Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sir David Attenborough on Yeti Evidence

There is a brief article on the Daily Mail website out of the U.K in which revered wildlife expert Sir David Attenborough says, "There is very convincing evidence that yetis exist." He goes on to say, "I am baffled by the Abominable Snowman - very convincing footprints have been found at 19,000 feet. No one does that for a joke. I think it's unanswered." You can read the article here.

Attenborough is at least the second prominent wildlife expert to go on record saying that there is convincing evidence that undiscovered large primates may exist in the most remote areas of the planet. Dr. Jane Goodall, renowned primate expert, said in a 2002 interview on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Science Friday with Ira Flatow, "You will be amazed when I tell you that I'm sure that they (bigfoot/yetis) exist." You can read relevant portions of this interview here.

I think it is encouraging that established wildlife experts like Sir David Attenborough and Dr. Jane Goodall are going on record and acknowledging that compelling evidence that these animals exist is out there and warrants a closer look. It is my hope that well known, respected, and established scientists like these two will become interested enough on a personal level to push the scientific establishment to look into this mystery. I firmly believe that these animals could be documented if a properly trained and funded team was given enough time. At this time, however, few established scientists are willing to go out on the "sasquatch limb". I don't think it is a coincidence that Attenborough and Goodall waited until this point in their careers to make their proclamations. To make their thoughts on the sasquatch and/or yeti public earlier, assuming they have held these opinions for some time, could have endangered the funding for their life's work and irrevocably damaged their reputations within the scientific community.

Maybe, with the help of respected researchers like Attenborough and Goodall, the tide can be turned and this subject will cease to be career suicide for interested scientists. That may well be the break through that must occur before the "discovery of the century" can take place. It may also prove to be just as difficult to achieve.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Theories on Sasquatch Behaviors

There is an interesting post on the Utah Squatching Group’s blog site called “Sasquatch Psychology 101”. The author of the article communicates some very interesting thoughts on sasquatch behavior. You can read the article here but I thought I would elaborate on a couple of things that caught my eye.

I liked the author’s thinking in regard to how stealthy the sasquatch can be. He had always assumed, as did I, that the cougar was probably the stealthiest animal in North America. He mentions that he thought he might be able to stalk and sneak up on a sasquatch at some point. He now feels that will not and cannot happen. While I agree sneaking up on a sasquatch is unlikely, I don’t feel it is impossible. Even the phantom-like mountain lion can be surprised if conditions are right. Another reason that I feel it can be done is that it has already been done. I believe many sightings are the direct result of a person blundering upon a sasquatch who did not realize he was about to have company. How can this be? Read on below.

The next thing theorized in this post that I found interesting was that sasquatches seem to have a one track mind. He writes, “Often, when they are doing something, they seem oblivious to anything else.” I agree with this statement completely. It is for this reason that I believe surprising or sneaking up on a sasquatch is possible and actually has been done. The TBRC database has one very well documented sighting where circumstances point to a distracted sasquatch allowing a hiker to walk up practically on top of him. The sighting took place near a river and there were children laughing and splashing in the water on the opposite bank. It is the opinion of the witness, one which I agree with, by the way, that the sasquatch was watching the kids with great interest. Apparently, the creature was so interested and focused he never heard the witness approaching him. You can read this account in the TBRC database here. I also believe this “one track mind” led to Dr. Matthew Johnson’s sighting in Oregon back in July of 2000. This is a well documented sighting you can read about here. Basically, the good doctor stepped away from his family to relieve himself. As he was doing so he observed a massive sasquatch watching his family back on the trail intently. Dr. Johnson observed the creature move from tree to tree as it strove to get a closer look at his family. By all appearances, the sasquatch did not realize the good doctor was anywhere in the neighborhood. I think this could explain how Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin got so close to a sasquatch in 1967. Patterson said the creature was squatting down near the creek; possibly fishing. If so, it fits this “one track mind” or extreme focus theory. It is this trait that makes me believe that it is possible to surprise even this master of stealth.

