Footnotes: It's unusual for someone whose entire career is built on studying bones to have…
Tracing the Origins of the Biggest Name in American Cryptozoology
July 27, 2017 at 11:02 am
Today’s Museum of Natural Mystery examines Bigfoot’s arrival in the public eye, and its evasion of that eye ever since. Is Bigfoot a feral human? A missing link? A hoax? Here’s a closer look at some of the evidence discussed in the show:
In 1957, the film The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas depicted enormous footprints in the snow. The following year, a set of similar tracks was discovered at a construction site in Bluff Creek, California.
A newspaper called The Humboldt Times referred to the creature as “Bigfoot,” which we’ve been calling it ever since.
In 1968, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin captured a legendary video of the creature known as “Bigfoot” in the Bluff Creek woods.
Patterson passed away in 1972, just four years after the video was shot. He has been labeled as a bit of a con man, and is rumored to have faked the video in an unsuccessful attempt to garner funding for a Bigfoot documentary. Bob Gimlin has since stated that Patterson cut him out of any profit he made off the footage, even going so far as to hire actors to portray Gimlin in public appearances. Numerous people have come forward claiming that Bigfoot was a costume, and that they were the ones inside of it. Most infamous among them is Bob Hieronimus, an old acquintance of Patterson’s with a walk that’s very reminiscent of the creature from the film.
Regardless of Roger Patterson’s character, it is well documented that he was a Sasquatch enthusiast himself, having written a book titled Do Abominable Snowmen of America Really Exist? in 1966.
In his book, Patterson outright plagiarizes illustrations from the works of previous writers on the Bigfoot topic. Most notable is an illustration by Mort Kunstler, for an article written in 1959 by Ivan Sanderson. The article, titled The Strange Story of America’s Abominable Snowman, detailed an encounter by a man named William Roe with a wild woman in British Columbia. Roe’s daughter created a sketch of the creature based on his descriptions.
Roe stated that the woman resembled a large, hairy, muscular man, save for a pair of large breasts, which is how he recognized that she was female. The illustration in Sanderson’s article also included this detail.
Below is the illustration appearing in Patterson’s 1966 book.
This image is not the only illustration Patterson lifted from Sanderson’s articles.
Note that Patterson’s plagiarized images also contain the depiction of the large-breasted ape-creature, as in the Sanderson article. The creature he caught on film also had breasts.
Of course, Bigfoot enthusiasts argue that the reason the creature in the footage has breasts at all is that it’s a female genuine Bigfoot, which isn’t impossible. But you have to admit it’s suspicious how closely Patterson nailed Bigfoot’s appearance in his book, a full two years before he saw one for himself. Here’s an extensive, stabilized look at the Patterson film:
To some, it’s proof that Bigfoot was really a guy in a suit all along. To others, it’s proof that no costumed human being could ever move naturally enough to fake the creature seen on the film. If it was all a hoax, Patterson has taken that secret to his grave. Bob Gimlin, for his part, stands by the video’s authenticity. At this point, even if Gimlin were to come out and say that it was all made up, newer recordings like the Sierra Tapes would keep true believers debating even in the absence of hard evidence.
And why shouldn’t they keep the candle burning? The question of Bigfoot’s existence returns some mystery to a world where the unexplored spaces are being increasingly filled in by modern technology. Besides, quite a few attempts have been made over the years to recreate the Patterson footage by putting a person in a suit and having them walk the Bluff Creek clearing. None have ever convincingly succeeded.
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