Bigfoot Exposed!|Richard_Ffirstname.lastname@example.org|06/26/04 at 15:30:54|richard_f|xx|0|18.104.22.168|From Archaeology
Volume 57 Number 4, July/August 2004
Conversations: Bigfoot Exposed!
A scientist examines the evidence.
David Daegling of the University of Florida at Gainesville specializes in
the jaw structure of early hominids, but he also happens to be familiar with
that most elusive of North American creatures--Bigfoot. The author of
Bigfoot Exposed (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2004) recently spoke with
ARCHAEOLOGY about the likelihood that giant primates live in the
northwestern United States.
How did you become interested in Bigfoot?
I grew up in northern California, and in the late 60s, early 70s, there was
a lot of Bigfoot activity going on. The famous Roger Patterson film of
Bigfoot was shot in 1967 for instance. If you were a kid in northern
California, it was pretty hard not to notice this, and I loved monsters
anyway. So I collected a lot of Bigfoot stories.
Eventually I went off to grad school and started studying early hominids. My
dissertation involved CAT scanning a lot of South African hominid material,
Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus. But every now and
again during a late-night poker game or while doing fieldwork, I'd trot out
some old Bigfoot stories for entertainment value.
My colleagues knew that I knew these stories, so in 1992, when Grover
Krantz, a physical anthropologist, published a book arguing that Bigfoot was
a real animal, I was asked to review it. That started the ball rolling and
got me back involved with Bigfoot.
What kind of evidence did you look at?
Bigfoot advocates were still complaining that scientists weren't looking at
the Patterson film, with the exception of Krantz. So I looked at it to see
if what people said about that film was true.
As a paleoanthropologist, how do you approach analyzing a film of Bigfoot?
You've probably seen the Patterson film. It's not a great piece of nature
photography. But you can take the data at face value and see if you can rule
out a person in a costume.
Bigfoot advocates said that the thing on the film was too large to be a
human: "If the thing is eight feet tall, and it's walking around
effortlessly, it can't be a person." And the other thing people said was,
"It walks funny. It's impossible for people to walk like that." These are
extraordinary claims. Because if these are both true, then that film is
quite a spectacular piece of evidence.
First of all, I consulted what's called an anthropometric source book, which
contains a ridiculous number of measurements on populations of human beings.
Even if this thing on the film was as large as Krantz and others were
claiming, it was not outside the range of human variation. But as it turns
out, you can't measure reliably off of that film--there are too many unknown
Then I worked with a colleague who studies the evolution of bipedalism. Some
fossils seem to indicate that early hominids were using this thing called a
compliant gait--they walked with this bent-knee, bent-hip gait. In the
Patterson film, Bigfoot uses a compliant gait. But people can do it. Do you
ever watch Marx Brothers movies?
I've seen Duck Soup.
Okay. Groucho uses this compliant gait. And it turns out that when people
adopt a compliant gait, some strange things happen--which are actually in
evidence in the film. A compliant gait tends to increase your stride length.
At the film site people were saying, "Well, the footprints left by this
thing here are so far apart, this couldn't be a human." Two of us and a
couple of volunteers using the compliant gait basically matched Bigfoot's
stride. It's very easy to learn how to walk like this.
Bigfoot advocates like to point out that giant primates do exist in the
Grover Krantz went so far as to give Bigfoot the scientific name of
Gigantopithecus. And there were giant apes like Gigantopithecus running
around. We know we have had giant primates, because we have a fossil record.
But the thing that's really damning about Bigfoot is the fossil record is in
China. We've got thousands of Gigantopithecus teeth in Asia. We don't have
one fossil of Gigantopithecus in North America.
Do you think the Bigfoot question will ever be resolved to everyone's
This mystery has a very, very simple solution. Someone in a truck is driving
along late at night through the Cascade Mountains, and this figure walks in
front of the truck, and bam! You've got a dead Bigfoot. If that happens
once, the mystery is over.
There's a ton of evidence for Bigfoot--a mountain of evidence. The
problem is that none of that evidence is any good. And after all these
years, you'd think one of these guys would have walked out of the woods by
now, or a hunter would have shot one. Just one.