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Media Article # 342
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Bigfoot symposium examines evidence of creature's existence
By Erin Miyabara
Merge Media, Humbolt State University
About 220 scientists, researchers and enthusiasts flocked to Willow Creek for the International Bigfoot Symposium last weekend to discuss the probability that the creature exists.
People gathered from 22 states, Canada, Russia, Belgium and Great Britain to hear experts presenting evidence regarding the creature's existence.
"[Bigfoot is] really one of the most intriguing questions in natural history," said Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University.
Thomas Steenburg, author and Canadian Sasquatch investigator since 1978, pointed out that regardless of the interest garnered by the subject, Bigfoot is still reduced to the tabloids and that the most important question has to be answered first.
"Is it nocturnal? Is it omnivorous? Does it need protection?" he asked. "None of that is important 'til question one is answered: does it exist or doesn't it?"
Though that question may never be answered, many attendees had their minds made up before making the trip to Willow Creek.
Chester Moore Sr. of Logan Port, La., described his Bigfoot sighting several years ago in northwestern Louisiana. He said he and some friends were in a pickup truck when they saw a Bigfoot about 70 yards away. After running to the place where it was seen and measuring pine trees nearby, they estimated its height to be around 7 feet, 6 inches.
"If I had any doubt, it's done gone," he said.
His son Chester Moore Jr., field researcher and author of "Bigfoot South," said he doesn't believe in Bigfoot creatures because he knows they exist. He uses the term "Bigfoot creatures" because the word Bigfoot implies that there is just one creature.
The symposium began Friday with a keynote address from John Green, author, journalist and Bigfoot investigator for 44 years.
"People are starting to take a serious look at the evidence that humans are not the only bipedal primates on earth," Green said. "And in my opinion, that's the current development that holds the greatest promise for the future of Bigfoot/Sasquatch investigation."
Retired wildlife biologist John Bindernagel of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, described similarities between the descriptions of the Sasquatch from over a hundred eyewitness accounts and anatomical features found only in the great apes of Africa and Asia. He pointed out behavioral similarities apparent in the chest beating reported by Fred Beck in the 1924 Ape Canyon account and the throwing of projectiles also found among chimps.
Dr. Meldrum presented his take on the evolution of hominid bipedalism, stating that the mid-foot flexibility apparent in casts of Bigfoot tracks suggests these creatures walk on flat, flexible feet, which have been the norm for the majority of hominid evolutionary history.
Jimmy Chilcutt, crime scene investigator and latent fingerprint examiner from Conroe, Texas, focused on evidence of vertical dermal ridge patterns found on casts from Northern California, Walla Walla, Wash., and Elkins Creek, Ga., which suggest they came from the same species of animal.
"From my examination, there is a North American great ape," he said.
Doug Hajicek, natural history filmmaker and producer of the Discovery Channel's "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science" program, described the process he used to examine the famous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film of a female Bigfoot. He pointed out the unusual gait particular to Patty--the name given to the Bigfoot--and the supposed hernia visible on her right thigh.
The second day continued with Sonora-based forest archaeologist for the Stanislaus National Forest, Kathy Moskowitz, who described the "Hairy Man" legend of the Yokuts tribe. She estimates the story could be almost six thousand years old.
One story says that after creating humans, Hairy Man started to cry because people were afraid of him. The pictograph on Painted Rock on the Tule River Indian Reservation shows Hairy Man with lines coming out of his eyes, representing tears. This painting is the only known Bigfoot pictograph in California.
Richard Noll, Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization curator and member of the September 2000 Skookum Expedition, described the expedition and Bigfoot researching methods used, such as taped Sasquatch calls from a Tahoe recording, pheromone chips and thermal imaging. The expedition resulted in a 200 pound, much-disputed cast of what appears to be the lower torso of a hair covered primate. Noll said he is not one hundred percent sure the Skookum cast represents Bigfoot.
"I say no because I didn't see [Bigfoot]," he said.
After Dr. W. Henner Fahrenbach's discussion of the structure of primate skin and its appendages--such as glands and hair--a panel of pioneer Bigfoot investigators described its experiences beginning in the 1950s.
The symposium ended with an address by Russian author and hominology investigator Dmitri Bayanov, who ended his discussion of Russian Bigfoot finds by passing around a picture of supposed Bigfoot droppings, which measured 40 inches long and 5 inches wide.
This was Bayanov's first trip to America, one which came as the "fulfillment of a prophecy." Years ago at a party, he drew a wish, somewhat akin to a Chinese fortune cookie, that said: "You'll get to America during a proletariat revolution." After reflecting on that statement, he realized that those who came to the symposium are the proletariats of the scientific community.
"We are proletariats," he said. "We are starting a revolution."
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