Mystery Ape Photo?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 11th, 2009

What do you make of this one?

Look at it carefully.

What does it appear to be to you?

A Bigfoot?

A Sasquatch?

A Windigo, Skunk Ape, Booger, Swamp Monster? What?

Could it be one of the first trailcam photos of a Florida unknown anthropoid?

When I first saw this, it certainly resembled a chimpanzee walking upright. But where? In the South? From Africa? In a zoological garden setting? Or a wild animal park?

What are your initial reactions? What, totally out of context, do you think of this image?

Now, step back a moment, and begin to realize some of the sketchy details of how this photograph comes to the public.

Let us try to visit the truth about this picture, sort of. Do you remember that $1,000,000 prize being offered by trailcam & binocular manufacturer Bushnell Corporation, in conjunction with Field & Stream magazine for photographic proof of Sasquatch’s existence?

We all hoped it might turn into something worthwhile, but guessed it would devolve into a “fakery” contest, right?

The photograph above, in reality, is the first runner-up in the Field & Stream/Bushnell “Bigfoot” photography contest. The winner is obviously of a man in a suit, jogging and listening to his music. See below.

The winner…

Here’s what F&S said about this: “It’s one thing to capture a shot of Sasquatch in the wild, but when Erik Stenbakken of Greeley, Colorado sent us this photo of Bigfoot rocking out to his I-Pod we had to give him first prize.”

That Bigfoot costume is even easy to identify, as it is from McAvene Designs of North Hollywood, California. It is the one that Penn & Teller used to create hoax Bigfoot footage for broadcast on their program in April 2006.

The photos of the costume are well-known to Cryptomundo readers:

Bigfoot Suit

Bigfoot Suit

But have the contest organizers really enlightened us as to the how, the what or the where of their Photo Winner #2?

The caption simply reads, “Sasquatch Photos Runner-Up: Submitted by Pete Morgan of Bradford, Pennsylvania.”

However, I am interested in where? And how was that image captured? And via a trail camera?

BTW, appearances of apparently very chimplike creatures have turned up in recent years, in California and Florida.

The blurred video capture, below, shows the chimpanzee-like creature caught on tape in Florida, fall of 2006.

Florida Chimp

Florida Chimp

I look forward to a fuller revealing of how Pete Morgan of Pennsylvania created the image he submitted to Bushnell.

6:49 AM ET Update

I found it. The “runner up” photograph is most definitely a bonobo, and is identical to the one from a posting on the Bonobo Hand Shake site here. The author is Vanessa Woods and her blog is about bonobos and the Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary.

It was an image included with a brief note there about the topic of “Bigfoot” and what it would look like, from August 2008.

Ms. Woods is associated with the Friends of Bonobos and the Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary. Founded by Claudine Andre in 1994, Lola ya Bonobo is the sanctuary of the NGO, Les Amis des Bonobos du Congo (ABC). Since 2002, the sanctuary has been located at Les Petites Chutes de la Lukaya, just outside of Kinshasa in République Démocratique du Congo.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

33 Responses to “Mystery Ape Photo?”

  1. Weezy responds:

    Ha ha, pretty funny second image of him with the iPod. This is why nothing but a body will prove that bigfoot is real though, that suit looks pretty good from far away, and not even that bad close up.

  2. Alton Higgins responds:

    We’re supposed to believe the winning photo was obtained with a game camera? Good grief.

  3. Andrew Minnesota responds:

    I thought chimpanzee when I first saw it too. The winner is amusing, it could make a fun iPod commercial

  4. mystery_man responds:

    I am not sure we have enough evidence here to deduce that the musical device in the winning photo is in fact an iPod.

    I’ve tried tinkering with the photo on different magnifications and the details of the music player are fuzzy enough to not be able to rule out other music players. Although the earbud wires are the same white as typical iPod wires, could this not be regular wires painted white, or another brand of white wires meant to emulate those of the iPod? It seems feasible that with other similar designs of MP3s on the market which could be the same color pattern, and the easily hoaxed white earbud wires, what we are seeing could be a white colored device from a manufacturer other than Apple. We should not in my opinion jump to conclusions that this is an iPod we are seeing, at least not until more solid photographic evidence is obtained. 😉

    The runner up to me leaves almost no doubt in my mind that it is a picture of a chimpanzee. I’d be interested to see how and where this picture was captured myself.

  5. sasquatch responds:

    Mysery ape- Large male chimp.
    The winning picture is not a game cam picture and shows that the contest was a joke. it reminds me of when Robin Williams ruined Aladin with all of the rediculous modern references…Ha Ha Ha a bigfoot with an ipod. Stupid AND INSULTING. especially to everyone who actually tried to get the real thing.

