Oct 192009
 

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Noted Sasquatch advocate Jeff Meldrum has previously argued that valid inferences regarding the Patterson – Gimlin film site track maker’s foot morphology can be drawn from the tracks themselves:

The subject left a long series of deeply impressed footprints. Patterson cast single examples of a right and a left footprint. The next day the site was visited by Robert Laverty, a timber management assistant and his sales crew. He took several photographs including one of a footprint exhibiting a pronounced pressure ridge in the midtarsal region. This same footprint, along with nine others in a series, was cast two weeks later by Bob Titmus, a Canadian taxidermist. A model of inferred skeletal anatomy is proposed here to account for the distinctive midtarsal pressure ridge and “half-tracks” in which the heel impression is absent. In this model the Sasquatch foot lacks a fixed longitudinal arch, but instead exhibits a high degree of midfoot flexibility at the transverse tarsal joint. Following the midtarsal break, a plastic substrate may be pushed up in a pressure ridge as propulsive force is exerted through the midfoot. An increased power arm in the foot lever system is achieved by heel elongation as opposed to arch fixation.

http://www.isu.edu/~meldd/fxnlmorph.html

The “pronounced pressure ridge” that Meldrum is referring to is clearly seen in this photograph by Laverty:

The pressure ridge is indeed striking, and on the face of it, would suggest a non-human track maker, and thus tend to rule out or even eliminate the possibility of hoax.

Unfortunately Meldrum ignores a serious examination of alternate possibilities, especially that of considering what kind of tracks a man wearing an ape costume would make. In an attempt to find out for myself what kind of tracks would be left by a man wearing a fake, flexible, oversized foot, I decided to make my own. My assumption is that an ape-suit costume would have a flexible foot, in order to allow the wearer to walk naturally. Ideally, I should have obtained a genuine theatrical ape suit, but the results of this preliminary examination on my part are still intriguing.

Some time ago, I obtained via dumpster diving a large piece of semi-rigid plastic foam. It was about 2cm thick, with a 1 or 2mm sheet of yellow plastic adhered on one side. I suspect, but do not know, that both the white foam and yellow sheet are polyethylene. I don’t know the original application of the plastic. I cut out and formed two 15″ long matching foot shaped prosthetics. At this point I used Nylon cord to bind them to my feet, but they proved too unstable, and I eventually switched to flexible Urethane adhered “Aqua-socks”.

I took my fake feet down to Alki Beach here in Seattle and made some tracks. While many were distorted, some exhibited intriguing pressure ridges that were positioned unusually far back in the fake track. As far as I can tell, this is a result of the ball of my own foot being positioned closer to the mid-foot of the prosthetic, and thus providing the illusion of “mid-foot flexibility” in an oversized track.

One track in particular had a well defined and smooth pressure ridge morphology:

Even with crude and quickly fabricated prosthetics, I was able to create tracks that exhibited mid-foot pressure ridges.

It’s entirely possible that the mid-foot pressure ridges seen in one or more of the Patterson-Gimlin film site tracks have an explanation that does not involve Bigfoot’s mid-tarsal break.

 Posted by on 10/19/2009 Bigfoot, Hoaxes Comments Off on Bigfoot’s Mid-Tarsal Break
Oct 192009
 

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One of the longstanding claims by advocates of the reality of the Sasquatch is that the subject of the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film exhibits an “inhuman” gait. If this is true, it would surely weaken or outright falsify the skeptic’s suggestion that the film subject could be a man in a suit. One of the difficulties of examining this claim is that “gait” is a rather complex affair. One way to make the examination of this claim easier is to break down the gait into specific features.

It had been noted many years ago that the film subject exhibits an unusually high lift of the lower leg, particularly in early frames of the film. Author Barbara Wasson went so far at to suggest that such a feature was beyond what a human being could reproduce:

Obviously the creature is different. If you examine the walk, the following leg rises off the ground far in excess of what a human leg rises. It almost parallels the ground. A human being cannot walk in this fashion. When attempted it produces an extremely awkward movement and cannot be reproduced.”

Barbara Wasson Sasquatch Apparitions page 73

A good example of what Wasson is talking about is seen in this early frame:

Note how the film subject’s head is pitched forward, the right arm is straight by the side, and the sole of the left foot is more or less vertical.

Surprisingly Wasson’s strong claim went untested for many years. Advocates on various Internet forums as late as 2005 suggested that even if a human could reproduce this feature the individual would be “one in a million”.

Noted Sasquatch skeptic David Daegling went to some lengths in his book Bigfoot Exposed to demonstrate that the film subject exhibits a compliant gait, which is similar to the way Groucho Marx used to walk in his movies. A further, more technical explanation of the film subject’s gait is found here.

