Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bigfoot Trackway Found in the Cotswolds of England

Cotswolds footprint next to a size 7 welly (boot)
“They went over some really rough ground but there was quite a distance between each print almost as if they where avoiding the really wet mud,” -- Melanie Aston, teacher and print witness

The Cotswolds are a range of hills in southwestern and west-central England, an area 25 miles (40 km) across and 90 miles (145 km) long. The area has been designated as the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Recently a local English paperm announced the discovery of a trackway that seemed to have very large steps and strides. Read the article below.

A SPOOKY set of huge footprints found at Mill Dene Garden in Blockley have baffled people in the Cotswolds.

Melanie Aston, who teaches swimming at Mill Dene and often takes her dog for a walk in Bourton Wood on Saturday mornings, found some large unshod footprints near the toilets by the car park earlier this month.

Her size seven wellies were dwarfed by the huge prints, which she said seemed fresh.

However, she could not see anyone else around.

“They went over some really rough ground but there was quite a distance between each print almost as if they where avoiding the really wet mud,” she said.

“They went right down to where the path goes over the brook then divides into three directions, which is where I lost track. It’s really quite spooky and I’m not such a frequent visitor since.”

Mill Dene owner Wendy Dare said: “I honestly have no idea what it is. The footprints are very large.” SRC: Tewkes Bury Ad Magazine 

The Human Side of the Randy Lee Tenley Tragedy

Randy Lee Tenley (Dec. 10, 1967 ~ Aug. 26, 2012)
Many of you have already heard of the guillie suit Bigfoot hoax tragedy. A man, randy Lee Tenley dressed in a guille suit was unfortunately hit by two vehicles while trying to insight a Bigfoot sighting.

At Cryptomundo, Loren Coleman reminds us that a tragedy is more than bad luck, it has emotional consequences that most likely have lifetime impacts. Besides Randy Lee Tenley, there are three very young people that will have to wrestle with the events last Sunday night. The two teenage drivers and Randy's son, Hunter Tenley. 

A benefit fund for Randy’s son, Hunter Tenley, has been established at Three Rivers Bank, 233 E. Idaho St., Kalispell, MT 59901 (406-755-4271)

Please take the time to read Loren Coleman's post where you can read the entire Randy Lee Tenley obituary and the following comment from Loren Coleman:

Our condolences to the Tenley family, and especially his son Hunter. I publish the entire obituary here, so the benefit information will be widely disseminated, for this young man is, no doubt, in need and pain.

Once again, support and condolences to the two traumatized young women drivers who encountered Mr. Tenley on Highway 93.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cliff Barackman Launches Comprehensive London Trackway Bigfoot Research

Edited screen shot of Cliff Barackmans London Trackway home page
Finding Bigfoot co-host Cliff Barackman (pronounced bear-eck-men) is a self described cast nerd. This becomes absolutely apparent if you have the fortune of talking to him about cast details, which casts are the most compelling or even the history of casts general.

Recently an extraordinary event in Bigfoot history fell into Cliff's lap, a  possible trackway of over 120 sequential Bigfoot prints and the community is the better for it. We are the better for it, not only because Cliff is a prominent cast nerd, but also because Cliff has provided a home for the data. Aptly named The London Trackway Home Page, Cliff Barackman provides the most comprehensive information available on the subject. 

Cliff announced the London Trackway Homepage this morning (Wed, Aug 29th) on his blog, with his intentions reprinted below.
My website [] will now have an entire section devoted to the London Trackway.  There will be four sections in total.  One for the history, observations, photos, and an index.  The history section will briefly detail what transpired, though others have done this very well before I got to it.  The observations section will detail what I have personally observed in the casts.  This section will continually be updated as I see more and more in the casts, and also as others weigh in on the evidence presented.  The photographs will detail the observations I make, and also present the data in ways that I think are interesting or useful.  Finally, the index will show every footprint in the ground, as well as any casts that were taken of them.  This section will also include a short narrative of my interpretations of what can be observed in the casts or prints.
Go to The London Trackway Home Page Now!

New $2.4M Yeren Movie Begins Shooting in China this October

( Wiseacre Films / August 29, 2012 )'Yeren' design sketch by Chris Walas.

"Our Yeren is going to be the protector of the forest rather than the violent beast seen in typical Bigfoot movies," -- Ethan Wiley; Director of Bigfoot

There are at least four Bigfoot movies coming out this year; The Lost Coast Tapes, Exist, Bigfoot County, and The Woodsman. And several that are currently in production. The Yeren movie will be different, it will take place in China, unlike the rest of the batch that focus on the North American Bigfoot.

If you are not familiar with the Yeren, it is what we call in the community a Bigfoot variant, some say, "another Bigfoot species," but that would be assuming too much. Just as the Yeti in the Himalayas and the Yowie in Australia, China has their own version of Bigfoot called the Yeren. If you are interested in learning about other Bigfoot variants, there over 100, check out the interactive a/k/a/ Bigfoot World Map. The Yeren has bee increasingly in the news, click the following link to read about our previous Yeren News.

This brings us to some exciting news we've read at The Los Angeles Times. With the un-original title, "Bigfoot," director, Ethan Wiley and costume FX expert Chris Wallace will spend $2.4 Million dollars making a movie in China about the Yeren. 

China makes its peace with this Bigfoot

A Hollywood co-production about a legendary Chinese creature will begin soon. Film regulators shun superstition, but viewers increasingly like the fantastic.

By Jonathan Landreth
August 28, 2012, 7:40 p.m.
BEIJING — Unlike Japan, where Godzilla destroyed countless Tokyo landmarks, or South Korea, where celluloid sea beasts slink around the riverbanks into Seoul, China has no creature-feature tradition because film regulators historically have shunned superstition on the silver screen.

But a new film, "Bigfoot," aims to take a swipe at China's long-standing monster movie ban. The Hollywood co-production of a local legend will begin shooting in a central China nature reserve in October with help from a special-effects master who worked on "Gremlins."

Chris Walas, who also won an Oscar for his makeup design on "The Fly," co-wrote the English-language script for "Bigfoot" with director Ethan Wiley, whose next picture, "Elf Man," starring "Jackass" regular Jason Acuña, will be released in North America before Christmas.

"It's been a dream of mine to bring the Yeren story to life," said Walas, using the Mandarin word for the giant "wild man" of Chinese lore who is akin to the Sasquatch of Pacific Northwest legend in the United States. Walas spoke to a news conference here on Tuesday in a pre-recorded video.

The State Administration of Radio Film and Television typically bans any plot elements that question proven science or the supremacy of the Communist Party, or otherwise may malign Chinese people. In June, censors cut space aliens disguised as ethnic Chinese restaurant workers in New York from "Men in Black 3."

Yet Chinese audiences are increasingly drawn to fantastical Hollywood superhero movies such as "The Amazing Spider-Man," which opened here this week and features an implausible lizard man. And an increasing number of Chinese-made films are depicting the supernatural in an attempt to compete. A fox demon features in the summer hit "Painted Skin 2," for instance, but the Chinese monsters seldom get away with contemporary settings and are placed safely in the past instead.

