The Three Different Areas of Bigfoot Research.

This article was first published in the May, 2011 issue of the Bigfoot Discovery Museum Newsletter, Vol 6, Number 1. 

All bigfoot reports break down into three distinct research arenas (referring back to the origin of all reports—alleged eyewitnesses):

1. The Mythical Bigfoot–– includes legends, traveler’s tales, Jungian archetypes, imagination, Munchausenism (tall tales to gain attention), hoaxes, misidentification, psychoses and mass hysteria.

This is the type of bigfoot we can all agree on, scientists and nonscientists alike; these are the type of reports the skeptics concentrate on to show bigfoot is not real.

2. The Biological Bigfoot (Flesh & Blood) -– includes stories of close encounters, anomalous calls in the night, and habituation backed by evidentiary materials such as footprints, hairs, scat plus corollary evidence such as alleged shelters and trail markers.

This is the one the majority of researchers are interested in, as it can be proven with scientific methodology, if it is indeed real, through diligent research.

3. The Paranormal Bigfoot –– incorporates telepathy, invisibility, shape-shifting, channeling, interdimensional travel, and can involve being seen in and about UFOs.

This type of bigfoot report has inspired many science-fiction characters such as Ewoks and Wookies, but has been traditionally ignored by most researchers due to the difficulty involved in gathering proof.

Mike and AlAmong the “pro”(its real) bigfoot crowd, researchers have traditionally stayed with the bipedal hominoid theory, and tend to argue whether or not its specifically an ape or some sort of aboriginal human. The “con” (bigfoot is not real) side of the argument has tended to suggest all bigfoot evidence is fake, and all eye witnesses are either mistaken or lying.

The paranormalists are largely ignored by both sides: scientists in general will not accept anything as real until it can be replicated under controlled laboratory conditions, the bigfooters tend to put down the paranormal because they don’t want to “explain one mystery with another.” They suggest other bigfooters who fall into this line of thinking are giving up too soon by invoking the paranormal as a last resort because they already are convinced that bigfoot does exist and since the proof still eludes us, they MUST BE PARANORMAL. So there are all these various hypotheses floating around out there, with each proponent decrying the other guy’s theory is wrong. What if in actuality they are all correct, in one instance or another? WHAT IF nobody is totally correct, but everybody has some of the truth, and ALL THE ABOVE TYPES OF BIGFOOT DO EXIST IN REALITY? They all most certainly do exist in the minds of certain witnesses.

Anthropologists have maintained a dogma for quite some time that there have never been any apes in the Western Hemisphere other than Homo sapiens. Yet when you enter into cryptoprimatology, the first thing you notice is that these unknown apes are ubiquitous. They’re everywhere there is ample undeveloped forest, water and food, including North, Central and South America. Indigenous peoples from these areas have described apelike beings living in the jungles and forests of the Western Hemisphere for thousands of years, yet our scientists stick by the dogma mentioned above. We know there are and have been a multitude of apes all over the Eastern Hemisphere since the Miocene, and before that there were the precursors to the monkeys- –prosimians— all over the planet in both hemispheres. So why didn’t any wood apes or jungle apes evolve from monkeys here in the West? Well maybe they did and “science” is just in denial of their existence just as they were once in denial of the existence of the modern Gorilla, Giant Panda and Duck-billed Platypus.

EnochWe are now in the midst of what is purported to be a “breakthrough” in the ongoing discovery of bigfoot. Melba Ketchum and Adrian Erickson say they have proof of a flesh and blood bigfoot. Ketchum has been working with various tissues and body parts that were supplied to her by a number of bigfoot researchers in her forensics lab (DNA Diagnostics, Inc.) and is preparing a paper which we hope will prove that some bigfoot do exist, based on DNA sequencing. This is the first time in the history of bigfoot awareness that so many researchers have come together to pool their findings in a single lab. Erickson has assembled a research team including an Ivy league evolutionary biologist, to attempt documentation of several bigfoot habituations brought to their attention by experiencers in several parts of North America. Erickson has supplied some of the biological specimens being studied by Ketchum, and claims to have upwards of forty video clips depicting these beings in the wild. Incidentally, there have been a number of recently published books on bigfoot habituation, that further backs up these studies. So we appear to be on the edge of officially discovering some flesh & blood bigfoot. What’s ironic about this is the fact that a number of authors have recently come out with books that espouse the paranormal bigfoot, and a number of on-the-fence researchers now seem to be moving in that direction as well.