Indeed, walking with a compliant gait is quite easy for any reasonably healthy individual to do, though it does become fatiguing after extended periods. One of the interesting features of a compliant gait is that the lower leg tends to rise up, and thus, as Wasson says, “almost parallels the ground”.

This is a photograph of me walking with a compliant gait on a sandy beach:

Note how my head is pitched forward, my right arm is straight at the side, and the sole of my left foot is basically vertical, very much like that seen in the early frame of the Patterson film. Clearly the calf “almost parallels the ground” as Wasson says, and thus refutes Wasson’s strong claim that “it cannot be reproduced”.

It seems to me a rather damning indictment of the Bigfoot subculture that such an easily tested claim as Wasson’s would be uncritically accepted for so long, and yet prove so easy to debunk.

Update, February 24, 2012:

Recently Tom Pate posted an excellent video to YouTube in which he argues that the unique gait of the film subject may be a product of a human walking with over sized prosthetics. Here is a screen capture of the funky gait of a person wearing swim fins. It’s obvious that the “lower level leg lift” of the human subject nearly matches that of the Patterson-Gimlin film subject.

Tom created this comparison between himself walking with a compliant gait and the Patterson – Gimlin film subject. Tom is 6′ tall:

 Posted by on 10/19/2009 Bigfoot, Hoaxes Comments Off on Does the Patterson-Gimlin Film Subject Exhibit an “Inhuman” Gait?
Oct 192009
 

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Because the Patterson film is a cornerstone of Bigfootery, there is very little to be said about this film that has not already been said or noticed by someone else. Independently, another individual named William Parcher and I both discovered an interesting anomaly of the film’s timeline, regarding what is claimed as being a film of Patterson displaying the cured casts he made at the Bluff Creek film site.

In his book Meet the Sasquatch Chris Murphy claims that this scene of Patterson pouring plaster into a track was shot in Bluff Creek, and is of the trackway made by “Patty”, the subject of Patterson’s film.

From page 43 of Chris Murphy’s Meet the Sasquatch:

“The men then returned to the film site and examined the path the creature had taken along the sandbar. They observed and filmed the creature’s footprints in the soil and later made plaster casts of the left and right foot. In that part of Bluff Creek, there is a sandy clay soil with a blue-gray tinge. This type of soil holds footprints remarkably well for a long period of time. The footprints measured about 14.5 inches/36.8m (sic) long by 6-inches/15.2cm wide. Gimlin jumped off a log to see how far his footprints would sink into the soil in comparison with the creature’s prints. The results were that the creature’s footprints were deeper. Patterson also took movie footage of this experiment together with footage of horse prints alongside the creature’s prints. Gimlin filmed Patterson making casts and also displaying the finished casts as seen here.”

So Murphy, at least, is claiming that these films were made, at maximum, within a few hours of each other.

Here are two stills that show Patterson’s cast display:

The great and glaring discrepancy in this timeline is Patterson’s obvious heavy beard stubble seen in the “cast display” photos, while he is clean shaven during the “pour” sequence. He also has either changed his trousers or laundered them, as the plaster stain seen in the “pour” sequence is missing in the “display” photos.

Jeff Meldrum in his book Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science gives a different timeline. On page 143 Meldrum includes a “pour” photo and a “display” photo. The caption to the photos reads “Roger Patterson pouring a cast at the film site and displaying the cast UPON THEIR RETURN TO YAKIMA, WASHINGTON” (Emphasis mine)

Meldrum’s account of the events contradicts Chris Murphy’s.

Beyond the obvious timeline discrepancy that Murphy’s account suggests, one has to wonder what historical sources that both Meldrum and Murphy are using, as neither allude to original historical evidence in either of their books.

As well as the film development timeline, the “pour” and “cast display” film sequences continue to baffle and confuse the issue of exactly what went on and when with regard to the famous Bluff Creek film of an alleged Sasquatch.

One potential resolution of this dilemma may be what Grover Krantz alluded to on page 32 of his book Big Footprints:

“The shape of a footprint can be dug into the ground with the fingers and/or a hand tool, the interior pressed flat, and it can then be photographed or cast in plaster. My first footprint cast was made by a student in just this manner (Fig.10). Roger Patterson told me he did this once in order to get a movie of himself pouring a plaster cast for the documentary he was making. (A few days later, he filmed the actual Sasquatch; See Chapter 4).”

It’s possible that the “pour” film sequence that Murphy claims was shot at Bluff Creek AFTER the film subject walked by was what Patterson shot for “the documentary he was making” BEFORE the alleged Sasquatch was filmed.