PHOTOS: U.S. - Chinese box office comparisons for 2012

"Notes early on in this two-year process said, 'You can't make the Yeren story because it's not scientific fact,'" L.A.-based "Bigfoot" producer Richard Jefferies of Wiseacre Films said. "But then they just started coming around."

"Blue Crush 2" actress Sasha Jackson will star as the tutor of a Chinese boy whose plane crashes in the Shennongjia Nature Reserve.

"It's a survival story," said Wiley, who during Tuesday's news conference presented location scouting footage from the lush forest in Hubei province. "The only way to film with truth and integrity is to shoot in the area where the Yeren may truly exist."

Although the Bigfoot movie has gotten the green light from censors, observers caution that China's film establishment is unlikely to quickly throw open the gates to all things fantastic.

"SARFT has apparently erected a monster-proof shield around Beijing and indeed around all Chinese cities. This is not because giant monsters are particularly scary, obscene or conducive to social unrest. It is because they are politically unacceptable," wrote longtime Beijing resident and media blogger William Moss in a July essay, "Godzilla vs. the SARFT Monster."

"If you can watch a rubber-suit monster smash a tiny representation of your society and not worry that it will somehow erode faith in the actual society, then you've taken an important step," wrote Moss, who has a young son. "And you've done a wonderful thing for every small boy in your country."

Still, perhaps there's hope for horror here. The Chinese Bigfoot film follows close on the heels of the first domestic-made creature film shot all in Chinese.

"Million Dollar Crocodile," which reportedly cost Beijing Geliang Media 20 million yuan, or $3.1 million, to make, grossed $1.9 million in June, according to Shanghai-based film industry consultancy Artisan Gateway. Last week, the CGI-heavy "Crocodile" opened the Montreal World Film Festival.

René Seegers, a Dutch filmmaker who moved to Beijing four years ago and is producing the Bigfoot movie, found lead investor Xiao Mingxing, a real estate mogul turned head of the Shenzhen Emperor Star International Film & Culture Co. They then turned to Wiley and Jefferies, who had previously worked with Walas.

"China needs genre films," said Seegers. "They don't have the technique. Chris Walas' expertise is completely lacking here. The Yeren he's designing is not just an ape suit. It's a suit whose parts can move complexly, like 'Planet of the Apes.' Together with modern compositing and CGI, the U.S. side is capable of making this more real than the Chinese side at the moment."

Seegers said "Bigfoot" initially will cost about $2.4 million. It will be shot with some Chinese dialogue and the filmmakers have made an offer to actor Wentworth Miller, who is hugely popular in China because of widespread piracy of the "Prison Break" television series.

The forest where Wiley will shoot was granted state-level protection in 1999, but state media reports say it lies in one of the nation's poorest areas. At the news conference Tuesday, Wiley thanked officials from the Shennongjia Tourism Board and the Hubei Communist Party.

"Our Yeren is going to be the protector of the forest rather than the violent beast seen in typical Bigfoot movies," he said. "We're exploring the dual nature of the creature, sitting on the razor's edge between man and animal. The film will show the delicate balance between nature and civilization."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Two Teenagers Kill Bigfoot Hoaxer in Montana

Not the man from the news article, just a man laying down in Guillie Suit
Two local news sources confirm the death of Randy Lee Tenley, 44, of Kalispell, Montana. The man was dressed in a Guillie suit trying to drum up a Sasquatch sighting. While he was crossing the street he was hit by one teenager, and then once he was on the ground he was hit by another. Both articles state that the local police are waiting for toxicology results to determine if Tenley was intoxicated at the time. You can read the two articles below they are written by the same journalist and seem very similar but are, in fact, two different articles.

Below is a video by Next Media Animation, the largest full-service 3D animation studio in Asia. They are known for creating short clips that tap into the Pop Culture zeitgeist.

The comments to the articles below do not seem to have much sympathy for the man, there is even talk of submitting him for the Darwin Awards. The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of  the human genome by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it. Unfortunately according to the comments, as well, Randy Lee Tenley is survived by a ten year old son.

Man dressed as Sasquatch hit and killed near Kalispell
Posted: Aug 27, 2012 4:21 PM by Dax VanFossen - KAJ News
Updated: Aug 27, 2012 5:16 PM

KALISPELL- A man wearing a Sasquatch suit died after being struck by two cars Sunday evening on U.S. Highway 93 south of Kalispell.
The Flathead County Coroner has identified the victim as Randy Lee Tenley, 44, of Kalispell.

Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Jim Schneider says friends of the victim said Tenley was wearing a military-style camouflage ghillie suit in hopes of creating a Bigfoot hoax.

Schneider said Tenley was first hit by a 15-year-old Somers girl driving in the right southbound lane who said she couldn't get out of the way. Tenley was then struck by again by another Somers teen's car as his body lay on the road.

"It's still a crash involving vehicles and a pedestrian. So we're still doing the same investigation, but once we started speaking to parties, then someone involved in it, trying to ascertain exactly what brought that gentleman out to Highway 93 ... I would not guess that would motivate anybody to be out on Highway 93," Scheider said.

Schneider said police are waiting to get toxicology reports to see if Tenley had been drinking.

Man hit by 2 cars near Kalispell was trying to spark "Bigfoot sighting"
Posted: Aug 27, 2012 6:49 PM by Dax Van Fossen (Kalispell)
Updated: Aug 27, 2012 6:49 PM

A man dressed as Bigfoot was killed after being struck by two different cars on Sunday evening on Highway 93 south of Kalispell.
The Flathead County Coroner has identified the victim as Randy Lee Tenley of Kalispell, 44 years old.

According to Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Jim Schneider, Tenley was wearing a military-style Ghillie suit and was trying to provoke a "bigfoot sighting" in Kalispell.

Schneider says the information was obtained after interviewing friends who were nearby.

Schneider told us that Tenley was first struck by a vehicle driven by a 15 year old Somers girl in the right southbound lane who couldn't get out of the way fast enough to avoid striking him.

Tenley was then struck by a vehicle driven by a 17 year old Somers girl as his body lay on the highway.

Schneider said, "The mechanics of the crash, everything of that nature, you know that stuff doesn't change. It's still a crash involving vehicles and a pedestrian. So we're still doing the same investigation, but once we started speaking to parties, then someone involved in it, trying to ascertain exactly what brought that gentleman out to Highway 93...I would not guess that would motivate anybody to be out on highway 93."

Schneider says that they are awaiting toxicology results to determine if alcohol may have been a factor in Tenley's behavior.

National Geographic: The Truth Behind Bigfoot

Anotomy comparison of knee bends illustrating the difficulty
of reproducing  the Sasquatch in the Patterson/Gimlin film

The full episode of National Geographic's Truth Behind episode about Bigfoot is available in full. this is actually our favorite TV Documentary on the subject. After seeing so many you start to think they are all the same. maybe becuase we like computer graphics and 3d images this one sticks out for us. It has all the hallmarks of a TV Bigfoot documentary. Patterson Gimlin footage? Check. Bob Hieronimus? Check. Jeff Meldrum? Check. Hair evidence. Check. Cast Evidence? Check. And so on and so on.

