Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Finding Bigfoot Season Three - PA Field Notes

Kinzua Bridge State Park, the site of our eventful last
night investigation.

This expedition to Pennsylvania was to be my second bigfooting trip to the Keystone State. My first trip was back in 2010, and it was quite successful. I heard knocks and whistles during the day from three different directions, and from not very far away. I thought I was going to get footage for sure, but I was wrong once again… That trip was outside of Butler, PA, but this trip was to have two separate locations. The first was in eastern PA, while the second would be further west in the Allegheny National Forest.

We started our expedition outside of Scranton, PA. We came to investigate some interesting footage obtained by two young men, Paul and Robert, while goofing around with their go kart. They had just made a new go cart track and were filming themselves doing laps from the perspective of the go kart with their cell phone cameras. On one of these laps the camera picked up a dark bipedal figure walking from the left to right at perhaps 50 yards distance. Paul was driving.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Finding Bigfoot Season Three - Illinois Field Notes

Our area of focus in western IL

Most of the bigfoot sightings that occur in Illinois happen in the very southern part of the state, but there was one main attraction about going further north than this: Stan Courtney. Stan has been actively pursuing bigfoots for a long time, and over the years we have become friends.

Stan was one of my influences in bigfooting in that his diligence in collecting data in the form of sound recordings is admirable. He routinely puts out a parabolic dish to obtain recordings of whatever noises the forest has to offer. While many of these sounds are the vocalizations of typical forest animals, there are some that defy identification and could very well be bigfoots.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Do Bigfoots Have Regional Accents?

Regional Accent of humans map by William Labov

One commonly-used field technique for bigfooting is call blasting.  Back in the late 1990's and 2000's, this was usually done with loudspeakers and amplifiers hooked up to CD players.  The most common calls used were the Tahoe Scream (there is no public source for this recording) and the Ohio Howl.

While John Frietas is often recognized as the godfather of call blasting, it was Roger Patterson himself that tried this method first to my knowledge.  He not only recreated bigfoot sounds by yelling into church bells (to add resonance), but he also blasted calls off of a tower on a property in Tampico, WA.

Call blasting sounds purportedly made by bigfoots brings a number of questions with it.  First of all, how does one know the sounds are bigfoot sounds unless somebody saw the creature make the noise?  Even if the recordings are in fact bigfoot sounds, what are the bigfoots saying?  After all, they could be saying, "Stay away!  There's a human here!"

One interesting question that has arisen is if bigfoots have regional accents.  Would a Southern bigfoot (possibly with a drawl?) answer or ignore one of its Yankee brethren?  Would a Midwest bigfoot shun or welcome a Canadian sasquatch's greeting?  I would hope that bigfoots would be above stereotyping based on accents...

I ran across this article that brings to light a precedence of regional accents in primates.  Sure, these are gibbons and not bigfoots, but if one ape species has this characteristic, perhaps others do.  After all, humans have accents...

Enjoy the article:

Apes Found to Have Regional Accents
by Jake Richardson

A group of researchers has discovered that crested gibbon apes have regional accents. The scientists studied the singing of over 400 crested gibbons in 24 different locations in Asia.

The gibbons studied live in the rainforests of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China. “Each gibbon has its own variable song but, much like people, there is a regional similarity between gibbons within the same location,” said lead researcher Van Ngoc Thinh. (Source: UPI.com) (Their study was published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.)

Gibbon songs are made to travel over long distances in thickly vegetated areas by having a single frequency. It was found the songs that were most similar came from species that genetically were very closely related. Identifying gibbons by their songs is easier than by genetics because obtaining physical samples is difficult, whereas the songs are constantly being emitted and can be heard from some distance. Also, the songs can help identify where the gibbons are from, sort of like regional accents for humans.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fire Using Ape

Anytime I hear about apes doing things that only humans are supposed to do, it catches my attention. Clearly the reason is my interest in sasquatches, and my quest to understand them more than I do now (a life-long quest that will never be completed, I'm sure).

I've always thought that the debate about whether bigfoots are apes or humans is not a worthy argument to engage in. Humans are apes. Special apes, I admit, but apes nonetheless. In fact, all the apes are special in my mind, and bigfoots are included in that assessment. The question should be how human-like are bigfoots. I suspect they are very much like humans, probably far more so than most folks would be comfortable with.