 Posted by on 10/19/2009 Bigfoot, Hoaxes Comments Off on Roger Patterson’s Cast Display
Oct 192009
 

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This essay was originally published in the journal Northwest Science, Vol. 62, No. 3, 1988 pages 129 and 130. A PDF version of the article is found here:

I’ve taken the liberty to re-post it here, to put into HTML. The original illustration is not included here. A short discussion of mine follows Bodley’s essay.

Sasquatch Footprints: Can Dermal Ridges be Faked?

John H. Bodley, Department of Anthropology

Washington State University Pullman Washington 99164-4910

Introduction

In May 1987 six very fresh giant human-like footprints (approximately 45 x 15 cm) were discovered in the

Blue Mountains of southeastern

Washington State by myself and a student. These

tracks resembled those that have been reported

throughout the Pacific Northwest and which

some attribute to the Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, a

legendary, bipedal, human-like creature (Green

1978). With the exception of a single scuff mark,

and one print over a bent shrub, each footprint

was a complete, very clear impression, approximately one centimeter deep in the firm damp

soil of the trail, or somewhat deeper in the softer

soil beside the trail. These particular tracks were

of special interest because they were extremely

fresh and because upon close inspection they

were found to contain distinct impressions of dermal ridges. Dermal ridges are the tiny swirls or

concentric ridges on palms and digits of hands and feet that leave “finger prints” or “toe prints.”

Such friction skin is found only in primates.

Given the presence of the ridges, the general

crispness of the footprints, and the fact that it

had been raining lightly during the afternoon the

prints were found, it seemed likely that the prints

were perhaps only a half-hour old when first

found. Unfortunately, the ridges did not transfer

to plaster of Paris castings that were made the

following day. These casts were made by Paul

Freeman who, unlike us, had the necessary

materials with him.

However, several years earlier, in June of

1982, plaster casts made by Paul Freeman, then

a U.S. Forest Service patrolman, from similar

tracks in the same general region did yield

distinct dermal ridge impressions.

Casts of these

earlier tracks were analyzed by several dermatoglyphic experts (including Douglas M. Monsoor, a Colorado

criminologist; Robert D. Olsen,

with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and Edward Palma and Benny Kling, with Wyoming law

enforcement offices) who all concluded that

it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible,

for someone wishing to make fraudulent

“Sasquatch” tracks to also produce such fine detail

as these ridges (Krantz l983). They all found the

pattern consistent with foot arrangements, and not

patched together from several hand impressions.

Even though Krantz’s analysis of the 1982 casts

led him to discount the possibility of deliberate

faking in that case, the circumstances of the 1987

tracks led me to test the feasibility of artificially

producing prints of dermal ridges. I was especially puzzled by the remarkable perfection of the

tracks and their distribution along the trail.

Although the tracks were randomly distributed

along a quarter-mile stretch of trail over basically

uniform ground, only a single pair of sequential

left-right prints were found. The other associated

print was a single scuff mark found 10 meters

up the trail from a print very deeply pressed in-

to the center of the trail. It was difficult to ex-

plain why so few tracks were found on so much

available soft soil. The possibility that they had

been artificially planted could not be ruled out,

but it was necessary

to account for the presence

of the detailed dermal ridge impressions.

Krantz (1983:72) reported that some critics

had speculated that dermal ridges could be produced using rubber castings. He also observed

that the wind-blown loess topsoil of southeastern

Washington was fine enough to hold the imprint

of dermal ridges and demonstrated

with his own

thumbprint that ridges could be transferred from

skin-to-soil and then to a plaster cast. I was interested to see if entire footprints could be produced, complete

with such ridges. The purpose

of this experiment was to determine if dermal ridges could in fact be produced in a deliberately faked footprint.

Methods

In order to produce dermal ridges, a mold of a

44 cm Sasquatch-like footprint was shaped from

modeling clay. I then carefully rolled my bare

big toe in the soft clay to leave clear dermal ridge

impressions.

I rolled my heel across the heel of

the mold, and imprinted my forehead on the

center of the clay footprint. Additionally, impressions of hand and feet skin were made with

Elmer’s glue and dried pieces of glue pressed

into the clay. Plaster of Paris was then poured

into the mold and allowed to harden. Upon removal, impressions of dermal ridges were clearly

visible in the resulting cast. An outline of the

track was then traced on the damp ground, the

soil beneath was loosened with a screw-driver,

and the plaster cast was pressed firmly into this

prepared soil, In order to make a good impression, it was necessary to stamp on the cast. (The

cast was broken in the process, but this seemed

not to affect the impression). Fresh plaster was

then poured into the impression in the soil, and

the second cast was examined. It also faithfully

reproduced the dermal ridges that were imprinted into the original clay mold.

