The Patterson Gimlin Film

In addition to folk tales, eyewitness accounts, and tracks, the other critical piece of evidence cited in defense of the existence of North American bipedal hominids is photography. Though many photographs and filmed images have been produced, the image usually granted the highest level of credibility is the Patterson-Gimlin footage from 1967. The well-known footage of a female Sasquatch walking along a dry creek bed while casting a glance over her right shoulder has been subjected to various types of analysis in order to determine its authenticity. As with Bigfoot prints, the options are pretty clear cut - either 'Patty,' as the creature in the film is affectionately called, is a hoax or Patty is a hairy hominid.

It was on October 20, 1967 that Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin caught the famous image on film. Visiting northern California for the express purpose of capturing a Bigfoot on film, they both claimed to have been caught by surprise when one of the creatures walked right in front of their horses. Exploring the area around Bluff Creek that had been made famous by Bigfoot less than a decade earlier, Patterson and Gimlin rounded a large obstacle and were shocked to see a Sasquatch crouching beside the creek to their left. The creature then stood upright and proceeded to walk away from them, going from left to right. Patterson's horse was startled by the sight and he quickly found himself on the ground. He nevertheless was able to retrieve his 16mm movie camera and begin filming. Krantz describes the film in this way:

The film begins when Patterson is at a distance of 112 feet (34 m) behind the creature, somewhat to the right of its path, and running toward it about half-again faster than it is walking. At first the film jumps badly, the small image usually being unrecognizably blurred or completely off the frame. Whenever it can be seen clearly, it is simply walking away.

After Patterson had closed the distance between it and himself to just 81 feet, he stumbled to his knees but kept the camera going. About then the sasquatch turned its head (and upper body) to face him briefly while continuing to walk with long strides . . .

From where he stopped, Patterson was able to hold the camera fairly steadily for most of the remaining filming. The creature's legs were obscured by stream debris in many of the best frames . . . and it was getting progressively smaller on the frames as the distance increased.

Near the end of the footage, Patterson quickly moved his position about 10 feet to the left (3 m) for a better view. The subject continued to walk almost directly away until the camera ran out of film when it was at a distance of 265 feet (80.8 m). The entire incident was over in less than two minutes, and Patterson had 952 frames of color film of the first and only sasquatch he ever saw. (89-90)

Through his analysis of the film, Krantz believed that he was able to make determinations concerning the physical characteristics of the creature. He estimated that the creature stands six feet tall and weighs around 500 pounds. He also concluded that the filmed subject walks in a manner atypical for humans. The creature exhibits the knee bends and leg extensions of a much smaller individual moving at a fast pace. It also exhibits the motions associated with a very heavy human, but with strides much longer than that normally taken by such a heavy person. He writes: 'Judging from the way it walks, there is no possibility that the film subject can be a man in a fur suit' (115).

The story does not end there, however, because in 2004 an old friend of Patterson and Gimlin by the name of Bob Hieronimus claimed to have been the man in the suit. Hieronimus claims that he was promised $1,000 if he would wear a suit for Patterson's camera. The suit, according to Hieronimus, was a modified gorilla costume, with football shoulder pads to add bulk and a football helmet with a mask attached for the head. Family and friends of Hieronimus reported having seen the suit in the trunk of his car, and in some cases said they had worn the head themselves. Hieronimus claims that the unusual gait of the creature in the film was a result of the confines of the costume, including the large, fake feet that he was wearing.


Satisfying himself with the evidence from eyewitness testimony, folklore, tracks, and the Patterson-Gimlin film that there is indeed a large, hairy, bipedal hominid stalking the forests of the


Pacific Northwest, Krantz also sought evidence from the field of anthropology. Specifically, he combed the fossil record for evidence of a Bigfoot-like creature. He found a candidate in Gigantopithecus blacki. The evidence for this primate consists of parts of the lower jawbones from a handful of animals, and thousands of teeth. According to Krantz, G. blacki is believed to have lived in southern China around one million years ago. Krantz notes that he is not the first to make the connection between contemporary creatures and the giant ape. In 1968 Bigfoot expert John Green had suggested that Sasquatch might be a remnant population of G. blacki. Krantz, however, claimed to have gone a step farther than others by reconstructing a physical description of the prehistoric primate based on those few fossil remains. He thought that such a reconstruction showed that both the Himalayan Yeti and the North American Sasquatch might be related to the Chinese 'super-gorilla:'

I formally proposed to equate the two species under G. blacki, but expressed the hope that G. anadensis would become the accepted name if the Sasquatch proved to be a separate species. I also suggested using the name Giganthropus anadensis if it should prove to be generically distinct, or Australopithecus anadensis if future discoveries should point in that direction. However, such proposals carry no legal weight under the established rules of zoological nomenclature. (274)

Alas, Krantz admitted that the acceptance of his suggestions is hampered by one problem in particular. Namely, 'All of these ideas presently suffer from the fact that there is no direct overlapping of evidence between the known fossils and the reported living species' (274).