  6. coelacanth1938 responds:

    I hope somebody doesn’t get shot wearing that costume.

  7. napalmnacey responds:

    Definitely looks like some sort of chimp, though I’m thinking probably a bonobo, considering the thinness of the hair in the neck and chest area and the way it’s standing.

    Where-as a chimp is more like this.

    It looks wet though, so I could be mistaken. Definitely a known ape though. Nice looking animal, though. A good detailed shot. Just realised it’s a boy! LOL!

  8. berno6 responds:

    I, as a graphic designer, can tell you the photo is completly photoshoped and in my opinion its a photo of statue or a replica, the second one(fox ten) its a baboon or a big monkey, not an ape.

  9. dogu4 responds:

    Please keep us posted on the image from Bradford, PA. Not to cast any aspersions, but you should know that Bradford PA is a mere hop skip and a jump from where the now infamous mangy bear pics were taken. The vegetation looks a little too tropical for mid-september Northwestern Pennsylvania even allowing for some climate change, but this one does look, as Mystery Man suggests, very much like an adult chimpanzee and should stimulate much specualtion.

  10. mystery_man responds:

    Napalmnacey- Bonobo is another definite possibility. It’s hard to say for sure which, but I am almost positive this is a bonobo or a chimp.

    Dogu4- Yeah, I doubt this was taken in Pennsylvania too. But just because the photographer is from there does not in any way mean this photo was taken there. It could have been taken anywhere. I really wish we had more to go in with regards to the location. I agree with you and my own thoughts when looking at the vegetation is that this looks like more of a tropical environment. Perhaps Florida? Like Loren said, this could also very easily be at a zoo or wildlife sanctuary.

    As for photoshopping, call me crazy and I could be wrong, but I don’t get the feeling that was the case here. It doesn’t particularly look to me as if it has been altered (although granted it might be and the top prize for the competition would be a good incentive to do a bang up job). I’m under the impression that this photo could be the result of photography without photoshopping. To me it just looks like a regular photo of a bonobo or chimp in an odd upright moment to make it seem as it’s bipedal. However, like I said, with a 1,000,000 prize at stake I’m sure that people are going to go to great lengths to produce believable hoaxed images.

    Anyway, hopefully the person who took it will come forward and offer a little more information.

  11. mystery_man responds:

    Also, since chimps and bonobos can walk along for short stints, photos could certainly be taken of them to make them seem like fully bipedal animals. It wouldn’t take an anomaly like Oliver the chimp to get results like this pic, in my opinion. I would be very surprised if the subject is not a bonobo or chimp.

    For me, the enigma of this photo at this point lies in the “where” more than the “what.”

  12. Loren Coleman responds:

    Please read my update that finally uploaded to the site. The “mystery photo” definitely is of a bonobo. The only photoshopping apparently is some cropping and the addition of a bogus time stamp.

    [Speaking of time, the time code on Cryptomundo’s comments are messed up because they seem to be registering daylight time, but sometimes I’m not sure from what time zone. Admin operations are in the Pacific and Central zones, and my blogging/comments originate from the Eastern one.]

  13. mystery_man responds:

    Loren- That’s pretty much what I figured, although with even more photoshop work (cropping) than I had supposed. I thought this was just a regular picture of a bonobo. Thanks for the heads up. Looking forward to seeing the update.

  14. mystery_man responds:

    Loren- Oh I see, the update is on tacked on the end of this blog. Haha. I thought it would go up on its own. Please disregard that last comment of mine!

  15. mystery_man responds:

    The update gets me to thinking about the legal implications (if any) in the event that the man who submitted this had actually won the money. Are the photos on the Bonobo Handshake site copyrighted? Is it possible that Mr. Morgan could have won and kept 1,000,000 dollars off of a photo that was not his own, lifted off of another site? I’m curious about the ramifications in this case if he had won the Bushnell contest and reaped that sort of financial gain off of someone else’s photo.

  16. dogu4 responds:

    Gotta love that euphemism “bonobo handshake”. Evidently they stop before they need glasses.

  17. tropicalwolf responds:

    It is actually better for true researchers that Bushnell decided to pick an OBVIOUSLY faked and somewhat fun photo as the winner of their contest. If they had picked an extraordinary and truly startlingly lifelike photo that was indeed a “hoax-photo”, it would have set North American primate acceptance back decades. Everyone would be looking at ANY new evidence as a hoax by pointing to the skill of someone motivated by money not science.

