Saturday, September 12, 2009

In Search Of... Bigfoot

Did you know that the Bigfoot "craze" really kicked off in 1958 when a construction crew (including brothers Wilbur and Ray Wallace) operating at an isolated work site in Bluff Creek, California claimed to have found enormous footprints in the mud. They took a plaster cast of one such footprint to the local newspaper as proof. Then in 1967, Roger Patterson claimed to have taken a reel of color 8 mm film showing Bigfoot walking at the edge of a forrest. That's a still from it at left, which you may remember.

When I was a child in the 1970s, Bigfoot "mania" was perhaps at its height. (Remember the episodes of the "Six Million Dollar Man" tv show where Lee Majors fought off a bionic bigfoot played by pro wrestler Andre The Giant?) The ensuing years have not been kind to the "mystery" of bigfoot, however, especially since the 1990s. After Ray Wallace's death, his children produced a pair of oversized wooden feet that their father, well known locally for years as a hoax-er apparently, had used to produce "bigfoot" tracks like those his construction crew found in 1958. And in recent years a man who was an acquaintance of Roger Patterson admitted that it was actually him an ape costume which was captured in the famous "Patterson film."

"The most convincing visual evidence of bigfoot is a film taken by Roger Patterson in Northern California," Leonard Nimoy says with authority in the clip embedded below, which is from an episode of the television show "In Search Of..." that first aired in April 1977. "Dr. Krantz believes it to be authentic."

"'I've examined the film many times," Dr. Krantz then intones in this clip. "All of the anatomy of the creature is perfectly consistent. It just simply does not fit with a man wearing a suit. In fact a suit of that size.... there's simply no way a man could get into it. The chest and shoulders are simply too wide. The feet are properly designed for carrying that kind of body weight. That doesn't make any sense unless we've got a body of that size. Patterson could not have faked any of this stuff."

Later in this same episode Dr. Krantz is shown holding a plaster cast of a purported bigfoot track. "I studied this at some length.... It's not just a gigantic human foot. The leverage has been re-designed. And this happens to be re-designed just exactly the way it would have to be for an 800 pound animal....If it was faked, it was done by a human anatomist who was a real genius. And he had to have laid out thousands of these fakes all over the place. And that just simply becomes impossible."

That "Dr. Krantz" was Dr. Grover Krantz, who was then a professor of physical anthropology at Washington State University, and who continued to teach there into the 1990s. He died in 2002 at the age of 70 of pancreatic cancer. Did this 1977 "In Search Of" interview embarrass him professionally in later years? Did he come to regret it, in light of these subsequent hoax revelations? His obituary may provide some insight on that.

"Krantz' challenge on Bigfoot provoked more than scientific debate," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote in his obituary published in February 2002. "It created unwelcome controversy and allegations of 'fringe science' that Tyler said cost him some promotions and almost prevented him from getting a tenured post at WSU."

The "almost" in that last sentence really jumps out....

1 comment:

  1. read this article and you will have a better understanding of Krantz's career.