Roger Patterson had been interested in the Bigfoot phenomenon since the early 1960's and had seen alleged Bigfoot footprints first hand. He and his friend Bob Gimlin had gone into different wilderness areas in Washington many times to search for the creature. Often, they would be following-up reports of sightings or footprints. Highly influenced by the writings of Dr. Ivan T. Sanderson, Patterson compiled his own book entitled Do Abominable Snowmen of America Really Exist? He published this book in 1966. At some point early in the following year (1967), Patterson decided to make a film documentary on Bigfoot. He subsequently rented a movie camera for this purpose. He wished to find and film fresh footprints as evidence of the creature's existence.
During late August and early September 1967 Patterson and Gimlin were exploring the Mt. St. Helen's area. While they were away, Al Hodgson and Syl McCoy, friends in Willow Creek, California, phoned Patterson's home to report footprints found in the Bluff Creek area. Patrica Patterson, Roger's wife, took the message and gave it to her husband when he returned. The tracks, which were said to be of three different sizes, had been found on new logging roads being built in the Bluff Creek region. This same area was the scene of considerable Bigfoot activity nine years earlier. It was here in 1958 that Jerry Crew found large human-like footprints. A subsequent press release on Crew's find made the word "Bigfoot" the American name for the creature.
Upon receiving the message from his wife, Patterson contacted Gimlin and the two men made plans to investigate the Bluff Creek report. We believe Patterson purchased two 100-foot rolls of color movie film for the expedition.
Patterson and Gimlin traveled to the Bluff Creek area in a truck, taking with them three horses. By the time the men arrived at their destination, rain had all but destroyed the tracks. After setting up camp near Bluff Creek itself, the men set out on horseback to explore the area. Patterson was intrigued with the scenery and autumn colors. He used 76-feet of the first film roll for general filming and shots of both himself and Gimlin.
On Thursday evening, October 19, 1967, the men set up their camp close to Bluff Creek itself. Gimlin arose early the next morning and rode out of the camp site while Patterson slept-in. Gimlin arrived back at the camp at about 10:00 a.m. Patterson was not at the camp at this time. He returned after a little while and asked Gimlin what area he had covered on his early ride. Gimlin told him where he had been after which Patterson suggested they re-explore an area they had previously explored. Gimlin agreed and the men left at about twelve noon.
At about 1:30 p.m. that day, Friday, October 20, 1967, Patterson and Gimlin spotted a female Bigfoot down on a Bluff Creek gravel sandbar. Patterson estimated the creature to be about six feet tall, maybe taller, and weighing about 400 pounds. Patterson's horse reared in alarm at the sight of the creature, bringing both horse and rider to the ground, Patterson pinned below. Gimlin's horse and the pack horse, being led by Gimlin, also reacted. The pack horse panicked and Gimlin released its lead in order to control the horse he was riding. Patterson, being an experienced horseman, quickly disengaged himself and grabbed his camera. He ran towards the creature, stopping within about 80-feet and filmed the creature in the distance. While then running, stumbling, stationary, and later walking, Patterson took 24-feet of color film footage which expired the film roll in the camera. During this time, the creature crossed the creek and walked along the opposite sandbar heading upstream. At one point, the creature turned and looked towards Patterson. The creature then hastened its pace somewhat as it continued its passage into a sparsely wooded area directly ahead. In the meantime, Gimlin, on horseback, rode slowly towards the creature. Gimlin crossed the creek and dismounted. He then observed the whole scene, rifle in hand, in case his friend was attacked by the creature. The men had previously agreed that under no circumstances would they shoot a Bigfoot unless to protect themselves or each other. The footage taken by Patterson shows the creature as it disappeared and reappeared between trees in the distance.
Gimlin wanted to immediately continue pursuit on horseback and proceeded to do so. Patterson, however, did not have his horse or his rifle and did not want to be left alone. He therefore yelled at Gimlin to return, which he did. After Patterson's situation was rectified, the men then followed the path taken by the creature. They found scuff mark in the gravel and in the creek bed which may have indicated the creature ran when it was out of the mens' sight. They continued up the creek for a considerable distance and observed a rock with a wet half foot print on the surface. From that point the path led up into the mountains. The men then returned to the film site and examined the path the creature had taken along the sandbar. They observed and filmed (on the second film roll) the creature's footprints in the soil and later made plaster casts of the left and right foot. In that part of Bluff Creek, there is a sandy clay soil with a blue-gray tinge. This type of soil holds footprints remarkably well for a long period of time. The footprints measured 14.5-inches long by 6-inches wide. Gimlin jumped off a stump to see how far his footprints would sink into the soil in comparison with the creature's prints. The results were that the creature's foot prints were deeper. Patterson also took movie footage of this experiment together with footage of horse prints alongside the creature's prints, and the mens' cast-making activities.