  18. red_pill_junkie responds:

    What’s fascinating about the second image, is how our cousin chooses to use an upright walk to cross that muddy stream, giving him the advantage to look for danger with its eyes higher than the water. Doing that recurringly would strengthen your leg muscles, allowing you to stay upright indefinitely; so maybe that’s the way our own ancestors became fully bipedal too.

  19. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: you are on to something.

    “iPod” is the typical kneejerk response of those unacquainted with the anecdotal evidence.

    Come on. All of the evidence available to us points AWAY FROM IPOD. We agree on two possibilities for the critter, right? OK, here we go.

    1. Sasquatch.

    You ever see a sasquatch with a job? Exactly. MONEY is needed to buy an iPod. You can get the inferior makes out of trashcans, everyone knows that. And dumpster ducking is known sas behavior. But wait a bit here. That dance step? Totally inconsistent with a compliant gait. The sas will do more of a moonwalk type of thing. ’60s boogie is just not consistent with the most informed speculation. So. Saying this is a sas with an iPod is just…well, it’s double indemnity, is what it is. Or something.

    2. Guy in suit.

    COME ON.

    I’m thinking we are way past this point by now. If you have bought an ape suit, and are no smarter than to shop a photo like this, what kind of job do you have? Answer: you have a job that leaves you with NO INCOME AFTER YOU BUY THE SUIT. Ergo: dumpster-duck, inferior-make device.

    Good job, m_m! See, occasionally you amateurs just need a pointer or two from us pros on these Tough Calls.

  20. DWA responds:

    OK. The serious analysis of the iPod (not!) having been done:

    The other shot was a bonobo, the instant I saw it. And is definitely not a game-camera shot.

  21. Viergacht responds:

    Red_pill_junkie – Lamarckism?

  22. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- Thank you. It’s good to see that my in my serious professional, in depth, scientific analysis of the music player in question was appreciated. Thank you for the added insights. Indeed it would be a mistake to brazenly label what we see as an iPod, not without more convincing evidence. In the end, it seems it is highly likely that we may never know just what it is. 😉 40 years from now, it may still be debated.

  23. springheeledjack responds:

    I disagree…the supposed “I-pod” is definitely a beer can…

    You see, if you take a long look, the object in hand is an empty can, probably Budweiser based on the light color of the can. What people think of as the wires leading up to the ears is a misidentification–very obviously a branch of a tree caught in the mange of the costume…I know it LOOKS like the headphones, but you see, this is what happens when people make snap judgements on these things.

    Obviously the owner of the suit was inebriated and stumbled thorugh the brush until getting to open ground–hence the odd stance and gait of the person.

    Please, next time let’s just leave this to untrained professionals in some unrelated field to figure this stuff out…

  24. DWA responds:

    springheeledjack: M_m and I disagree.

    You’ll see the paper next month. But you are shooting from the hip, sirrah!

    Put this in Photoshop. Max the “Stand Reality On Its Head” setting. And have another look. Just sayin’.

    You’ll see that it’s a…, pug.


  25. cryptidsrus responds:

    “Ipod Sasquatch”—Funny stuff.

    Mystery one?
    I would say OTTER.
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Seriously, though…
    Yep, definitely Bonobo.
    Good photo regardless of what it is.

  26. red_pill_junkie responds:

    @ Viergacht: not Lamarckism per se, but perhaps epigenetics (the environment determining how the genes are expressed)? Anyway, it may be that full bipedalism is both the result of inherited traits and training —i.e. the young ones being taught by their parents to maintain an upright position at all times.

    Let’s take another example: Increase in brain size in our species has been considered by Science as a result of a change in diet with more fatty acids, brought by the addition of more protein meat. So this behavioral change in lifestyle—coupled with natural selection— brought about somehow the large intellect we all now enjoy. What I’m saying is that the environment might play a bigger role than we currently give it credit for.

  27. mystery_man responds:

    red_pill_junky- Well, in humans bipedalism requires no special training. A young human will eventually walk naturally, even without any intervention from adults. You can speed up the process by practicing with a toddler, getting them to stand, coaxing them to take steps, and so on, but the fact is that they would develop the ability eventually on their own. At this point in human evolution, bipedalism is not a learned trait, but rather one that is innately imprinted in us, something our bodies and brains are geared to do.

  28. mystery_man responds:

    red_pill_junky- Of course that is at out state of evolution now. Early on, when our ancestors first started developing the trait, bipedalism could very well have come about through environmental pressures of evolution in conjunction with early humans’ concerted effort to help along the process in the ways you describe. At the very least, it could have perhaps sped along an evolutionary process that was already in progress.

