Bigfoot Encounters

From the Bigfoot Times w/permission:

"Skookum Hokum?"
by Daniel Perez
Note: additional info: Brian Smith's testimony seals hoaxing of skookum cast

In the December 2000 edition of the Bigfoot Times, we covered the Skookum cast, "the apparent clear body imprint of a Bigfoot" discovered on September 22, 2000 in Washington State. Since that time, the Skookum cast has been the subject of many lively debates with the pro camp claiming it has to be Bigfoot and the skeptics quietly insisting -- all along -- it is the imprint of nothing more than an elk.

The controversial Skookum cast came to my attention once again in December 2006, with Matt Crowley emailing me: "This all erupted on Bigfoot Forums dot com last summer. Dr. Anton Wroblewski, who posted as "Desertyeti" came out of the blue and claimed to have analyzed the Skookum cast as an elk. Wroblewski is the real deal, not just some online wanker who posts on Bigfoot Forums. The guy has Ph.D., in geology, with a specialty in ichnology, the study of fossil and animal traces."

To find out more, I went directly to the source, Dr. Anton Wroblewski. His education is impressive, "graduated with a B.S. in Geology and Geophysics from the University of Wyoming in 1994. In 1997 I completed a Masters in Sedimentary Geology and Paleontology also at the University of Wyoming as well. From 2003 - 2006, I taught Geology and Paleontology at Northeastern Illinois University. In 2006, I accepted an offer to join the Subsurface Technology Division" for a major oil company. His specialty,"Trace Fossils."

"Animal tracking is one of my hobbies," Dr. Wroblewski told me by phone and that "I have seen a lot of elk lays and footprints." In Wroblewski’s opinion, after viewing a copy of the Skookum cast in July 2006, the so called hominid heel on the cast "no longer looked like a heel" but suspiciously like that of an elk. "Elk footprints were all around" the casting area, which again told Dr. Wroblewski "elk" was the responsible culprit and not a Bigfoot.

Furthermore, Dr. Wroblewski felt the enthusiastic bigfooters who examined the original casting "saw what they wanted to see," and "went public with it too soon." "They saw a hominid heel and ignored all the other stuff."

Dr. Wroblewski's numerical argument against the Skookum casting being that of bigfoot, "it's an obvious elk lay. The main features that point to these are:

1. The contours of the hind legs, showing the thigh, fibula, tibia and both metatarsals and hooves.

2. The impressions of the forelimbs (interpreted as heels by Rick Noll and Jeff Meldrum and others).

3. the contour of the hair flow along the chest, forelimbs, flank and hind limbs of the animal.

4. the presence of elk hoof prints leading up to the body impression (the anterior most portion of the imprint wasn't cast, so no data is preserved.)

5. the contour of the ileum and torso revealing the upward bend of the iliu, a characteristic of ungulates (a mammal having hooves).

"In short," Dr. Wroblewski continued, "there's no way anyone familiar with animal traces would fair to recognize the Skookum cast as being an elk lay."

Yet many did. Noted on page 117 of Dr. Jeff Meldrum's "Sasquatch" book, "The unanimous consensus was that this could very well be a body imprint of a Sasquatch."

As I have repeatedly stated, the Skookum cast lends itself to various interpretations as to what made it. That no Bigfoot footprints were found in the immediate vicinity of the Skookum impression in the mud is telling. That an elk expert has never been invited to view the cast, to the best of my knowledge, doesn't help the cause. And, of course, if a hairy Bigfoot has been in the mud, don't you think scads of hair would have been left behind?

When I asked Dr. Anton Wroblewski what portion of the elk was responsible for the so called heel print observed in the Skookum cast here is how he responded: " was the metacarpal-forearm joint. This is commonly called the "knee" even though it is actually the wrist of the animal’s forelimb. The joint of the metacarpal-forearm is enlarged and looks like the lower part of a human heel. The ligament is an anterior tendon and the supposed dermal ridges are actually very short hairs and wrinkles in the skin of the wrist."