And yet this one is unique. They take 3D digital photos of the sight, it would be interesting if the data is congruent with the recent work done by Robert Leiterman, Steven Streufert, Rowdy Kelly did at the Bluff Creek Sight. Also included is Bill Munns expert analysis of the Patterson Gimlin film itself. Munns has done exhaustive research into every frame of the Patterson Gimlin Film

Size of Patti based on the 3D imaging of Bluff Creek

The video is a must see if you haven't seen the episode. It is not just one of our favorites, it is our absolute favorite. Everything is condensed into 45 minutes and I you can see for yourself in the video below why this is our favorite Bigfoot TV Documentary.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Go On a Chinese Bigfoot Expedition for Less Than $500

Shennongjia Savage (a/k/a Yeren, Chinese Bigfoot) Model at Shennongjia Natural Museum
"Shennongjia has its very own Bigfoot! Keep your cameras ready and your eyes peeled—capture this giant creature on film and you could earn a reward!"

Ctrip is China's leading online travel agency. Plan your China itinerary, book hotels and cheap flights in China, book China tours, activities and vacation packages—and save money every step of the way! Starting September 5th they are offering guided tours into Shennongjia Nature Preserve where over 400 sightings of the Yeren have been recorded. Click the following links to learn more about the Yeren and the Shennongolia Nature Preserve

Below is the two-day itinerary for a trip that cost about 3,000.00 CNY ($472 US Dollars). The price goes down to $320/each if you bring a friend :

Day 1 Yichang-Shennongjia (includes lunch & dinner)
7:30-8:00 a.m. Pick-up 

Your English-speaking guide will meet you at your Yichang hotel and you will drive to Shennongjia.

12:30 p.m. Shennongjia: Muyu Town

Muyu is the main town in the renowned Shennongjia Forestry District and is the gateway to the Shennongjia Nature Reserve, a remarkable forest of metasequoias and Chinese tulip trees.

1:00 p.m. Lunch

Break for lunch in a local restaurant.

2:00 p.m. Shennongjia Nature Reserve

A region of stunning natural beauty, Shennongjia National Nature Reserve is listed on UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves for its high density of rare and remarkable flora and fauna. Foreigners are only permitted to enter the south of the Yazikou Junction area, an area that offers an abundance of trekking and hiking with caves, waterfalls and picturesque forests just waiting to be explored.

Shennongjia's mountain tops boast some of central China's most beautiful views and its well preserved forests are a haven for animals including the endangered Golden Monkey, and an unusual number of albino creatures including white bears, snakes and deer. It's also said to be home to a creature even more remarkable, and elusive—Shennongjia has its very own Bigfoot! This Ye Ren or "Wild Man" is said to stalk the woods with over 400 claimed sightings, large footprints and supposed lairs having been found. Keep your cameras ready and your eyes peeled—capture this giant creature on film and you could earn a reward!

6:00 p.m. Dinner

You’ll enjoy dinner in a local restaurant. After dinner, dependent on the weather, you can opt to join a campfire and watch traditional song and dance performances by the local Tujia minority (additional CNY 40).

7:00 p.m. Arrive at hotel

Overnight at a 3-star Shennongjia hotel.

Day 2 Shennongjia-Yichang (includes breakfast & lunch)
8:00 a.m. Depart hotel

Check out from hotel after breakfast and head to Shennong Altar.

8:30 a.m. Arrive at Shennong Altar

Shennong Altar is named for the worship of Emperor Shennong who ruled southern China 4,000 years ago. Shennong is said to be the first person to discover tea in China. The story goes that a tea leaf fell, quite by accident, into his cup of hot water and after drinking it he felt refreshed. After this great cultural discovery, he went on to contribute a great deal to the development of Chinese herbal restoratives.

Be sure to check out the 1,000 year old cedar tree on the east side of the Altar.

10:00 a.m. Arrive at Tiansheng Bridge National Geological Park

The next stop is Tiansheng Bridge National Geological Park. The highlight of this scenic area is, of course, Tiansheng Bridge, an amazing natural bridge formed by centuries of fast flowing mountain streams rushing against the rocks.  Explore the pine tree-covered hillsides, caves and thundering waterfalls of the area and keep an eye out for the groups of wild monkeys that like to come and play by the water.

11:00 a.m. Depart for Yichang

12:00 p.m. Lunch

On the way to Yichang, break for lunch in a local restaurant in Gufu. This town was relocated to make way for the Three Gorges Dam project and after lunch you will have some time to take a look around.

4:30 p.m. Arrive in Yichang

Back in Yichang you can choose to return to you hotel or join an optional tour to a traditional embroidery gallery.

At the embroidery gallery you'll have about 30-60 minutes to watch this exquisite art practiced by local minority people and pick up some souvenirs, returning to your hotel by 5:30 p.m.

"Office" Spin-off will feature Dwight's Bigfoot Hunting Brother

Dwight Shrute (Rainn Wilson) introduces his Bigfoot hunting brother Jeb Shrute (Thomas Middleditch)
In all the promotional buzz about "Office" Spin-off talks about the debut of Dwights Bigfooting brother, Jeb Shrute. You can read it at the Hollywood Reporter, Rolling Stone, and TVLine.

All articles seem to be quoting the same Press release in describing Jeb Shrute, although TVLine has the best version:
Dwight’s easygoing thirtysomething brother hasn’t done well in any of the career paths he’s followed – worm breeder and Bigfoot hunter among them — but has found some success with a pot farm. He’s got none of Dwight’s dedication or work ethic, but he has made an exercise video about things you can do with a knife and a canoe.
The spin-off will be called, "The Farm," and will center around Dwight recruiting his brother, sister, his nephew (sister kid), and great uncle. 

All we know is Jeb Shrute is described more than once as a Bigfoot hunter, so the big guy better have a pretty significant role in the new series. At the very least an often talked about topic.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Preserving the African Bigfoot of the Maasai

The Massai have there own Bigfoot legend, previously only preserved through oral tradition
In an effort to preserve the stories for unborn generations, the African's Wildest Stories project records audio of ordinary Africans telling extraordinary stories.

Out of 20-plus stories recorded, one peaked our interest. It is the Maasai tale. The Maasai are semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. The audio below is a tale told by Nickson Parmisa of the Masasai Bigfoot; a hairy, smelly, human-like beasts, which used to roam the Savannah, eating people but not their cattle.

Previous to this Maasai story the only African bigfoot-like creature we were aware of was the Waterbobbejaan of  South Africa, now we can add another to the a/k/a Bigfoot World Map below.

View AKA Bigfoot World Map in a larger map

Friday, August 24, 2012

Skamania Bigfoot Bash and Bounty

Visit Bigfoot Lunch Club's Booth at Skamania's Bigfoot bash and Bounty
Tomorrow on Saturday August 25th the Skamania County Chamber of Commerce will celebrate the annual Bigfoot Bash and Bounty. It is a festival that celebrates ordinance 1984-2. This is official legislated ordinance that declares Skamania County a refuge for the endangered species known as Sasquatch. Click the following link to read the original Skamania County Sasquatch Ordinances.

