.

Krantz, G. S. 1999. Bigfoot Sasquatch Evidence. Hancock House, Surrey, B.C. & Blaine, WA.

Murphy, C. L., Green, J. & Steenburg, T. 2004. Meet the Sasquatch. Hancock House, Surrey, B.C. & Blaine, WA.

Napier, J. 1974. Bigfoot. Readers Union, Newton Abbot.

Perez, D. 2004. In defence of the Patterson-Gimlin film. Fortean Times 192, 36-37.

Vella, P. 2004. J’accuse. Animals & Men 34, 42-48.

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Anonymous Filipe said...

"will writing about sasquatch negatively affect my career prospects?"
Ok, now I know you really don't want a job.

I tend to disregard the "it's not possible" comments. Sometimes some very simple solutions achieve remarkable results. Given time and motivation who knows? If I wanted to fake such an animal I would not wear a suit. I would glue thin furry strips over my body. The breasts do seem somewhat tricky.

One thing which puzzles about your text: why don't you consider some mechanical constraint in the knee area to limit the gait?

1:03 AM  
Anonymous Ville Sinkkonen said...

Nice reading again.
The thing that bothers me with this big foot is that how did it get there? I mean if i recall correctly there hasntt been primates in NA since eocene and so far we have only bipedal fossil apes found from Africa. How such a big bipedal ape get to NA?
To my knowledge we have no fossils of big bipedal apes from pleistocene of asia when it could have travelled trough bering strait to NA.

1:19 AM  
Blogger Matt Bille said...

Well-written, and well worth reading, as your thoughts nearly always are.

A few nitpicks:

First, Grover Krantz was an anthropologist, not a primatologist. (Granted, he was still a qualified expert.)

Second, I've not read anything about the North American Science Institute to indicate it is more authoritative than any of the many other organizations of sasquatch enthusiasts: I'm not sure why they deserve the status accorded here of being recorded with other "experts" who have "no axe to grind." (I am not an expert, but the weight estimate of almost a ton seems absurd: I'd think the animal would break its legs just trying to stand up. The closest human analog, using NASI's height estimate, was Barnum's strongman Angus McAskill. He was the largest non-pathological giant on record, and certainly the strongest, but at seven feet four inches he weighed only 405 pounds.)

Finally, your inclusion of Napier's pro-sasquatch conclusion implies he eventually accepted the film, where he did not: he accepted sasquatch on evidence that specifically excluded the film.

In general, though, this is a well-argued brief for the authenticity school of thought.

Best regards,
Matt Bille

1:57 AM  
Blogger budak said...

There is also the recently spotlighted 'bigfoot' in Malaysia, where clouds of sensational press obscure whatever real data there might be.

3:24 AM  
Anonymous El PaleoFreak said...

The 'man in a suit' hypothesis is the best supported. But if you want to believe...
See the Skeptic's Dictionary and the not very impressing gait in the stabilized movie

10:24 AM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Hi Darren:

Regarding the proportions you cite, it is true that classical artist proportions for humans is 1:8, but in practice, most humans fall in the 1:6 range.

Very interesting article. I lived in Washington State for sometime back in the early eighties and at that time, there certainly was enough untouched wilderness area that conceivably something like a reclusive giant primate could remain virtually undetected.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see anything non-human about the gait there. I'm no expert, but the legs aren't far off straightening, and to the extent they are, it looks consistent with what happens when a not very fit person is labouring through deep snow - me for instance: in those conditions my legs become progressively more bent until I become aware of it and make an effort to straighten up.

Also, for an animal that's so shy that it's existence is generally doubted, it doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry to get off camera.

Chris Y

5:36 PM  
Blogger Doug Stych said...

Thanks for a well researched article. While the lack of empirical evidence is disappointing at this point, a small population of smart elusive hominids can't be completely ruled out yet. The true wilderness areas of the Pacific Northwest are probably less travelled today than 100 years ago, if it aint within a short walk of a road good chance no one has been there in a long while. Another example: Japanese soldiers hiding in the Pacific learned how to avoid the parties hunting for them with ease, they could smell them coming for one thing.


6:58 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

"it is difficult to take seriously claims that TAS is actually some tall guy in a gorilla costume."

Ah, yes. The argument from incredulity. What would conmen do without that sort of thinking?

