Best Evidence: Bigfoot

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on January 31st, 2007

The Discovery Channel has a new series called Best Evidence.

Best Evidence combines dramatic documentary storytelling with today’s technology and advances in science to unravel and test both long-held and recent mysteries. We go to any limits — using science rather than loose conjecture — to make definitive points leading us to the very Best Evidence. Get a preview of the upcoming episodes.Discovery Channel

The second episode of this new series deals with the examination of the evidence for Bigfoot and airs Thursday night, February 1st.

That’s a topic that has been discussed here on Cryptomundo, most recently in my blog entries Digging For Proof of Sasquatch and Science and the Sasquatch.

Episode 2: Bigfoot
It is one of the most enduring unresolved mysteries. Is the missing link between early humans and apes alive today in the dense temperate forests of the Pacific Northwest? In 1967, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin were investigating reports of Bigfoot/Sasquatch sightings in the Bluff Creek area of Northern California. They struck gold when their film camera captured a 22-second shot of an alleged female Bigfoot before she disappeared into the woods. Most scientists believe that this film record and a set of footprint casts that accompany it are an elaborate hoax. But a few self-proclaimed experts make the opposite, startling claim. To them, it reveals compelling proof of a living human-ape. We consulted with numerous researchers and professionals — from anthropologists to orthopedic surgeons to a famous special effects makeup artist — to evaluate some of the best evidence. Also, we obtained four casts from the Smithsonian Institution as well as the shaky Patterson-Gimlin film. Using new digital video enhancement and stabilization techniques, as well as the expertise of Stanford University’s Gait Laboratory, BEST EVIDENCE examines the film creature’s costume, posture and gait frame-by-frame against the movements of an actor in a suit. The results will surprise even the most skeptical viewer.
Premiere: Feb. 1, 2007Discovery Channel

Published today in the ISU Bengal, the student newspaper of Dr. Jeff Meldrum’s university, is the following article.

Professor to discuss ‘Bigfoot’ Legend on Discovery Channel Feb. 1
University Relations
Posted: 1/31/07

Dr. Jeff Meldrum, associate professor of anatomy and anthropology in the Idaho State University department of biological sciences, is scheduled to appear Feb. 1 on the premier episode of the Discovery Channel series “Best Evidence.”

The episode, titled “Bigfoot,” includes an interview with Meldrum in his ISU lab. He discusses his research into what some believe may be footprint evidence for Sasquatch. The episode also depicts his work in progress at ISU’s Idaho Virtualization Laboratory, directed by Ralph Chapman.

Duplicate casts of footprints found at the site of the controversial Patterson-Gimlin film clip, alleged to depict a Bigfoot encountered in northern California in 1967, were obtained from the Smithsonian Institution and virtualized in 3-D.

Meldrum also traveled to the Motion & Gait Analysis Lab at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University in Calif. to confer with Dr. Jessica Rose, researcher and director of the lab, and Dr. James Gamble, affiliated orthopedic surgeon. They conducted a re-examination of the Patterson-Gimlin film with particular attention to details of the film subject’s gait, or pattern of walking.

The Discovery Channel notes, “‘Best Evidence’ examines the film creature’s costume, posture and gait, frame-by-frame against the movements of an actor in a suit. The results will surprise even the most skeptical viewer.”

The program is scheduled to air Feb. 1 (check local listings for times).

Meldrum recently published the book, “Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science” (Forge/Tom Doherty Associates, 2006), which examines whether evidence indicates a real primate species lies behind the legend of Sasquatch, or Bigfoot.ISU Bengal

Here in Central Time Zone land, the show airs at 8 PM and again at midnight this Thursday night, February 1st. It re-airs February 15th at 1 PM Central as well.

And another thing, what photo is Discovery using to promote this show on their website? Again, it’s the classic Ivan Marx photo!

Will the science used in this program answer any of Ben Radford’s questions?

“Where is the science in the search for Bigfoot?”

Where, exactly is the science?

Is Jeff Meldrum’s analysis about anatomy (based on a FILM) good science?

Is Fahrenbach’s Bigfoot analysis good science?

Is the BFRO’s Skookum cast analysis good science?

If so, by what criteria? I challenge anyone to show me how any of the above (which are among the most touted examples of science being applied to Bigfoot) are good science. Pick a widely-accepted list of criteria for the scientific method and see how the above research measures up– or doesn’t. Ben Radford

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

31 Responses to “Best Evidence: Bigfoot”

  1. swnoel responds:

    As always … thanks for the heads up.

    Wouldn’t want to miss this.

  2. CRH responds:

    Definitely worth checking out, if only for Jeff Meldrum. The recent SciFi Channel ‘investigative’ show was an utter disappointment in my eyes. They could have lost the ‘team’ in the bush somewhere and just focused on the researchers, would have been way more interesting. I’d have left that bunch behind me on the first portage for the pointless baggage they were.

  3. MBFH responds:

    Unfortunately living in the UK means I can’t see this but if anyone can provide some feedback I’d be grateful.

