Bigfoot Encounters

By Michael L. Whiteley/Staff Writer

Bigfoot. The very word evokes an air of mystery with as much as has been written and discussed about the topic. The big question, however, is of course: Does Bigfoot exist or not? According to one local there is good evidence in support of the claim. Ron Brown a recent resident of Oroville, Rotarian and academic with a degree in medicine and a Ph.D. in Zoology, finds himself captivated by the possibility that such a thing as a Bigfoot may actually exist. "I'm not here to tell you to believe in Bigfoot. You will have to make that decision yourself," Brown stated in one part of a program on the subject of the documented evidence that mounts in favor of the creature's existence, which he gave Monday at the regular Rotary meeting. "The more evidence that comes forth, the harder it is to refute,"

Brown continued. "People just can't seem to come to grips with the fact that there is a possibility that one of the most important biological finds possibly exists right here in the backyard of the most technologically advanced country in the world unknown." According to the Bigfoot Field Researcher's Organization, the term "Sasquatch" as applied to the mysterious North American primate here under consideration, is an anglicized derivative of the word "Sasquatch," meaning "wild man." It originates from the Coast Salish Indians of the Fraser Valley of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Other Indian tribes across North America give more than 60 different versions of the name for the creature. Ironically, the meaning behind the name Sasquatch is the same as it is in the more common name Orangutan, which is representative of a well-known species of reddish-brown ape. The name Bigfoot was not surprisingly generated from the free press in the middle of the last century at a time when Northern California was a hotbed of sightings.

"The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," said Brown, quoting a 16th century biologist. Even so, the Bigfoot phenomenon lacks little in leads and has not lost momentum with approximately 1,000 reported sightings a year that have left independent researchers like Brown convinced of some of the creatures characteristics and possible origins.

"Everybody has heard of the "big footprint," and indeed these are interesting because of their characteristics. There are a wide variety of these prints that range from small, to large, 16 in.
average from heel to toe for an adult, that tell a lot. And just like the detective who follows leads through fingerprints, scientific enthusiasts in the field have gleaned many insights into the legendary creature from studying the collected samples of dermatoglyphics, hand and foot prints, Bigfoot has left behind. Most researchers tend to agree on certain characteristics of the creature due to the findings of their collaborative efforts. They claim Bigfoot can reach up to eight feet in height, can weigh as much as 600 pounds, have an average stride of around 5 feet, walk on two feet, is pseudo-gregarious, potentially nocturnal or at least adapted to night living, has a large distribution area with a small population size and are possibly in the family of the ape, particularly the "Great Ape" or even the modern day Orangutan. This last conclusion is drawn from instances of actual DNA testing on hair follicles of the Bigfoots gathered at "twist-off" sites. Twist-offs occur when branches of trees are unexplainably bent in a twisting fashion at heights of and in excess of eight feet. These sites are often found to have prints associated with them and/or personal sightings. The follicles gathered and tested in this way have in nearly all tests yielded results indicating that there is no such recorded creature. But more often than not, the DNA closely resembles that of the Orangutan.

"If this much evidence were put forth in the discovery of a new form of squirrel that evidence would be documented in all of the biology books. The reason why it is not so documented in favor of Bigfoot is because it requires a belief in an eight foot tall ape known as Sasquatch," Brown said.

At the end of the matter, we come again to the question as to whether such an animal actually exists, or whether it is still as much of a mystery now as it has been in the past and will probably remain in the future.

In an optimistic fashion this exploration will conclude with a quote taken from D. Jeffrey Meldum, a colleague of Mr. Brown's, who wrote the following in Dermatoglyphics in Casts of Alleged North American Ape Footprints: "The existence of multiple independent examples of footprint casts spanning three decades and thousands of miles, each displaying consistently distinct dermatoglyphics constitutes significant affirmative evidence for the presence of an unrecognized North American Ape."
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( Psst....but Jeff, the footprint shape is not shaped ape-like...come on now, it's more human-like, so it's not appropriate to assume sasquatches are apes, the pelage notwithstanding... You'll think differently when you see one up close ).

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