Patterson was eager to get his film of the creature developed to ensure that he had in fact caught the creature on the film. On this point, Gimlin has stated, "We weren't sure from Roger stumbling and falling down on the sandbar and getting up and running...we didn't even have an idea that we had anything on the film at that time...in fact it was doubtful that we did have anything." They therefore decided to airship the film to Al De Atley, Patterson's brother-in-law in Yakima, for immediate processing. It appears the mens' plan was to wait for word from De Atley as to what, if anything, was on the film. This information would dictate their next move. In other words, if they had not captured the creature on film, they would stay longer and try again. The men decided they would both travel to the airport to make the shipment. This task accomplished, they would then return to their campsite. Leaving their horses tethered at their campsite, the two men started out in their truck for a local airport, probably Murray Field in Arcata. On their way, they stopped at Hodgson's store in Willow Creek to talk to their friend, Al Hodgson. As it was after 6:00 p.m., however, the store was closed. Patterson therefore telephoned Hodgson at his home. Hodgson and other friends, including Sly McCoy, thereupon met with Patterson and Gimlin, presumably at Hodgson's store. Patterson and Gimlin then related their experience to their friends. Also, during this time Patterson telephone Al De Atley to inform him of the pending film shipment. Patterson shipped the film to the Seattle, Washington airport for pick-up by De Atley the next day.
Patterson and Gimlin then headed out to an air shipping facility and shipped the film to Al De Atley. As far as we know, only one film roll was shipped to De Atley. It is reasonable to assume Patterson still had the second roll in his camera with sufficient unexposed film for a possible second sighting. The two men then contacted a reporter for The Times-Standard newspaper at Eureka, to whom they related their experience in considerable detail. It is not known if this was a telephone contact or a personal contact. We do know, however, that it took place at about 9:30 p.m. The article appeared in the newspaper the following day, October 21, 1967. The men then immediately headed back to their campsite. By the time they arrived, bad weather was closing-in. By about midnight, it was raining heavily.
In the meantime, at Patterson's request, Al Hodgson telephoned Dr. Don Abbott of the British Columbia Museum of Anthropology and asked him to come down to the film site with tracking dogs. Abbott, however, declined stating that he would wait to see the film. After talking with Hodgson, Abbott informed John Green of events. Abbott also telephoned Al De Atley and requested that the film be brought to Vancouver, B.C., for viewing by scientists at the University of British Columbia. De Atley promised he would discuss Abbott's request with Patterson.
Back at the campsite, weather conditions had gone from bad to worse. Fearing a possible landslide on the Bluff Creek road, Patterson and Gimlin decided to get out of the area. They packed up and left for Yakima at about 4:00 a.m., October 21, 1967. They experienced great difficulties getting out of the area. The Bluff Creek road had caved away so they had to take the Onion Mountain route.
After getting word from Dr. Don Abbott, John Green immediately tried to contact René Dahinden who was in San Francisco. Dahinden was not at his hotel, so Green left an urgent message for him to contact Al Hodgson at Willow Creek. After talking with Hodgson, Dahinden traveled immediately to Willow Creek, arriving at about noon, October 21, 1967. Here, he met with Jim McClarin, another investigator, at Hodgson's store. A short time later, Patterson telephoned the store from Orleans (about 26 miles north of Willow Creek). He talked to Dahinden and informed him of events. Patterson stated that the pair had left the Bluff Creek area in view of the bad weather conditions. Dahinden and McClarin thereupon headed out immediately to Al De Atley's home in Yakima to see the film.