    On the Ivan marx photo, what’s the general opinion of it – real or fake? Compared with descriptions of Bigfoot the creature in the photo seems to have a human proportioned frame, quite slim with normal length arms (mine reach nearer to my knees than the creature in the photo!)

  4. DWA responds:

    MBFH: the Marx photo was long ago discarded by serious researchers as an unequivocal fake.

    Not only does it not square with the Patterson film subject, it doesn’t square with any other description of the animal from the large number of eyewitness reports.

    What it really really looks like is a human in a suit.

    Because it is.

  5. Ole Bub responds:

    Good morning Cryptos….

    Craig…thanks for the heads up on this series…I’m looking forward to a comprehensive scientific discussion of the “best evidence”.

    live and let live…

    ole bub and the dawgs

  6. Craig Woolheater responds:


    See Loren’s post Biscardi’s Legacy is Marxian here on Cryptomundo for more background on Ivan Marx and his “Bigfoot” photos.

  7. mystery_man responds:

    Ah man, another show that I’m not going to be able to see over here in Japan. Please give us all a follow up on this!

  8. Kathy Strain responds:

    No disrespect to Ben Radford, but what exactly is his background that qualifies him to judge what is or isn’t “good science”? What experiences does he have with the scientific method?

  9. Ceroill responds:

    Thanks for the heads up, Craig! I’ll have to watch this one! Maybe it won’t be as embarrassing as most of these shows.

  10. DWA responds:

    Kathy: Ben’s written books! That makes him an unqualified expert. 😉

    What Ben is really good at is highlighting where he doesn’t want science to go with the evidence. One begins to think he doesn’t WANT proof, doesn’t one?

  11. silvereagle responds:

    The science was already done in the 60’s, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. It was a not very kept secret but intensive DoD study, that examined two live specimens held in captivity at separate times. Both escaped due to techniques mentioned in “Valley of the Skookum” by Sali Sheppard-Wolford. Today, only a few copies of the report are believed to be quite closely held. Mostly by government entities like the FBI, the NSA and the DoD. LLNL no longer has any copies as they were removed about 1978, nor was the current staff on duty then, since they have retirement plans. So current staff knows nothing about it. The old public information officer told his replacement, absolutely nothing about the not very kept secret Bigfoot study. Consequently, there is no more government money available for 4th dimensional bigfoot studies, even if there was a renewed interest by scientists. But Stephen Hawkings most likely read and memorized the entire report from cover to cover, since he had access while on sabatical at U.C. Berkeley in 1974-75 and quite frankly, could not keep quiet about it while at Berkeley.

  12. MBFH responds:

    Thanks for the replies, much appreciated.

  13. MBFH responds:

    Ah, he’s linked to Mr Biscardi – enough said…

  14. Kimble responds:

    Oh Great!

    I just went to set up my DVR to record the show and you would never guess how the show’s description reads…or could you?!

    “An actor simulates the movement of a creature caught on film.”

    Yep, the show is already set up to fail.

  15. Ceroill responds:

    Sigh…I’m still gonna tune in, just in case…

  16. ladd responds:

    The tape machine will be running. Thanks for the update.

  17. silvereagle responds:

    MBFH, Good detective work, but you couldn’t be more wrong. I knew that there would be someway that the truth could be discredited. Now I know both how and why bigfoot research goes absolutely nowhere fast.

  18. Rillo777 responds:

    I still cringe a bit when I hear people say that Bigfoot is the missing link. We have absolutely no proof that it is anything but an animal. I remember reading that the Gorilla was also touted as a primitive hairy human before it was actually captured and studied. Such thinking can steer people into possibly false assumptions that actually might hinder finding the creature.

  19. silvereagle responds:

    Rillo, To correct your statement, some researchers have good evidence that has not been engraved in books, that the Bigfoot understand english quite well. Couple that with a little observed telepathy as well, and they suddenly know what we are planning, where the camera traps are, where we are going to be next and whether we are carrying a camera or a gun. Does the combination of both telepathy and understanding english sound like one possible explanation for the common end result that seems to be consistently experienced? To me, the answer is amazingly clear.

  20. airforce47 responds:

    Decent enough program and fairly neutral. No great revelations. However, I wonder about Dr Jacobs (sp?) comments regarding the forest food supply. I disagree with her as did Dr. Bindernagel and I’ve been there. There’s plenty of food for an omniverous primate. How did the Native Americans survive and flourish?

    It’s remotely possible the Patterson Film was hoaxed but very doubtful. Chambers denied in an interview he was responsible but pleased that people thought that highly of his skills.

    Kathy Strain’s comments about scientific method are accurate. We’re examining an unknown species and searching for reliable evidence. We must apply the known to the unknown which is what Professor Meldrum and Dr Farhenbach are doing with the footprint and bipedal motion evidence.

    It’s easy to sit behind a computer and comment but much harder to get out and look for the evidence. I choose the latter and effective today I’ve parted company with USPS. NV here I come later this year and look out Bigfoot the Air Force is on the hunt :-).

  21. bill green responds:

    hey everyone i watched best evidence new bigfoot documentary segment 2 times last night i found it great very informative very well done. thanks bill. p.s. i hope this segment of best evidence about bigfoot is on dvd soon in discovery channel online store in near future i guess we have to be patiently wait on that.

