By SCOTT CANON
The Kansas City Star
Admit it. You want to believe.
The same way you want to someday comb a unicorn’s mane, chat with a leprechaun and sit behind the plate at a Royals-Cubs World Series, you’d like to think these guys claiming they will unveil a real Bigfoot on Friday aren’t full of Sasquatch dung.
Yet (or is it Yeti?) the chances don’t look good. We — the 13-year-olds in all of us who pine for better video of the Loch Ness Monster and for a look at the water-powered car the auto executives killed — have been pulled in before. And we haven’t got so much as a tuft of genuine Gigantopithecus blacki fur to show for it.
There’s that 1960s video of the big guy strolling through the woods in a bad gorilla suit. The various footprints. The Bigfoot blood that turned out to be transmission fluid. The hair that was just carpet.
Now come at least three men — coincidentally all in the Bigfoot business — promising evidence at a Friday news conference in Palo Alto, Calif., that the elusive creature has been found at long last.
“A body that may very well be the body of the creature commonly known as ‘Bigfoot’ has been found in the woods in northern Georgia,” says a news release. It describes the carcass as that of an animal 7 feet 7 inches tall, weighing more than 500 pounds that “looks like it is part human and part apelike.”
The two who claim to have found the mysterious beast in north Georgia — a former cop and a former prison guard — offer Bigfoot expeditions. They’ve teamed up with Tom Biscardi, who’s been searching for and making movies about Bigfoot since 1971.
He says he’s had at least six encounters of the hairy kind and he’s landed in the area of sightings by others on several occasions.
In March, for instance, he took a film team to Bishopville, S.C., after locals saw what they called a “lizard man” and which he suspected — “you’ve got the real deal here” — was Bigfoot.
Two years earlier he sued the Great American Bigfoot Research Organization over possession of a plaster cast of what was presumed — by those fighting over it, anyway — to be Bigfoot’s big footprint. In 2005 he set up a pay-per-view broadcast over the Internet of a Bigfoot expedition near Happy Camp, Calif., after suspected sightings in the area.
Now he’s promising “DNA and photo evidence” that the missing link is missing no more. A picture is already up on his Web site — essentially a freezer full of something brown and furry.
“This smacks of Hollywood, not science,” said a weary Benjamin Radford, the managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine and a lead author of Lake Monster Mysteries.
He puts little trust in either Biscardi or the Bigfoot legend. Biscardi has spoken confidently about evidence before. Radford said the prospect of a very large animal and its kin existing without discovery in North America defies logic.
In fact, the term “Bigfoot” was coined when California construction company owner Ray L. Wallace donned 16-inch wooden feet and tromped through mud. That spawned a front-page article in the local newspaper and gave name to the legend of Bigfoot.
Ever since there have been low-budget documentaries, self-published books and countless Web sites devoted to Bigfoot as reality. Sightings have been made from Pikes Peak to Louisiana, Mo.
Biscardi said in a brief interview Wednesday that he’s invited two Russian scientists — “because they’re the two most prominent in the field” — to autopsy the animal.
He thinks that, even in the age of Photoshop, pictures displayed on Friday will be convincing to people. Besides, Biscardi said, he has no doubt about the authenticity of this find.
“I,” he said, “touched the thing.”
And if the Friday news conference fails to convince, perhaps the preadolescent in us all can take a cue from Cubs and Royals fans. Maybe next year.
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