The final point mentioned in this blog that I would like to expand on a bit is that sasquatch are “watchers”. The author points out, correctly, that the great apes like to watch things. Interestingly enough, the author does not consider this behavior to be a result of curiosity. Instead, he feels it is one of their strongest instincts and that it dictates much of their daily behavior. If this is correct, it is very different behavior than any other animal found in North America. Most animals simply run away at the first sign of humans. Certainly there are predators that occasionally stalk and attack humans. However, predation is not the same sort of behavior as just observing. It may be possible for researchers to use this behavior to their advantage as well. That, of course, is assuming the author is correct in his theory. I personally believe he may be onto something with it.

I encourage you to check the article out. It is worth the time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What is it?: Update

Loren Coleman has posted an entry on the Cryptomundo website concerning the carcass found in the Big Black River in Mississippi roughly a week ago. You can read the post here but I can sum it up for you. Basically, there have been no statements from any officials in Mississippi and no follow up article in The Vicksburg Post. This deafening silence from all involved, along with the lack of any photos of the carcass, has led to wild speculation. The likeliest explanation is that the carcass is that of a black bear. However, the belief that this is a black bear is, at this time anyway, speculation as well.

More on this if I hear anything.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What is it?

There is an interesting story in The Vicksburg Post today. It seems something unusual was found in the Big Black River. Part of the story reads as follows:

A body found in the Big Black River near U.S. 80 late Monday and believed to be human was determined this morning to be that of an unidentified animal. “It is not human,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said. “I repeat, it is not human.”

I must admit that I'm pretty curious as to exactly what sort of animal carcass could so closely resemble a human that it actually makes it to a crime lab for an autopsy. According to a friend of mine, who is a wildlife biologist, black bears are rare in Mississippi. Even considering the black bear as a possibility, it seems unlikely that a bear carcass could be misidentified by multiple law enforcement and coroner's office personnel onsite.

I'm not intimating that this is a sasquatch body that was found in the Big Black River, however, I am looking forward to finding out what it is and what about it was so human-like that it actually got to the autopsy table. You can read the entire article here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MonsterQuest: Swamp Stalker Episode Review

I just finished watching the MonsterQuest Swamp Stalker episode. All in all, I was pleased with how it turned out. I thought all the researchers were presented in a positive light and that the show did a good job of explaining the various techniques used to search for the sasquatch-like creature that has been seen for decades in the Ark-La-Tex-Oma area. Also, I truly appreciate how the subject matter is taken seriously and how evidence that is collected is critically analyzed. Having said that, I do think there was room for improvement with this episode.

I suppose my first criticism would be that the MonsterQuest producers tried to cram too much information from too many different areas into one episode. The two research teams were 75-100 (though the narrator said 250) miles apart. In my opinion, if the episode was to focus on the “Fouke Monster” or “Swamp Stalker” that is where the teams should have been looking exclusively. There are plenty of good areas to search in and around the Sulphur River bottoms. Instead, the second group of researchers was sent far north into the Ouachita Mountains. In addition, the sighting of TBRC researcher Daryl Colyer was included in this episode. This incident occurred far to the South of the Fouke area along the Trinity River in southeast Texas. Also, the show featured the discovery of a set of large footprints and a handprint along a creek in southeast Texas. Plaster casts were taken and evaluated by Dr. Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University. This is all well and good but, again, this evidence was collected far to the south of Fouke. While I have no doubt that the same type of creature is responsible for the sightings in all three of these locations, I do believe the show would have been better had the producers zeroed in on one location only and done a truly in depth investigation.