Bigfoot Lunch Club will be there in selling these t shirts pictured below. All you have to do is meet us at Home Valley Park (Map)

The schedule of events are below:

9:00 -11:00 - pancake breakfast
Noon - Food and craft vendors, kids crafts, bouncy houses, kids scavenger hunt, and sand dig.
1:00 - Larry Lund
2:00 - Bigfoot hunt
3:00 - Todd Neiss
4:00 - Bigfoot hunt
5:00 - Thom Cantrall
6:00 - Bigfoot hunt
6:45 - Storytime!

It should be a great time especially with the guest speaker line up. Hope to see you there!

Ohio Bigfoot Video Filmed a Month After Multiple Sightings Reported on Local News

On May 30th Local Ohio News Covered Multiple Bigfoot Sightings
“These things don’t really want to be discovered. They lived here before the park was built.  This is their home.” -- Doug Waller, SOSBI

Recently everybody is talking about the Ohio Bigfoot Video. It is a 38-second clip showing a Sasquatch-like creature running across the road. Some say it even looks like it is holding a stick. 

If you haven't seen it, you may want to watch it below. 

You may remember on May 30th an Ohio CBS affiliate had just done a extensive news report on the multiple sightings in Ohio interviewing Doug Waller is with the SouthEastern Ohio Society For Bigfoot Investigation. and Peter Byrne. You can watch the news report below and read the entire accompanying report at our previous post, Local Ohio News Exposes Multiple Bigfoot Sightings

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Snackin' With Sasquatch: Sasquatch Not a Morning Person

Sasquatch mimicking his co-workers, drinkin' hot coffee at the office
We were fortunate enough to get this new batch of videos from the creative team behind Jack Link's Sasquatch. They are very generous to Bigfoot Lunch Club, as they should be, we've been bragging on them since 2008 (See our post appropriately titled Messin' W/ Sasquatch).

As a guy who used to be in the ad business myself, I appreciate the campaign on many levels. It's a tough needle to thread to capitalize on a successful campaign and make the the switch to grab an even larger audience while keeping it fresh. That's exactly what the new "Snackin with Sasquatch" campaign does though. They manage the exact same spirit and comedy with a slight twist towards the audience. Below you can read a brief description of each ad and then watch the ad itself. Oh don't forget, there's a healthy side to Jerky so Start Snackin' <-- They didn't pay me to say that, I'm just a good sport.

Sasquatch: possibly not a morning person.
In a new spot from Carmichael Lynch, Jack Link’s brand mascot, Sasquatch, is thrown into a typical routine at the office: the cup o’ morning Joe. Sasquatch, who’s used to quenching his thirst by gulping from babbling brooks (as opposed to scalding-hot liquids,) gets a bit of a harsh wake-up call. Now if he can just save his fellow co-workers from experiencing the same fate…
“Coffee Break” is one of nine commercials in Jack Link’s newest campaign “Snackin’ with Sasquatch.” The 15-second Rocky Morton-directed spots take Sasquatch out of the woods and place him into domesticated situations. Two additional spots also aired this week.

“Camouflage” demonstrates the three rules of basic gym etiquette: 1) always towel-off the machine 2) put the weights back where you found them 3) and always have a spotter. (Well, okay, one out of three.)

And finally, “Poker” shows us what happens when you forget the single, most-important card game strategy: always let the Sasquatch win.

Agency: Carmichael Lynch
Chief Creative Officer: Dave Damman
Associate Creative Director/Art Director: Brad Harrison
Senior Copywriters: Tim Blevins and William Bloomfield

Director of Integrated Production: Joe Grundhoefer
Executive Content Producer: Freddie Richards
Account Executive(s): Sofya Guterman
Account Director: Holly Wheeler

Production Company: MJZ
Director: Rocky Morton
Senior Executive Producer: Scott Howard
Producer: Donald Taylor        
Director of Photography: Mattias Rudh
Editing House: HutchCo Technologies
Editor: Jim Hutchins
Asst. Editor: Joaquin Machado
Executive Producer: Jane Hutchins

Post Production/Special Effects: Rabbit Content
Creative Director: Nick Losq
Executive Producer: Joby Barnhart
Producer: Lloyd Dsouza

Music House: Black Iris
Sound Designer: Francois Blaignan and Joel Waters
Audio Mix: Lime Studios
Mixer: Joel Waters

Monday, August 20, 2012

London Trackway Revisited

Satellite with Lattitude and Longitude of London Trackway (click to enlarge) 
Going to revisit the London Trackway tomorrow with Toby Johnson and Thom Powell. 

The London Trackway  is the name of the 120-plus tracks, possible Bigfoot tracks, were discovered south of Eugene, Oregon in mid February 2012. These tracks were first discovered by Toby Johnson and his friend known as Tracker. Click the following link to read the official London Trackway Timeline.

Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot has been filming the London Trackway episode for Season 3 since Sunday (8.18.2012) and I'm curious to see how the trackway story will translate into TV land. 

This was an opportunity for me to update my illustrated infographic. I noticed on my original drawing in my sketchbook I had a rough outline of the different soil layers. The sand, clay, and silt substrates. Its not a hundred percent accurate, of course, although I did cross reference with photos. I'm confident that the areas where the tracks cross the different substrates is accurate. As you can see Series A (pink) was almost all silt, while Series B (Lt. Blue) was mostly in a sandy substrate. 

A little additional substrate information (click to enlarge)

I'll let you know how it all goes when I get back home late tomorrow night.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Smithsonian: Yes, We’re Actually Still Looking for the Yeti

Smithsonian picked this pic not us, we assume its a Mogwai-Yeti Hybrid
The Smithsonian is no stranger to the topic of Bigfoot. In fact, in 1988, due to a high volume of inquiries on the subject of, The Smithsonian developed a formal Bigfoot response letter. That's what a movie like Harry and the Hendersons (1987) can do to 142 year old scientific institution. (click the following link to read Smithsonian's Formal Bigfoot Response Letter

Earlier this year they blogged about the Giganthepiticus, and acknowledged it was the best candidate for the null-hypothesis as a Bigfoot ancestor. the Blog was titled Did Bigfoot Really Exist? How Gigantopithecus Became Extinct. the irony is Dr. Jeff Meldrum commented on the article, and his comment was more fascinating then the article.

Smithsonian takes up Bigfoot again, actually the Yeti, because that's the reference Bryan Sykes from Oxford University uses. Below is a decent piece on Bryan Sykes Bigfoot/Yeti DNA research, or as it is officially called, "Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project". If you really want to learn about the project we recomend a post we did earlier this week titled, "Everything You Didn't Know About the Bryan Sykes' Bigfoot DNA Research"