Rick Noll, one of the finders of the Skookum impression, did not respond to an email about the Skookum cast, but tried to throw a curve ball to the Bigfoot community stating "he (Dr. Wroblewski) had seen enough with the art piece shown at a Texas museum recently. Art really is in the eye of the beholder."

"Art piece??" Perhaps Mr. Noll should go into politics, as what was represented in San Antonio, Texas was not an "art piece" but an exact duplicate of the original. The "art piece" comment plus other personal insults did not sit well with Dr. Wroblewski, "He's (Rick Noll) opted to not pursue scientific discussion at all, but rather to engage in personal attacks and name calling. And for that reason, I will not have anything to do with him (Noll) or in any way lend credibility to his on-going claims."

Reprinted with the generous permission of Daniel Perez, text taken from
Daniel's Bigfoot Times May 2007 -

...Then in Daniel's June 2007 issue of the Bigfoot Times were these letters to the editor and other commentary which merit a review:

Letters to the Editor

Not since the passing of legendary Bigfoot Rene Dahinden in 2001 have we received so much mail. And it wasn't about out cover story on John Schuchman in last month's Bigfoot Times.

Instead, it all centered on our page 3 blockbuster article, "Skookum Kokum?"

Mr. Richard Noll, one of the finders of the Skookum impression in Washington State was unable to control his emotions and went on-line to the Bigfoot Forums dot com community and blasted your editor, calling the Bigfoot Times a "rag" unable to realize that he both subscribed and consented to an interview (Bigfoot Times April 2005) within the pages of this "rag." He also made the mistake of posting the entire BFT newsletter to the Bigfoot Forums dot com, but Paul Vella, the Forum's founder noted, "you are right - we spotted it and pulled it and I have already sent Rick an email reminded him that it is not for redistribution."

Mr. Noll finally did respond directly, via email, but his offering was both uninspiring and brief: "That is because my comments on your so called exposé don't warrant comment from me and that's my booo for you." Of course there was no explanation for his now infamous non-factual statement, "he (Dr. Wroblewski) has seen enough with the art piece show at a Texas Museum recently. Art really is in the eye of the beholder."

Canadian Bigfoot author, John Green had plenty to say, as expressed in a May 31st letter, "Dr. Wroblewski's proposed explanation for the Skookum imprint is certainly worth further checking, but some of his and your comments are miles off base. Right from the start there were plenty of consultations with people who should have been familiar with elk imprints. I took one of the casts of the "heel print" to the Vancouver Game Farm myself. They have lots of elk and lots of mud and while I have no memory of the specific conversation they certainly did not suggest that it could be any part of an elk. Dr. Leroy Fish (one of the finders of the Skookum impression) is dead, but I am sure that in his career as a wildlife biologist in Oregon he must have had ample familiarity with elk imprints. I expect that because of the elk hoof prints, trying to fit the body imprint to an elk would have been the first thing on his mind when they tried to puzzle out what they had found and they, of course, did see any approaching and leaving prints that they were outside the area that was cast. They most certainly did not just "see what they wanted to see." I don't think that Dr. George Schaller ever studied elk, but he must have seen many ungulate imprints. Both Dr. Jeff Meldrum and Dr. Daris Swindler are primate anatomist, fully qualified to determine whether something is a primate heel print. I expect that everyone who sees the cast is thinking about elk to begin with, but in my experience, other than Dr. Wroblewski, they have always quickly ruled that out. Could he be the one who is seeing what he wanted to see? I have a copy of the original imprint at home and I can't fit the elk in his photo to it. Maybe if that elk were lifted out by helicopter without having to stand up. And there are other parts to the imprint that he suggests no explanation for. However I have no expertise whatever.

The bottom line is probably whether anyone can produce a cast or otherwise demonstrate that an elk can actually make such an imprint. There are lots of captive even domesticated elk available for the purpose and it hasn't happened so far. As to the idea that there should have been scads of the hair of the imprint maker left behind, don't be silly. The fact that the hair imprints are so clear, proves that while the material was soft enough to take the imprint is not the least bit sticky."