Nevertheless, Krantz argued passionately for his ideas. He rejected what he called 'the common view' that little can be determined about body size and locomotion from the few simple jawbone and tooth fragments at our disposal. Indeed, he argues that upper teeth can be used to reconstruct an upper jaw to match the extant lower one. Related musculature and other structures can then be easily inferred. Finally, a solid conclusion can be reached: 'Given the great divergence of the jaw, as well as the reduced sectorial complex in the teeth, an erect posture can be deduced' (275). From there, the rest can be carefully worked out:

The picture of an adult male Gigantopithecus may be summarized from these data and deductions. It was an erect, bipedal primate with the wide shoulders and strong arms of an ex-brachiator. Its body would be ape/human-like in its broad chest, short waist, and lack of external tail. It would weigh about 350 kg (800 lbs.) and stand perhaps 2.5 m (8 ft.) tall, on legs and feet of roughly human proportions and stout design. It would be covered with normal primate hair and have a gorilla-like face. Its intelligence should be in the general area of living apes, with no cultural capacity or language. The female would be smaller, at 250 kg and 2 m, but otherwise the same.

An animal exactly fitting this description is often reported as seen in North America. (286-7)

Thus, Krantz argues that Gigantopithecus blacki is a viable candidate for the species identification of Bigfoot. In other words, Bigfoot, and the Yeti, may constitute a remnant population of the giant prehistoric ape.

This claim leads Krantz to consider the possibility that such creatures exist not only in the Pacific Northwest and the Himalayas, but in many other places around the globe. Indeed, reports of large, hirsute, bipedal creatures are common in many other regions of the world. Some of these creatures, such as the Almas of Mongolia, the Barmanou of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Nguoi Rung of Vietnam are in locations easily explicable in terms of the Gigantopithecus blacki hypothesis. Others, such as the Hibagon of Japan, the Kapre of the Philippines, and the Yowie of Australia are a bit more problematic. He admits that:

When it is suggested that a wild primate is found native to all continents, including Australia, then credibility drops sharply . . . Beyond a certain point, it can be argued that the more widespread a cryptozoological species is reported to be, the less likely it is that the creature exists at all. (197)

However, he does not rule out the possibility that small, remnant populations may exist around the globe, though perhaps having evolved into other closely related species or sub-species. He says that, 'Reports from states like Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania seem to be increasing in number and apparent authenticity' (200), and considers the Florida skunk-ape (a smaller, smellier, more aggressive cousin to the Sasquatch of the Northwest) to be particularly well attested to by footprint and eyewitness evidence. This is also true of sightings throughout low-lying swamp areas in the lower Mississippi and other large river basins.

Which explains why I am standing knee-deep in the swamps of north Texas, worried about snakes and ticks and the lightning flashing overhead. A creature has been seen in this area, first by locals and then by members of Tom Biscardi's team. Tom himself claims that there is a family of creatures, what he calls a 'pod,' living on the site of the old Camp Maxey army training grounds, perhaps sheltering in underground bunkers.

I have been assigned to a group under the leadership of T.J. We are to scout out an area of woods bordering on the lake. It is to be a completely dark excursion, no lights allowed. The heavily overcast skies and intermittent rain make it impossible to see anything. T.J. directs us to sit around the base of a large tree until our vision has adjusted somewhat to the darkness. Once acclimated, we begin our trek. We walk in single file, T.J. leading the way.

Not only is our expedition dark, it is also silent. T.J. directs our movements with hand signals, barely visible in the darkness. Every few minutes he signals for us to stop. After we all drop to one knee, I do as I have been instructed and scan 360 degrees with the night-vision goggles that I have been assigned. A wave of my hand indicates that all is clear, a thumbs-up is reserved for a sighting. As soon as I give my signal we are up and moving again. Now, however, I have a problem. The night-vision goggles have ruined my own natural night vision -1 can't see a damn thing. We are leaping over a deep muddy trench, or at least the others are leaping; I am struggling through the knee-deep water, trying to keep the expensive goggles dry.

Soon the wind begins to pick up and the rain grows more intense. Lightning flashes overhead. The weather forecast predicted possible tornados, with dangerous lightning and hail. I am grateful for the poncho and big Texas cowboy hat that I am wearing, otherwise I might drown standing up. If the creature is out in this weather, he is a damn fool - like me. This is what Bigfooting is about, however. Eyewitness accounts, footprints, and videotape just aren't enough; we need a specimen. Which is why we are here tonight, in foul weather and pitch-black darkness. Our team is swinging to the right, another team is swinging to the left. If the creature is here we will drive it right into Tom Biscardi's lap.

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