Yes, We’re Actually Still Looking for the Yeti

Posted By: Rose Eveleth 

Many scientists make their careers out of searching for the seemingly unfindable. The Higgs Boson, dark matter, the secret, hidden pieces of our universe. Other scientists search for things that probably aren’t real at all. Like yetis. Researchers are about to embark on a quest to determine once and for all whether or not Yetis exist.
That’s right, a Yeti hunt. It’s got a fancier name – the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project – but it’s a serious, scientific, Yeti hunt.
The project focuses on DNA analysis. They’re accepting submissions of samples from pretty much anyone who thinks they have evidence of a Yeti. People send the material in to them, where it’s tested for DNA. That DNA can tell them a whole lot about whether the mythical beast exists.
Now, there have in fact been DNA tests on supposed Yeti samples before. Every time they’ve come back as being human. But DNA techniques have gotten better, and the scientists are willing to give it one last go. Well, at least some of them. BBC Futures sums up the scientific atmosphere:
It is likely that the project is the biggest and most comprehensive attempt yet to probe suspected “remains”. “Nothing like this, on this level, has been done before,” says Richard Freeman from the Centre for Fortean Zoology in the UK. But therein lies the rub.  For people like Freeman who devote their lives to looking for these creatures, it is the biggest signal yet that after years out in the cold mainstream science is finally taking the seriously. But for some scientists, the whole venture is an embarrassing curiosity to be held at arm’s length.
One of the scientists involved in the project, Bryan Sykes, sees this as a catch all for those who claim science brushes them off. ““It’s one of the claims by cryptozoologists that science does not take them seriously. Well, this is their chance. We are calling for people to send us their evidence, and we will test it through DNA analysis,” he told the BBC.
This DNA evidence will certainly not be a nail in any sort of Yeti coffin. Even if they find no evidence whatsoever of the yeti, many will still believe. Last year, the Huffington Post reported that some scientists were “95 percent certain” that they had found evidence of the Yeti. Before that, bigfoot “researchers” asked people in California for money to test whether the creature left residue behind on a pickup truck.
Even the director of the International Cryptozoology Museum is skeptical of many of these claims. He told The Huffington Post:
“This does not seem to be any more than what you hear about from weekend excursions in North America that go out, discovering some hair of undetermined origin, calling it ‘Bigfoot hair,’ then locating some broken branches and piled trees, saying it was made by Bigfoot, and finding footprints that look like Sasquatch tracks. These are not ‘proof’ that would hold up, zoologically.”
But even for Sykes, the geneticist behind the project, this is all a bit far fetched. He’s not ruling out the possibility of a new species – we discover new species all the time, many of them quite large. But he acknowledges that there will need to be some evidence. The BBC says, “he is also keen to point out that he is not – nor intends to become – a cryptozoologist. ‘I don’t not want to become completely eccentric,’ he adds.”

Bigfoot County's Walter Higgins Revealed

We may not know who Walter Higgins is, but we know who registered his Domain Name

A movie previously titled Siskiyou County, later changed to Bigfoot County has been described by as "Deliverance" plus "Blair Witch" meets Bigfoot. 

In the same article, director/writer Stephon Stewart is quoted as saying, "I went up to shoot a movie on Bigfoot, then a local I met with presented me with evidence that blew my mind. After seeing this film, you will begin to believe what many have doubted since the 1967 Patterson/Gimlin Bigfoot Footage was released." 

Notice in Stewart's quote he refers to a local. Could that be Walter Higgins? We got in touch with Walter and asked him a few questions.

BLC: How did you initially get in touch with the man from LA that stole the video from you?
HIGGINS: He found me through contacts he had while coming out to Sisikiyou County to do a small project on Bigfoot.
BLC: Can you name the person who you talked to?
HIGGINS:Stephon Stewart.  At least that is the name he told me.  Though there is evidence to believe he may be impersonating someone.  
BLC:Is there a Bigfoot in your found footage? Is there a way you can share a screenshot of the bigfoot with us.
HIGGINS: Yes.  That will be forthcoming.  Based on how Lionsgate reacts.  I am givng them until Wednesday before I release more footage.
BLC:Can you give the latitude and longitude of where you found the video?
HIGGINS: I did not track this.  If I go back out there again, I will see if I can track this.
BLC: How much footage is there? Minutes, hours?HIGGINS:over 10 hours.
BLC:Is there anything you want to say to the Bigfoot community about your footage?
HIGGINS: I want to say that, I am still very very upset about this matter.  I am a man of God, of trust, and, trusting others has gotten me into too much damn trouble in my life.  This Stephon character told me he was going to use the footage for a small short type bigfoot doc, then, he pieced together what I had, which had moments of people being attacked by bigfoot and and other aspects I will hold back from stating until I hear back from Lionsgate one way or another, then it seems he has cashed in on an upcoming feature after he tricked me into signing paperwork that he states clears him to use the footage.  This Stephon character is a fucking asshole.  Sorry.  Just really pissed off right now.  If anyone out there knows how to get in contact with him via email or phone, please do so,  He has been changing his email/phone around, avoiding me.
Though I know where he works.  I think I'm going to make a trip out to visit him. 
BLC:Thank you for your time. 
HIGGINS: ok, thank you.  God bless. 
You can watch Walter Higgins' rant in the video at the very bottom of this post. There is only one concern we have with Walter's latest video. The last 10 seconds reveals a domain name if you type it in your browser it quickly forwards to Who registered that first domain name that flashes only for a second? Non other than Stephon Stewart. See the Domain registration information below provided by Go-Daddy.

We sent an email to Stephon for comment, but did not recieve a reply at the time of this post
Stephon Stewart
Studio, California 91604
United States

Registered through:, LLC (
Created on: 01-Jun-12
Expires on: 01-Jun-13
Last Updated on: 01-Jun-12

Administrative Contact:
Stewart, Stephon
Studio, California 91604

Interview of Sasquatch Movie Maker Christopher Munch

Screenshot of Letters from the Big Man website
"Much later I came to acknowledge a deep and atavistic connection to sasquatch which I am only now beginning to understand, small piece by small piece, even while my commitment to their “cause” grows more steadfast every day." -- Christopher Munch; Writer/Director of Letters from the Big Man

Jeffery Pritchett, known for his radio show has recently posted an excellent interview with Christopher Munch, director of the true-to-life depiction of Sasquatch in Letters from the Big Man. You can buy the DVD at the Official Letters From The Big Man website.

Pritchett does an amazing job asking questions that get to the heart of Christopher Munch's journey from script to screen, a few of our favorite questions and answers are below.

1. I have to say your movie about Sasquatch entitled Letters From the Big Man is one of the best Bigfoot films I've ever seen. What was the inspiration behind it exactly?

Christopher Munch: The project literally showed up on my doorstep in 2005, punctuated by a Christmas gift of the humorous book In Me Own Words. Prior to that I had not considered the subject to any great degree one way or the other. I must have had a vague awareness that “they were out there,” and indeed had fond memories of the Ronald Olson 1977 docudrama Sasquatch, which I saw in the theatre as a teenager, and also the famous episode of In Search Of, my favorite TV series.

Much later I came to acknowledge a deep and atavistic connection to sasquatch which I am only now beginning to understand, small piece by small piece, even while my commitment to their “cause” grows more steadfast every day.

After being bitten in early 2005, I took the plunge and devoured every book, every issue of The Track Record, and every prior film that touched on the subject that I could get my hands on. Paralleling my developing interest in sasquatch was an interest in a particular area of southern Oregon where a drama had been unfolding surrounding salvage logging of Federal lands burnt in the 2002 Biscuit Fire. I became fascinated by the so-called Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion, an ancient, biologically diverse, and mysterious land elegantly chronicled by David Rains Wallace in The Klamath Knot, a book that inspired the tone I hoped to achieve with my film.

