Bigfoot Conference Short on Evidence, Smacks of Hoax or Publicity Stunt...
Over the last few days to a week, a story has been circulating on the internet that the body of a deceased primate, possibly the creature known colloquially as big foot, has been found in the woods of northern Georgia, USA.
A press conference was scheduled for noon on August 15th (this afternoon), to offer evidence and DNA test results. The eyes and ears of both believers and skeptics were on the conference, to see what would be offered.
Both sides displayed a certain cynicism and cautious optimism about the coming press conference. Prior claims of bigfoot evidence had turned out to be hoaxes. In fact, one of the claimants (Biscardi, AKA "the real Bigfoot hunter") had been involved in a prior claim to have proof of bigfoot (that proof never materialized).
"You type in 'Bigfoot' and that's the name that comes up," Dyer said.
Biscardi, a 35-year veteran of the Bigfoot business, who declined to give his age, is CEO of Searching for Bigfoot, Inc., producer of the documentary "Bigfoot Lives," and host of an Internet radio show about... yes, Bigfoot.
He said he's been fascinated with the ape-like creature ever since watching a short film made by Roger Patterson in 1967 that famously purported to contain footage of a real Bigfoot.
"I've had interactions with Tom Biscardi in the past, and based on that history, I would say that anything he is involved in is suspect," Idaho State anthropologist and Bigfoot investigator Jeffrey Meldrum told Scientific American .
The most glaring red flag: Whitton and Dyer's appeal to Biscardi.
"He does not carry a reputation of credibility," Meldrum said of Biscardi.
With the odds stacked against them, one would expect extraordinary proof for extraordinary claims. Especially when there seems to be so much credibility (or lack thereof) riding on such an announcement. However, the proof was less than convincing even for believers.
In addition to the mixed DNA results, Tom Biscardi, Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer showed the audience two blurry photos, one of a solitary figure in mixed hardwood forest and another of the mouth of what appeared to be the tongue and teeth of a primate.
Biscardi showed reporters two blurry photos, claiming one was the mouth of the "creature" while the other was another creature running through the Georgia woods. The men claimed they "stumbled on the creature," but would not reveal more because they were concerned about it being an "endangered species."
Unfortunately, the press conference failed to live up to even modest expectations. Rather than producing the body or portions thereof, it has been sequestered at a purported undisclosed location. A small sample was purportedly sent to a University of Minnesota researcher interested in bigfoot, again rather than sending it to an impartial, independent, disinterested party for study.
Biscardi said he gave tissue from the body to Curt Nelson, a research scientist at the University of Minnesota with a personal interest in Bigfoot. Biscardi said he and his colleagues will present Nelson's findings this afternoon's press conference.
But on Thursday, Nelson told ABCNews.com that he's not certain he'll have anything to present at the conference.
For the world to really believe the existence of bigfoot, Nelson said, teams of unbiased scientists would have to collect and analyze DNA and thoroughly inspect the body.
"It would take a lot more than I'm doing," he said, noting that people will want to see an actual body rather than just tissue samples. "If the guy claims to have a body, he really should produce one," Nelson said.
Despite Biscardi's assurances that soon he would bring in scientists from Stanford University and journalists from Fox News to inspect the body, scientists are skeptical that the find is legitimate. "It's about what I expected," said Jeffrey Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and anthropology from Idaho State University in Pocatello who has studied the bigfoot phenomenon. "Today they should have produced a physical piece of the corpse, if not the corpse itself. Until they produce the body, it doesn't matter."
"What they should have done is contact a reputable scientist and have it examined at a known university," said Benjamin Radford, who writes for the Skeptical Inquirer magazine and has followed bigfoot hunters for more than a decade. "Instead, this whole thing is very cloak and dagger. It all about, 'We have unnamed scientists working at an undisclosed location under armed guard.'"
Nonetheless, a little bit of 'teaser' information from the University of Minnesota researcher was made available.
Biscardi sent three samples of the carcass to biologist Curtis Nelson at the University of Minnesota for analysis. In an e-mail, Nelson told Biscardi that most of DNA segments taken from two of the samples matched human DNA. One came back as a likely match for an American opossum. Biscardi said this is likely from a stomach sample and that the creature might have eaten an opossum. He did not say why he had sampled from the stomach.
Critics alleged that the purported body from the photos closely resembled that of a Halloween costume available for sale at many retailers.
None of [the claims made or evidence presented in the press conference] was likely to dissuade skeptics, even among Bigfoot experts, who questioned Biscardi's past ventures and noticed that the body in the freezer looked a lot like a Sasquatch Halloween costume available on the Internet .
