Friday, January 4, 2013

Today in Bigfoot History | JAN 04 | Oliver the Baby Bigfoot DNA Results

Oliver was known as baby bigfoot, the missing link and even the humanzee
"I still get inquiries about Oliver really being a Bigfoot." -- Loren Coleman

Today in 1976, a newspaper declared the mDNA results of a captured “Baby Bigfoot,” while unique, the Baby Bigfoot was merely a chimpanzee. Oliver (pictured above) was often known as Baby Bigfoot, but a more modern, and perhaps cleverer moniker, was coined in a recent documentary broadcast on the Discovery Channel. This documentary called "Humanzee," featured an upright walking chimpanzee named Oliver. For those who have heard of Oliver before, he's just a chimp according to test results. Chimp or "Humanzee," Oliver was a remarkable, upright walking chimp who appeared to prefer living and behaving as a human being than a chimpanzee for the better part of his life.

At cryptomundo.com Loren Coleman wrote in 2007, "I still get inquiries about Oliver really being a Bigfoot."

Oliver's had a real strange and sordid history. Others have noted Oliver's peculiar smell, eye coloring, bird-like voice and various mannerisms as being very un-chimp-like. And then there is Oliver's sense of himself. The prevailing view is that Oliver is simply a mutant chimp. Could Oliver be the result of clandestine genetic alchemy? A mutant or hybrid chimp? Missing Link perhaps?



BOERNE -- His days on the freak circuit and on tabloid covers as the fabled ``missing link,'' are finally behind him, as are seven lost years in a medical research laboratory.

Now, Oliver, a mild-mannered, middle-aged ape that walks upright like a human, is taking a well-deserved Hill Country retirement, but is no less a scientific mystery than he first appeared 25 years ago.

"Oliver's had a real strange and sordid history. He was exploited tremendously for his very unusual morphological characteristics,'' said Ken DeCroo, a California anthropologist and animal trainer who owned him a decade ago and, like others, has not forgotten him. "His physical appearance was rather different than most chimps. He's bipedal, which means he walks on two feet, and that is very unusual. And another aspect is his very small head,'' he said.

Others have noted Oliver's peculiar smell, eye coloring, bird-like voice and various mannerisms as being very un-chimp-like. And then there is Oliver's sense of himself. "He was not like normal chimps and other chimps didn't get along with him too well. He preferred to be with humans,'' recalled Bill Rivers, another former owner. But Oliver has mellowed with the years. Since May, when he and 11 other chimps were retired from the Buckshire Corp., a research center in Pennsylvania, Oliver has shared a spacious open-air cage with other chimps at Primarily Primates.

Wally Swett, director of the primate sanctuary, said his newest celebrity guest is adapting well, and, after years in isolation, has formed an attachment. "He's bonded with one little female,'' said Swett.

"And he understands a lot and is quite cooperative. And he's not like other male chimps which can get quite grabby and aggressive,'' he said.

Old news accounts assert that Oliver has 47 chromosomes (see results info below), one more than a human, one less than a chimpanzee, but there are no records to confirm it. Quite soon, possibly for the first time, Oliver will undergo sophisticated blood and genetic analysis to resolve, once and for all, exactly who or what he is.

"The prevailing view is that Oliver is simply a mutant chimp. Others think he may be a cross between a common chimp and a pygmy chimp, and soon we'll be able to make a determination,'' said Dr. Gordon Gallup, an anthropology professor at the University of New York at Albany.

But, said Gallup, who has lectured about Oliver in his evolutionary psychology course, there are other possibilities holding infinitely more complicated implications. "It's difficult to know for sure, but I think there is reason to suspect that Oliver may be a human-chimpanzee hybrid. It turns out that humans and chimps are at least 99 percent identical in terms of basic biological chemistry, and you can get hybrids among much more diverse creatures than that,'' he said.

Rumors of such taboo experiments being conducted in China, Italy and the United States have persisted for years, but have never been acknowledged. Could Oliver be the result of clandestine genetic alchemy? The answer may come after a blood sample -- to be taken from Oliver at an upcoming medical examination -- are tested at the University of Chicago, allowing scientists there to finally determine his genetic pedigree.

"Let you imagination run wild. It has such mind-boggling implications for things like religion, and whether such a creature would be covered by the Bill of Rights. It could make people think about their relationship to evolution,'' said Gallup. "But until there is some evidence either way, it's simply an academic exercise rather than anything you can take seriously,'' he said.

Dr. David Ledbetter, who will do the testing, said genetics technology will allow him to determine if Oliver is a normal or mutant chimp, and if he proves to be a hybrid, his parentage. "It seems a little silly to me to have all this rumor and controversy floating around when its a very straightforward thing to do the chromosome analysis,'' he said. A spokesperson for the Yerkes Primate Center in Atlanta, the most prestigious primate research facility in the country, said scientists there had never heard of Oliver.