As I developed the screenplay with an esteemed New York producer, Paul Mezey, whom I had known for many years, various stars (who would have enabled us to finance the picture at a larger budget) hovered around it. Every time I came close to setting the project up, however, invariably I ran up against the unwillingness of Hollywood to think in anything but the most cliché and untruthful terms when it comes to sasquatch. There had been intriguing smaller productions, independently financed – such as the Little Bigfoot series and the animated Legend of Sasquatch with William Hurt – that had slipped in some fascinating and seemingly truthful tidbits of information. And despite its unlikely premise, Harry and the Hendersons played the very important role of defusing monster stereotypes and opening the door to a more reasoned understanding of sasquatch. I believe this is why it is beloved by so many to this day. (Joan Crawford had made the same pleas in a different and campier way decades earlier in Trog).

Because I was seeking at all costs a truthful depiction of sasquatch, it seemed that the best way to do it was against a realistic backdrop, sacrificing suspense if necessary for the sort of detail that would ground my heroine’s emotional journey. Indeed, her journey paralleled mine at every step.

Early drafts of the script were focussesd less on Sarah’s internal life and more on external circumstances, culminating in our hero-sasquatch showing up, messiah-like, in downtown Portland and making a big public splash: a rousing but not terribly realistic conclusion. He even hopped a freight train to get there. :)

2. With all the horrific movies about Bigfoot out there that depict Sasquatch as a horrific creature it was great to finally see a movie that got it right. Who were some researchers that you took from that helped you to make sure you got Sasquatch depicted on screen correctly and especially positively instead of negatively?

Christopher Munch: My first advisor was Thom Powell, whose book The Locals was the one I most admired from my early reading. He very generously took me into the field and introduced me to his trusted friends, Kirk Sigurdson (Kultus) and Joe Beelart. Thom and Kirk encouraged me to put myself in places where I could conceivably begin to have experiences of my own – something which, at the time, I assumed was beyond my understanding or ability. My actress friend Jeri Arredondo (who, along with Thom, Kirk, Kathleen Grevie Jones, Dee Odom, Andrew Robson, and Jann Weiss, is featured in my documentary Sasquatch and Us), also encouraged me to forge further by opening my heart to the mystical aspects of sasquatch as she understood them from her childhood in the Mescalero Apache nation.

A year or so into the project, I corresponded with and met Kewaunee Lapseritis (The Sasquatch People, The Psychic Sasquatch), who advanced my understanding further. As a consultant on the film, he accompanied me in the field and opened a number of doors. I have consistently found his information to be truthful, and if he was ever unsure of an answer to a question, he would never hesitate to say “I don’t know,” rather than speculate too wildly. He steadfastly honors sasquatch. While he has paid a high price for being at the vanguard of “the fringe” over the past 30 years, thankfully “the fringe” is now becoming un-fringe as many others recognize the value of his methodology, and realize that the only way to connect with sasquatch is through the heart.

Close to the start of production in 2009, I began to work with an exceptional interspecies communicator, Kathleen Grevie Jones, whose strong capabilities as a trance medium facilitated a more rigorous communication with sasquatch, and in fact resulted in the voice-over lines spoken by our hero sasquatch in the film. The words are theirs.
Read the rest Jeffery Pritchett's interview at the If you like, we have probably the most extensive Letters From The Big Man Coverage from it's premier at Sundance to the launch of the website. Speaking of the website, you will definitely want to buy the DVD at the Official Website for Letters From The Big Man. Oh and don't forget to tune into the Church of Mabus Radio: Saturdays 11pm EST/ 8pm PST

WATCH: The Woodsman, The Fourth "Found Footage" Bigfoot Movie of 2012

Another Found Footage Bigfoot Horror Movie?  Yes. 
Add another film title to the list of Bigfoot "found footage" movies this year; The Lost Coast Tapes, Exist, Bigfoot County, and now an internationally award-winning film The Woodsman

In case you need a refresher on the genre of found footage. Wikipedia does a great job:
Found footage is a genre of film making, especially horror, in which all or a substantial part of a film is presented as discovered film or video recordings, often left behind by missing or dead protagonists. The events on screen are seen through the camera of one or more of the characters involved, who often speaks off screen. Filming may be done by the actors themselves as they recite their lines, and shaky camera work is often employed for realism.
The Woodsman follows, in suit, with footage found from an adventuring TV show host, think Les Straub or Bear Grylls, looking for the Mayan Bigfoot. Although it premiered March 9, 2012, there has not been a DVD release yet as it is still being screened at other venues. After the following description and plot synopsis you can watch the trailer below.
Mauro Bosque (Maurice Ripke – Prison Break, Angel Dog, Doonby) is a true adventurer: he loves adrenaline and extreme sports. Mauro and his producer, Chucho (Julian Guevara – Prison Break, Missionary Man), are about to shoot another episode of their outdoor extreme-reality internet show, “Hombre y Tierra.” This episode has Mauro hiking through some very dense and deep woods in search of some of the world’s most significant and extraordinary caves in the mountains of Belize.

His journey began in January 2007. The reality show consists of Mauro videotaping himself looking for ancient ruins, or traces of long lost Mayan remains. But Mauro never returned from this trip.

What took place in the mountains of Belize has been a mystery until now. The recent findings of Mauro’s lost tapes will reveal the pieces of this unusual unfinished puzzle and settle the truth once and for all.

With Mauro now on his own he quickly becomes lost when the river he planned to follow becomes uncrossable. His journey to find a way across the river leads him directly into the territory of an ancient beast who does not want Mauro encroaching his boundaries. Mauro knows something is now tracking him and as the darkness closes in around him he becomes increasingly wary of who or what is out there waiting.
This is the terrifying story of a man searching for a dream, only to find his greatest nightmare.

The camera was found in a remote part of the San Ignacio Forest in Belize. Covered in dirt and blood and broken beyond repair, it sat on a forestry official’s desk for weeks before being linked to a missing internet personality, Mauro Bosque.

The government of Belize made the decision not to release the disturbing footage found on the camera and memory cards found in Mr. Bosque’s personal effects located nearby. Mauro’s Producers located the footage some time later and somehow managed to have it returned to them. Accusations of bribery abound but to date have not been proven.

What happened to Mauro in the forest during that three day period has remained a mystery until the recent discovery of this footage – footage that was likely stolen from a government office in Belize. This is the terrifying story of a man searching for a dream, only to find a living, breathing nightmare. This is the story of Mr. Bosque’s ill-fated, final adventure. Some things should remain a mystery.

For more info check out the The Woodsman's Facebook Page

Tonight on the Science Channel; UCLA Physicist, "Bigfoot is a UFO Pilot"

Dr. Ruel's dismembered top half floating through space
holding a picture of Bigfoot next to a feathered T-Rex 
"I feel that the scientific community has been myopically narrow-minded concerning the feasibility of these various subjects. As a Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics, I endeavor to bring the scientific perspective to these controversial topics from an open-minded stance." --Dr. Ruel, Ph. D

You can get a full dose of Dr. Franklin Ruel, Ph.D. tonight on the Science Channel at 9pm (check your local listings). For those that do not know him, The Dr. holds a Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics from UCLA and intends to answer questions like: Are some UFO abductees being implanted with control chips? Is it possible that Bigfoot could be an alien entity? Was the mighty T.Rex covered with feathers? Who has been stealing female cadavers from Russian cemeteries?