But I digress...

I saw this article about a particular bonobo that figured out how to use fire for cooking. I found that interesting, but the last few paragraphs of the article are the ones that really made me want to post it to the blog. Here are some of those paragraphs:

"This isn't the first time apes have displayed uniquely human behavior. The report "Spontaneous Prosocial Choice By Chimpanzees," published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the primates are as cooperative as humans, especially when their partners are patient with them.

"For me, the most important finding is that like us, chimpanzees take into account the needs and wishes of others," researcher Dr. Victoria Horner told LiveScience following the study.

Previous studies have also found that monkeys can doubt themselves, and even show disappointment and regret."

I am always interested in the ever-fading division between what constitutes "human" behavior, and what is solely ape behavior.

Here is the beginning of that article:

Kanzi The Bonobo Can Start A Fire, Cook His Own Food

Anyone who's ever seen "Planet of the Apes" or the recent "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," knows this is exactly how it starts. And it's all downhill from here.

Kanzi, a fun-loving male bonobo, has figured out how to cook his food with fire, the Daily Mail reports.

Bonobos are also known as pygmy or dwarf chimpanzees, and listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List due in large part to poaching.

According to the Daily Mail report, this is the first time a bonobo ape has developed this skill, which Dr Savage-Rumbaugh, of the Great Ape Trust, links to early human development.

"When humans learned to control fire and to domesticate dogs we began to feel a new level of safety which freed us to become creative and to create more sophisticated cultures," Savage-Rumbaugh told the Daily Mail.

Kanzi's skills have also transcended food groups: not only can he cook hamburgers in a pan over the fire, but he can roast marshmallows at the end of a stick, too.

Read the rest of the article by clicking this link.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

2007 West Virginia Footprint

This footprint was found by the witness about 50 yards from Canaan Loop Road near Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. The area is mainly used by mountain bikers, bear hunters, and hikers. The witness left the gravel road to do some off-trail hiking when he stumbled across this miniscule footprint in the mud. No information was given as to if there were others, or the step length. The location is three or four miles away from the nearest house, according to the investigating researcher.

For more information and analysis on this footprint, click this link.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

London Trackway - Track #61

London Track #61
London Track number 61 seems unremarkable at first, but a closer inspection reveals a couple of interesting features. At first glance, it seems that the track shows little depth, but in actuality, the medial (inside) edge of the foot impressed fairly deeply into the substrate. This medial edge left a nicely contoured shape to the foot, strongly resembling the hourglass shape that has often been noted in bigfoot footprints from the data set.

Friday, April 12, 2013

New Population of Orangutans Found

Orangutans are deeply interesting to me, partly because it is my opinion that they are probably the closest living relative to the sasquatch (though I admit this is little more than speculation).  There are so many parallels in behavior and morphology between orangutans and sasquatches that it seems clear to me that to study one is to gain insight into the other.

Orangutans are now an endangered species, mostly due to habitat destruction.  One of the species' last refuges is on the island of Borneo.  There are an estimated 3000 to 4500 orangutans live on the island, and these apes are constantly at the mercy of the three countries' governments that hold power over the island.  When a species' survival depends on the wisdom of government, especially three third-world governments, those are some bleak prospects for their future.

The topography of Borneo

However, apes are amazing things.  People strongly underestimate them, referring to them as "dumb apes" or "monkeys" without an understanding of their intelligence, stealth, and kinship with ourselves.  They can literally live under our noses without being detected, as the sasquatches have done successfully forever now. Every once in a while a new ape species, or an unknown population of a known ape species, is stumbled upon.  This very thing recently happened, and it is good news indeed.

A pocket of orangutans was discovered where none had been known to exist before.  There are approximately 200 individuals in this area, and they were found to be there by their nests they left behind.  The below article discusses this further, but when reading it consider a few things.  The population was discovered by the signs they left behind.  We have those same signs left behind by sasquatches.  The local people already knew that the orangutans were there, it was the scientists that were oblivious.  This is also true of the sasquatch.  And finally, the governments are now considering protecting the population by forming new national parks, or in other words, they are protecting the land so the apes can use it.  If we in North America protect the land, we protect the sasquatch.  That's "conservation before discovery" at its core.