7:25 PM  
Blogger Darren Naish said...

If you have a point to make I wish I knew what it is.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Greg Morrow said...

It seems to me that the typical human gait is irrelevant in discussions of TAS's gait, since if it is a human, the human is likely specifically trying to show a different gait. Similarly, the presence of an ape suit is likely to affect gait.

Thus, it seems unproductive to note that TAS's gait is compliant or that it's swinging its arms widely or that it's holding its hands in an unusual position. I would have to be convinced that a human couldn't adopt that gait.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Matt Mullenix said...

Darren, a side note: Dave Daegling is my cousin by marriage. He's a great guy---very smart and he makes his own beer.


12:13 AM  
Blogger Steve Bodio said...

My thoughts are something close to 'Bravo Darren'. I have no horse in this race-- for years I was intrigued by the idea, then lazily accepted the common 'wisdom' of the debunking. You make a good case for at least keeping an open mind.

That country is big and incomprehensibly impassible to a European (mine-- New Mexico-- is as big but easier to traverse). Still, southwest of my town I can go 140 miles without crossing a paved road. Now, Imagine that forested and cut by river gorges. And liked to literally thousands (times ten? a hundred?) of square miles of similar country to the north..

I would imagine any big primate here would have crossed the Bering bridge at some-- pre Pleistocene?-- point. I like Gigantopithecus but "he" seems more pongid--??

Also intriguing that Hollywood/ London can't duplicate it yet.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

My point: If you're applying your expertise as a scientist, stick with what you know. Your inability to take seriously the claims that TAS is actually some tall guy in a gorilla is not a valid argument for dismissing such claims. You don't have the expertise to dismiss such claims.

Science is built on evidence, and finding the best explanation for that evidence. Go where the evidence leads, not just where you're comfortable going.

1:55 AM  
Anonymous said...

Dr. Naisch:

How can someone offer you a job if you have no EMAIL ADDRESS?

Please view the best Bigfoot
still photo. Taken 9/06.

Call me, collect if need be,
at 510-878-2468 USA

Jon-Erik Beckjord, BA,MBA

8:14 AM  
Blogger Darren Naish said...

Response to Ron: ok, thanks for your comment and clarification.

Yes I don't have the expertise to evaluate the relevant claim (= that TAS is a man in a suit). But surely this entire debate is about 'going where the evidence leads'. Does the evidence from the footage really demonstrate that TAS is a man in a suit? Seriously: does it?

So far as I can tell from the literature, the 'suit hypothesis' relies on incredulity and on some dubious and questionable rumours from the Hollywood make-up community. I do not know of any relevantly qualified person who has come away from the footage, concluding that the suit hypothesis is the best one. I have not cherry-picked the opinions given in the blog post: those biomechanists who have examined the film (and have been prepared to go on record) have later discussed the film in a favourable light.

'Belief' is the uncritical acceptance of an idea or school of thought because it is appealing, and I most certainly do not 'believe' in sasquatch. Despite the highly problematic lack of fossils, corpses and better photographic evidence, I still feel that sasquatch is a subject at least worthy of investigation. It is not right to reject a line of inquiry simply because the subject concerned seems outlandish.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous David Marjanović said...

Very well done.

Still, I wonder if the particular gait is actually evidence for the Monkey Suit Hypothesis (or, see the first post, the absence of a suit). Would any non-cursorial animal in its right mind walk around with permanently bent knees? Doesn't the gait look suspiciously like the idea, popular at that time, that the human upright position evolved somehow gradually -- doesn't it look like a classical caveman gait, bent, not quite upright? (In that case, however, the speed and fluidity of the gait are perhaps remarkable... or maybe I misremember the speed if the version I saw wasn't shown at 16 frames/second...)

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Graeme Elliott said...

Here's a question. How does attacking Darren's qualifications help this article, when he uses the fact that other experts have seen this footage and analysed it to justify his opinion?

Darren ran this lot past me and some of my colleagues recently, and I now agree that there's enough evidence there to merit investigation. Having seen the Rockies in BC, it is possible that an animal like this would able to avoid detection, particularly from people who drive around fast with car stereos on (i.e. not paying attention to thier surroundings).