Al De Atley picked-up the film at the Seattle airport on the morning of Saturday, October 21, 1967. He had the film processed at the Alpha Cine laboratory in Seattle and returned to his home in Yakima that same day. Patterson and Gimlin arrived at Yakima sometime on Sunday morning, October 22, 1967. During this time, John Green arrived at De Atley's home and the two men awaited Patterson's arrival. When Patterson arrived, De Atley took him alone to the basement of his home and showed him the film. The film was then shown to John Green. Bob Gimlin was not present. We are told he was at home resting.
Dahinden and McClarin arrived at Al De Atley's home at about 3:00 p.m. the same day (Sunday, October 22, 1967). Upon their arrival, Patterson showed the film to all present and the group discussed how Patterson and Gimlin should go forward with the new evidence. Patterson did not show the group the general movie footage he had taken (i.e., the first 76-feet of the first roll). Nor did he show the other footage on the second roll if he did, in fact, have the developed roll. Nevertheless, the film of the creature apparently impressed the researchers. Nothing appeared to indicate that Patterson and Gimlin were being untruthful.
Patterson and Gimlin's Bigfoot sighting experience at Bluff Creek was highly unique for three main reasons. First, there were two witnesses to the event, so their stories could be cross-checked. Second, there was photographic evidence in the form of the movie Patterson took which could be analyzed. Third, the men had plaster casts of the footprints made by the creature to further confirm the sighting. Moreover, many of the footprints at the film site remained intact and could be seen, photographed and cast by other researchers. All of this evidence was certainly very credible. Important questions, however, remained unanswered on the credibility of Patterson and Gimlin themselves. These questions was diligently pursued by René Dahinden.
Dahinden attacked the issue from the negative perspective. In other words, he looked for evidence that the film was a hoax. He got together with John Green and they researched the backgrounds of both Patterson and Gimlin. Nothing was found to indicate the men had hoaxed the film.
Ren&eacut; Dahinden and John Green convinced Patterson that the scientific community in British Columbia, Canada would probably be the most receptive to the new film evidence. This advice was based on the fact that people in British Columbia were very familiar with the Bigfoot or Sasquatch phenomenon. Dahinden and Green had been "cultivating" this region with their research for many years in hopes of gaining government backing for their endeavors. Patterson was further persuaded by a telephone call from Don Abbott who promised good scientific representation for a viewing of the film. A scientific viewing was consequently scheduled for October 26, 1997. On Monday, October 23, 1967, Abbott informed newspapers in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, of the film. Further, Jack Webster, a Vancouver radio station personality, interviewed Patterson and Gimlin on the air shortly after their arrival in Vancouver. As news of the film spread, official word from the scientific community was anxiously awaited.
On October 26, 1967, the film was shown at the University of British Columbia (U.B.C.). Two screenings were conducted. The first screening was given to University scientists only. The second screening was to university scientists and Don Abbott and Frank Beebe (both of the British Columbia Provincial Museum). Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin were at both sessions to answer questions. They also showed the audience the casts of the footprints found at the film site. Whether or not the second film roll was shown at these sessions is not clear. John Green, who was present, states this roll was shown; Ren&eacut; Dahinden, also present, says it was not shown. Unfortunately, this roll vanished in the early 1970s.
The university scientists were under strict orders not to comment one way or the other on the authenticity of the film. To this day, there has been no official comment from this group. The museum people, Frank Beebe and Don Abbott, however, were not restrained. Frank Beebe, although impressed with the film, implied the strong likelihood of a hoax. Don Abbott did not give a personal opinion at this time. A press screening and conference was held later the same day. Subsequent newspaper reports were given very high profile.
Because the scientific community, as it were, was either silent, non-committal, generally negative or vague, public interest in the new evidence quickly diminished. Hopes held by Dahinden and Green for government backing to further research the Bigfoot phenomenon also rapidly faded.
