Bigfoot in the Patterson-Gimlin Film.

Why the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot Film Should Concern Scholars of Human Origins

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There are only two reasonable explanations for why no conclusive proof of a hoax has been produced. One explanation would be to say the evidence is insufficient to make a rigorous conclusion. The other explanation is that the film cannot be proven to be a fake because it is not one. And this second explanation is what the anthropological sciences need to be mindful of, because if this is in fact the explanation, then a new and significant reconsideration of the hominid family tree is in order, and a new hominid needs to be added to the family. And that would be a major development most anthropologists would dream to accomplish, so their name may go beside Leakey and Johanson in the annals of human origin studies.

A color representation of bigfoot from the PGF.

A color representation of bigfoot from the PGF. ( Fair Use )

So, with this curious film evidence holding a potential to shake up the human family tree and project some scholar to lofty acclaim, why don’t we see scholarly candidates eager to explore this evidence and make some kind of determination. Like the disdain and arrogant rejection Raymond Dart experienced when his Taung Child skull was denied its truthful merit for decades, this curious film may also be suffering the same disdain and arrogant rejection. It deserves better. The following is why:

Four Factors Arguing for More Consideration of the Film

1. This film has 954 known film frames of 16mm film using a film stock famous for its image quality. The film is in perfect focus, and was processed to yield a perfectly exposed image, so one cannot say that the evidence is lacking either quantity or quality. The film’s resolution is such that the subject figure seen walking away from the cameraman is captured with sufficient detail to determine or identify anatomical elements of the body between 0.5” and 0.4” in size (based on two studies by independent experts). One cannot say the body aspects or features are too vague for analysis.

Retouched still image. This chart shows the famous Frame 352 (VFC 354).

Retouched still image. This chart shows the famous Frame 352 (VFC 354). (Munns, B. & Meldrum, J. )

The camera was hand held and the operator moved while filming, so there is motion blur from the shaking camera for some frames, but at least 350 of those 954 frames none-the-less are stable and sharp, dispelling the myth that because of a shaky camera, no determination can be made. And when the operator was closest to his filmed subject, and there were no significant landscape elements obscuring his view, the cameraman planted himself firmly in place and filmed a segment with a steady hand, during which time the filmed subject changed the path of its walk, looked back directly at the cameraman, and then briskly snapped its head back to a forward posture and rapidly strode away.

Anyone who claims the evidence is insufficient to do a proper analysis that could prove a hoax is simply misinformed or unqualified to appreciate the evidence. If the film is a hoax, the evidence is more than enough to support a splendid proof.

2. Many detractors of the film argue that the hand held and sporadic shaking of the camera somehow impedes a proper investigation (and often implying the cameraman did so deliberately to prevent a hoax from being revealed). But nearly any special visual effect technique which allowed a film to be “tricked” required a lock down camera on a tripod, and pin registration to hold the film securely and precisely in the film gate, frame after frame, so any special effect alteration could be integrated in a believable manner. The camera used had no pin registration, and the hand held operation (plus sporadic motion blur) utterly demolished any prospect of altering the film after processing. Even the idea of editing to alter the segment content and misrepresent the activity of the day could not be done undetectably because of the way the first copies were made and any editing would show easily and absolutely on said copies. In this respect, we can say categorically that the film was not altered or edited to hide evidence of hoaxing and create false evidence of authenticity.

3. Forensic analysis of the film using techniques and technologies, that did not exist in 1967 when the film was taken, have been applied to this film’s analysis and if ever there was potential to reveal a truth and expose any hoaxing, these new technologies are ideal. Clever hoaxers (like stage illusionists) use false positive suggestions and misdirection to distract an analyst from seeing how the hoax was staged. But any hoaxer can only create false positives for analysis techniques he/she knows exist at that time, and will likely be used to analyze the film. If a hoaxer in 1967 could not anticipate what future analysis technology a film may be subjected to, the hoaxer could not create false positive components in the film to deceive analysts of the future.


1) Not a scientific conclusion at all, but for me the film shows someone walking like a man in a suit.
2) The comments about gorilla suits may apply to a costume supply store, but just about anyone could create a better suit than the example shown. Movie makers had been creating much more realistic suits for a long time. Planet of the Apes, released the year after this film was shot, shows what was possible at the time.
3) Modern tools wouldn't be of much use in detecting fakery. It's not like we're talking about Photoshop, digital manipulation, special effects or any kind of post production trickery here. I think we can take it for granted that what we have here is an unmanipulated film. The only question is whether the film shows a man in a costume or something else.

At School, our then English teacher also did RE, it being a Catholic School and him being our form master in a Catholic Grammar school, way back in the mists of time.... well, we argued this because he felt evolution to be perfectly compatible with ideas of Darwin.

Unlike my RE teacher, and Darwin, however I sensed intuitively that God our Creator was not in fact an ape from whom we were descended and whose Original Image we carried in our bones and our DNA, and was regaled always by tales of whomsoever dared to take the piss out of this brigandage of reason and logic we call faith, so, in my teens I came across the tale of how than venerable and irascible man of God Teilhard de Chardin, had assisted in the Piltdown man hoax, to crucify a few Darwinians! before later going on to discover, with others Peking Man in China.
This hoax was perpetrated when I was in my teens and we all had a great laugh, watching the original film in repeats on our black and white TVs, because no REAL animal moves in such an artificial manner at all- you need to actually be able to watch the movie over and over to realise it, but that is certainly a human in a suit, or an angel of God posing as one, rather as "yetis" do in the Himalaya.

Years ago I ran into a group of mountaineers who had got lost in the snows, completely lost, and who were , they said, rescued by a couple of Yeti and taken to their cave, where they were rested for three days and three nights, before being led to safety down the mountain and abandoned by their guides......

William Munns's picture

To those who have commented thus far, I thank you for your thoughts. But if this film is a hoax, I would like to see a proof, based on an examination of the eveidence, (actually described correctly) the method of analysis used, and the exact conclusion derived from that specific evidence. Also, I’d like to have the author of that proof give his/her name, credentials,etc.


I don’t think that’s too much to ask, but I’ve been waiting 50 years to read that proof, and so far, it doesn’t exist. So I question why.



I imagine most would believe that the statements of:
Philip Morris, the man that sold the suit to Patterson
Bob Heironimus, the man that wore the suit
provide that kind of proof.
My question would be why was that not addressed in your article?

William Munns's picture

The most compelling reason why the matter of Bob Heironimous and Phillip Morris was not noted is that in the two critical texts cited “Daegling’s “Bigfoot Exposed” and Loxton and Prothero’s “Abominable Science”, both of these clearly skeptical texts did not recognize Bob Heironimous and Phillip Morris as presenting claims of sufficient merit to be factored into those author’s analysis. Even though all authors were aware of the claims, they did not use the claims to establish a proof of hoax. So if skeptical authors and researchers cannot be confident the Heironimous and Morris are making truthful and reliable claims, then I felt that any mention of them would have required a lengthy disclosure of the issues which cast doubt on their credibility. If one were to advocate those claims by Heironimous and Morris as being truthful and factual, the claims would need to be analyzed with the same discipline and logic as all other evidence should be, and under that kind of analysis, the claims have not proven to be strong enough to be taken as fact, even by many skeptical analysists.

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