Does Bigfoot Exist?

On October 20th 1967, former rodeo cowboy Roger Patterson and his friend Bob Gimlin were on horseback, deep in the forests of Northern California, when they came upon an enormous beast crouching in Bluff Creek Patterson grabbed for his camera and began to film, but he tripped and fell, giving us a mere glimpse of the mysterious creature before his batteries died

Capturing their encounter with sixty seconds of 16mm film, Patterson had made history: he’d provided evidence of Bigfoot This creature loomed over 6’6 tall, with dark hair, firm muscles and—in this particular case— large breasts Faith that ‘Patty’, as the thing in Patterson’s grainy film became known, was in fact Bigfoot remains quintessential Bigfoot lore In 1998, the BBC aimed to ‘debunk’ Patterson’s film by recreating what they believed to be a hoax Their ‘replica’ gorilla suit, however, was poor, and Bigfoot enthusiasts remained undeterred

A year later, two of these enthusiasts claimed that a magnification of frames in the film revealed a fastener around the creature’s waist Then in 2004, a man called Bob Heironimus claimed he’d worn a ‘Gorilla suit’ for Patterson in a staged hoax Patterson died after a long battle with cancer in 1972, and remained adamant about the film’s validity until the end Gimlin was equally convinced he’d seen Bigfoot, but in later years has left open the possibility he could have been hoaxed himself In 2011, National Geographic investigated ‘The Truth Behind Bigfoot’, in which they concluded the creature in Patterson’s film did not have human proportions

This encouraged believers’ resolve that ‘Patty’ could not have been a man in a Gorilla suit Despite nearly forty years of varying accusations and experiments decrying the footage as a manipulation, the Patterson-Gimlin film has yet to be conclusively disproven— or even fully understood So what exactly is Bigfoot? ‘Bigfoot’ is a legend in numerous regions—called by various names like Yeti, Abominable Snowman, and Sasquatch (from the Salish ‘se’sxac’ or ‘wild men’) Bigfoot is said to be a bipedal humanoid, hairy and ape-like, 6 to 15 ft tall, with a foul smell, quiet walk, and occasional high-pitched cry According to alleged footprints, his feet are roughly 24 inches long and 8 inches wide, hence the nick-name

Although reports of an oversized human creature date back much earlier, British explorer David Thompson is often credited with discovering the first official Bigfoot prints in 1911 A decade later, JW Burns started compiling stories in a Canadian newspaper about Sasquatch—a term he coined—popularizing legends of a giant wildman under one unified name The first Bigfoot prints were found in Bluff Creek not long after

Ceramic moulds were also taken of alleged Big Foot tracks in the park by Ray Wallace Before Wallace’s death, he admitted that the footprints had been a prank—but the folklore of a Bluff Creek Bigfoot remains It is little surprise that Robert Patterson, an avid Bigfoot enthusiast, would choose Bluff Creek as the location for his Bigfoot footage nine years later Journalist Michael McLeod pins Bigfoot as the ‘first widely popularized example of pseudoscience in American culture’ Bigfoot hunting became a popular pastime, and thousands of footprints were recorded— particularly in areas like Northern California where legends had already taken root

Legends of Bigfoot are very much alive, and the possibility that Bigfoot does exist has created a lasting culture of belief around the beast There have been quite a few high-profile Bigfoot encounters in the last decade In 2007, for example, Rick Jacobs claimed to capture an image of Sasquatch in Allegheny National Forest Although the Pennsylvania Game Commission concluded the image was likely a bear with a bad case of ‘mange’, Jacob’s image gained international attention, and was covered by Pittsburg news (WPXI), Fox News, the Daily Mail and more A year later, Rick Dyer and Matthew Whitton claimed to have found a Bigfoot corpse in northern Georgia

This gained even more international media attention—covered by the BBC, Telegraph, CNN, Fox, and ABC Dyer and Whitton were paid $50,000 by ‘Searching for Bigfoot, Inc’ as a gesture of ‘good faith’ After inspecting the body, which was held in a block of ice, it was revealed as fake: a Sasquatch costume filled with possum roadkill and animal innards The men admitted the body was a hoax—and yet, in 2012 Dyer created another hoax corpse and took it on an ‘I Told You So’ tour from Phoenix to Houston, earning an estimated $60,000

The same year Dyer released his first fake corpse, a man in Montana was run over and killed while dressed up as Bigfoot Taking a more academic approach, Melba S Ketchum publicly announced in a scientific journal that she’d found substantial DNA evidence of Bigfoot being a human relative that arose 15,000 years ago But Ketchum created the scientific journal days before in order to publish her own article because the scientific community did not consider her research to be legitimate The majority of the scientific community discounts Bigfoot as there is no credible evidence to prove otherwise; the footprints are found in areas where no other primates live, the breeding population of the hypothetical Bigfoot would mean there would be more sightings or Bigfoot bones

That’s not to mention all the proven hoaxes and fake sightings One suggested scientific theory is that Gigantopithecus, a giant ape thought to have gone extinct 300,000 years ago, is still alive—and has been mistaken for Sasquatch However, Gigantopithecus was ‘lumbering’, weighed over 540kg, stood at 10ft tall, and walked on all fours, whereas Bigfoot is said to be shorter and bipedal There is also no substantial evidence to prove Gigantopithecus is not extinct In 2009 J

D Lozier argued that Bigfoot sightings and prints are probably the American Black Bear (or other large mammals common in North America) This is due to their similar ecological parameters, size, and the visual similarities between the upright black bear and Bigfoot Most recently in 2014, the University of Oxford and Lausanne’s Cantonal Museum of Zoology published a systematic analysis of 30 hair samples suspected to be Bigfoot They concluded that every sample’s DNA could be traced to non-primate animals (except for one sample which was from a human)

One of the hairs was even traced to a 40,000 year old polar bear Its easy to understand the allure of Bigfoot—the notion that a giant hairy human strides undetected through our shared woods and mountains is akin to a human love for monsters, superheroes, and mystical beings, but this time with glimmers of proof Even primatologist Jane Goodall admits being ‘fascinated’ by Bigfoot, and said she would ‘love them to exist’ However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest Bigfoot is real—a fact which cannot be understated But equally there is no conclusive proof that Bigfoot is not real—so people will continue to keep searching for new evidence to validate his, or her, existence until proven otherwise

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