Bigfoot Encounters

Bigfoot Merely Amuses Most Scientists

By Maria Goodavage, USA TODAY, 24 May 1996

In the scientific community, Bigfoot is usually good for a few laughs. John Crane, a zoologist and biologist at Washington State, declares: "There is no such thing as Bigfoot. No data other than material that's clearly been fabricated has ever been presented." In college, Crane and his buddies faked Bigfoot footprints. The locals believed they were real. "It was fun," he says.

But a handful of academics believe in Bigfoot, including a respected colleague of Crane's. "I don't even call myself a believer. It's not a belief. I'm absolutely convinced they exist," says Grover Krantz, a Washington State anthropologist.

But J. Richard Greenwell, zoologist at the International Society of Cryptozoology, which studies evidence of unverified animals, cites the mountain gorilla. It was thought to be a myth until the early 1900s. "It's the largest known primate in the world, and it took a long, long time to prove it really exists," he says. Scientists willing to suspend disbelief say the grainy "Patterson film," shot in 1967, got them to take Bigfoot seriously.

Jeff Meldrum, an Idaho State University anthropologist, set out to debunk another recent blurry video but couldn't. "There's more to these films than can be easily brushed aside," he says. Meldrum says footprint evidence is most important: "Those that aren't obviously faked have such consistent morphology (form and structure) over the decades that it's almost impossible to believe even a highly trained hoaxer could have made them."

But for many scientists, even seeing is not believing. Dr. Daris Swindler, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Washington, says, "That Patterson film is just a man in a costume."

© USA Today

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