Enjoy the article:

Secret Population of Orangutans Found
By Live Science Staff | LiveScience.com

A population of 200 of the world's rarest orangutans was found tucked away in the forests of the island of Borneo, according to theWildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

All subspecies of Bornean orangutans are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. But scientists estimate just 3,000 to 4,500 individuals are left in the subspecies known as Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus, making them the most severely threatened.

Two-thousand of those live in the Malaysian state of Sarawak inBatang Ai National Park and Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, researchers say. The previously unknown population was found by conservationists near the Batang park, in an area covering about 54 square miles (140 square kilometers).

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The London Trackway - Track #56

Track #56
London Track number 56 only shows four toes, though the fifth digit is visible in other casts. This creature seems to have been grasping the ground with its toes, and mostly with the first three digits. As it grabbed the substrate, it raised a ridge of substrate behind the line of toes which can be seen in the nighttime stills, as well as being represented as a deep furrow in the cast. This furrow measures in excess of 5 mm on the cast. Striations can be seen on the toe impressions.

For more information and photographs of this print, click here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rhythms of Speech in Primates

A gelada baboon in Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia.
Photo by A. Davey via Flickr.
While clearly not humans, bigfoots are extremely human-like in many ways.  They're bipedal, they seem to travel in small family groups, and they are extremely intelligent.  There are other possible similarities that are as of yet uncertain, but could very well be present, including the capacity for speech.

If bigfoots can in fact speak to each other using language, or perhaps some proto-language, then many interesting questions arise.  These questions concern evolution, vocabulary, and even morphology that could give rise to speech.  For example, does bipedalism somehow contribute to the brain or throat structure in some way that helps enable language?

Due to my interest in the possibility that bigfoots are talking to each other, I keep my eyes open for language ability in primates.  I was recently sent this article about sounds made by a species of baboon.  These sounds contain patterns and "wobbles" that closely resemble human speech.  Please keep in mind, this is not evidence of language use by baboons.  It only shows a similarity between the sounds the baboons make and the sounds we make.  To quote the article:

"What it's showing is this possibility for rhythmic expression and vocal output," Ghazanfar said. "This possibility exists and geladas have exploited it. But it doesn't show a direct relationship between what we can do and what geladas can do."

Still, I think it's cool, interesting, and pertinent to what I do. Here is the article for you to enjoy:

Babbling Sounds of Monkeys Share Rhythms with Human Speech

Scientists studying the evolution of speech have long puzzled over why there are no good models in primates. While primates share many traits with humans -- they've been known to play, grieve, fight, even laugh -- speech isn't one of them.

With one possible exception. A group of wild monkeys from the Ethiopian highlands called geladas, which are closely related to baboons, make gutteral babbling noises that sound eerily human-like. And they do it while smacking their lips together. The combination of lip smacking and vocal sounds is called a "wobble." A study in this week's issue of the journal Current Biology analyzed the rhythm of the wobble and found that it closely matched that of human speech.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Finding Bigfoot Season Three - Vietnam Field Notes

The jungles of Vietnam are ridiculously thick and unfriendly.

Vietnam is a land that has produced more new species of large mammal than anywhere else on Earth. Before 1992 when a bovine called the saola was discovered, only one large mammal species had been described over the 50 previous years. However, starting with the saola, three new species of large goat-like mammals were described in just four years, and they all came from Vietnam. Interestingly, since the 1992 discovery of the saola it has yet to be observed by a scientist in the field. Certainly, if an antelope can remain hidden in the mountainous jungles of Vietnam, a rare species of wildman can do the same.

Stories of bigfoot-like creatures were brought back to America by returning veterans of the Vietnam war. Many soldiers described what would later be called “rock apes” being seen in the thickly forested mountains as the troops were either camped or moving from place to place. The first time I heard such a story was from an acquaintance of my father. He reportedly saw a seven-foot hairy man run across a opening in the forest during a gun battle. The hairy man then scaled a steep rocky cliff that no man would ever think of climbing, and it did so with staggering speed. Since the soldier was engaged in a gun battle at the time, he had other things to worry about and didn't bother taking notes on what he saw. Still, he was very much blown away by the sighting.