Monday, March 14, 2011

Semantics of Monkey Alarm Calls

We are gonna start using Mondays for sharing breakthroughs in the primate world (at least the ones we think relate to Bigfooting). While we know there is a debate about whether Bigfoot is a man/animal/primate, and strong arguments for each theory, we think our best model for Bigfoot are other primates.

So what's new in the world of primatology? The semantics of alarm calls. This ties in great with most of the recorded Sasquatch vocalizations we have. This excludes the Sierra Sounds. We covered the potential Sasquatch language discovered in the Sierra Sounds in another post last year. Our feeling is the Sierra Sounds are from acclimated Sasquatch, due to the fact that they were recorded in the same location over a long period of time. After all, it takes a while for a primates, and even humans, to get comfortable enough to converse around "strangers". Alarm calls are different, and the majority of recorded vocalizations are, most likely, alarm calls.

How else can I tell I'm hearing alarm calls?
According to "Alarm calls are typically high frequency sounds because these calls are hard to localized by predators. On the other hand, low frequency sounds are easier to localized by predators.

What is even more interesting, these alarm calls may be innate, meaning they are coded within the DNA of the species. In studying, "Monkey Responses to Three Different Alarm Calls: Evidence of Predator Classification and Semantic Communication," three groups of Vervet Monkeys were identified as making similar calls for similar predator warnings:

We refer to these three calls as leopard, eagle, and snake alarms. Leopard alarms were short tonal calls, typically produced in a series on both exhalation and inhalation. Eagle alarms were low-pitched, staccato grunts, and snake alarms were high-pitched "chutters."

The study continued to explain how each type of call elicited a different physical response:
When monkeys were on the ground, leopard alarms caused them to run up into trees, where they appeared to be safest from the ambush style of attack typical of leopards. Eagle alarms caused them to look up, run into dense bush, or both, apparently to avoid an eagle's stoop. And snake alarms caused them to look down at the ground around them. Such responses suggested that each alarm call effectively represented, or signified, a different class of external danger.

Vervet are not the only monkeys with these same alarm call traits. If alarm calls were exclusive to vervet monkeys, than it wouldn't have a high value to Bigfooting. Other Monkeys include white-faced capuchins, campbell's monkeys, diana monkeys and more.

While we need a lot more evidence to determine if any of this is helpful to Bigfooting, we feel primatology has come a long way since wood-knocking and it wouldn't hurt to begin to incorporate some of the other traits shared by multiple species of primates.

Your thoughts?

The Semantics of Vervet Monkey Alarm Calls: Part I
Alarm calls of white-faced capuchin monkeys: an acoustic analysis
Monkey Responses to Alarm Calls

Sasquatch Phonetic Alphabet Documents

What Color is Bigfoot's World?
Bigfoot Knows what your thinking--or feeling.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ACLU Defends Bigfoot

Over a year ago we covered a story, Bigfoot Prankster Claims Violation of Free Speech. Well, it seems the American Civil Liberties Union agrees with the prankster's claim and has officially decided to defend his rights. The ACLU describes themselves as, "our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country."

These liberties include filming a video while dressed up like Bigfoot in a state park.

True. True. If this guy was dressed like a giant rabbit we would not cover it, but then, we would hope FuzzyBunnyLunchClub would have.

This associated press story was picked up by Yahoo, ABC, and NPR. Oh and of course by us.

By LYNNE TUOHY, Associated Press – Tue Mar 8, 6:31 pm ET
CONCORD, N.H. – First there was a Bigfoot sighting. Now, there's a Bigfoot suing.

A performance artist and amateur filmmaker who dressed as the mythical beast says New Hampshire park rangers didn't have the right to kick him off a mountain where he had been scaring, or at least amusing, hikers while friends videotaped his antics.

Backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Jonathan Doyle is suing the state, arguing that the requirement to pay $100 for a special use permit 30 days in advance and get a $2 million insurance bond violates his free speech rights.

"The underlying activities are humorous, but the principle's important," said Jon Meyer, a lawyer representing Doyle. "We're talking about a very small-scale activity in a very large place. We don't believe there's any legitimate government role in regulation."

Doyle's attorneys say no one complained to the state park service after Doyle first dressed as Bigfoot, ran around the rocky top of Mount Monadnock, returned to human form and interviewed bystanders about what they saw Sept. 6, 2009.

