Sunday, 22 April 2012

Why Witness Reports have Little Value

Witness reports are not a reliable source of information. The BFRO and many researchers/investigators have documented witness reports and present them as evidence. Let's consider how memory works, here is a quote from a 2010 Scientific American article:

The uncritical acceptance of eyewitness accounts may stem from a popular misconception of how memory works. Many people believe that human memory works like a video recorder: the mind records events and then, on cue, plays back an exact replica of them. On the contrary, psychologists have found that memories are reconstructed rather than played back each time we recall them. The act of remembering, says eminent memory researcher and psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, is “more akin to putting puzzle pieces together than retrieving a video recording.” Even questioning by a lawyer can alter the witness’s testimony because fragments of the memory may unknowingly be combined with information provided by the questioner, leading to inaccurate recall

In applying this to sasquatch sighting there are several characteristics that diminish the credibility of these reports:

  1. Witness who report sighting years later. Witness reports that are reported immediately after the sighting are more credible than sightings reported years later. When a witness waits years or decade to report their sighting their memory of the story is less likely to be accurate. The witness' imagination has potential to exaggerate, or otherwise construe their memory.
  2. Witness who are overly emotional when retelling the story decades after the sighting. This suggests they are exaggerating their experience. This possibly indicates that they are actively reconstructing the experience.
  3. Reports where there is a single witness. When the sighting happens alone the individual has potential to reconstruct the memory without dispute. With multiple witnesses there sorties can be cooperated.
  4. Witnesses with multiple sightings - Sasquatch are extremely rare. It is more probable that the witness' memory is flase than they have seen multiple Sasquatch.
Other potential considerations are:
  • Personality disorders - In mental health it is not unusual for people to lie and create elaborate stories to attract attention. Even for many psychologically healthy or borderline personality disorders getting a story published or even being listened to intently is enough motive for many people to fabricate a story.
  • Pre-conceptions - Expectations can influence interpretation of visual or auditory stimulus (Google the Red Panda Effect, or Duck-Rabbit Illusion). Potentially when someones sees a shadowy figure in the woods their interpretation of the shadow includes massive muscles, extremely tall, covered in hair....

The Ketcum DNA Study: Red Flags

If there is legitimate DNA evidence that sasquatch exist then this data (sequenced DNA) should be made public. This is an important discovery, if Melba Ketchum holds proof that sasquatch are real living creatures and has been withholding this information from the public then her behaviour is  immoral, regressive, and selfish. Geneticists, Anthropologists, Biologists, Zoologists, Physiologists, Physicians, ... need this data. The human species needs this data. If this data exists then it needs to be examined and interpreted by a variety of scientists AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

We shouldn't get our hopes up.

Red flags:
  • How could any rational person keep this hidden from scientists for years?
  • How can DNA samples (blood and tissue) be collected without getting an un-ambiguous photograph?
  • Hype, publicity created by Melba Ketchum's Facebook page. If the data is legitimate let the data speak for itself.
  • Delay in publishing results. Guy Edwards' 5 Stages of Big Bigfoot Announcement
  • There is no Geneticists, Anthropologists, Biologists, Zoologists, Physiologists publicly associated with the study.
  • Dr. Ketchum owns the lab where the samples are tested. This potentially is a conflict of interest.
The argument that Dr. Ketchum wants to protect sasquatch is weak. If they exist it is extremely difficult or apparently impossible to even get a good photograph of one. There has never been a confirmed case of a sasquatch being successfully hunted and killed. They do not need protection.

Having said all this there are some positive and encouraging signs coming from Dr. Ketchum's work and I hope she is successful in providing good evidence for the existence of sasquatch.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

What is more interesting the mystery or the hairy biped?

I recently listened to Joe Rogan talk about the fascination with the unknown and the popularity of the unknown. Listen to the first half of the video.

I respect Joe Rogan as a thinker, and he raises a great point:

It is possible that this cultural fascination with mystery has propagated the Sasquatch myth. If Sasquatch is not real or extinct then the mystery will continue indefinitely since proving absolutely that Sasquatch does not exist is essentially impossible. This idea is probably responsible for the popularity of ghosts, aliens, and other cryptids. Although it should be acknowledged that the physical evidence for Sasquatch is relatively greater.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Ketchum DNA study: Reading between the lines

If successful the Ketchum study will not only reveal sasquatch as a flesh and blood creature but will also tell us very specifically who/what sasquatch are and where they came from. There are several possibilities:

*I realize there are very specific grammar guideling when discussing taxa (genus species), I'm sure I have made errors. I hope my ideas are still communicated.

