Thursday, June 21, 2012

London Tracks - Another Update

Due to my rigorous filming schedule, I have been unable to deal with the data collected surrounding the London Tracks in the way I would like.  However, some progress has been made with them, and I thought my readers would be interested in what has transpired.

While going over the casts on my very short break in April, I discovered some things that made me wonder if the impressions could have been hoaxed.  The problem I found was that there seemed to be little toe splay variation from print to print.  This feature (or lack thereof) might indicate a prosthetic foot, such as a wooden cutout.  

This cast was obtained in a sandy
patch of substrate where the mud
had washed away.  Note the sand
grains in the cast.

I later discovered that Dr. Jeff Meldrum had an opportunity to examine a small sampling of the London casts obtained by Toby Johnson, Thom Powell, and Guy Edwards at the recent Primal Peoples gathering in Washington.  After seeing the casts, Dr. Meldrum also had some concerns about their authenticity.  

This past week, I sat down with Dr. Meldrum in his office and spent several hours discussing the trackway and casts.  We noted the apparent lack of variation in toe position, and talked about how much change in toe position should be expected if one individual is walking over a flat, uniform substrate.  We agreed that there should be relatively little variation, but indeed some.  

While closely examining photographs of the casts, we discovered several examples of toe variation that were greater than first noticed, both in relative depth and splay.  These examples occurred where the substrate changed from mud to sand, and at the point where the creature walked up a slight incline towards the shoreline of the reservoir.  This is exactly where one would expect this sort of variation to occur: at the change in the substrate.  

I missed these details because I didn't have sufficient time to closely examine each cast and contrast it with all the others before hitting the road again after my short break.  As for Dr. Meldrum's initial observations, he hadn't seen enough examples of the individual casts to determine this sort of variability.  

The twenty-fifth our of sixty-four consecutive
impressions cast in the trackway.

Our meeting lasted several hours, and several other features visible in the detailed photographs were discussed.  Many of these features point towards the authenticity of the casts.  Among these features are the mud protruding up between the toes, the consistency of the grabbing action of the first three digits (but often excluding the fourth and fifth digits), and the natural shape and contour of the elongated heel.  The possibility that some of the casts recorded striations from the toe nails was also brought up.  

After a pleasant lunch and an interesting conversation about many bigfooty things, Dr. Meldrum dropped me off at the hotel.  Upon parting, he noted that the photographs he saw helped him "turn the corner" in his opinion on the authenticity of the casts.  Dr. Meldrum and I will soon solidify plans to scan all of the available casts for his Virtual Footprint Archive.

Enjoy these detailed photographs of the London Tracks (click on them for the larger versions).  You may use these pictures for your personal research, or for posting on blogs and whatnot.  Please respect my copyright by asking for permission to use any of my materials for other ventures.  

Impression number 121 out of 122 from the London Trackway.
Note the distinct pressure ridge left by the grasping action of
the toes in the soft, sandy substrate.

Some of the prints impressed two or more inches
into the substrate.

Close up side view of one of the earlier track casts.
Note the striations that do NOT extend to the full
depth of the rounded toe impression.  Could this
be the result of the ragged front edge of a toe nail?

One of many very nice looking prints
from the London Trackway.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Finding Bigfoot - Indiana Field Notes

It has been a while since the Indiana episode of Finding Bigfoot aired, but I've been on the road filming the next season of the show since even before then.  Realizing that I only had a couple weeks until season three premiered, I wanted to get the last two field notes out.  Here you go.  There are very few pictures because I'm on the road and the Indiana and Utah photos are on my home computer, but at least you have the text...  Enjoy.

Finding Bigfoot Field Notes – IN

I admit that before my visit to Indiana, I didn't think much about bigfoots being there. I had a misconception of what the terrain is like there, assuming it was mostly corn fields and rolling plains. Little did I know that the majority of southern Indiana in particular is covered with thick hardwood forests with few urban centers. I was very pleasantly surprised.

The video that brought us to Indiana was not filmed in the best bigfoot habitat the Hoosier State. It was filmed in the Dunes State Park in the northernmost reaches of the state on a side road. The film was obtained in November of 2008 by a family out for a drive. It was filmed on an inexpensive cell phone and is heavily pixelated. It shows what appears to me to be a man in a monkey suit attempting to move in an inhuman fashion. The hair on the suit seems to be the kind that is bunched up and sort of fluffy; pretty typical of the inexpensive suits widely available.

The thing about the film that made it worth looking into was the dialogue heard while the figure is being filmed. The man's voice is not at all compelling, and he even laughs at one point as they start to drive away. The woman's voice is neither here nor there as far as authenticity, but the children actually seem to be very upset. One clearly cries. It is hard for me to understand how an educated couple would cruelly subject their children to such a terrifying spectacle.

The man from the video declined to appear with us at the location that day, but his wife accepted our invitation. She was kind, forthright, and of professional occupation. She told us that her husband worked at a university and didn't want to be associated with bigfoot for fear of some professional consequence. Her children were not with her at our recreation.