"People loved it. It was socially engaging," Doyle, 30, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "When I showed up at the top of the mountain dressed as Bigfoot and beating my chest, everyone just laughed and hoorayed."

Hikers describing their encounters in a video Doyle posted on YouTube seemed happy to get in on the fun and inflate the legend.

"At first I thought it was just a man in a suit making some sort of documentary, but then I saw it devour this man's friend and a small child," one man said at the top of the popular hiking spot as others behind him relaxed, admired the view and drank water. "I still see blood on the rocks."

A boy who looked to be about 10 said he even took a photo of the legendary monster, which is more strongly associated with the Pacific Northwest than New Hampshire. "Yeah. I'm gonna put it on eBay, sell it for like $50," he said.

When Doyle let it get out that he planned to return Sept. 19 to film a sequel, Monadnock park manager Patrick Hummel noticed. The subject line in an e-mail he wrote to his supervisor: "Bigfoot problem on Monadnock...not kidding."

Hummel said in the e-mail he planned to intercept Doyle and added, "If you want to waste 5 minutes of your time, he's on YouTube."

So when Doyle returned with a small band of costumed friends to film "The Capture of Bigfoot," they were captured themselves, sort of. Hummel interrupted the skit and barred them from filming, saying Doyle needed a permit.

"Here I am in a Bigfoot outfit, and he's an authority figure and he's got a job to do," Doyle said, during a telephone interview from the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he is waiting tables to support his artwork.

The interrupted skit — of Bigfoot sneaking up on a friend of Doyle's — had about 2,200 hits on YouTube as of Tuesday, while his Sept. 6 video had about 2,300.
Doyle said he thinks officials found his Bigfoot stunt — and the publicity it generated — tacky for a mountain revered by literary giants Henry Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Monadnock is a scenic mountain with views of four states from its 3,165-foot-tall summit. Emerson and Thoreau both hiked it and wrote about it. New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union attorney Barbara Keshen said in her brief that it is said to be among the most-climbed mountains in the world.

A lawyer who was among the friends with him when Hummel stopped the filming forwarded details of the case to the ACLU.

"Jonathan Doyle started this thing with nothing but good humor and intentions," Keshen said. "But it does have serious overtones."
Keshen and the state both filed motions Tuesday seeking favorable verdicts. Doyle is seeking attorneys' fees, nominal damages and to be allowed to videotape on Monadnock without having to get a permit.

Both sides agree there's no need for a trial because no facts are in dispute. What they dispute is whether the administrative rule requiring permits, as it was applied to Doyle, violates his First Amendment rights to free speech and expression.

New Hampshire's department of resources and economic development, which oversees the park system, referred all questions to the attorney general's office because the case is in litigation.

Assistant Attorney General Matt Mavrogeorge said the rule is constitutional.
Doyle, who grew up in Keene and has attended several art schools but has yet to graduate, has done other stunts to elicit reactions. He created and drove a "Bat-Mobile" around Manhattan. He dressed as an angel and stood stock still in the main aisle of an Episcopal church. He also said he designs websites and murals and loves to paint.

"I don't want to be locked in a Bigfoot suit forever," Doyle said. "I'd like to be able to do more."

Bigfoot is the nickname given to sightings of large, hairy, human-like creatures that have been reported across the United States. Scientists are skeptical, at best, about its existence.

Below is the video that started this all

BBC coverage, see what the Brits think

Bigfoot Prankster Claims Violation of Free Speech

Sunday, March 6, 2011

UPDATE: Rick Lunsford's Expedition in Wilkes County

In a previous post about Rick Lunsford of Cricket, North Carolina we quoted his description of his Sasquatch encounter 32 years ago (see Bigfoot Search Is On In Wilkes County).

"I seen it's eyes first. Then I seen it's oval shaped head. Then I seen the hair hanging off of him about 4 or 5 inches. I seen his left arm bowed out beside of him. I could see every finger and thumb," said Lunsford. "I never did see it no more and I never did go back looking for it."

In an article at Winston Salem Journal (below), there is talk of Lunsford asking for some help to find another Sasquatch in the same area, in the hopes of having another encounter.

'The missing link is out here'
More than 30 people show up in Wilkes County to try to find Bigfoot

Published: March 06, 2011

Rick Lunsford didn't want to take his vision of Bigfoot to the grave without sharing it, and that's why he arranged an outing in Wilkes County Saturday to try to find the big guy.

