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The following is a summary of an investigation I made into claims regarding Bigfoot’s dermal ridges. What I found surprised me. It may surprise you too.
First some personal background. I was very interested in the subject of Bigfoot as a child. I had seen a film at the University of Montana student center in, I believe, the late 1960’s that I remember containing Roger Patterson’s film. Unfortunately the title of this film escapes me. When I was about 9 years old I was given a copy of John Green’s On the Track of the Sasquatch. Later, I obtained Green’s other two early books, Year of the Sasquatch, and The Sasquatch File. These books, coupled with occasional TV treatments had a rather profound effect on me as a child. I was particularly taken, almost obsessed, with the famous Ape Canyon story. I think my imagination of this event was augmented by reading my mother’s copy of John Keel’s Strange Creatures from Time and Space, and the Star Trek episode The Galileo Seven.
By about 1976, I had become disenchanted with the subject of Bigfoot. Specifically, I was disappointed that Bigfoot simply hadn’t been found! I also stopped hearing about the subject in the mainstream media and I became interested in other things. I basically forgot about the subject of Bigfoot for many years. As I got older, I became more skeptical, partly due to reading the works of Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, James Randi, and Martin Gardner.
On the other hand, I find the esthetic and emotional value of Bigfoot to be huge. As a child, I was always confused and surprised at how other children, or indeed anyone, wouldn’t be interested in the subject. How could anyone not be intrigued by Bigfoot?
In 2000 I saw on the Internet a story about the BFRO’s Skookum meadows expedition and the resulting cast. I realized that using the Internet I could catch up on all that I had missed since the mid 1970’s about Bigfoot. Besides the Skookum cast, claims were being made about alleged “dermal ridges” seen on some cement footprint casts. While Grover Krantz had discussed this class of evidence in his book Big Footprints, a fingerprint examiner from Conroe Texas named Jimmy Chilcutt was now publicly making additional claims about these same cast textures.
In 2003, Jimmy Chilcutt spoke at the Willow Creek Bigfoot Symposium about his interpretations of various cast textures seen on several purported Sasquatch footprint casts.
This is the first public forum that I’m aware of that Chilcutt specifically advocated that a particular cast made by John Green from an August 1967 Northern California trackway contained dermal ridges. A quick shot of the cast’s texture is also seen on the DVD Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science.
Chilcutt’s segment can be seen in this YouTube video.
In August 1967 John Green and several other men investigated, photographed, and cast a series of large footprint tracks in the Bluff Creek area of Northern California. Green first detailed his investigation in his book On the Track of the Sasquatch on pages 45 through 50. Green included various photographs of this track find in his book. The particular cast that is claimed to exhibit dermal ridges is known as “CA-19”, and is currently in the possession of Jeff Meldrum.
A fundamental question bugged me about the dermal ridge claims; could textures as fine as dermal ridges really be captured by natural soils, and if so, could this be captured in cement casts? I had worked with pre-mix concrete before, and it seemed difficult to accept that such a level of texture resolution was possible. I was curious enough about it to find out for myself. I built a shallow wood box and filled it with “fly ash”, a fine mineral powder that is a product of coal burning. I made an impression of my own foot into this fine powder, and indeed I could see my own dermal ridges. The only cement I had on hand at the time was a patching compound called “Forbes Fiberfill”; a quick-cure cement that contained fine polypropylene fibers. Even with such a crude casting compound, I could see my own dermal ridges in the resulting cast. But interestingly, I saw other ridges; ridges that were not my own dermal ridges. I obtained a 100 pound bag of Hydrocal B-11, a superior casting cement.
Before we even analyze the ridge textures on CA-19, it’s useful to carefully examine the tracks from which the cast