"It definitely looks like our costume," Jerry Parrino, owner of TheHorrorDome.com, told FOXNews.com.
"This 'body' has little to do with Bigfoot and everything to do with a Sasquatch costume that someone developed after watching too many gorilla movies," warned Loren Coleman , who runs the influential Cryptomundo blog devoted to strange and unknown animals. "The teeth that seem to have been placed in the mouth could be my late mother's false teeth."
Additionally, there were certain red flags suspicion (as in prior hoaxes) that the claimants were only in it for the money or as a publicity stunt. Their case wasn't helped by details alluding to offering tours, making a documentary for sale, or making "as much money as possible" off the discovery.
[Whitton and Dyer] said when they found the carcass they hauled it into a truck and brought it to a freezer. They then set up a Web site to offer tours into the area and made an announcement on a bigfoot enthusiast radio program.
That's when Biscardi got involved, moved the animal to another location, and began contacting the media. In the week before the press conference, Whitton and Dyer spent several days sparring with skeptics and created a YouTube video where they held a stuffed bear up to the camera and repeated their claims of having found a Sasquatch.
Today's pronouncement was not Biscardi's first. In 2005 he claimed that he had captured a Sasquatch. The beast never materialized, and Biscardi said he had been swindled by a deranged attention-seeker.
Radford says hoaxers make money off tours through bigfoot country and with documentary films—a motivation Biscardi doesn't discount. When asked at the press conference how much money he expects to make from his alleged discovery, Biscardi said, "As much as I possibly can."
Biscardi said he plans to keep the body at an undisclosed location while scientists, including two Russian hominid specialists, study the creature. Biscardi said the entire process will be filmed and then released as a documentary.
Instead of proving the existence of Bigfoot, Meldrum said profiteering antics like Biscardi's lend support to the cynics.
"Unfortunately, this kind of incident simply just casts further aspersion on the topic," he said.
Despite the cynicism present, the claimants (Whitton, Dyer and Biscardi) stuck to their guns, describing how the came across the alleged body, and promising future revelations if/when they release more samples and/or the body to the scientific community.
fielding questions from a packed room in Palo Alto, the trio called their discovery groundbreaking and held to their claim that the animal they are currently holding in "an undisclosed location" is indeed the legendary bigfoot.
Whitton and Dyer said they discovered the carcass when they were hiking in a forest near their home sometime in June and that it has been stored in a large freezer since then. They refused to say exactly where and when, stating only that it was in northern Georgia and that they captured video of several live animals.
Dyer said he and Whitton encountered the alleged Bigfoot body approximately two months ago and froze it to stave off rigor mortis. But, until they involved Biscardi two weeks ago, no one gave them much attention.
Whitton recounted how he and Dyer found the "body," and said that more Bigfoots "paralleled" them as they were loading it onto a flatbed truck.
He said, however, that he will satisfy all skeptics when he releases the actual body. Earlier this week he invited Megyn Kelly of Fox News to Georgia to view the carcass.
Biscardi reiterated his invitation to FOX News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly to come to Georgia and view the body, and plugged his Internet radio show.
He said there wouldn't be anything more revealed Friday, but promised that he would "assemble" a group of scientists to examine the alleged corpse.
An air of skepticism still hang in the air, with nobody on either side of the fence overly enthusiastic about the more-or-less nonevent.
Meldrum said it's still remotely possible the claims are genuine, but that the group's behavior resembles that of previous hoaxes. He said that even if the genetic testing had turned up some evidence that it was bigfoot, no one can verify where the animal was found.
Loren Coleman, a prolific writer on the Sasquatch, Yeti and other mysterious creatures, said he thinks this is going to be one of the biggest Bigfoot stories of the decade, even it turns out to be hoax.
"I'll never turn down a chance to look at a body because it could be real, and we can't choose the accident of history. … The most undesirable people might be the ones to discover it, but who am I to judge them."
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Reserve spokesman Tom Mackenzie told the Associated Press his agency isn't taking the claim seriously and won't investigate.
"It's not on endangered species on any list that we've got," he said.
So, it seems readily apparent that skepticism is the order of the day until further independently verifiable evidence is made publicly available. The press conference was apparently singularly unconvincing, but with certain promising threads still left dangling.
The claimants did themselves no favors by sequestering the purported evidence rather than making it publicly available. IF they can produce the actual body for parallel independent investigation(s), then they might gain back a few ounce s of their credibility. Unfortunately, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Thus far the first impression is unimpressive.
Wait and see appears to tbe the order of the day. However, holding one's breath is not a recommended course of action.
Putting the Bigfoot Hoax to Bed.