Oliver surfaced in the early 1970s, when he was acquired as a baby by trainers Frank and Janet Burger whose dog, chimp, pony and pig acts were once regularly featured on the Ed Sullivan Show, at Radio City Music Hall, and once even by dancer Gene Kelly. "He came in from Africa with three other chimps that one of Frank's brothers had sent over from the Congo. But this one we could never use. He was odd and the other chimps would have nothing to do with him,'' recalled Janet Burger, 69. But if Oliver was strange in appearance, and was shunned by other chimps, his intelligence and personality were also quite different from the other apes in the Burgers' entourage.

"You could send him on chores. He would take the wheelbarrow and empty the hay and straw from the stalls. And when it was time to feed the dogs, he would get the pans, and mix the dog food for me. I'd get it ready and he'd mix it,'' she said. As he grew older, Oliver also acquired habits normally enjoyed only by humans, including a cup of coffee and a nightcap. "This guy, Oliver, he enjoyed sitting down at night and having a drink, and watching television. He'd mix his own. He'd pour a shot of whiskey and put some Seven-Up in there, stir it and drink it,'' she recalled.

Oliver also displayed emotions not normally associated with chimpanzees, including tears of remorse at temporary separations. But ultimately, it was another of Oliver's human like traits that forced the Burgers to sell him. By 1976, when he was approaching sexual maturity, Oliver was turning into a masher.

"He had sex on his mind. The old hormones flared up but he didn't care about the female chimps we had, he started trying to have sex with me and any other woman,'' recalled Burger. "I was leery of him. He was as strong as five men, so I told my husband, "I'm not putting up with this. He's going or I'm going," so we sold him to Michael Miller and his partner for $8,000,'' she said.

Miller, a New York City lawyer, had seen dollar signs in Oliver, and took him on the road, including Japan, where newspaper accounts report that 26 million Japanese viewed him.

In the United States and overseas, breathless speculation raged over the ape with the shaved head. Was he "the baby Bigfoot?'' A mutant or hybrid chimp? Or perhaps a newly discovered primitive African humanoid? Miller also hinted at the unspeakable: An ape-human hybrid.

In press accounts of the time, Miller said he intended for Oliver to undergo a full battery of scientific tests to determine his identity, but the results, if any, were never made public. After belonging to Miller for several years, Oliver was owned by a series of West Coast animal trainers, beginning with Ralph Helfer, owner of Enchanted Village in Buena Park, Ca., where Oliver was exhibited as a freak. "They had two or three shows a day. I'd just walk him out on stage while another fellow talked about him. They had theories that he was half-man, half-ape. That was part of the show,'' recalled Bill Rivers, who years later would be the last animal trainer to own Oliver. "It was just like seeing a space alien,'' he said.

Oliver later became part of Helfer's menagerie at Gentle Jungle doing occasional television commercials and shows. But when the facility closed he was given to Ken DeCroo who had worked there. DeCroo, an anthropologist and animal trainer, said Oliver was unlike any of the hundreds of chimps he had worked with in both research and commercial settings. "It was very hard to predict what was happening in that brain and generally he acted more human than chimp in a lot of settings,'' recalled DeCroo.

"This is the classic example. Very often I would sit him down in the living room with me to drink coffee. And one time he was out of coffee. I never trained him to do this, but maybe he knew it from the past. He got up from the table, walked into the kitchen, picked up the coffee pot, poured coffee into my cup, then into his, and then took the pot back into the kitchen,'' he said. "But here's the chimp part. He's making a terrible mess. His brain is telling him what to do, but his body isn't quite doing it. But he had the awareness. He understood where all the elements fit and that I was out of coffee. It was shocking,'' he said. DeCroo is now struggling to put Oliver down on paper. "I'll tell you how much Oliver has affected me in my life. I'm writing a novel, which is very much fiction, but is very much based on Oliver,'' he said.

"It's about researchers in a university that decide to do the experiment: man and ape. This experiment is quite possible, but would you do it?" he asked. "In deciding that, you can imagine the ramifications both ethically and scientifically. And what do you do with the creature in the end? It's quite an adventure and Oliver inspired it,'' he said.

DeCroo said in 1986, when he closed his animal compound, he sold Oliver to Bill Rivers with the understanding Oliver would be given a decent retirement. When he heard later Oliver had ended up at a research facility he was remorseful. "He was a good friend and I've always felt guilty. I failed Oliver. I really thought he wasn't going anywhere,'' said DeCroo. But Rivers said he eventually sold Oliver to the Buckshire Corporation, where he languished for almost seven years, when the ape proved too difficult to keep. "He couldn't get along with the other chimps. I was doing a lot of traveling. I really didn't have a place for him,'' said Rivers.

According to Buckshire president Sharon Hursh, Oliver showed signs of a rough treatment, but was never used for research. "When we got him, we gave him an entrance physical and it was evident to us he'd had a pretty tough life. Somewhere along the line, he must have been a tough chimp. He had scars that indicated rough handling,'' she said. "We basically purchased him for laboratory research but he was never used. He just sort of ate, kicked back and slept all day,'' she said. Fortunately for Oliver, others did not forget him.