The show is called Professor Weird. You can read the Doctor's pitch below:
It focuses on the scientific evidence for UFOs and ETs, paranormal phenomena, cryptozoological entities, weird crime, bizarre medicine, strange people and anything else of an unusual and fascinating nature. I feel that the scientific community has been myopically narrow-minded concerning the feasibility of these various subjects. As a Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics, I endeavor to bring the scientific perspective to these controversial topics from an open-minded stance.

The program will be a combination of fascinating field reports and intriguing in-studio presentations,including a "Realm of Bizarre News" feature.

My able assistant on the show, Laura Brunkala, who is a superb researcher, provides a counterbalancing skepticism to many of my viewpoints so that I do not go off on a tangent!
You don't have to wait until tonight to hear why Bigfoot are UFO pilots. Below we have one of Dr. Ruel's articles followed by a short video supporting his Bigfoot UFO pilot theory.

Is Bigfoot Possibly an Alien Entity?

Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D.

Rather than being a missing link between man and the apes, Bigfoot may possibly be an alien entity. This intriguing possibility is derived from evidence in several solid UFO cases.

The earliest clues date back to 1888, when a cattleman described an encounter with friendly Indians in Humboldt County, California. They led him to a cave where he saw a hefty humanoid creature covered in long, shiny black hair, with no neck, sitting cross-legged.

One Indian told him three of these "Crazy Bears" had been cast out of a small moon that dropped from the sky and landed.The "moon" then ascended back into the air. So it's highly likely the "Crazy Bears" were really Bigfoots, and the "moon," a spacecraft.

Now fast-forward almost 100 years to 1973... and Mrs. Reafa Heitfield. She and her 13-year-old son were sleeping in a trailer in Cincinnati, Ohio on the morning of October 21. Reafa arose at 2:30 a.m. to quench her thirst, and noticed strange lights in the adjoining parking lot. Looking out the window, her attention was drawn, in particular, to an inexplicable cone of light, shaped like a huge bubble umbrella -- about seven feet in diameter.

Nearby she spotted a grayish, ape-like creature with a large, downward angled snout, no neck and a sizable waist. Moving slowly, it then entered into the light. About five minutes later, both apeman and UFO disappeared.

Another dramatic incident occurred a few days later on October 25, 1973. A group of farmers in Fayette County, Pennsylvania caught sight of a dome-shaped UFO that was brightly lit and about 100 feet in diameter. As the locals drove toward it, they saw a pair of gargantuan creatures covered with thick, matted hair, luminescent green eyes and long arms that dangled below their knees.

A farmer's son fired a gun shot at the creatures, one of which raised its right hand in the air. At that very moment, the UFO disappeared. Then, the two Bigfoots escaped into the woods and were never seen again.

Dairy farmer William Bosak of Frederic, Wisconsin was returning from a co-op meeting about 10:30 p.m. on December 9, 1974, when he nearly slammed into a globular UFO on the road in front of him, its bottom half enshrouded in fog.

Inside the visible transparent dome was a six-foot-tall ape-like creature with reddish-brown fur covering its body (except for the face) and distinctive pointed ears. It appeared to be operating a control panel. As Bosak passed by, the object suddenly arose and disappeared.

In August,1976, after a series of UFO sightings around Rutland, British Columbia, Canada, several men and their children saw a hairy ape-like entity, six to seven feet tall roaming about a mountainside. They also found a clump of hair that was sent to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for identification. Laboratory analysis confirmed it was primate hair, but, significantly, it could not be matched to any known species on earth!

Perhaps the Bigfoot creatures are UFO pilots, landing on earth for exploratory purposes. Or, conceivably, higher level ETs are leaving behind some specimens as "guinea pigs" to test our environment for long-term survival. Or, possibly,these Bigfoots are criminal entities being deposited on Earth as a form of cosmic deportation! SRC:

Did you know? The US Army created a video game with a hidden Bigfoot piloting a....wait for it...UFO! Its true, that's a screen shot on the left. Read our post about hidden Bigfoot Easter Eggs in video games

Friday, August 17, 2012

Everything You Didn't Know About the Bryan Sykes' Bigfoot DNA Research

Painting Showing Gigantoopithecus being watched (hunted?) by Homo erectus [Credit: Profimedia] 
“Science does not accept or reject hypotheses but evaluates them on the basis of evidence. This is why I am confident that examining the evidence of alleged Yetis does not fall outside the realm of proper scientific enquiry.” -- Bryan Sykes; Project lead on the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project

As we get closer to the deadline (September 2012) for accepting specimens for the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project; a/k/a Bryan Sykes' Bigfoot DNA research. The story is making the rounds in the media again. You can read our past posts about Bryan Sykes and his Bigfoot DNA research, but it is all wrapped up in a nice package in the article below. Here is the most extensive article about the research. How it came about, how the research will be done and what it hopes to determine.

Yetis in the lab: The search for mythical beasts

By Georgina Kenyon | 16 August 2012
Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yowie - names that conjure up images of giant reclusive creatures that never quite stay still long enough for the photographer to focus their camera.
Over the years, hundreds of sightings of these supposedly mythical beasts have been recorded around the world by the public and so-called cryptozoologists, who scour the world in search of evidence for their existence. “Proof” comes in many forms, from fuzzy photographs and shaky videos to plaster casts of footprints and tufts of hair. But, as yet, none of these encounters has provided any conclusive evidence and cryptozoology remains a field largely disregarded by science. Instead, with a knowing look and a snigger, “sightings” of “cryptids” are explained away as hoaxes, existing species or the products of over excited imaginations.

So it makes it all the more extraordinary that established scientists would become involved in a search that, on the face of it, looks like it could help to prove whether or not these undocumented creatures exist. But, in May of this year, researchers from Switzerland and the UK did just that when they launched the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project.

“It’s one of the claims by cryptozoologists that science does not take them seriously. Well, this is their chance. We are calling for people to send us their evidence, and we will test it through DNA analysis,” says Bryan Sykes, a professor of human genetics at the University of Oxford in the UK.

It is likely that the project is the biggest and most comprehensive attempt yet to probe suspected “remains”. “Nothing like this, on this level, has been done before,” says Richard Freeman from the Centre for Fortean Zoology in the UK. But therein lies the rub.  For people like Freeman who devote their lives to looking for these creatures, it is the biggest signal yet that after years out in the cold mainstream science is finally taking the seriously. But for some scientists, the whole venture is an embarrassing curiosity to be held at arm’s length.

Sykes is no stranger to media storms. As well as his work retrieving ancient DNA samples and mapping human migration through DNA analysis, he is also the founder of a business called Oxford Ancestors, which helps people trace their relatives through DNA for a fee. In 2003, the company claimed that an accountant from South Florida was a direct descendent of the Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan – something that sparked headlines around the world. Later analysis – and headlines –suggested that his company’s interpretation was incorrect.

Hair today...

If the episode scarred Sykes, it does not show. His new project was similarly announced to much fanfare, again sending headline writers into overdrive. “Scientists seek big genes of bigfoot”, read one. But the professor says that the response was to be expected. Myths and legends about these creatures loom large in every culture and the idea of finally finding solid evidence for their existence is appealing, no matter who you are. “It’s a story that just does not go away, we are so intrigued by these quests for the unknown, even doubters want to hear about developments,” he says.