"I had a serious gallbladder infection a year ago, and the doctor gave me three to five days to live," said Lunsford, 52. He had an operation and recuperated, but the near-death experience convinced him that he had to come out with it — that he had seen Bigfoot in rural Wilkes County when he was 20.

"I've got five grandyoung'uns, and I wanted them to know about Bigfoot before I go. The missing link is out here in these hills," Lunsford said Saturday afternoon, surrounded by about 30 other Bigfoot adventurers who came out on a gray, rainy day to seek the creature.

Lunsford described Bigfoot as between 6 and 8 feet tall, as broad as a refrigerator, with an oval head and dark eyes, and a hand similar to a human's, with a thumb and four fingers.

The group met at the Millers Creek Food Lion parking lot at noon Saturday, in a drizzling rain.

"I honestly don't believe, but I could always be made a believer," said Matthew Billings of Hayes, a turkey hunter.

Bobby Lee of North Wilkesboro said if Bigfoot is out there, "he's smart, because he's avoiding bear traps that can easily take a man's leg off."

Logan Baker of Hayes said he wanted to come see what all the fuss was about. "We'd like to believe it; we'd like to find proof," said Baker, who is a deer hunter.

Gary Pilkenton of Millers Creek said he is 75 percent sure that Bigfoot exists. "I believe that all these witnesses who have seen him, all these years, can't be lying. They come up with the same descriptions, by and large."

Bigfoot is a species of animal that hasn't yet been recognized officially, Pilkenton said.

"He's a mammal, a primate of some kind."

The group would look for footprints or broken limbs — anything that would show that a big creature had been there.

About 12:30, the group got into their vehicles, and a caravan of trucks and cars headed toward the Roten Creek area, about 12 miles away. Vehicles slowly drove on a winding, misty mountainous road beside a wide creek, past Christmas tree farms, wood and brick bungalow houses, cows and churches, including Poplar Cove Baptist and New Light Baptist. The Blue Ridge Holiness Campground had a sign that read, "Jesus is coming soon! Wake up America!"

As the vehicles were parking near the site, a driving rain began. When a couple of the all-terrain vehicles began spinning their wheels, trying to make it up a steep muddy hill to get to the site, Lunsford called off the hunt.

"I don't want anyone to get hurt," he said, adding that he would reschedule for a day with better weather and no rain.

Hobert Hart, who lived nearby, came outside to find out what all the hubbub was about. When told that people were trying to find Bigfoot, he said he has lived in the area since 1949 and had never seen it.

"The biggest thing I have ever seen was a bear," Hart said, adding that he did not believe in Bigfoot.

"Maybe these people are getting a bit of exercise, but that's about all they're getting," he said.

Brad Boyer of Mooresville and his two sons Robbie and Ryan came to the hills of Millers Creek wearing T-shirts that said, "Bigfoot stepped on me in Willow Creek, California."

"Bigfoot is a cottage industry in Willow Creek," he said, adding he couldn't pass up the chance to go on an expedition so close to home.

"All the Bigfoot folklore, TV programs and websites out there influence people, and leads them to put things together in their minds," Boyer said. "I don't believe in it personally, but I don't believe these people are lying."

Lunsford said that when people tell him what he saw was probably a bear, he answers that "a bear has a neck, and this thing I saw, his head rested right on his shoulders."

Lunsford said after he saw Bigfoot, he didn't tell many people, only his wife. He said he waited 20 years to tell his mother, so as not to upset her.

After various media reported on the upcoming expedition, Lunsford said he was teased in the chat rooms of, a popular website for Wilkes County residents.

One person wrote that Lunsford was trying to find the tooth fairy, and another one wrote: "Dear Ricky: Leave him alone, you dummy!"

"People can believe whatever they want to believe," he said, adding that he was pleased with the turnout, especially given the rain. "This was worth it all, and these people showing up means a lot. Now, people know that Bigfoot was here."

Those who would like to go on the next hunt can call Lunsford at (336) 667-4730.

You can watch two earlier videos attached to this story below.

Wilkes County Man Searching For Bigfoot - Rick Lunsford is on the search for Bigfoot 32 years after he claims he first saw him.

Why Are They Searching For Bigfoot - 6pWhat is up with the fascination of hunting for Bigfoot
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