The second thing I was a bit disappointed in was how the encounter of the bow hunter was glossed over. I have heard him recount his story in person and it is absolutely incredible. I don’t believe it was given the attention it deserved. There was also a discrepancy in how the story was depicted on the show and the report the hunter filed with the TBRC. The narrator said the encounter occurred in “broad daylight”. This is not the case. According to the hunter, the incident occurred prior to dawn while still dark. There was a large full moon out, however, that allowed good visibility. Also, the hunter described seeing two animals beneath him. This was not mentioned on the show. I believe these errors fall on the MonsterQuest producers. I’ve talked to this man myself and heard him recount his story several times months apart. His story has always remained the same. Never once have I heard him say the encounter occurred in broad daylight. You can read the actual report submitted to the TBRC here. I believe that the lack of detail presented was a decision made necessary when the producers decided to include material from too many separate areas in this one show.

I found much to like about this episode as well. I mentioned in a previous post that I had been invited to participate in the filming of this episode but could not due to my work schedule. It turned out that I got to have a hand in this episode after all. I was present on the 2006 TBRC investigation that yielded the footprint and handprint castings featured on the show. I actually took the photos of TBRC investigator Daryl Colyer pouring and pulling the plaster castings as well as the photo of the creek and surrounding area (I have posted one photo above and two photos to the right). It was exciting to see Dr. Jeff Meldrum examine evidence that I helped collect.

While it is easy for me to say, I think that MonsterQuest would have been better off making a separate episode for each of the three areas discussed and/or investigated on this show (the Fouke, Area, the Ouachita Mountains, and Southeast Texas). There is plenty of historical background, local folklore, Native American legends, newspaper accounts, and modern sightings in each of these areas to fill up a one hour episode. I hope that these episodes will be produced and aired one day.

I will post an entry at a later date recounting the details of the 2006 investigation that yielded the footprint and handprint castings.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rene Dahinden Documentary

A friend of mine has provided a link to a documentary about Rene Dahinden and his search for the sasquatch. The documentary was aired in 1976 on the CBC network in Canada. You can view the clip here.

Dahinden is often mentioned as one of the "Four Horsemen" of sasquatch research. This group consisted of Dahinden, Grover Krantz, Peter Byrne, and John Greene. Of these four, Dahinden's life seems the most tragic. His obsession with the sasquatch cost him everything. He never was able to hold a steady job (not that he wanted to), his wife divorced him when he willingly chose his research over her, and he lived, at best, an extremely spartan lifestyle. At worst, he lived in poverty. In all the years Dahinden searched he never laid eyes on his quarry.

Dahinden's tale is a cautionary one. It is fascinating but demonstrates the dangers of obsession. While one can be obsessed by work of any kind, as well as any number of other things, this danger is not uncommon to those involved in the search for cryptid animals. Seeing something that is not supposed to exist can truly change one's world view. It is not unusual for a witness to dream nightly of their encounter for many years and to dwell on it in their daytime thoughts often. Many who have had a sighting and are experiencing these sorts of things would do anything to prove to the world, and maybe even themselves, they are not crazy. When their efforts to do so do not work out they can become bitter. Such was the case for Rene Dahinden.

I hope you enjoy the clip. It provides a lot of insight into Dahinden and also serves as a sort of time capsule as it takes you back to the mid 1970s.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Albert Einstein: Cryptozoologist?

Just kidding with that heading. However, here is a quote from Albert Einstein that, I think, applies nicely to the efforts of field researchers who are trying to document the sasquatch and other cryptid animals. It would serve as an effective reply to those armchair quarterbacks who criticize field researchers who try to think outside the box and try new techniques.

"If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"

- Albert Einstein

Thursday, February 12, 2009

MonsterQuest: Swamp Stalker Update

Watch the trailer for The Swamp Stalker episode of MonsterQuest here.

The show will air on February 18 at 8:00 P.M. (CST). The show will repeat at 12:00 midnight and again at 3:00 P.M. (CST) on February 21.

The show features one of the most compelling sasquatch encounters I've ever heard. I won't spoil the show for you but it is the story told by the bow hunter during the episode. You won't want to miss his account.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cryptozoology Examined

There is a good article on the website about cryptozoology and the search for new species of animals. It is well written and fairly balanced between those seeking these unknown creatures and the skeptics who doubt they exist.

