Bigfoot in the Patterson-Gimlin Film.

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

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Tree shadows on the subject figure in the PGF.

Tree shadows on the subject figure in the PGF. ( Munns, B. & Meldrum, J. )

Any staged film production (including a hoax), done with calm deliberation of intent to plan and execute, has certain characteristics for how the filming is accomplished. A truly spontaneous and unplanned filming of an unpredictable event has distinctly different characteristics. Analysts in 1967 may not have been able to determine the differences with 1967 film analysis technology, but future analysts with new and sophisticated technologies can find those mistakes and clues to a deliberate filmed event.  So, this new technology should guarantee proof of a hoax if one occurred. But those who advocate a hoax have not only failed to put this new technology to the task, they have utterly rejected this incredible tool to make their case. One might reasonably infer they have no confidence they can prove a hoax, due to the modern technology and the vast body of excellent empirical evidence in the film.

4. Given the excellent resolution of the film, and the robust range of motions demonstrated by the filmed subject, analysts have abundant opportunity to analyze the anatomical features and try to determine if a fur costume, worn by a human performer, is what we see in the film. But the contrary is true. The anatomical features show instead many characteristics of real anatomy, and features which rule out a fur costume based upon the technology of the era. It is rarely appreciated that fur costume technology of 1967 was relatively simple and the physical materials were tailored in predictable ways and the fur material behaves in accordance with the basic laws of physics and motion dynamics. Looking for evidence of a fur costume simply takes an understanding of how such costumes are designed and built, and how they move with a human inside driving the motion. There is no mystery to these factors. One merely requires a reasonable knowledge of the process.

Walking in a Bigfoot costume.

Walking in a Bigfoot costume. ( Munns, B. & Meldrum, J. )

These four factors argue powerfully for more scholarly consideration and discussion of this film.

Hoaxes abound, sadly, in all the sciences. Even hoaxed fossils occasionally appear, as paleontologist Stephen Czerkas and National Geographic discovered when he had access to a Liaoning, China dinosaur fossil that eventually proved to be a patched together forgery of several fossil pieces unrelated but connected to appear as one. This means we cannot begrudge any scholar the caution of being hesitant to do a serious analysis of a piece of evidence when there is a suspicion of hoax. Indeed, we would admire the scholar’s caution. But hoaxes fall apart on rigorous analysis, if someone simply is willing to take a careful look. The PGF is the exception, defying exposure as a hoax.

The Concept of Bigfoot

One obvious detriment to this film, and analysis of same, is the fact that as soon as someone says the word “Bigfoot”, many scholars laugh and walk away. Because the concept of “bigfoot” tends to induce visceral reactions which may get in the way of a rational analysis, this author invites the reader to approach this topic with a truly novel frame of mind. Forget there is anything called “Bigfoot”. Forget other sightings, forget the footprints and trackways, forget the wild paranormal claims. If you can clear your mind of the noise and distraction of the whole bigfoot phenomenon, just take this one film at face value. Describe it in your mind as simply film footage of a hominid-like figure walking away from a camera as the camera operator pursues the subject. Then ask yourself two simple and elegant questions. 1. Is this film a spontaneous and unplanned event, or a staged and planned production? 2. Is the subject figure seen in this film a human performing in a fur costume and mask, or is the subject a real hominid, biologically real exactly as it appears?

Now consider the simple fact that for fifty years people have tried to prove this film was staged, and the subject is a human in a fur costume - and every effort has failed. Don’t you want to ask why all those efforts failed? And isn’t it about time to reasonably consider the alternative, that it may be real?

A New Hominid?

If that were true, then it represents a new branch of the hominid family tree, a hominid with a skull like Paranthropus Boiseiand a skeletal composition similar to the robust Neanderthals, with a low crural index, an adaptation well suited for northern climes (as found on the Sami people of Lapland and the Inuit People of North America). And the subject figure has a robust fur over the body, a similar adaptation well suited for survival in the northern climes. Coincidence? Maybe, if the person fabricating the hoax costume was an expert in physical anthropology and hominid evolutionary anatomy. But how many anthropologists know how to design and fabricate a realistic ape/hominid costume? How many movie creature costume fabricators just happen to have a degree in physical paleoanthropology and evolutionary anatomy of hominids?


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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