Vincent Pace, a concert pianist and circus ochestra leader, met Oliver when the Burgers were traveling with the Vargas Circus in the early 1970's. But when Oliver was put up for sale in 1976, Pace said he was outbid by Miller, the New York lawyer. "I lost track of him totally for 20 years,'' said Pace.

"But two years ago I came into a big sum of money and I made a list of things I wanted to do. I wanted to buy a new Rolls Royce, I wanted a face lift and I wanted a new baby chimp. And in searching for a new chimp, I bumped into Oliver at the Buckshire,'' he said. Initially, he said, the Buckshire appeared willing to release Oliver. "I spent $70,000 to build a room on my house here for him. It's all plexi-glass, stainless steel and Formica. He'd have private eating quarters,'' he said. But after his attempt to get Oliver failed, said Pace, he was glad to see him and 11 other Buckshire chimps end up with Primarily Primates in Boerne.

"I'd lived without him for so long, I thought getting him out and into anybody's hands would be better than him being where he was,'' said Pace. "Someday I'll go to Texas and see Oliver before he dies. This animal is almost human in his emotions,'' he said.

Regardless of the outcome of the genetic testing, Oliver will enjoy a peaceful and permanent refuge in Boerne, said Swett. "He's been dragged around and exploited for over 20 years, but this is his final retirement. He'll never go into research or on exhibit again,'' said Swett. "In terms of significant scientific findings, we'll play it by ear, but never to the point of inconveniencing Oliver,'' he said.


Thanks to astute and resourceful BLC fan, Nadia Moore for finding this link for the abstract of Oliver's DNA results.  

7 comments:

  1. People are still trying to pass off the security video of Oliver as a trailcam video of a squatch.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Does anyone know if they ever tested the nuclear DNA, or just the mitochondrial? The nuclear would be more informative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oliver's chromosomal and mitochondrial dna were both studied. the documentary did not specify this but the relevant report does. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9545080

      Delete
  3. Yeah, it seems like an incomplete analysis to only look at the mtDNA. Bryan Burrell

    ReplyDelete
  4. I found the abstract of the publication with the results of his chromosomal and mtDNA analysis, showing that he possessed 48 chromosomes, the normal number for a chimpanzee, and that the "results indicated a high sequence homology to the Central African variety of chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes troglodytes."

    But still if only the Chromosomes of the mtDNA were analyzed and not the nuclear DNA there are still unresolved questions from the paternal side of his ancestry. Since he was in captivity and could easily be accessed for sample collection I wonder why this data was not pursued as well? I would love to see a copy of the whole paper.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(199803)105:3%3C395::AID-AJPA8%3E3.0.CO;2-Q/abstract;jsessionid=19CE4BC22F295889B88EC438D92F516E.d03t01

    Here is a link to the first article published which is cited in your link above Guy, but they don't have a courtesy copy of the abstract on view and you have to be a subscriber to the journal to log in and view it along with the whole article.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/274/5288/727.1

    ReplyDelete
  5. The DNA study that tested Oliver's DNA was headed by John J. Ely. This man's background is worth paying attention to. He earned a PhD from Penn State in 1988 in Primatology. Then, twenty years later, he earned a degree from Mexico State U. in Epidemiology (the study of the way HUMAN diseases spread).

    Why do I mention these facts? Well, primate labs are the first place human diseases are tested . . . and developed (created). They also a great place to do gene splicing and GMO testing on primates. Hello? Duh.

    Ely's background is interesting to the point of verifying and yes, "clocking." I don't immediately trust the man's integrity. Why should I?

    Does anyone ever pay any attention to the possibility that DNA results could be falsified?

    Hello! If Oliver WAS a real experiment or some sort of genetically modified chimp, then of course the DNA results would be faked, and who better to call than a somewhat cryptic dude like John J. Ely.

    p.s. If you believe the pap about the double helix (DNA) being "discovered" by Crick and Watson I'll sell you a bridge in Brooklyn. James Watson is a ringer if I've ever seen one. Totally crooked and "whack."

    Think of it this way: if something is really important, it isn't externalized for at LEAST two generations. That's forty years, yo.

    What does this mean? Oliver the Chimp was born in 1958. Most people would say that is way too early for him to be the product of genetic testing and experimentation. I would say it is the PERFECT time for him to be the product of GMO experimentation. Why? Because back then, there was no need to hide it from people. Nobody knew jack about it because the human genome hadn't been externalized by phony Nobel prizes and stuff like that yet and articles in Time magazine, yada yada. And since Oliver was born so early, nobody in the later part of his life would suspect him of being a test subject who was "created" by gene splicing, etc.

    These alleged test results deserve scrutiny from the standpoint of possibly being hoaxed. And, yes, John J. Ely is the perfect sort of guy down in New Mexico to be quietly developing a zombie virus to "cull" the human race down a few billion people in his primatology center in New Mexico.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Back before WWII a Russia doctor, can't remember his name. became famous for gene splicing all kinds of animals and it's rumored he wanted to try human an ape, could Oliver be that experiment?

    ReplyDelete

Let's keep the language and material clean, keep in mind we have younger fans that get their Bigfoot News here too.

Please read our terms of use policy.