Title: Monster Mania
The average individual knows that Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny are not real. What about Bigfoot or Sasquatch? This monster sounds like it would belong in a child’s nightmare. Most witnesses believe that Bigfoot is 71/2 to 8 feet tall, 300 pounds, has three to five toes, black or brown fur all over it’s body, a sagital crest, a musky odor, a strange howl, and psychic abilities. The general public often refers to Bigfoot as male but Bigfoot can also be female. Some skeptics may look at this description of Bigfoot and laugh. But, there are some individuals that take Bigfoot seriously.
Currently, Ryan Layton, a local Bigfoot expert, the Utah UFO Hunters and the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization believe that Bigfoot is real. Meanwhile, Larry Dalton, a field researcher for Utah Division of Wildlife, believes that Bigfoot is a myth which many people turn into a hoax. Layton, who has been studying Bigfoot for 25 years, claims that there are many witnesses who have seen Bigfoot all over Utah. According to Layton, Bigfoot has been sighted in South Weber, the Uintahs, Riverdale, Treemont, Garland, North Ogden, Mapleton, and Bear Lake. Layton mentions that the Uintah Mountain range is the biggest hotspot for Bigfoot sightings. However, Dalton, who has worked for the Utah Division of Wildlife, claims that there is not a shred of evidence that Bigfoot is real. So, which expert is right? It depends on the individual’s point of view.
Layton is the first expert to explain his side on Bigfoot. Though he has never seen Bigfoot face to face, Layton says that he has imitated howls and the beast has howled back at him. “You can feel the Sasquatch presence. You just know.” He has believed in Bigfoot since he was a small boy.
Layton says that most people do not know that there were documented Bigfoot sightings before the 1950’s and the 1960’s, when Bigfoot was introduced to the general public through photographs and homemade videos of Bigfoot. Let’s take a journey through time with Bigfoot.
Today, most people know of Bigfoot because of the media. The relationship between Bigfoot and the media started in the 1950’s. But the movie, released in 1972, The Legend of Boggy Creek, made Bigfoot the famous superstar that he is today. Bigfoot invaded people’s lives through this fictional, drive-in movie. The Legend of Boggy Creek is based on real encounters that people in the Boggy Creek area had with Bigfoot-like creatures. In this docudrama, there is spooky footage of the river bottoms, fog, and vegetation along the Boggy Creek. Loren Coleman, the author of Bigfoot, the true story of apes in America, notes that the Bigfoot encounters were recreated quite realistically. Apparently, this movie also included a great auditory experience, including eerie music and the piercing cry of the monster. Apparently, this movie is popular because it was released on DVD in 2002. The Legend of Boggy Creek was an important starting point for Bigfoot.
Yet, the most commercialized and popular Bigfoot movie, Harry and the Henderson’s, was released in the 1980’s. Most people have seen that movie. Today, the name, Bigfoot, is everywhere. We use the name, “Bigfoot,” for pizza places, skateboard shops, sports stores, etcetera. Also, there is an authentic “Bigfoot crossing” sign that is posted in Pike National Park, Colorado, where there are many Bigfoot sightings. This is Bigfoot’s background in the media. But there is much more to him. This monster also has a major historical background. Layton talks candidly about Bigfoot sightings throughout history. Layton excitedly reports that when Lewis (as in Lewis and Clarke) was in Washington, he wrote about seeing a dark, Bigfoot-like shadow. Layton also mentions that our own president, Teddy Roosevelt, claimed that he saw Bigfoot.
Though there were some testimonials of Bigfoot in the past, there are more Bigfoot sightings recorded today. Layton says that there are more people hunting and backpacking in the mountains, so more people are more likely to witness Bigfoot. He says that 70% of witnesses have seen Bigfoot from dusk to dawn and 30% people have seen Bigfoot during the day.
Layton knows that there are skeptics out there that will say that there is no Bigfoot in Utah. “Everybody has an opinion on everything, but I have interviewed many witnesses who have positive identifications of Bigfoot.” Layton recalls one Bigfoot witness, Ron Mower, who has seen Bigfoot nine times in Utah. Layton also notes that Roger Patterson, the witness who made a video recording of Bigfoot, came to the Uintahs to look for Bigfoot. There are also reports of Bigfoot sightings from Layton on the UUFOH web site. Some of these Bigfoot testimonials are thoroughly documented. One such testimonial is of Mr. and Mrs. Darley, of Clearfield, who describe their encounter with Bigfoot in 1979. Larry Darley was elk hunting with his wife in the Fall near Monte Cristo, east of Ogden, Utah, when they reported a loud noise and an awful odor at twilight. Mrs. Darley reported that she saw a “hairy thing, with fangs” at a water hole about 50 yards away through her rifle scope.
