Bigfoot Encounters

UK News "Strange but True"

28 May 2000 - London Sunday Telegraph

UK: News - Strange but true
Bigfoot helps police expert with inquiries by Paul Sieveking

Encounters with America's hairy hominid, the bigfoot or sasquatch, continue to be reported. In the small hours of March 28, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, James Hughes was on his paper delivery round near Granton, Wisconsin, when he noticed a figure standing in the ditch. At first he took it to be a man, but then he saw it was about eight feet tall and covered with dark gray "shaggy" hair, "in clumps and knotted". In its left hand it held what he at first took to be a goat, but later he wasn't sure.

When the beast turned to look at him, Mr. Hughes sped away in terror. He filed a report at the sheriff's office and a deputy accompanied him to the scene, but no footprints or other evidence were found. In the absence of a body or a live specimen, the existence of the American "manimal" remains anecdotal; but fresh evidence has emerged via criminal forensics.

Jimmy Chilcutt is a highly regarded fingerprint technician with the Conroe Police Department in Texas. In 1995 he tried unsuccessfully to identify specific features that would indicate gender and race in fingerprints; he then turned to non-human primate prints hoping to find primordial characteristics that would enable him to interpret human prints with more insight. He has now amassed about 1,000 primate prints.

In December 1998 he saw a television programme featuring Jeff Meldrum, an associate professor of anatomy at Idaho State University, about bigfoot. His interest was fired when he heard the term "dermal ridges", a reference to fingerprints. He contacted Prof Meldrum, who had about 100 casts of supposed bigfoot footprints.

Mr. Chilcutt examined the cast the professor had shown on television and concluded that it was a fake: the toeprints were human. However, a casting made near Walla Walla, Washington state, in 1984 had a ridge pattern running vertically along the edges of the foot, then angled across under the toes. This differed from human prints, which invariably have the ridges running horizontally, and from ape prints, which have them at an angle across the footpad.

Furthermore, the Walla Walla print showed splits in the feet where the ridges did not realign perfectly after the skin had been cut and healed. Mr. Chilcutt then found a northern Californian casting from 1967 with similar features, although from a smaller animal. For
these to be fake, Mr. Chilcutt believed that the same person would have had to fabricate both footprints, 17 years and several hundred miles apart. That seemed unlikely.

One press report maintained that Mr. Chilcutt found five examples of these longitudinal ridges. "The skeptic in me had to believe that they were all from the same species of animal," he said. "I believe that this is an animal in the Pacific Northwest that we have never documented."

Sightings of BHMs (Big Hairy Monsters) in Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennessee and many other places far away from the Pacific Northwest do not fit this zoological hypothesis - the habitats just aren't there. Some anomalists suggest that these are more in the nature of psychic entities or "thought-forms"; perhaps they are descendants of the medieval wodewose or wild man of the woods.

Australia's answer to bigfoot is the yowie; sightings go back two centuries. At about 2 am on March 11, one of these creatures rocked the campervan of an elderly couple in a rugged location west of Gimpie in Queensland. It reportedly ran off into the bush, leaving footprints measuring 16 inches by 8 inches.

In Malaysia, manimals are called mawas. On January 2, Liong Chong, 50, from the village of Kampung Chennah, was inspecting his durian (fruit tree) saplings when he saw two mawas about 30 feet away. One was about 6 feet tall with long, black shiny hair, while the other was about 5 feet with brownish hair. They stared at Mr. Chong before walking back into the jungle.

© Paul Sieveking is editor of Fortean Times.
Telegraph Group Limited, London, 2000.

Source: London Sunday Telegraph 28/May/2000

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