I would also ask, if this is a guy in a suit, what is this US-wide conspiracy after? Again that's an argument from incredulity, but it is brought up by the assertion that this is a fake, and combined with the amount of other evidence.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

Thank you for showing some true skepticism about this issue, rather than just jumping on one bandwagon or the other. There are enough crackpots out there on both sides of this and similar issues that it's nearly impossible to find real, scientific debate on the issue. Regardless of what anyone may want to believe, there is something in that film. I, for one, would rather know what it is for sure, than make assumptions based on what I want to be true. It would be better for everyone to have this film seriously debunked than to have it just dismissed out of hand.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Carl Buell (OGeorge) said...

I hate to bring this up, because I, like Steve Bodio, have no horse in the race, but in our "land of the gun", where in the last 100 years, hunters have even managed to kill several thousand of their fellow hunters, the fact that no one has shot "TAS" yet has to be at least somewhat significant. Never has one been struck by a car either. I know the first Moose to return to New York State years ago was discovered only when a truck hit it. Interesting article however, and you'll find a job anyway.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

"It is not right to reject a line of inquiry simply because the subject concerned seems outlandish."

Sure it is. Again, science asks what is the best explanation for the evidence.

I appreciate the detailed reply. Obviously, we disagree with what weight we give various evidence. You give a lot of weight to reports already cherry picked from a certain perspective. I look at it all from a psychosocial perspective - a study in delusion and self-deception at the fringe of science.

I'm enjoying your blog.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Matt Bille said...

I don't want to reject Mr. Beckjord's honesty without evidence, but all I see in his pictures are indistinct blobs that don't give us any new evidence.

Matt Bille

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with this film, at least for me, is that the evidence of it being a hoax is far flimsier and more inconsistent (see the John Chambers statements, for instance) than the evidence that TAS is, well, NOT a man in a suit.

Therefore one is lead to conclude that the film is of a large, unknown biped. This is a ludicrous conclusion that leads one to look for any excuse to dismiss this conclusion, leading to rather weak arguments AGAINST the film.

Of course, there's a weak argument FOR the film as well. No wonder Napier dismissed it; it was the easiest thing to do.

The film shows something. I suspect that's the best conclusion at this time.

P.S. Darren: Fantastic blog. Keep up the good work.

4:55 PM  
Blogger skeeler said...

Good post.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Derek said...

One thing that (probably) cannot be hidden by a costume would be the pivot points of articulation, i.e., the position of the joints in the arms and legs. Perhaps someone could do some measurements of the images to determine the relative lengths of the femur, tibia etc and compare them to the relative lengths of a human.

If they're the same, then Occam's razor hints that bigfoot is a guy in a costume.

(FWIW, I think it's a guy in a costume.)

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Filipe said...

Ron said...
"Sure it is. Again, science asks what is the best explanation for the evidence."

Ron what does this mean? I'm a scientist and science never asked me anything.

About this movie there are two possibilities: (i) hoax, (ii) non-hoax. Darren has just argued that (i) is not as obvious as it seems. I still think I could fake somethink like this, but even that does not show that it was a hoax. In fact I see this is a non-issue. If TAS does is in fact exists and looks like that, it is so close to human that no photographic evidence will be enough, it could always be faked. What we need is a skull.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Darren Naish said...

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and comments. So long as everyone is civil I will post all comments.

Brief response to Derek: there in fact have been several attempts to identify and measure limb segments in TAS, and to compare them with those of humans and other primates. As noted in the post, the intermembral index of TAS is apparently unlike that of humans in that it has disproportionately elongate arms.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have seen the film. I am undecided either way, but one thing that makes me skeptical is the buttocks. They appear still to me when the animal walks, which looks a bit more like the back of a suit than a living creatures buttocks. However, I am no expert in primate motion.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Alan Kellogg said...

I've seen the film on a number of occasions, and I have seen recreations of Australopithecine locomotion. Patty's walk resembles the Australopithecine gait far more than it does Human. Studies of the hip and knee joinst in Homo habilis has shown small but significant changes, allow H. habilis to use a human stride, instead of the Australopithecine gait. Evidently the sasquatche retains an archaic pre-human conformation, and thus an archaic pre-haman walking pattern.

BTW, the sasquatch community refers to the film subject as Patty.