So what else is going on? Conspiracy theories. MK Davis and some others, encouraged by some purported film evidence combined with some extreme historical theories, has suggested that there was a mass murder of Sasquatches perpetrated in Bluff Creek in 1967 by a number of Canadian researchers in cahoots with a couple of the early California researchers, and that this has been kept secret now for over 40 years. So why did these men—who spent the greater part of their adult lives proclaiming the reality of bigfoot and attempting to convince others of its reality—hide the ultimate evidence? Because after killing several in self-defense they discovered they were human, and opted to hide the evidence for fear of prosecution. So they have continued their research, insisting that bigfoot is an ape, all the while keeping this “dark secret.” One of these men was just honored with an event celebrating his lifetime achievement as a bigfoot research pioneer! Remember what I said about the bickering and name calling? Some researchers are accusing others of murder and suggesting they must be liars if they won’t submit to lie detector tests. Does it get any more extreme than this? 

I want to make some predictions as to where this is all headed, at least in the near future, but first I want to point out a few scientific discoveries that have occurred in the last decade which lend credence to the subject at hand.

1.) On a small island in Indonesia called Flores some paleoanthropologists have excavated the skeletal remains of a dozen Hobbit-like individuals who were all diminutive in size (a little over three feet in height). They have named them Homo floresiensis, and consider them to be another species of human.

2.) Recently the entire genome of Neandertal was sequenced, and comparison with various haplogroups of living humans indicates that a great many of us share up to 4% of our DNA with Neandertal. In other words, our Homo sapiens ancestors sometimes mated with these “cave men.” (See illustration below about Homo neandertalis)

Homo neandertalis

3.) For decades people indigenous to certain parts of the Congo region in Central Africa have spoken of apes they refer to as “lion killers.” Said to be chimpanzees the size of gorillas, these apes were the subject of a Michael Crichton book Congo which was considered to be fiction when it was made into a film. Now, and for over two years a team of scientists have been studying these chimps. They are named for the territory, “Bili apes.

4.) Recently paleoanthropologists discovered a finger bone and a tooth in a cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia which belong to a previously unknown human type dubbed the “Denisovans,” (the name of the cave in which the bones were found). The end result of all this is that most scientists, who once agreed that by 40,000 y.a. there were ony two human species still alive on the planet (Homo sapiens & Homo neandertalis), now think there were as many as five humans co-existing as recently as 30,000 y.a. (The first two plus Homo erectus, Homo floresiensis and the Denisovans). I would point out that at least one scientist has admitted these discoveries do seem to add a whole lot more plausibility to the bigfoot phenomenon being grounded in reality.

Early Human Migration

My prediction is that there are a number of hominoids that account for mystery primate sightings in the biological arena. Bear in mind this is a global phenomenon that has been going on since the beginning of history. Some are gracile and some are robust, they come in a wide variety of human hair colors, some have language and some don’t, and some propogate via inbreeding at least part of the time. In my opinion they are as follows: 

A. Relict Humans (an ancestral species of human that did not become extinct) This would be a full blooded Homo ancestor such as Meganthropus or Heidelbergensis, for example or another unknown human species

B. Throwback Human Hybrids (x chromosomes= Homo sapiens; Y chromosome= Relict human)

C. Feral Humans (x = Homo sapiens; Y = Homo sapiens) totally off the grid

D. Known Apes seen out of place geographically (chimp, orang, etc.)

E. Cryptid Apes (Contemporary descendent of Gigantopithecus or other unknown bipedal ape)

I’m guessing the current DNA sequencing being undertaken in Texas and elsewhere will lend support to several parts of the above theory once all the samples are tested. I suspect that there will be a knee-jerk negative reaction from many researchers, especially those whose pet theory may not have been proven yet in the DNA samples tested at the point Ketchum’s paper and Erickson’s project are released to the public. Skeptics will be looking for signs of hoax or error and latching on to the most surprising aspects of the DNA results and blowing them out of proportion as ad hominem attacks. For example, if some of the “proof” indicates feral humans are involved, scoftics will say things like “We told you so, Bigfoot is just an inbred hillbilly, not a bipedal giant ape.” Bigfoot, as I have suggested, could be both; proof of one hypothesis does not automatically rule out all others, including hypotheses made by skeptics.

