Monday, February 25, 2008


Discovery Channel (Wild Discovery) - Original Air Date: January 9, 2003

This show brings an impressive variety of scientific tests and experts to the question of whether or not bigfoot is real. In the show, they make you wait until the end to find out the conclusions, but cataloging conclusions is what this column is about. The finger print expert opines that the dermal ridges suggest that a non-human great ape is living in North America. The Memorial Day Footage crew, using survey equipment and a world-class runner concludes that the creature in the film is man sized, with a man-like stride, and moving well within human norms (about half as fast as the sprinter). The Freeman footage suggests a large creature, but no conclusion on whether this is real or fake. The sonic cry analysis suggests in might be human or from a primate. Hair sequencing comes out human or near human. Footprint analysis suggests a distribution of sizes suggestive of a living population. A cast expert believes the Skookum print is from an unknown hominid primate. And CGI recreation of the Patterson film suggests the subject is non-human. This last conclusion makes me wonder about the others, as the "muscle anomaly" pointed out by the expert on the thigh of the Patterson film looks more like a "suit malfunction" to me. (A patch of fur coming loose.) Also, the CGI suggestion that the stride is non-human is at odds with evidence from Is It Real? (and other sources) showing not only is the stride possible for a human, but that there is a specific human with that stride--Bob Heironimus. So, while individually the science seems sound enough, perhaps it would have been better to examine fewer aspects of the phenomenon--or expand the show from one hour to two and bring more than one expert to bear on some of the subjects. The Memorial Day Footage had a whole team of relevant experts, whereas the Patterson footage team was so diverse as to have little overlap for checking of conclusions. (One doing CGI, one checking on the movement & muscle anatomy, etc...)

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