Hypothesis #1: Homo Sapiens [Sapiens] (Human/people)
The genotype of sasquatch falls within the normal limits for Homo Sapiens. However, the phenotype is very different from "modern" humans. The genetic difference between Chimpanzee and human is extremely small (genotype) yet the physical appearance (phenotype) is dramatically different. It is possible, yet unlikely, that sasquatch are a tribe of humans. There are rumours of this because of a web domain owned by Dr. Ketchum titled "Feral Human Project."  This hypothesis would be incredibly diffficult to prove without bones or a body because of the possibility of sample contamination. Hopefully, the sasquatch DNA would still have several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) not found in know human DNA, but evident in multiple sasquatch samples/individuals. This would go a long way to validate the findings. 
Hypothesis #2: Homo Sapiens* (Human with an asterisk)
Sasquatch are Homo Sapiens with a larger proportion of genetic material that came from neanderthal, more specifically sasquatch are Homo Sapiens with 5-50% of their DNA originating from Neanderthal . Of non-African Homo Sapiens up to 4% of the DNA came from Neanderthal. Dr. Ketchum has hinted at this through her facebook page by answering questions related to Neanderthal. Since non-Africans don't consider themselves 96-99% human, sasquatch would still be considered Homo Sapiens and therefore could be accurately described as "feral humans." This hypothesis would be easy to prove, using the technique described by Eric Durand one could easily and cheaply find out where the sasquatch DNA fits relative to human and Neanderthal examples. This is hypothesis is the best case scenario, easy to prove, mind blowing, difficult/impossible to fake, difficult to refute.... If this is the case scientific journals would be eager to publish.
Hypothesis #3: Genus Homo
Sasquatch is Neanderthal, Homo erectus, or some other surviving Homo genus. DNA matches that of Neanderthal or other that has its genome sequenced. This would be controversial because scientists would demand to know where the DNA came from, and most of the samples were not collected in a manner that would not satisfy skeptical scientists. It is possible to hoax if Dr. Ketchum had access to Neanderthal DNA (for example), replicated it and contaminated samples with it. However, if samples show a Homo DNA not known to science the paper could be very successful.
Hypothesis #4: Gigantopithecus, or other ape.
To my knowledge the genome of Gigantopithecus has never been sequenced. The Ketchum DNA study could conceivably show DNA which does not match any known species living or extinct and shows characteristics of ape.
Hypothesis #5: Insufficient data
The quality of the DNA data is not enough to change any minds and will remain highly controversial. The DNA equivalent of a blobsquatch.

I'm hoping for #2 or #4.

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Ketchum DNA Study: Requirements for a tipping point

In order for the Ketchum Study to open the eyes to the scientific community (and the world) that sasquatch is a living species the following conditions must be met:
  • Reproducibility - the extracted DNA must be copied and sequenced or genotyped by a lab other than the one Dr. Ketchum owns. Copying DNA is not particularly difficult and is usually standard practice once the DNA is extracted from blood, saliva, hair, ... Also, standard DNA copying protocols must be strictly met and documented, otherwise the DNA sample might be considered inadmissible.
  • Significantly different from known species - The DNA must show variations (SNPs) that are not present in Homo sapiens. The scientific community will not accept human DNA which allegedly was collected from the "sierra kills" or any other blood or hair sample. The DNA evidence itself must be compelling enough to answer the question: How could DNA be collected without any bones or body?
  • Different samples give the same/similar result - For example, DNA collected in British Columbia is remarkably similar to DNA collected in Oklahoma, but with enough variation (SNP differences) that suggest the sample did not come from the same individual. This condition in itself is very poor scientific evidence given the circumstances of the sample collection. However, this condition in addition to the others discussed above would make the study very compelling.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Surface anatomy of the Hovey photo

The details surrounding this photo are controversial, let's ignore that for a second and look only at the photo itself, more specifically examine the anatomical features of the photo.

Compare the photo to a gorilla, a muscular human, and Patty.

In the Hovey photo the shoulders have a very dramatic slope. The human, gorilla, and Patty have a slope to the shoulder that is less steep. Also between the Trapezius and the Deltoid there is no notch or angle between these two muscles. This notch is created by the separation of the two muscles and the bony landmark at the AC joint where the clavicle (collar bone) meets the Acromion process of the Scapula (shoulder blade).
Another difference is that the Hovey photo shows a 'hump' or ridge on the surface of the body between the back and head. The gorilla and Patty have no ridge at all, their back flows seamlessly into the back of the head. Humans have a smaller ridge but it is usually less pronounced than what we see in the Hovey photo.
The position of the head in the Hovey photo is quite different from the gorilla and Patty. The gorilla and Patty the head sits low relative to the proximal end of the Humerous (top of the upper arm bone). The position of the head relative to the Humerous in the Hovey photo appears to be similar to humans. Bill Munns argues successfully that the Patterson Gimlin Film is authentic because a human head would not be able to "get inside the costume." It is easily conceivable that a human form could "fit into the costume" of the Hovey photo.
The last thing I will cover is that the lack of visible Scapula in the Hovey photo. Given how clear and deep the depression running along the spine is it surprising that the area between the spine and the arm is flat and featureless. Scapula are visible on most humans, they can also be seen in the gorilla photo.