Following the screenings of the Patterson-Gimlin film, the Bigfoot controversy in British Columbia continued. The most outspoken professionals were Frank Beebe and Don Abbott. On October 27, 1967, a Vancouver, B.C. newspaper carried an article headlined: Not Convinced about Sasquatch - HAIRY "THING" PUZZLES EXPERTS . The article showed pictures of Beebe and Abbott with captions: (Beebe) ...no such thing ; (Abbott) ...needs more evidence . In the article itself, Beebe is said to have stated that he remains convinced there is no such thing as a Sasquatch. Abbott is quoted as saying, "Further information would be needed before the provincial government would aid in a search for the animals." Both Beebe and Abbott subsequently prepared formal reports for Keith Kiernan, Recreation and Conservation Minister of British Columbia. As none of the other scientists were permitted to say anything, Beebe and Abbott had the stage to themselves. While their statements were not made on behalf of the British Columbia Provincial Museum, they appeared to have the museum's sanction. Unfortunately, the prospect of a government sponsored expedition to find the creature was hanging in the balance. Ren&eacut; Dahinden and John Green attempted to ebb the flow of mounting negativism by appealing to Dr. Clifford Carl, curator of the Provincial Museum. In February 1968, a slow-motion version of the film was professionally prepared with enlargements and stop-frame action. This film version was presented to Dr. Carl along with about 100 members of the Victoria Natural History Society and a group of University of Victoria students. After the viewing, Dr. Carl said that the enhancements added a lot to the film. He then remarked, "But they haven't done much to clear-up some of the doubts in the public's mind." Asked as to his professional opinion on the film, Dr. Carl replied, "I'm still sitting on the fence." Later, Dr. Carl's official museum statement on the whole controversy did nothing to change the general situation. He merely stated, "The Provincial Museum feels it is impossible to determine with any degree of certainty either that the Sasquatch is real or that it is a hoax."
Beebe's formal report to Keith Kiernan, the government minister, was highly negative. Although he did state that existence of Bigfoot creatures was not entirely impossible. Abbott's report was marginally positive. He stated that he personally felt government research should be undertaken. However, he did not recommend such action. he controversy and formal reports on the Patterson-Gimlin film had a definite negative influence on Kenneth Kiernan. This government minister had taken the first steps toward a government-sponsored search for the creature. Now, all of the groundwork in this regard undertaken by Dahinden and Green, was rapidly eroding. Ironically, the most convincing evidence of the creature's existence was working against government involvement. In early 1969 the Provincial Museum issued a statement that it was not actively investigating the Sasquatch issue and that it had no intention of sending an expedition to look for Sasquatches on the basis of the evidence presently available. Considering the implications of confirming the reality of Sasquatch, the controversy ended very quickly. Press coverage ran its course and the Sasquatch soon became "yesterday's news."
In November 1967, Patterson was contacted by Life Magazine regarding a possible photo-story on the film. Before committing to a contract, however, the magazine people wanted their own scientific appraisal on the film's contents. To this end, Life arranged for a scientific screening of the film at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Patterson was invited to present the film at the museum. Patterson immediately seized the opportunity and went to New York accompanied by Gimlin and De Atley. At the screening, it became evident that the scientists were just doing a favor for the magazine. They were less than enthusiastic at the viewing. It appeared as though they had made up their minds that the film was a hoax long before Patterson had arrived. The scientists viewed the film only once, made no measurements and did not ask for any stop-framing. Patterson, Gimlin and De Atley were asked to wait outside after the viewing. Within fifteen minutes the scientist announced that the film was "not kosher." With this news, the magazine people started to lose interest in the project. However, they decided to get a second opinion from animal specialists at the Bronx Zoo. The people at the zoo were somewhat more open-minded. They requested at least two replays and asked for several stop-frames. Their final opinion, however, was negative. They reported that there was "something wrong" with the film. They did not substantiate their opinion with any additional information. With two rejections, as it were, Life Magazine lost interest and did not enter into a contract with Patterson and his associates.
While in New York, Patterson contacted Dr. Ivan T. Sanderson a noted zoologist, who had long been involved in the search for America's Abominable Snowman. After seeing the film, Sanderson got in touch with Argosy magazine which expressed interest in the new evidence. Working with Sanderson, Argosy assembled four noted scientists, together with the Director of Management Operations for the U.S. Department of Interior, to see the film. Also present were journalists and newspaper people, including a member of the editorial staff of the National Geographic Society. The film itself and still photographs from the footage were shown and examined under high magnification. The only notable outcome of the meeting was that no one said he thought the film was a hoax. The New York Times people were apparently unimpressed. There was no coverage of the event in this paper. The November 16, 1967, edition of The Post had an article on page 12. The National Geographic Society completely dismissed the evidence.