Many individuals and groups of researchers have contributed biological specimens for testing, which means many of the most active researchers will be part of the proof of discovery. I hope so, as this will help even out the playing field so we can all help solve the mystery through increased cooperation. Once we’ve proven even one type of mystery primate exists, academia and the media will hopefully take the phenomenon more seriously and funding will be made available to qualified research groups. Then we can move on to solving many more such mysteries of nature and preternature.

–Michael Rugg

The Little Museum That Can

Little Museum That CouldWe opened the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in 2004 in an attempt to educate the public with the facts and current best guesses as to the true nature of Bigfoot. The plan included creating the museum in the form of a roadside attraction in the hopes that visitors’ donations and purchases of souvenirs and educational materials would fund the ongoing attempt to gather proof of the existance of Bigfoot.. This was to be an uphill climb at best, but I had no idea what a struggle it would be.


Our first obstacle had to do with zoning. It took two years to jump through the hoops required to make everything OK with the Planning Dept. Even though I’d been doing business on the property since 1968, they claimed the return to retail as a museum was not OK because they had changed the zoning to residential. They intended to force us out of business to be compliant with their wishes. We gave them proof of our right to invoke the grandfather clause that enables us to continue operating as we have been prior to the zoning changes. Whew, that wasted a lot of time and money, but we got past it. By this time we already thought of ourself as the “Little Museum That Can.” Meaning we CAN climb the mountain of ignorance–and actually become self-sustaining while doing so–in spite of all the skeptics, nay-sayers and obstacles to the truth.
The first amazing thing we discovered by opening the museum, was the presence of Bigfoot in Santa Cruz County right up tho the present day.The roadside attraction model did indeed work to attract visitors, including local eye witnesses. Unfortunately some folks were reticent to pay admission to view what they thought might be a “scam.” Very few hardcore bigfoot skeptics ever come into the museum. I figured I’ll be able to set the record straight by telling the truth in the museum and by maintaining a neutral attitude and point of view.  I also had to deal with the expenses inherent in such an endeavor, which includes showing copyrighted materials. Playing of the Patterson Film can cost thousands of dollars in royalty fees. By asking for donations rather than an admission fee, everyone has access to the materials, whether they pay or not. As my accountant advised over and over “You’ve got to charge for the service you are providing with an admission fee,”I adhered to the donation concept, so everyone has equal access to the facts, and to make it clear we are not doing this for the money. Many times have I heard that criticism thrown out in an attempt to discredit any researcher who tries to leverage his own funding. “He’s in it for the money.”
Besides the inherent difficulty in fundraising due to the usual skepticism, two events occured that sent the public acceptance of Bigfoot back 20  years. 1) Ray Wallace died. 2) Greg Long wrote a book attacking the credibility of Roger Patterson. Wallace had created fake bigfoot artifacts including carved wooden footprints from which he cast duplicates that he sold to tourists as real along with still photos from a film he made of his wife in a bigfoot costume. His family told the media “bigfoot is dead,” ’cause their Dad created it singlehandedly in 1958. (Since hairy wildmen have been described all over the planet since the beginning of recorded history, this was obviously a ridiculous claim.) The misinformation got even worse when they (network news channels) started showing the Patterson Film on screen while talking about Wallace’s antics, In the end an urban myth was created by the newsmedia that there was a deathbed confession by Patterson and his film was now known to be an admitted hoax. That is a bald-faced lie.
Next came the worst book ever written about bigfoot The MAKING OF BIGFOOT”.This unfortunate attempt at “investigative journalism” turned into an ad hominin character assasination of Roger Paqtterson and Bob Gimlin. Backed by rumours and inuendo, two men claim to have aided Patterson & Gimlin in creating the creature. One man claimed he made the suit, while another swore he wore the ‘suit” seen in the film. Problem is they don’t even agree as to what the suit was made from nor its configuration!. When asked to give details to back up his story the man who supposedly wore the suit had no idea where the film site was nor its relationship to other neighboring towns. He claimed a five minute drive from Willow Creek to Bluff Creek film site, which in fact is more like a two hour drive. Other mistaken details of the story have been corrected over time between successive interviews; this is easily traceable online via archived interviews. Even sceptics (bigfoot non-believers) agreed the book was an abomination. But it had a very detremental effect on the public acceptance of bigfoot none-the-less.