We put Bobo in the same spot as the subject in the film based on the bush it was hiding behind, as well as the four large trees on the left side of the road that the subject walked by. It took some convincing on my part with the rest of the cast to put Bobo by the right tree, but they eventually saw that I was indeed correct in my placement. This location put Bobo (and thus the figure) at 36.5 yards from the camera. Bobo was able to duplicate the awkward movements of the person in the monkey suit, and was indeed bigger than the figure by at least six or more inches. It was clear to us all that this was definitely not a bigfoot, but some sort of hoax. Whether or not the videographers were in on the hoax is unknown (though admittedly likely, especially when considering that the man would not appear with us on camera). I'd like to think that people wouldn't make their children cry for the sake of a joke, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

After our first night investigation came up with nothing, we decided to move our operation southward. We set up our home base in Bloomington, a hip college town nestled between two chunks of Morgan Monroe State Forest from where numerous sightings have been reported. I wouldn't have the opportunity to experience much of the fun town of Bloomington because it was my turn to be in the woods for a three-night camping trip with cameraman Tyler Bounds.

Tyler and I spent a lot of time scouting southern Indiana. There were a few highlights of our “solo” trip worth mentioning. First, while bigfooting in the cemetery seen in the episode, we got a strange sound in reply to one of the tree knocks. I don't know why it wasn't played in the episode, but perhaps the recorder didn't pick it up. The sound came from the east, and was very similar to a sheet of slightly bowed metal being popped outward. I have no idea what made that sound, as there were no homes nor buildings for several miles in all directions. In fact, we were butted right up against the only officially designated wilderness area in the state, the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area in Morgan Monroe State Forest.

Typical Indiana Habitat

Another highlight of the “solo” excursion was that strange vocalization we heard on the last night that started some coyotes off. We were at Prather Lake, the site of numerous bigfoot encounters over the previous years. Tyler and I hiked in very late at night, arriving in the wee hours of the morning. We were slowly setting up camp and doing knocks and then later calls. One of these calls elicited a strange vocalization that set off a pack of coyotes from the same area. When I heard it, I thought, “That sounds different. I wonder if it was a coyote or not.” Right then I looked over to where Tyler was setting up his tent and saw him sprinting across the ground towards his sound recorder, which was off. I guess he found the vocalization to be strange as well! Was it a bigfoot or a coyote? I don't know. I do know that whether or not it was a different animal, or a play of acoustics in the canyon, both Tyler and I found the initial vocalization to be noticeably different than the rest of the coyote sounds that followed.

An untelevised highlight of the “solo” adventure that Tyler and I had was a several hour visit with a long-term witness who I will call Dana (not her real name, but she requested anonymity). She has had visits from a group of bigfoots for many years and had many interesting things to share.

At first, Dana was unaware of the bigfoots, but her children were seeing them. Apparently soon after the family moved into their trailer, the children were refusing to sleep alone in their rooms because the “big ugly man” would look in their window at them. For Dana, this was at first just a case of her children having nightmares, but soon it became a larger problem. Dana would later refuse to let her son sleep in her bed with her, but would find him curled up in the hallway outside her door in the morning after he saw the big ugly man again. I spoke to her children and they both verified the terrifying events, though they are both much older now.

One night, many years ago, Dana took her shot gun and went outside to see what her dogs were barking at. There in her front yard was a large figure squatting down under the only light, staring off to the east towards a pond across the road. The figure was almost five feet tall even though it was clearly squatting down. Dana stopped in her tracks, dumbfounded. Even though her rifle was in her hands, she slowly backed up and went back into the house as she watched the figure turn its head and stand to walk away. Ironically, Dana had seen a sasquatch before when she lived in Washington State. It never occurred to her that there were bigfoots in Indiana, but at least she now knew what she was dealing with. She also started to understand that the bigfoots were probably the source of her children's fear of the “big ugly man” outside their windows.

There have been several more sightings of the local bigfoots since that time on or near her property. As usual, the bigfoots are heard far more often than they're seen. They sometimes bang the outside of her house, particularly when she makes a change to her routine or the outside environment. She hears the strange screams and knocking noises on occasion during certain times of year. She has even cast a couple impressions of what she believes are footprints nearby.

Tyler and I spent several hours with Dana and found her to be very credible. She is interested in the bigfoot subject and now knows what to keep an eye out for. I interviewed her extensively, and she granted permission for me to record the interview. I have plans to eventually transcribe the interview and to make it publicly available.

Indiana definitely has bigfoots living there. Most of them are in the southern part of the state nearer to Kentucky, as well as in the forested areas in the central zone outside Bloomington. I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear about pockets of activity throughout the entire state, though. I was quite pleasantly surprised with my visit to the Hoosier State. If you live in Indiana and know of any pockets of activity, feel free to let me know about them just in case I have another opportunity to visit.