Check it out here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

MonsterQuest: Swamp Stalker

The third season of the History Channel's hit series MonsterQuest is underway. I wanted to give you the heads up on the season's third show entitled Swamp Stalker. The show will air on February 18 at 8:00 P.M. (CST). The show will repeat at 12:00 midnight and again at 3:00 P.M. (CST) on February 21.

The Swamp Stalker features two MonsterQuest teams comprised largely of Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy (TBRC) investigators as they work to try to solve the decades old mystery of the "Swamp Stalker", a bigfoot-like creature, roaming the Texas-Arkansas-Louisiana border. The "Swamp Stalker" was immortalized in the cult classic movie The Legend of Boggy Creek. I was actually invited to take part in this episode but was unable to participate due to my work schedule. I can assure you, however, that the TBRC investigators who were able to participate did a top notch job. You can read more about the episode at the TBRC website here or at the History Channel website.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Illinois Black Bear Captured

This post does not relate to bigfoot or cryptid animals of any kind. Rather it deals with a known species turning up in a place it just is not supposed to be. There is an article in today's Illinois Star-Courier documenting the capture of a black bear near Neponset. It is believed to be the first black bear sighted in the state in over 40 years. You can read the article here.

The way the story has unfolded is familiar to me. The wildlife officials in Illinois have automatically assumed the bear is an escaped pet. They could be right, I suppose, but this seems to be the "go to" statement of all wildlife officials in all states when it comes to animals turning up in places, according to them, they should not be. I hear it all the time here in Texas in regard to cougar and bear sightings. If no picture, track, or other hard evidence is present the officials will claim the witness was mistaken. If tracks, a photo, or other evidence is present proving the witness did see a cougar or bear, officials will go to the "it's an escaped pet" statement.

I don't know why that seems to be the universal attitude. Life experience tells me that somehow and someway it probably boils down to money. If these animals are present in the state, or more parts of the state than previously known, then there will have to be some kind of management plan for them. This means expending more resources which means spending more money. In today's economy that just isn't good news. If the animal is endangered or threatened and is found somewhere it was not known to exist before it could also put a stop to various industries in the area. This could mean lost jobs, revenue, etc. This, too, would be most unwelcome in nearly every community.

Come to think of it, this could relate to "official" attitudes about the existence of a large primate roaming the forests of Texas. If the sasquatch were documented it would, no doubt, have to be considered endangered or, at the very least, threatened. This would be a huge pain for the powers that be. I'm also quite sure developers and the timber industry would not welcome the news. These industries have historically had a powerful voice in Texas policy making.

Again, the Illinois wildlife officials may be right. The black bear captured there may very well be somebody's pet. Just once, however, I would like to hear a wildlife official say, "We have no idea where this guy came from but we intend to find out." On second thought, that might not be a good idea. I might just keel over in shock.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

MonsterQuest Yeti Expedition Update

There is an update on the Cryptomundo website about the MonsterQuest backed expedition to find evidence of the yeti in Nepal. You can access the article here.

Apparently, things got more than a little scary and tough over there. According to the article, the hiking turned out to be even more difficult than anticipated and at least one crew member nearly fell to his death. Adam Davies, team member and author of Extreme Adventures, may have made the understatement of the year when he said, "The Himalayas in winter are not to be taken lightly." The MonsterQuest episode featuring this expedition will be airing soon. I'll post the date once it is announced.

I've never been to the Himalayas but can personally attest to the dangers that await anyone who seriously pursues the sasquatch in these United States. The areas I frequent here in the south vary from mosquito, gator, hog, and snake infested swamps to mountainous and rocky cougar, black bear, and rattlesnake territory (as you may have noticed the snakes are pretty much a constant in my part of the world). I've also been to Washington state looking for these animals. The mountainous terrain, bears, and big cats, not to mention harsh winters, make that area no picnic either. My hat is off to these guys, and other serious field researchers, who brave these hazards again and again trying to document this amazing and elusive animal.