So by 2008 we were fighting against all this media misinformation and disinformation on a daily basis. Five to Six days a week, 52 weeks a year for the past 8 years I have been speaking out and making the public aware of the facts concerning bigfoot. Almost everyday I had to tell folks the truth about the deathbed confession and the untrue hit piece against Patterson & Gimlin. Then came the worst hoax of all. Two men with law enforcement backgrounds (one was a Deputy Sheriff on leave) claimed to the world in a huge press conference in Palo Alto, CA that they had possession of a dead bigfoot and the carcass was to be turned over to “Bigfoot Hunter” Tom Biscardi for study and monetary exploitation. A few days after the press conference the truth was revealed and the men admitted the hoax but blamed it all on Tom Biscardi. Here we go again,,, more misinformation revealed to the public which had the result of creating additional attacks aginst all bigfoot researchers.
In the meantime our data base of sightings here in Santa Cruz County continued to grow. We went out as often as possible for a number of years looking for bigfoot especially when we had a fresh local sighting to investigate, and found more and more bits of evidence to support the reports in the local area. We tended to keep a low profile as we didn’t want get accused of being in it for the money. But by 2008 I had run out of money. I lost my home to foreclosure as it was one of many bad loans that went wacky when the banking system crashed. We managed to get rid of the upside down burden with a short sale, but I also borrowed money using the museum property as collateral. That’s why the museum has a loan payment to make each month and a balloon payment that recently became due and payable. But with the help of donations from a number of members and supporters of the museum we were able to pay the back taxes and make it possible to extend the note for two more years. Had you folks out there not helped, the museum would be closed now. Overcoming all the monetary struggles since 2008 while fighting to counteract all the media misinformation and the academic backlash against the subject has been a long climb up a steep hill. But I keep telling myself I can, I think I can…  I think I can!
Then in 2010 CalTrans closed Highway 9 four miles south of us for the entire tourist season from June thru  October.(revenue stream dropped 50%.) Most museums are supported by the local citizens via fundraisers and donations. Not so easy to do when many are still convinced that bigfoot is a joke. In Willow Creek CA their bigfoot museum has been a major tourist attraction since the late sixties, and even though a great many residents don’t believe in bigfoot, the whole town supports the museum and helps to keep it going. Its not like that here. We do have some volunteer help from time to time by individual locals, but there is no recognition for the tourist impact we’ve had and very little recognition by educators and county organizations who are in the dark on this subject. When Dr Jeffry Meldrum wrote a book on Sasquatch, sixty of his peers at Idaho State University signed a petition that suggested he be fired. Most scientists are convinced that the slightest interest in bigfoot can be a career killer. Most people who visit the museum and actually talk to me (the curator) are very complimentary and astonished at all the information we have to offer, but only a few have expressed their gratitude with more than $20. We have been advised by some to become a nonprofit corporation while others have warned us against it: the fact is, we are nonprofit, so we might as well make it official.
I’m convinced the study of bigfoot has reached the top of the discovery climb. After 60+ years of study bigfoot is indeed currently undergoing the discovery process. Something this controversial couldn’t be accepted overnight. But in spite of the overall ignorance of the subject there are more scientists of stature looking into this than ever before. I believe its an easy down hill coast from here (to the final announcement of reality) but the big question now is what happens next and will we be around to be a part in it? I feel great satisfaction for the part we’ve had in the discovery process, but without ongoing occasional funding help we are not likely to continue to be a part of the discovery. It doesn’t take a lot of money to keep this museum open, however, and I’m confidendent all our dedication and hard work–with a little help from you–will payoff in the end because we are The Little Museum That Can.
Mike Rugg
Director & Curator
Bigfoot Discovery Project & Museum