The musculoskeletal anatomy in the Hovey photo lacks features that suggest it is a living relict hominoid.

additional gorilla examples

chimp examples

human examples

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Why so few reports from Quebec?

Possible sasquatch photographed in Quebec. more
The province of Quebec has similar land mass, population, and environmental conditions as Ontario. Yet there is remarkably few reports that are from Quebec. The BFRO lists 64 sightings in Ontario and only 4 from Quebec. The excellent website has documented over 70 sightings in Ontario and the sightings map shows at least a dozen of these sighting occur close to the Ontario-Quebec border. Mangani's Bigfoot Maps show incredible density of sightings in the north-east USA but very sparse sightings in Quebec.

How is it possible that so few sighting come from Quebec?

Hypothesis #1
People in Quebec speak predominantly French, therefore the sightings never get picked up by organisations like the BFRO due to language. Sightings are happening but they are not being reported.
  • No central French language database or researcher in Quebec. Researcher Alexandre Bilodeau has recorded 6 sighting and 6 possible sighting in Quebec. Another bilingual paranormal organisation in Quebec has never received a report in Quebec. There are a few more forum posts and similar reports in French that can be found. Overall, the total amount of reports online is remarkably low.
  • However, New Brunswick is a much smaller province but also largely Francophone has 7 reports from on the BFRO while Quebec only has 4. Remarkably, Malaysia has 36 and China 11 reports on the BFRO.  This suggests that language itself is not the problem. 
Hypothesis #2
Sasquatch is a myth. It has propagated in English speaking North Americans but has been incorporated to a much lesser degree in Francophone culture.
  • It seems that sasquatch is present in modern Quebec culture. Many sasquatch/bigfoot documentaries have been translated into French. There was a minor league basketball team called the Montreal Sasquatch. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that Quebec residents have knowledge of sasquatch, they must associate a hairy human-like creature walking in the woods with the word "bigfoot" or "sasquatch." This hypothesis doesn't really work either.
Hypothesis #3
There are environmental characteristics that cause sasquatch to be less prevalent in Quebec.
  • I am not familiar with any differences but it is possible.
  • I would actually expect Quebec to be better than Ontario because of more coastal areas with salmon rivers. Dr. Bindernagel has stated that sasquatch food sources probably include clams and salmon. 
This seems really bizarre. The truth might be some combination of all factors. For example, greater knowledge of sasquatch in English speaking regions leads to more "false" reports combined with real sightings going undocumented.

Popular evidence form Quebec: Possible photo, casts, Great North figure

Friday, 24 February 2012

The Five Gait Patterns of Sasquatch

Firstly I want to draw attention to the work done by the Facebook Find Bigfoot crew. Without their countless hours of compiling data, analysis like this would not be possible.

There are five gait patterns seen in the record of Sasquatch motion pictures:
  1. Walking with small vertical displacement of the centre of gravity
  2. Walking with large vertical displacement of the centre of gravity
  3. Biped Jog/trot
  4. Biped Sprinting/running
  5. Quadruped running