While some people see Bigfoot, others just observe bazaar occurrences and attribute them to Bigfoot. In 1973, Craig R. Johnson, of Far West, Weber County, was elk hunting with friends in the Manti-La Sal mountains. After returning to camp, they reported that something very powerful had lifted the door off the 300-pound horse trailer and tossed it 10 feet away. They also reported that the impression on the dust on the door did not indicate a beer or a horse. They assumed that some Bigfoot-like creature was involved in this situation.
There are many other Bigfoot sightings that Layton has posted on the UUFOH web site. The UUFOH web site claims that there are over 160 known reports of Bigfoot in Utah. Some residents report that Bigfoot is roaming their communities. Layton says that it is not uncommon for Bigfoot to roam through residential communities. He points out that Bigfoot are not confined to mountainous areas. In these two accounts, Bigfoot strolls through small Utah towns, terrifying the locals. In the 1970’s, some residents of Clarkston, northwest of Logan, reported that something made a midnight visit to the community. This thing was reported to be awakening and frightening the residents. Also, some residents of Farmington, Utah, report hearing Bigfoot screams every night for a month. Bigfoot encounters seem to happen to people of all walks of life. Hunters, local residents and even police officers have all had encounters with Bigfoot. In 1981, the police chief of Garland, Box Elder County, said that he saw a creature run in front of his car. Many other residents also reported Bigfoot sightings and tracks. Bigfoot encounters seem to be happening everywhere, at any time. In the 1980’s, a man from Lapoint, Uintah County, was flying a small airplane from Ogden to his home one winter when he saw a large, hairy creature walking through the snow of the High Uintahs. Layton reports that many Native Americans in Utah have reported Bigfoot sightings throughout history. Layton reported one such account on the UUFOH web site. In this Bigfoot account, Indians in the Ouray Reservation near Roosevelt, reported Bigfoot-like creatures in a particular canyon. Since the Indians consider the area sacred, outside investigators are not permitted. Yet, on the UUFOH web site, Layton reports that Ute Indians have a legend that Bigfoot-like creatures sometimes congregate in the Island Lake area of the High Uintahs. Also, there are periodical reports of large rocks being thrown in the middle of the night around Island Lake.
Another Bigfoot sighting happened in 1990. An Orangeville, Emery County man told Layton that he spotted Bigfoot four different times in the High Uintahs.
According to UUFOH, one witness has seen Bigfoot, found Bigfoot tracks and heard screams in Eagle Mountain. The witness reported that she has seen and heard Bigfoot for months in 2003. She has taken pictures of the Bigfoot tracks as well.
Some people may compare these Bigfoot testimonials to scary stories that they would hear at church camp or at a child’s Halloween party. Some skeptics may not be swayed by Bigfoot witnesses. But, they might be influenced by some of the scientific studies on Bigfoot. Layton has scientific research to contribute to the Bigfoot mystery.
According to Layton, the scientific term for Bigfoot is Giganticus Pithicus and the scientists that study hidden animals, like Bigfoot, are called cryptozoologists. Many cryyptozoologists believe that Bigfoot is ape-like. Though Layton is not a cryptozoologist himself, he knows that most cryptozoologists have theories on Bigfoot. According to Layton, the crytozoologists say that there is a reason why there are no Bigfoot bones or bodies to study. One scientific theory is that Bigfoot bury their dead privately. Another theory is that Bigfoot are elusive and live in caves.
So, what do Bigfoot experts and cryptozoologists study? They study Bigfoot casts, footprints and hair samples. The study of footprints, casts and prints is called dermoglyphics.
Coleman, a well-known cryptozoologist, explains the study of Bigfoot footprints in her book, Bigfoot, the true story of apes in America. She says, “Probably the most significant aspect of Bigfoot footprints has to do with the dermal ridges or fingerprints , which have been discerned on many cast footprints.” She also mentions that the late Grover Krantz, an anthropologist, discovered dermal ridges in tracks cast in Washington State in 1982 and published the first paper on Sasquatch dermoglyphics in 1983, in the “Journal of Cryptozoology.”