As for how the species got here. Let me point out that there have been dry land connections between Asia and North America long before the Ice Ages. Some during periods of clement climate. It was during one of these that equines from North America entered Asia. When you consider the fact ancestors of Giganthropithecus and the modern orangutan were present in Asia many millions of years ago - and that bipedal apes appeared about the same time as quadrepedal ones, the idea that an early bipedal ape made it across Asia, across Beringia, and into North America is not all that implausible.

As to the lack of evidence, keep in mind the old adage that lack of evidence is not evidence of absence. Furthermore, keep in mind that there is a certain mentality in the realm of august authority that holds to the unviable view that we know more than we really do.

In short, the lack of fossil records regarding apes in Asia (especially northern Asia) is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fossil apes haven't been found because they are not there to be found. Therefor there is no reason to go looking for fossil apes, which means fossil apes aren't being found because no one is looking for them. Now, if some local finds something that might be an ape fossil, it can't be an ape fossil because the local is not an authority on the subject and must therefor be mistaken. (A PHD in any discipline is a far better indicator of one's skill at convincing a panel to grant you a PHD than it is an indication you actually know what you're talking about.)

5:02 PM  
Blogger Moro Rogers said...

Being a female primate myself (as was my mother) I must admit that the furry breasts seem kind of improbable. But maybe lactating Sasquatches shed their fur or something.^^

11:12 PM  
Blogger Bill Hooker said...

What's the rectangular (-ish) white patch on the face in frame 352? Am I missing something obvious here? It looks to me for all the world like the face opening in an ape suit.

4:39 AM  
Blogger Darren Naish said...

Response to Bill: I think you're referring to the slightly reflective area formed by the zygomatic area and nose. See, for example...

5:51 PM  
Anonymous M.L. Miller said...

I am glad you shared this. It is one of the more thoughtful essays on the subject I have read in a while.

In 1980, there were a spate of "Bigfoot" sightings around my hometown in Pennsylvania. The idea was that a population of Bigfoots had been displaced by Mount Saint Helen's eruption, had somehow traversed the length of the country without a trace, and for seemingly obvious reasons had found Central Pennsylvania to their liking.

Crazy stuff, but I was 10 at the time and loved the idea of Bigfoot roaming around the woods that I frequented. Even then, though, my attitude could have best been summed up by that X-Files slogan: "I Want To Believe." Which is quite different from believing.

Over the years, I've remained somewhat interested in the subject but find the writing on the issue often cluttered by a strange mix of UFO-Mothmen-Crop Circle conspiracy theorists and fanatic skeptics.

There apparently is a deep-seated human need for there to be mysteries, and for the world to still be a big place. We really want big beasts wandering around not only our wildernesses but also our woodlots. Whether this means lake monsters, big cats in England and mountain lions in the eastern United States, or Sasquatch, people love the idea of "unknown animals." Scott Weidensaul explores this in his great book "The Ghost With Trembling Wings."

But just because people want there to be a Bigfoot does not necessarily mean there is NOT one. We need more articles like this to create informed debate and expand it beyond the die-hard cryptos and dogmatic skeptics.

Jeff Meldrum, by the way, has a new book out: "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science". And a number of his colleagues at Idaho State have asked to have his tenure denied because of it...

8:00 PM  
Blogger Darren Naish said...

Thanks for the comment. Regarding the points you raise, please search my blog for 'Weidensaul' and 'Meldrum'.

9:59 PM  
Anonymous interested said...

To Mr. Miller,

according to the faunal descriptions stated in several encyclopedias of the state of Virginia,IIRC, mountain lions, or "panthers" are regarded as present.Michigan's own Department of Natural Resources recently admitted to the presence of "20 to 100" mountain lions roaming the state, (albeit "escapees").

(article that highlights the
unlikeliness of that position)

One more point to consider about
pet exotic cats, most are usually
neutered or spayed within the US.

I knew a hunter who encountered wolves near Saginaw Bay in 1989, more than 15 years before they were "Officially" recognized as present in the lower peninsula by the same aforementioned organization, even though people were hearing wolves howling and spotting them and their kills for nearly two decades.

To mr. Kellogg,
right on!

To Mr. Beull, all the available
evidence surrounding sasquatch
indicates this is no ordinary sentient "wild animal" but a highly
adaptible social being that has learned how to live among humans.