Diane Stocking, Florida, on June 1st: "Thank you, Thank you, thank you for posting Dr. Wroblewski's comments in the newsletter. Finally scientific vindication for many of us old timers in regfard to the Skookum mess. So many of us KNEW that it was an elk wallow and NOT a sasquatch impression back in 2000. This is a perfect example of researchers misinterpreting a common occurrence in nature and turning it into a circus. And what for? Fame. I hope this is a lesson to other researchers to "look before you leap." In 2000, many ex-curators in the BFRO cautioned Matt Moneymaker and Rick Noll about going public too soon. We insisted to no avail, to be sure of what they had before publicly announcing that the imprint was anything but an elk. Well, we all know the outcome of Skookum cast. Fair warning people.....being well known does not make you right! I always have and will continue to respect Dr. Grover Krantz. I just wish he hadn't wadded into the Skookum quagmire with the rest of the unfortunates."

Co-founder of the BFRO (Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization) Ron Schaffner, Ohio, noted the following on June 5th: "Great Job. I'm thrilled that there are still some researchers who ask tough questions. I applaud you for the "Skookum Hokum" piece. I was still a member of that group when the Skookum cast scenario played out. The critical thinkers of the group cautioned the expedition team that the imprint had striking similarities to that of an elk wallowing in the mud. It was obvious to us that the imprints showed hind legs, thighs and hooves of an ungulate. We also questioned the lack of any alleged Sasquatch tracks in the vicinity. Furthermore, we questioned the theory they suggested about an animal lying down in a mud wallow and reaching for fruit. That is wasted motion - why not just reach down and pick it up?

Unfortunately, the expedition and the scientific believers saw what they wanted to see -- a common error in Sasquatch investigation. I feel a bit more vindicated on this and I am hopeful that researchers will learn from this misinterpretation. Eliminate all natural explanations before reporting an unknown creature."

Roger Knights on May 31st: "on the Skookum cast: I agree that Dr. Wroblewski's analysis puts the cast deep in the gray basket..., like a great many cases in this field, it's a head-scratcher. Although I think the skeptics have the better case, deciding on who is right involves weighing probabilities, not proving one side or the other with geometric logic."

Oregon's Thom Powell on the same day: "Forgive my impatience with this matter but we've been over this very ground numerous times in the past. I remember well that in 2000 we discussed at length the need to resolve the elk possibility as soon as the impression was found and the cast was made. People who could speak with authority on that subject were sought out and assembled and they studied the cast and offered their considered opinions. John Green has cited the individuals who were assembled. One name John did not mention was a zoologist who studied gorillas in Africa who name is Owen Caddy. Owen was the most guarded in his view and he held out the possibility that is an elk impression. Yet consensus among the assemble experts was that the hair was wrong (to long, too fine) to be elk, certain parts of the impression did not match elk anatomy (heel with Achilles tendon showing), finger marks, forearm, and the buttocks. Owen was in agreement with these points. Hair was obtained from the cast and turned over to Dr. Henner Fahrenbach, who called one single hair 'Sasquatch' verses 16 elk hairs. Other lines of evidence were detailed at the site though they fall into the category of anecdotal. I appreciate Daniel's willingness to mail around his newsletter...I just wish he would focus on something more substantial than bio's of bigfoot personalities and rehashes of old debunking scenarios (yawn). We all know that the Skookum cast is not and never will be irrefutable evidence, but the whole elk thing has been thoroughly explored in the past. Been there, done that. Some new guy with a Ph.D. (Dr. Anton Wroblewski) wants to say he knows better, but he hasn't seen the cast. Fine. Is this news? There is so much more to the bigfoot phenomenon that is worthy of the ink."