    To me it is not a totally far fetched notion. Natural selection and evolution is always influenced by the environment, but perhaps you are right and the adaptation of bipedalism was consciously pushed along by selective training. This in turn could have cemented its status as a natural human feature and over time we get to where we are today, with bipedalism a completely natural biological course for us.

    It is an interesting line of discussion. The full story behind the reasons for bipedalism and its evolution in humans is still not completely understood or agreed upon, and is still debated. I can see what you are saying as being a possible factor.

  29. mystery_man responds:

    red_pill_junky- Sorry about the stream of comments, but I just read again what you said earlier about wading being a factor that contributed to the development of bipedalism in humans.

    It’s interesting you said that because I don’t know if you are aware of it or not, but the “Wading hypothesis” of human bipedal evolution, which has gained momentum in recent years, proposes just that. Large apes such as the bonobos we’ve been talking about here wade in a bipedal manner. It affords good advantages. By standing, they can not only keep their heads above water but they can also keep an eye out for predators during this relatively vulnerable (for a terrestrial animal) moment. This hypothesis has been proposed as a model for the development of bipedalism in humans as well. There has been some interesting evidence to support the hypothesis, for example fossil remains of a very human-like pelvis in a prehistoric swamp dwelling ape that was unrelated to humans.

    So perhaps early humans did develop a strong tendency towards bipedalism through wading, which in turn proved to be a useful advantage in other areas such as tool use or gathering fruits from trees. If the environment made this a desirable trait towards survival, then perhaps as you said early humans made a conscious effort to develop the ability. This, in concert with natural selection towards physical traits that favored bipedalism (foot structure, pelvis structure, spinal alignment, etc), could have made bipedalism in humans what it is today. There was likely a certain extent of sexual selection as well, in the form of females mating more often with the men who were most able to display long bouts of bipedalism.

    So your speculating on wading being a factor in human bipedalism is quite possibly not too far off the mark.

  30. dogu4 responds:

    Those are some good points regarding epigenetics, evolution, social pressure and their inter-relatedness. One aspect of the pic that Red-pill-junkie touches upon is tangetially related to the Aquatic Ape Theory and while I don’t see a lot of weight in how it’s been positioned, it has always been something about human evolutionary past that’s puzzled and fascinated me. Really, our perfect natural habitat certainly seems to be more adequately described as one suited for the intertidal zones and estauaries of the sub-tropical oceanic coastlines; water, abundance of high protien and high fat foods…even our teeth seem better suited to crushing mollusks and crustaceans. That fossil ancestors are found in areas that were once savannah sometimes overlooks that the rift was rich in lake environements too and that the modern environments of semi arid and highly eroded landscapes in East Africa are great for fossil finding, as are caves in Europe and so an element of preferred site selection is existing. It may not be a true reflection of our actual ancestral habitat….coastal regions from that period are now largely underwater or subjected to the energy of wave action…not good for preservation or discovery.
    And about those iPods…an excellent reason for opposable thumbs.

  31. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Thanks for the great comments mystery_man & dogu4. Indeed, new surveillance technologies will allow us to explore the uncharted underwater coastal regions of the world, and help piece together an often overlooked part of our distant past: our link with the Sea, the primordial giver of life 🙂

  32. MikeRochip responds:

    There is much more proof and a variety of other photos from the guy who took the winning photo.

    Evidently this intrepid bigfoot researcher has spent a great deal of time finding and photographing bigfoot in places like downtown Fort Collins, Colorado.

  33. raisinsofwrath responds:

    Ahh yes, Bradford, PA, the place I grew up and just got back from. I had been visiting my family over Christmas there but didn’t see anything in the local paper (The Bradford Era) nor do I know the Morgan family even though the entire area has maybe 8,000 people soaking wet and of course everyone knows everyone else’s business.

    As another poster mentioned, the “mangy bear” photo was taken just outside of Bradford in the Allegheny National forest. Bradford is surrounded by forestland and has no major city within 90 miles. Growing up there I’ve witnessed many a strange anomaly in those woods from seeing a Black Panther to being stalked by a pack of feral dogs. Bradfordians spend a great deal of time in the woods hunting and fishing. More and more of the residents are now carrying digital cameras into the woods these days and I wouldn’t be surprised to see future photo’s coming from the area. In other words, when you live in Bradford, there’s no need to get your Sassy pics in Florida.

    I’ll ask my family who this Morgan clan is and possibly can talk to the individual in question. (the guy, not the monkey)

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