Scientist says prints are fake
By DON AINES
WAYNESBORO -- As you
read this story, a prankster is probably laughing his head off. The large, unusually
shaped footprints found in the muddy flats around the Waynesboro Reservoir "appear almost certainly to be a crude hoax."
At least that's the
conclusion of one of the cryptozoologists who examined photos and other
evidence collected at the scene.
"We can't definitely
identify the brand of sneaker, but the logo is there," said Loren
Coleman of Portland, Maine.
"You're getting a repeated human-made
imprint in the middle of the arch," he explained Wednesday in a telephone
was given some confidential material to review," said Coleman. "That material includes
photographs taken by researchers who visited the site at the north end
of the reservoir in Quincy Township.
Coleman and Mark A.
Hall, another cryptozoologist from North Carolina, reviewed the evidence,
which included photos other than those taken by The Record Herald on Saturday,
While he and Hall
"do not wish to give a recipe to future pranksters...the tracks appear
to reveal a type of glove or fixture made rigid and placed on the front
of worn footwear," Coleman said."
Thus, the "toes'
have left "claw marks' and an "ape configuration' merely as
an unforeseen outcome of the design of the prankster or pranksters,"
Coleman and Hall wrote in an e-mail. Coleman said by telephone the prints
may also have been made by the footwear of a something like a Halloween
The initial reports
of footprints piqued Coleman's interest because of what appeared to be
a big toe extending away from the foot, much as it would in the prehensile
foot of an ape.
During his 40 years
of investigation, Coleman said he has been particularly interested in
reports of "Napes," his term for North American apes. Such creatures,
if they exist, would be more like a chimpanzee than the huge Bigfoot or
Sasquatch of popular legend.
"If it's a hoax...we
swallowed it hook, line and sinker," said Paul Scott, the brother-in-law
of Steve Gates.
It was Gates and his brother Denny who found the prints
near where the creek empties into the reservoir. "It's
about to the point where I want somebody to prove to me how they did it,"
"I've been putting in (computer) searches for ape costumes....anything
you can think of" to try and find something that could have been
used to create the prints.Scott said he also
saw lines in some of the tracks. "I don't think it's treads, but
I can't tell you what they are," he said.
far as he is concerned, the jury is still out as to whether the tracks
are real or a trick.It was the Gates brothers
and Scott who took researchers from the Bigfoot Field Research Organization
(BFRO) to the reservoir Sunday to take videos and make plaster casts of
the prints, which extended several hundred yards.
Ron B., a researcher, could not be reached today for comment
on Coleman's theory on how the tracks were formed. Ron B. said most BFRO
members do not use last names because of the problems it could cause them
at their jobs and in their communities.
Scott said finding
the tracks has affected his life, but not in a positive way. He said he
spent "12 to 16 hours" on the phone Monday and Tuesday, fielding
calls from as far away as San Diego, California.
A newspaper in Maryland
printed a story about the footprints "without even talking to me,
Steve or Denny."
"If it's a hoax,
we want to apologize to everybody," Scott said. He also has been
warned about a "cyberstalker" who harasses people who have had
such experiences, be they paranormal or hoaxes.
Coleman warned The
Record Herald about the same individual. Coleman hopes revealing the hoax
will bring the perpetrators to light. "We
thought if they knew we cryptozoologists weren't fooled, maybe the people
that did the prank will come forward," he said.
the story may have had some benefits for the community.
Many people, unaware
of the existence of Waynesboro, no doubt learned of it for the first time,
and one local restaurant joined the fun by putting a "Bigfoot Burger"
on the menu Tuesday.
Scott is sorry the
story created such a stir, including an influx of people -- and trash
-- at the reservoir.
The borough increased monitoring of its water source
over concerns about possible contamination of the drought-depleted reservoir
by curiosity seekers."I wish we'd
just smeared up those tracks and never told anybody," Scott said.
The Record Herald
invites the person or people responsible to come forward for an interview
with proof of how they made the footprints.
Copyright The Record
(....and 'no' I wasn't the telephone-caller from San Diego, it was
Wireless Flash; in addition, there is no such creature as a "nape." It is the invention of a Maine cryptozoologist. North America has no fossil records of indigenous apes or monkeys.
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