For his own part, he says that he sees “no reason why there cannot be species not yet known to science”, but adds the caveat that he would “need to see the evidence”. He is also keen to point out that he is not – nor intends to become – a cryptozoologist. “I don’t not want to become completely eccentric,” he adds.

The idea for the project came about in 2011 when Sykes visited Dr Michel Sartori, the Director of the Museum of Zoology in Lausanne in Switzerland. Out of sheer curiosity, Sykes had gone to view the museum’s extensive library of books on cryptozoology, including over 40,000 documents and photos from a collection donated by the late Belgian-French scientist Bernard Heuvelmans.  He was a trained zoologist, who also spent much of his life looking for cryptids. The museum holds many of his books, such as In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents, which records “sightings” of giant squids and whale-like animals.

During the visit, the pair began to wonder if they could build on Huevelmans’s work and expand the museum’s display. “We started to think it would really enhance the collection if we also had specimens of ‘cryptids’ on show,” says Sartori.

And so the Hominid project was born. The team have put a call out for people around the world to submit samples to the team before September, along with theories about what they could be. They then plan to use DNA barcoding to test each specimen. It is a technique that is widely used in biology. For example it is used by food inspectors to check what is served up on a plate is what a restaurant says it is. Customs officials also use it to stop trafficking of illegal animal parts, whilst field biologists use it to identify organisms. In all cases the technique is largely the same. A sequence of DNA is extracted from an organism or sample of interest and then compared against a DNA bank.

In the case of the Collateral Hominid Project, the team will largely focus on hair samples – the most commonly presented physical evidence to back up claims of sightings.

“Up until the last couple of years, you needed quite a lot of biological material … and often the results were inconclusive,” said Sykes. “Now, all we need is a small amount of hair.”

Hair is useful because the keratin – a kind of biological plastic that encases the hair shaft -  protects the DNA that it contains from the contamination and degradation that can affect DNA from other parts of the body, such as teeth and bone. Once they have extracted a sample, the will compare it to the billions of sequences published online, such as at Genbank (managed by the National Institutes of Health in the US). If the sequence is different to those known from existing species it may be a new species. The more DNA that is used, the more reliable the comparison.

‘Hidden from view’

But even if the team find a sequence of DNA that has no match in the world’s databases it does not automatically mean that the creature is a mythical beast, says Albert Zink, an anthropologist at the European Academy of Bolzano in Italy who questions the validity of the whole enterprise. “It could be a sample of an extinct animal that has nothing to do with the Yeti myth,” he explains.

Sykes admits that might be the case but he is unconcerned. Although the search for Yeti DNA grabbed the headlines, it is part of a bigger project charting the relationship between our own species and others. It could even help identify new species of hominid - a general term archaeologists and paleontologists use for humans and our ancestors.  The team want to use the samples to narrow down their search for unknown species – alive or dead, mythical or not. If the DNA tests find something of interest, the thinking goes, the team can began to look for other clues – potentially in the area where the sample was found. Cryptids became involved because, along with unstudied primate species and subspecies of bears, some people believe the legends could describe distant relations.

"Theories as to what Yetis are... range from surviving collateral hominid species, such as Homo neanderthalensis or Homo floresiensis, to large primates like Gigantopithecus, which were widely thought to be extinct,” says Sykes.

These theories were given a boost in 2004 when scientists published details of skeletal remains of a species of human (Homo floresiensis) from the Indonesian island of Flores, in the journal Nature. The adult species, previously unknown to science, was just 1m (3ft) tall and was likely a descendent of Homo Erectus, which arrived on the island 900,000 years ago. As far as scientists can tell, the “hobbit”, as it was nicknamed, survived for thousands of years unnoticed by modern humans and was still alive as recently as 12,000 years.

Finds like this make it more likely that accounts of mythical, human-like creatures could be founded on grains of truth, some say. For example, the Indonesian cryptid Orang Pendek (“short person”) is often described in Indonesian folklore as a small, hairy, manlike creature not dissimilar to Homo floresiensis.

As Henry Gee, an editor at the respected Nature Journal, wrote in 2004 following the discovery: “In the light of the Flores skeleton, a recent initiative to scour central Sumatra for 'Orang Pendek' can be viewed in a more serious light.

He also argued that new species of mammal – including oxen - are still occasionally discovered by scientists. “If animals as large as oxen can remain hidden into an era when we would expect that scientists had rustled every tree and bush in search of new forms of life, there is no reason why the same should not apply to new species of large primate, including members of the human family,” he wrote.

Gee has since stepped away from the debate, but it’s a theory that others buy into. “Given how people are encroaching on wilderness areas, it seems increasingly unlikely that large mammals, and especially human-like species, remain undocumented,” says Dr Murray Cox from the Institute of Molecular BioSciences, Massey University in New Zealand. “However, some parts of the world, including the Himalayas and the arctic forests of North America, still show very limited impact by humans. So perhaps the possibility of new mammal species there cannot be completely discounted.”

‘Proper science’

But, others are less forgiving. According to Prof. Darren Curnoe of the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales in Australia, the chances of finding a completely new species of hominid are remote. He is also critical of the project efforts, especially linking it to the possibility of finding a Yeti.

“There are far better ways to spend scarce funding for science than chasing mythological creatures and more than enough real and mind-boggling mysteries in nature to keep many generations of scientists busy,” he says.

Sykes has heard that kind of criticism ever since the project started. Although he admits that the project is speculative and unlikely to find a new species of hominid, he argues the search is still valid.

“Science does not accept or reject hypotheses but evaluates them on the basis of evidence,” he says. “This is why I am confident that examining the evidence of alleged Yetis does not fall outside the realm of proper scientific enquiry.”

And, of course, the project has captured the public’s imagination in a way that much of science does not. Put simply, the idea of a Yeti – or some other undocumented mythical beast from folklore – remains a seductive idea for humans. It taps into our desire to explore and understand the world around us, and to believe there are still things left to be discovered. It is part of the reason there was recently a team of 38 people tramping into the remote mountains of the Shennongjia nature reserve in Hubei, China, in search of the yeren. And part of the reason that countless teams over the last 100 years have probed forests, mountains, jungles and islands from the Himalayas to Borneo in search of them.

But the fate of these kind of expeditions – and the entire field of cryptozoology - could soon be decided by Sykes and his team. If the Oxford Lausanne project finds something interesting, it opens up the possibility of further attention from mainstream science. But another possibility is that the team races through all of the samples in the museum and proves that all of them come from species already known to science. Certainly history suggests this outcome is likely.

For example a “Yeti finger” that lay in the Royal College of Surgeons museum in London since the 1950s was tested in 2011, revealing that the remains were in fact human. Whilst in 2008, tests on hairs collected in India that were also said to have come for a showed they came from a species of Himalayan goat. Countless other examples have met with similar results.

If that is the case, the current saviour of cryptozoology could become its own worst enemy. And then, Sartori says, it will be time for believers to put up or shut up.

“We are challenging the people who claim to have seen the Yeti or the Orang Pendek to show us real evidence, or otherwise hold your peace,” he says.

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