Walking with small vertical displacement of the centre of gravity
  • Main characteristics: Very stable torso while walking, the head and shoulders move up and down less than typical human walking. The Sasquatch seems to glide or float. They move swiftly and fluidly. Fast or brisk walk. Fast cadence of footsteps.
  • Examples: Patteson-Gimlin Film, White Bigfoot in Soybean Field Ohio, Minnesota Auburn, Harlan Ford, ... 
  • Possible Explanations #1: Heelstrike walking with compliant gait. Dr. Jeff Meldrum has examined hundreds of footprints collected across North America and has come up with a theory of mid-tarsal break. Bipedal walking with a mid-tarsal break foot suggests "compliant gait" meaning that the knees are bent throughout the entire step cycle. This is mainly due to the decreased moment of inertia (torque) around the ankle joint that accompanies mid-tarsal break (difficult to explain, I will attempt to do this in another video or article). Basically, this type of walking is consistent with the footprint evidence.
  • Possible Explanation #2: Patterson-Gimlin Film is a hoax and since then many hoaxers have attempted to copy the gait in the PGF.
  • Final Word: This type of walking is probably the fast walking mode of the Sasquatch. Probably walk like this on flat terrain where footing is good.
Walking with large vertical displacement of the centre of gravity
  • Main characteristics: Centre of gravity rises and falls with each step. Up and down movement of head and shoulders is greater than typical walking in humans. Forward movement almost stops with each step. Slow speed. Slow cadence of footsteps.
  • Examples: Freeman Footage, Del Norte, Peguis Back Road, Backyard BigfootKid films Sasquatch in profile N. IL, ...
  • Possible Explanation #1: Forefoot strike walking. The creatures in this video are landing with the front part of the foot rather than the heel. This causes the characteristics discussed above. Apes with mid-tarsal break often walk like this and can even switch between heelstrike and forefoot strike walking (Dr. Aaron Filler, 7min mark). Consistent with footprint evidence, especially half-tracks found, because sometimes only the front part of the foot would contact ground.
  • Possible Explanation #2: This type of walking is caused by persons in suits trying to take long strides. This explains the up and down movement with each step, and the near stop to the forward movement with each step. Trying to take big steps also causes an in-line trackway because the hips rotate to make the step longer.
  • Final Word: This might be the method Sasquatch use for walking slowly. This method of walking is the most common in the video record. There is a problem with this type of walking: it is very inefficient. It takes a lot of energy to move the centre of gravity up and down with each step. Natural selection does not tolerate inefficiency. However, there might be a couple reasons to explain this: (1) improve traction. Humans do this when walking on hard slippery surfaces. (2) Stealth, perhaps it lets them step more softly and quietly. (3) depth perception, human move their head laterally (left/right) a few centimetres to change perspective slightly and gain a better depth perception. Perhaps Sasquatch necks cannot move this way because the head is set closer to the shoulder, they move vertically instead.
Biped Jog/trot
  • Main characteristics: Slightly faster than walking, slightly faster cadence than walking. Elbows are flexed but very little arm movement. Short airborne phase (period of both feet off the ground). Mid-foot or forefoot landing. Similar to barefoot human running.
  • Examples: To my knowledge the only example is the final seconds of the Soybean Ohio video
  • Final Word: Theoretically possible for Sasquatch to bipedal jog. Not much else to say.
Biped Sprinting/running
  • Main characteristics: Full run. Fast. Arms pumping. Long airborne phase (period of both feet off the ground). Long strides. Heelstrike landing. Torso rotation with each step.
  • Examples: Memorial day, “Bigfoot in Backyard" by stream (somehow #17 of top 50 from FB/FB)
  • Possible Explanation #1: Sasquatch bipedal run very similar to the way humans run when wearing shoes.
  • Possible Explanation #2: Human in a suit.
  • Final Word: These videos are probably hoaxes or mis-identification. This type of gait does not fit well with mid-tarsal break theory. It is my hypothesis that Sasquatch cannot run the way humans do. I will address this in more detail in another article. Briefly, the main reasons are: (1) Human barefoot runners do not run with the characteristics above. It is more of a trot or slow jog, strides are much shorter, and they land with the mid-foot or front part of the foot. (2) Sasquatch arms are too long to pump when running. (3) Foot anatomy of Sasquatch as inferred from footprints suggests a decreased speed advantage for angular velocity about the ankle joint. (4) Ligaments in the foot at the mid-tarsal break would not be able to support the forces of a 500+ lbs animal biped running.
Quadruped Running
  • Main characteristics: Very fast. Running on all four limbs, similar to gorilla or chimpanzee.
  • Examples: PEI, New York Quadruped
  • Possible explanation #1: Sasquatch can quadruped run the same way Gorillas and Chimps do. Consistent with long arms observed in the best videos. Consistent with mid-tarsal break foot anatomy and function since Gorillas and Chimps have mid-tarsal break feet.
  • Possible Explanation #2: Mis-identified bears.
  • Final Word: This is probably the method Sasquatch use to sprint. This gait would be very difficult to fake. Some possibility the New York video is a bear, but it seems very unlikely that the PEI video could be a bear. 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Munns report shows Patterson-Gimlin subject walks with heelstrike gait pattern and shows toe movement.

Bill Munns has enhanced and analysed the Patterson-Gimlin Film his work can be found at In one sequence of images Munns highlight the feet of the subject of the film. These images were used for the following analysis.

The heelstrike is interesting because this is how humans typically walk when wearing shoes. Mid-tarsal break theory allows for heelstrike and toestrike walking. Apes who have mid-tarsal break walk with both gait patterns (see 6 min mark of this video).

The extension of the toes is suggestive that this is something other than a man in a suit. It is conceivable that the man in the suit is wearing big floppy feet and centrifugal force is causing them to bend up just before heelstrike. There are two main problems with the floppy foot theory, the gait looks too natural/fluid to be wearing floppy feet, and the feet don't flop around at any other point in the film.