Another screening was later held for Dr. Osman Hill, head of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center at Emory University. Dr. Hill stated that if the Bigfoot film was a hoax, it was extremely well done and effective. He also stated that the evidence was strong enough to mount an expedition to search for further evidence.
The Argosy people were very impressed with the film. Consequently, Sanderson wrote an article about the film for this magazine. In February 1968 the article was published by Argosy with cover-story prominence. Sanderson mentions in his article that Patterson, Gimlin and De Atley took the film to Hollywood to have it reviewed by special effects people. Technicians were asked if they could reproduce a creature such as that shown in the film. heir response, although qualified, was negative.
While the film failed to get recognition from the scientific community, it continued to arouse interest in North America. In addition to Argosy magazine, three other major magazines ran articles on the film story. These magazines were National Wildlife (April/May, 1968), West Magazine (December 1968) and Reader's Digest (January 1969). In March 1969 Reader's Digest included the article in their international edition. This action brought the story to the attention of people in many European countries.
In 1971, Ren&eacut; Dahinden came to the conclusion that he must look beyond North America for scientific involvement. Scientists in Canada and the United States had been given more that an adequate opportunity to analyze the findings. Certainly, a few intrepid scientific individuals had expressed interest, but no serious plans for detailed study had been offered.
After arranging contacts, Dahinden traveled to Europe in November 1971. He visited England, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia. Although scientists in these countries were somewhat more open-minded than those in North America, their conclusions were basically the same. A glimmer of hope, however, emerged at the Russian Central Scientific Research Institute of Prosthetics and Artificial Limb Construction. Here, the scientists concentrated on the creature's movement or locomotion. They concluded that the creature was extremely heavy. Great weight was indicated by how the creature's arms swung and how its knees bent when its body weight came onto its feet. They stated that bulk can be simulated, but not massive weight. The scientists were also impressed with the creature's apparent muscle masses. The institute agreed to do some biomechanical work on the film but never proceeded. Further, it never provided any official written opinions on its preliminary conclusions.
Nevertheless, hominologists, Dmitri Bayanov and Igor Bourtsev expressed great interest in the film. These men were members of the Smolin research group which was affiliated with the Darwin Museum in Moscow. The group was formed in 1960 to research relic hominoids in the Soviet Union. Dahinden provided a copy of the film to the group whereupon Bayanov and Bourtsev commenced the most intensive film analysis to that time.
In their study, Bourtsev addressed the film speed (frames per second). When Patterson took the film, he did not take note of the of the film speed. The camera had the capacity to take films between 16 and 64 frames per second. Actual setting positions on the speed dial were at 16, 24, 32, 48 and 64 frames per second. A biomechanical expert, D. W. Grieve, in London, England had made two conclusions on film speed. If the film speed was set at 16 or 18 frames per second, a human being could not duplicate the creature's walking pattern. If the speed was 24 frames per second, the pattern could be duplicated. Bourtsev analyzed the film's vertical oscillations that were caused by Patterson running with the camera. Bourtsev's analysis revealed that the film was taken at 16 frames per second. According to Grieve's conclusions, therefore, the creature was not a hoax.
Bayanov also made an important discovery. On a film frame showing the sole of the creature's left foot, Bayanov found a detail that corresponded with the plaster cast. This discovery firmly connected the creature filmed with the footprints.