Discussion

Under the right soil conditions, impressions of dermal ridges can easily be transferred from skin-

to-clay, from clay-to-plaster, from plaster-to-soil

and finally from soil back into plaster. Even more

remarkable was the transfer from first skin-to-

glue and then into the same transfer sequence:

clay to plaster to soil and into plaster again,

although the resulting cast in this case was a

“negative” print.

Krantz (personal communication) readily

recognized that the resulting cast I produced was

a clumsy fake because of the crudely-shaped toes,

and seven dermatoglyphic experts (certified latent

print examiners in Washington, Oregon, and

California, and another visitor from Scotland

Yard) readily determined that the ridges were not

correctly situated.

Dermal ridges can be faked in footprints with

relative ease, at least under certain soil conditions. This experiment certainly does not prove

that the specific tracks examined in May 1987

were fakes, but it does suggest that any purported

sasquatch prints containing impressions of dermal ridges need to be carefully evaluated for the

possible presence of patching or other irregularities throughout the entire footprint.

Acknowledgments

The author was accompanied in the field by

Lonnie Somer, a graduate student anthropology at Washington State University.

Grover S. Krantz provided the contacts that made

this field investigation possible, and showed my

creation to the fingerprinters. My son, Brett

Bodley. prepared the glue skin impression.

Literature Cited

Green,John. 1978. Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us. Seattle:

Hancock House.

Krantz, Grover S. 1983. Anatomy and Dermatoglyphics of

Three Sasquatch Footprints. Cryptozoology 2:53-81.

Received 2 January 1988

Accepted. 15 February 1988

I discovered this essay only recently, after having done my own tests to see if textures as fine as dermal ridges could really be captured in natural substrates, and then in cement casts. Indeed, one test I did with my own foot impressed into ordinary potters clay led to a spectacular capture of my own dermal ridges:

A close up photo clearly shows my own dermal ridges. I never did follow through and impress this cast into natural soil as Bodley did. Casting cements such as Ultracal and Hydrocal are significantly stronger than ordinary plaster of Paris. It might be interesting to see if casts made with these higher strength casting compounds would resist breakage better than plaster of Paris.

Screeds and Essays

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Oct 192009
 

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The claim has been made that purported Sasquatch foot casts contain textures that represent healed scars. One of the most notable is that of “Wrinkle Foot”, a set of right and left foot casts brought forth by Paul Freeman.

Unfortunately, A formal paper detailing the analysis of the surface detail of “Wrinkle Foot” has not been forthcoming at this point. A short account did appear in the November 2000 issue of Fate magazine:

The “scar” texture of “Wrinkle Foot” is not detailed at length in Jeff Meldrum’s Sasquatch book. From page 255:

What most impressed Officer Chilcutt were multiple examples of healed scars that appeared on a particular pair of casts from the Blue Mountains in southeastern Washington, where the soil has a high content of loess. Dr. Krantz had previously referred to these casts as “Wrinkle Foot” due to the extensive indications of coarse dermatoglyphics. The deep, clear footprints were found in wet mud and preserve much detail of the skin surface. Chilcutt reasoned, “If this animal is walking through the wilderness, he’s bound to come across rock and rough terrain that will cut the bottom of his foot. As the wound heals, the ridges curl inward toward the scar.”

A photograph at the top of page 257 is captioned “Close-up of ridge detail showing healed scar”. Unfortunately we are not told explicitly if this is “Wrinkle Foot”, but it appears to be. No metric is included in the image in Meldrum’s book.

Here is a photograph of the texture in question. Remember, this is a multiple generation cast copy, and so is not as sharp as the original. Nevertheless, even with this copy we can see the main line of the “scar” with small lines branching off the sides. I have intentionally included my own fingers in the photograph to illustrate how much larger this texture is than human dermal ridges. The size of the feature alone is grounds for reasonable skepticism that this represents real primate dermal ridges.

Recently, a surprising image was forwarded to me from a friend of mine in Arizona, Brenden Bannon. Brenden cast a track he made using a fake rubber foot to impress mud in his back yard. The result is striking, as a surface texture similar to the “scar” of “Wrinkle Foot” spontainously appeared running across the “ball” of the foot:

Here is a close-up of the texture in question:

Upon close examination, small lines can be seen that connect to, but radiate away from, the main fissure.

While Bannon’s cast is a preliminary finding, it would seem to cast doubt on the notion that the texture seen on “Wrinkle Foot” is strong evidence of Bigfoot’s dermal ridges. It may be the texture is related to a suction effect, or to a cement-substrate interaction, or both.

 Posted by on 10/19/2009 Bigfoot, Hoaxes Comments Off on Dermal Ridges and “Scars”