Dr. Henner Fahrenbach: a scientist (Marine biologist) now retired from the Oregon Primate Research Center, also made some comments: "I don't see anything in the enclose .pdf file about the hair other than that "scads of bigfoot hair should have been left in the imprint," something that I would seriously doubt, since primates do not lose their hair in big batches like elk do but one hair at a time. As I remember it, there was a single hair that came from the cast that corresponded to what I have as reference bigfoot hair. In any case like that, a single hair is a very thin thread to hang anything by, but it is better than nothing. I personally would prefer evidence that does not require interpretation, but is immediately and unambiguously accessible to a lay observer. But we cannot be choosy in this field and have to make the best out of what we find. I feel that the bigfoot field in general has enough evidence on hand that it can do very easily without any one disputed item, even the PG film and still hold its own. So I never get very excited about any one of these disputed items."

Dr. Anton Wroblewski, the individual who expressed his opinions on the Skookum cast which caused an avalanche of mail, made comments on the newsletter on May 31st as well, "Very even-handed and fairly presented. Nicely done Daniel! It was a pleasure to speak with you and see that my statements were actually accurately presented."

Well known Bigfooter, Peter Byrne (long time subscriber to the Bigfoot Times also noted some items in a June 12th email, "my feelings about the cast are based on a question which is, what was 250 pounds of plaster of Paris taken into the forest (on this expedition) in the hope of finding something big enough on which to use it? Or was the imprint found and then the plaster was sent for? The former would bother me, the later might lend a little more credibility to the matter."

John Vincent, my former Santa Fe High School Science teacher noted the following in a June 2nd hand written letter, "Just got the May issue of the BFT - The Patterson story seems to be more confused than ever. I miss Ivan Sanderson and his prose...your writing is top notch and the stories are as good as they get. Hang in there -- the creature is just around the corner."

And finally, Ohio's Rick Mondale on June 3rd - "...although your newsletter is short, it blows my mind, as you have an amazing ability to cut through all the bullshit and zero in on the heart of the issue. I had to laugh out loud when you were correcting Dr. Jeff Meldrum's book in the last issue, as you are referred to as only an 'amateur investigator' in his have my complete respect as one of the best bigfoot investigators ever."

Reprinted with permission from Daniel Perez, originally published in his BFT's June 2007 issue...
Perez is reachable at this address: perez952 at sbcglobal dot net
- ---
As an aside, from Bobbie Short:

I pulled up a personal email from Marine biologist, Dr. Henner Fahrenbach, dated October 4, 2000 written after Dr. LeRoy Fish and Henner completed the hair analysis in the lab there in Beaverton, Oregon. In that email Henner concluded that he and Dr. Fish found a total of 16 elk hairs, 1 coyote hair, 4 bear hair and 1 hair presumptive for sasquatch. Verbatum, the noted out-take reads:

"I had a visit today from a participant of the sasquatch print expedition Dr.  LeRoy Fish, he lives between Eugene and the coast. He had lots of hair samples and a  good digital video record of the cast. The cast is complex and large, but has some excellent heel prints in it (4" wide) and apparently shows ample dermal ridges on other parts (edge of a hand?). The muddy area was evidently an  elk wallow. The hair was mostly elk (16) and bear (4) plus other carnivore (coyote,1) and one hair that matched my presumptive sasquatch hair collection."

The bear hair imprints mixed in with the elk and coyote lengths of hair may help explain some of the length of hair discussions that have been ongoing. Overlaid or mixed hair in the cast impression could be the reason for that confusion.

For all the credentials John Green cites above for those who reviewed the Skookum cast, none of them were experts in specific elk (Cervus canadensis) biota or trace animal fossils as we see with veteran fossil reader Dr. Anton Wroblewski formerly of Northeastern Illinois University.

I am also reminded by Thom Powell's remark that Dr. Fahrenbach has always been wisely cautious when referring to his collection of sasquatch hairs, as "presumptive."

I have not seen the cast, but elk anatomy is not my expertise.... but for those that have seen it, it would seem "first impressions" hold up even after seven years and much hoo-ha over ....what? What has been learned here? From my removed perspective, - it seems a tragic commentary that there are still veteran researchers who cannot own up to their mistaken impressions by admitting mistakes were made or at very least that they might be wrong. The personal attacks flying back & forth over the Skookum cast only serves to leave a bad taste and add to the already difficult problem we have, which is for us to be taken seriously..... B. Short

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