According to several accounts and available evidence, (hairs, blood)
many sasquatches _have_ been struck by cars, always in very tight curving montane roads and always by smaller vehicles, which may well be far less noisy than large semis or buses etc. AFAIK.

As for hunters shooting a sasquatch...well, all the collected evidence shows where there is one, there usually are several others........and hunters do go missing every year......

To Mr. Naish, fantastic blog, kudos and good luck getting tenured.

12:44 PM  
Blogger skeeler said...

Another good post.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please keep bucking the system. There should be more "scientists" willing to actually investigate the claims of thousands of people who have seen a creature that is currently uncataloged by the 'scientists'who -- as you pointed out -- have not had the common wit to avail themselves of the research before opining on the subject. I am happy to hear there are still people who will not accept the solemn pronouncements of those "scientists" who insist that more evidence is needed before more evidence should be sought. I, for one, will not sit at home and pore through the writings of others and hope I have an original thought. No one ever discovered much of anything by reading or by closing their ears and eyes to new ideas. How little the "scientific" world has changed since the days of Galileo, Darwin, and other persons willing to buck the system -- such as Jeff Meldrum and Grover Krantz. Here's to you: A quote from Jack Kerouac:

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the
status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Darren Naish said...

For some reason, Jerry Harris (Dixie State College, Utah) has been unable to post the following comment, so I'm doing it here on his behalf. Thanks for the comment Jerry.


Hey Darren -

For whatever reason, your blog isn't letting me post a comment to your sasquatch analysis. But you mentioned past attempts to measure the limb proportions from the film, and noted the disproportionate limbs. What I wanted to post was: so do people with Marfan Syndrome -- their arms in particularly are abnormally long. My father-in-law had this (not diagnosed, but he displayed many of the symptoms), and so did (many physicians seem to think) Abraham Lincoln. Not only does it elongate the arms, but gives the posture a sort of hunched-over look. See, for example:

All About Arthritis

Not that I suspect anyone wishing to fake a Bigfoot film would specifically seek out someone with Marfan Syndrome, but I could certainly imagine some people with a buddy with the condition might say to themselves:

"Hey, don't he look kinda like Bigfoot?"

"Wow, yeah...he does!"

"We should glue fur all over him and film it!"

Not that I'm presuming that the film is fake...I could just imagine this scenario.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous fatrobot said...

i am an expert at guy's in costumes
and that is a guy in a costume

4:07 PM  
Blogger Darren Naish said...

Thank you for your comment Fatrobot. Which features evident in the footage demonstrate that the alleged sasquatch is a 'guy in a custome'? I'd welcome your thoughts.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous The Skeptic's Skeptic said...

There will be an idiot named Amy Lester who no doubt will have something to say about this. She's an outspoken believer that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is extinct, and she seems totally infatuated with a certain Bigfoot she seems to know much about. Highly opinionated, highly arrogant, obnoxious, infatuated with a brilliant bully named Tom Nelson. He'll probably have a link to this on his Ivorybill Skeptic blog tomorrow, though he's not likely to leave a comment. Very predictable people. Just a heads-up, cuz she's gonna rip into you for sure.

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't native americans have tales about these creatures?

If native americans have seen these things for years,then its safe to say that something exists.

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Souhjiro said...

Greetings all.....

If the animal results real....(Australopithecus sasquatch?) why is so dificult to capture/photograph specimens? because if it is that it appears, couls help a lot about our origins............

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Andre Guirard said...

Alan Kellog says, "lack of evidence is not evidence of absence."

I disagree. Lack of evidence is not [i]proof[/i] of absence, but in the face of circumstances which should allow abundant evidence to be collected, it is certainly [i]evidence[/i] of absence.

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Donn said...

One thing continues to amaze me (and it seems it might you too, Darren): people with solid and directly relevant scientific credentials either think the film is authentic or think that its provenance is worth examining.

And everyone who wants to think this isn't real simply talks right past them, as if they weren't there.

"...a number of academically qualified primatologists have recently gone on record in stating that the evidence for sasquatch is scientifically compelling."


(BTW: contrary to the apparent opinion of some who have posted here, that Patty is a fake has been supported by - wait for it - ZERO evidence. Yet another thing that keeps needing to be pointed out.)

6:59 PM  

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