In her book, Coleman mentions that , in 1999, a Texas police fingerprint expert, Jimmy Chilcutt, heard the well-known anatomy and anthropology professor at Idaho State University, Jeff Meldrum, talking about dermal ridges on a television documentary and paid him a visit soon afterward. Meldrum, despite doubts from his colleagues, has dedicated his life to Bigfoot research. Chilcutt wanted to examine the dermal ridges on Meldrum’s casts. The skeptical Chilcutt thought that he was going to prove Meldrum wrong and debunk the Bigfoot theory once and for all. Though, what he found surprised him. Chilcutt had discovered that the print ridges on the bottoms of five castings, which were taken at different times and locations, flowed lengthwise along the foot, unlike human prints, which flow from side to side. “No way do human footprints do that—never, ever. The skeptic in me had to believe that all of the prints were from the same species of animal,” Chilcutt said.
On June 26, 2003, one Bigfoot expert, Derell Smith, who is featured on the UUFOH web site, took a cast from one of the 10 Bigfoot footprints found near Hoyt Peak Mountains, 5 miles from Marion, Utah. Smith found that the tracks were leading down a hill and were exactly 5 feet apart. Meldrum’s forensic study of a 400-pound plaster cast known as The Skookum Cast is featured in the 2003 article, “Forensic Expert Says Bigfoot Is Real,” which is posted on the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) web site. Meldrum says that there are recognizable impressions of a forearm, thigh, buttocks, Achilles tendon and heel. Meldrum talks candidly about the impressions in the famous cast. “It’s 40 to 50 percent bigger than a normal human being’s. This just doesn’t jive with any known animal.”
Most cryptozoologists and Bigfoot experts find that the footprints that they study come from a species that is not native to North America.
Bigfoot experts and cryptozoologists also study hair samples from Bigfoot. According to Layton, one cryptozoologist, Dr. W. Henner Farenbach, has studied some hair samples in North America. A few of the hair samples have been labeled “non-human, but unknown primate.” The Bigfoot experts and cryptozoologists admit that hair sample testing cannot conclusively prove that Bigfoot exists. Yet, most of them agree that hair sample testing can prove that there may be an unknown animal in North America that needs further study. Some Bigfoot experts and cryptozoologists may conclude that the unidentifiable hairs come from Bigfoot. While other Bigfoot experts and cryptozoologists want to study the hairs more before they conclude that Bigfoot is real.
One such specialist was featured on the UUFOH site, in the report, “Hair From Bigfoot? Specialist Undecided.” On February 15, 1980, Paul Woodbury, a specialist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, studied hairs found in South Weber by two Ogden men, Michael Sanders and Steve Ukena. While the two men think that the hairs are from Bigfoot, Woodbury is still undecided after studying the hairs. Woodbury says that there was enough hair to make a positive identification but he still said that he cannot connect the white and black hairs to any known animal. “Right now, it looks like it’s in the horse, cattle or bear family. If it’s a known mammal to the state of Utah we can key it out.”
Though Bigfoot experts and cryptozoologists do not have positive proof that there is a Bigfoot, they do have some proof that there may be an unknown animal in North America. This piece of news is exciting to those people who are on a hunt for Bigfoot.
There is also another scientist, Dr. Jane Goodall, who has a Ph.D in ethology or animal behavior, who says that Bigfoot exists . In an interview with BFRO, Goodall says a Bigfoot body is not necessary in order to prove that Bigfoot exists. She mentions that good photographs and videos are all that is necessary to prove that Bigfoot is real. Many skeptics cannot believe that scientists would be able to prove a new species without that specie’s bones or body. Krantz explained why it is not necessary to have a Bigfoot body or bones in the book, Bigfoot , the true story of apes in America. He said, “Well, if bears are real, then why don’t we find their bones? I’ve talked to hunters, many game guide conservation people, ecology students, and asked them how many remains of dead bears have you found that died a natural death? Over twenty years of inquiry and my grand total of naturally dead bear bones found is zero.” Krantz also added that the Bigfoot population guess is low; there is only one Bigfoot for every one-hundred bears. Krantz continued, “We would very much like to find the remains of a naturally dead Sasquatch, but the chance is just so remote it’s not even serious to even think about it.”