  22. mystery_man responds:

    Well, that’s the problem isn’t it, Airforce47? They are not excactly giving out grants for Bigfoot research and most people have to pay the bills somehow. Most people in this field don’t have the luxury of forking out their own cash for lengthy field expeditions of the type that are likely to produce great results. I have done limited field research (not for Bigfoot) and just traveling to my destination was not cheap for me. So the computer it is. Sigh.

  23. Ceroill responds:

    Interesting show, and much better than most of these ‘investigative’ programs. The segment with the man in the suit was not done like a stunt, but a genuine experiment to see if the way ‘Patty’ walked was beyond the ability of a man in a costume. The whole show was qiute even-handed, I thought.

  24. Kathy Strain responds:

    If we were all schooled in the scientific method then Dr. Jablonsky wouldn’t have made some of the ill-informed comments she did last night. As an anthropologist at a major university, how in the world can she claim that our forests are devoid of sufficient nutrition to support an ape? Native Americans have been living in those same environments for thousands of years! Maybe I need to forward her a copy of my “The Ethnobotany of the California Indians” by Dr. George Mead that has over 1,000 entries of edible plants (doesn’t even include the vast amounts of fish, birds, rodents, and mammals available as well). And while I’m at it, I’ll send her a copy of the paper I wrote about a nest….

  25. DWA responds:

    Kathy: hoary belief rears its ugly head.

    Or some anthropologists don’t get outside, take your pick.

    This is one of the easiest anti-sas arguments to toss out of hand. Look at all the deer in the eastern woods. All the deer and elk in the west. Add moose and bear both places, among others. And look at all the food that’s left even after they’re done. (And the sas’s apparent taste for deer and elk. 😉 )

    Most of the nutritive material in temperate forests is composted uneaten.

    It’s how they become FORESTS, Dr. Jablonsky. Get some fresh air before that next TV appearance.

  26. airforce47 responds:

    Good point Kathy about food in the forest. I’ll share the postage cost. It was probably the most ludicrous thing I’ve heard a credentialed scientist say in quite a while.

    It’s okay by me if they don’t accept the collected evidence because the evidence itself is of an unknown species and is therefore subject to interpretation up to the point where the species becomes known.

    This is part of the scientific method and is why we have peer review built into the process. It’s a brake but it can be misused as we’ve seen in the past.

    Overall I enjoyed the show. I thought it was well done given the subject. My best,

    Larry Lesh

  27. mystery_man responds:

    I haven’t seen the show, but Kathy and DWA, good posts! I hadn’t realized that they were making the claim that there isn’t enough nutrition to support them. Hogwash.

  28. YourPTR! responds:

    “Most scientists believe that this film record [P/G Film] and a set of footprint casts that accompany it are an elaborate hoax.” I think most scientists scoff at the film and dismiss it out of hand without paying it serious analysis. But of those that do bother to look at it usually agree that it shows a real unknown creature and not a man in a suit.

  29. Buzzardeater responds:

    That NEW television coverage is boring is no surprise given the current state of discussion. How can you cover an investigation that hasn’t produced anything in forty years (since the Patty film)? Are there no new ideas? What about sub-sonic communications? The vocal tract of a ten footer could easily dip below our hearing. The reports always mention the woods becoming still and quiet, maybe that’s why. Is anybody listening?

    What about ‘resident’ subjects? There are a couple of candidates described on the net, has anyone followed them to the nest? Or camped nearby or left a game camera?

    What about the ongoing silence of the authorities? The Americans have invested (more than any zoology department could) in a lot of camera equipement and who knows what all along the Canadian border. There are towers and line of sight sensors galore searching for drug smugglers, yet they haven’t seen any anamolies? They record every movement for miles and have for years, but no anomalous heat signatures?

    The pop culture image of a single ape clumping through the woods on oversize feet is preposterous. Why? It is because lack of new material creates a vacuum, attracting filler. Long unproven theory lends itself to parody.

    Maybe the way to find a ‘subject’ is to find a rancher that is buying a hell of a lot of oranges. Is anybody checking?

  30. swnoel responds:

    There is an economic reason for not finding BF.

    Forestry practices, many outdoor activities, and development, could possibly come to a stand still if this animal was proven to exist, potentially causing the loss of Billions of dollars.

    Just look at the zealots currently trying to stop hunting, fishing, trapping, you name it …. it’s costing States millions in just legal fees.

    I believe there are those in the Government that already know whether this animal exists, they will not divulge anything or assist anyone.

    The evidence does suggest that there maybe a large primate living within the Continental US, but don’t expect mainstream science or Government intervention for assistance.

    I suspect that any evidence that could unequivocally prove the existence of this animal, would quickly be disposed of by any Government agency, including a body!

    You had better believe we’re on our own.

  31. mystery_man responds:

    I am personally not one for big conspiracy theories, but who knows? I have no reason to believe the government would be trying to hide it. We know that for the ones who have seen it, they have failed to hide it. Government cover up or no, if it is out there, something of that size is eventually going to come to light sooner or later.

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