In 1974, Dr. John Napier released his book, Bigfoot , which together with other Bigfoot evidence discusses the Patterson-Gimlin film. While Napier does not come to a firm conclusion on the film, he makes the following statement on the Sasquatch in general: I am convinced that the Sasquatch exists, but whether it is all that it is cracked up to be is another matter altogether. There must be something in north-west America that needs ex- plaining and that something leaves man-like footprints. The evidence I have adduced in favor of the reality of the Sasquatch is not hard evidence, few physicists, biologists or chemists would accept it, but nevertheless it is evidence and cannot be ignored., Remarkably, we also learn in Napier's book that Frank Beebe and Don Abbott were still thinking about Bigfoot over the past seven years. Napier states the following: " Frank L. Beebe and Don Abbott of the Provincial museum, Victoria, B. C., have come up with a most ingenious "model" for the Sasquatch's feeding habits. They base it on the life-style of the wolverine, a weasel-like mustelid of large proportions (3ft. or more including tail.) This extraordinarily interesting animal has a wide home-range of 200 miles or more, is largely carnivorous and rapacious with it (not for nothing is it known as the 'glutton'). Wolverines, broadly speaking, occupy the same habitat as the Sasquatch. A particularly relevant aspect of their behaviour is that wolverines cache their food in natural 'deep-freeze' lockers above the snow line, winter and summer. They range upwards into the snowfields when food is scarce at lower altitudes, open their lockers and (presumably) carry the food down to altitudes where it gradually thaws. This model might explain how the Sasquatch survives through the winter, and why so-called Sasquatch footprints have been observed at high altitudes by skiers and snow-mobilers; equally of course, the habits of the wolverine might account for the very existence of these amorphous tracks. Let me give full rein to imaginative speculation: could deep-freeze behaviour patterns also explain the apparently inexplicable occurrence of Yeti footprints high above the snowline in the Himalayas?" In April, 1998 Frank Beebe was contacted by Stephen Harvey and asked for his opinion on the film. Beebe referred to his notes that he had written in 1967 and quoted himself as follows: "...a rather good, very interesting film. It just could be genuine and the darn thing for real, although the chance, indeed, the likelihood of a hoax is very high."
Over the years, there has been claims that the film may be a hoax. However, all such claims were fully investigated by Bigfoot researchers and found to be totally without substance. One major claim involving John Chambers, the noted Hollywood make-up artist, was definitely proven to be unfounded. Chambers was personally interviewed by Bobbie Short, a registered nurse and Bigfoot investigator, in February 1997. In this interview, Chambers denied any involvement with the Patterson-Gimlin film. He also stated that in his opinion, not he nor anyone else could have fabricated the creature seen in the film. Chambers went on to state that he was good, but not that good. Chambers admitted he was aware of rumors concerning his involvement in the film. He never took steps to set the record straight because it was good for business. One final note — Chambers had never met or heard of Patterson or Gimlin prior to October 20, 1967. He has never heard of Al De Atley
The North American Science Institute (NASI) Report, Towards a Resolution of the Bigfoot Phenomenon , prepared by Mr. Jeff Glickman a forensic examiner, was released in June, 1998. The main report findings applicable to the Patterson/Gimlin may be summarized as follows:
Mr. Glickman closes his scientific findings with the following statement: "Despite three years of rigorous examination by the author, the Patterson-Gimlin film cannot be demonstrated to be a forgery at this time."
- Measurements of the creature: Height: 7-feet, 3.5-inches; Waist: 81.3-inches; Chest: 83-inches; Weight: 1,957 pounds; Length of arms: 43-inches; Length of legs: 40-inches.
- The length of the creature's arms is virtually beyond human standards, possibly occurring in one out of 52.5 million people.
- The length of the creature's legs is unusual by human standards, possibly occurring in one out of 1,000 people.
- Nothing was found indicating the creature was a man in a costume (i.e., no seam or interfaces).
- Hand movement indicates flexible hands. This condition implies that the arm would have to support flexion in the hands. An artificial arm with hand movement ability was probably beyond the technology available in 1967.
- The Russian finding on the similarity between the foot casts and the creature's foot was confirmed.
- Preliminary findings indicate that the forward motion part of the creature's walking pattern could not be duplicated by a human being.
- Rippling of the creature's flesh or fat on its right side was observed indicating that a costume is highly improbable.
- The creature's feet undergo flexion like a real foot. This finding eliminates the possibility of fabricated solid foot apparatus. It also implies that the leg would have to support flexion in the foot. An artificial leg with foot movement ability was probably beyond the technology available in 1967.
- The appearance and sophistication of the creature's musculature are beyond costumes used in the entertainment industry.
- Non-uniformity in hair texture, length, and coloration is inconsistent with sophisticated costumes used in the entertainment industry.
Glickman's estimates of the creatures height and weight caused a lot of controversy. Dr. Grover Krantz has since established that the creature's standing height (fully erect) did not exceed 6-feet, 6-inches. Another scientist has established that the creature's weight was 820 pounds. These findings call into question other physical measurements (chest, waist, arms, legs) established by Glickman.
Epilogue: While this account reasonably ties the events together and I am confident that it states the proper sequence of events , there is and will continue to be, controversy over some of the information presented. Unfortunately, I doubt that we will ever know exactly what occurred on October 21, 1967.
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