Some crytozoologists do believe that Bigfoot, like any other animal, has a natural habitat. In the BFRO article, “An analysis of an alleged Sasquatch Nest,” written by Kathy Moshowitz, of the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, reports that there were three large, oddly shaped constructions in Sonara, California. There have been many reported Bigfoot sightings in Sonara. Moshowitz believes that these three large, oddly shaped constructions could be a Bigfoot nest.
Of course, there are some people that don’t even believe that there should be a hunt for Bigfoot. These are the skeptics, some of them scientists. Dalton, a wildlife biologist for Utah Fish and Game, does not believe that Bigfoot exists. He disagrees with the forensic evidence of Bigfoot. He said that it is common to not be able to trace some hair samples back to a known animal. “ You can comb the hair off of your cat and may not be able to identify what animals the hairs come from. You know it’s you cat. You don’t need the hairs to tell you that.” Dalton says that the results of the hair sample testing depends on the quantity and the quality of the hair sample and the capability of the scientist testing the hair sample.
“ I have read practically everything on Bigfoot. There are many myths and Bigfoot is one of them.” Dalton said. Dalton says that he smiles to himself when he reads about Bigfoot research. “There is no Bigfoot research because there is no Bigfoot.” He says. Then, he recalls one of his experiences with a Bigfoot expert. When Dalton was a student at Highland High School in the 1960’s, a Bigfoot researcher came to show a Bigfoot video. Dalton recalls being excited about this video. Years later, the Bigfoot expert admitted that the Bigfoot video had been a hoax. “ Dalton says that he does not know why people believe in Bigfoot or how the Bigfoot myth came about, but he does think that many people want to believe that Bigfoot is real.
There are probably as many Bigfoot hoaxes as there are Bigfoot studies. Why would a sane individual don a gorilla suit and pretend to be Bigfoot or fake Bigfoot tracks? Some practical jokers are easily amused by the idea of Bigfoot. Other individuals may like the media attention. In any case, there are many dedicated Bigfoot hoaxers out there. One hoaxer is Bob Heronimus, who was interviewed by the Washington Post for the article, “I was Bigfoot.” Recently, Heronimus admitted that he donned on a gorilla suit for Roger Patterson’s 1967 Bigfoot video in Bluff Creek, California. “I’ve been burdened with this for 36 years, seeing the film clip on TV numerous times. Somebody’s making money off this, except for me. But that’s not the issue-the issue is that it’s time to finally let people know the truth.”
Bigfoot hoaxers do more than don on gorilla suits and pretend to be Bigfoot in videos. Some of these Bigfoot hoaxers put a lot of effort into faking the mysterious creature. These hard-working hoaxers usually fake Bigfoot tracks. Maybe these hoaxers want a challenge: faking Bigfoot footprints in modern times is very complicated. In the article, “Was Bigfoot a prank?,” featured on the UUFOH web site, Ray Wallace’s family now say that he fabricated the Bigfoot footprints that he claimed to have discovered in 1958.Wallace, one of the first Bigfoot researchers, died in 2002.Dale Wallace, the nephew of Ray Wallace, says that he still has the carved antler feet that Wallace used to make the prints. He mentions that Wallace asked a friend to carve the 16-inch-long feet and him and his brother, Wilbur, wore them to create the tracks. “He did it just as a practical joke and then he was afraid to tell anybody because they’d be so mad at him,” says Wallace’s nephew.
No one knows for sure if Bigfoot is real. There is no conclusive evidence that Bigfoot exists. One thing is for certain: there are true believers and skeptics of Bigfoot. Many of the Bigfoot believers have dedicated their lives to Bigfoot research. Are these cryptozoologists and Bigfoot researchers just chasing a big, furry dream-creature? Or are they on the edge of discovering a new species? What about the skeptics? The skeptics are the ones that may have been tricked into believing that Bigfoot is real and they do not want to get tricked again. Some scientists are skeptical. These scientists say that they need concrete proof of Bigfoot’s habitat, body and behavior before they believe that Bigfoot is real. Who has the last say in the Bigfoot controversy? Who is right, the skeptics or the believers? It all depends on the perspective of the observer. This bazaar beast, most famous for being on national tabloids and in hoaxes all over the country, may be proven real someday.
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