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