Female Bigfoot caught on film by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin in 1967 near Bluff Creek, California.
Etymology: Nicknamed by Dmitri Bayanov after cameraman Roger Patterson.
Scientific name: Homo troglodytes pattersoni, given in 1997 by Bayanov.
Physical description: Height estimates range from 6 feet 2 inches (Gimlin's) to 7 feet 4 inches (Patterson's). Based on the size of the tracks found, a chest width has been estimated at 22 inches, with a depth of 16 inches. Weight estimates based on the film range from 280 to 2,030 pounds, but if the chest measurements are accurate, the weight would be roughly 540 pounds. Massive upper body. Covered with short, shiny black hair. Head set low below shoulders. Sagittal crest (usually a male primate characteristic). Bare, grayish skin on parts of the face. Heavy browridge. Deep-set eyes. Wide nose. Short neck. Prominent, hair-covered breasts. Soles of feet are bare and light in color.
Behavior: Humanlike gait, with arms swinging. Foul odor.
Tracks: Ten prints of both feet, 14.5 inches long by 6 inches wide, were found in the creek bed. Stride, 40-42 inches.
Location: Bluff Creek, just north of its confluence with Notice Creek, in the Six Rivers National Forest, southeastern Del Norte County, California.
Significant sighting: Around 1:20 P.M. on October 20, 1967, retired rodeo rider and horse breeder Roger Patterson and his friend Robert Gimlin were riding along Bluff Creek in northern California looking for Bigfoot tracks. As they rode around a bend, they saw a female crouching by the creek. Their horses reared up, and Patterson's pony fell on its side. He scrambled clear and managed to pull his leased 16-millimeter Cine-Kodak K-100 home-movie camera out of the saddlebag. Gimlin covered the animal with his 30.06 rifle in case it tried to attack. The creature watched them briefly be-
A frame from the famous film, taken by Roger Patterson on October 20, 1967, at Bluff Creek, California, showing the female BlGFOOT nicknamed PATTY. (René Dahinden/Fortean Picture Library)
fore it walked away at a deliberate pace across a sandbar. Meanwhile, Patterson ran after it and started filming, though he lost his balance once as he crossed the creek. This portion of the film turned out blurred and jerky, and he neglected to note the film speed. When he got a clear view, he stopped running and held the camera steady. At the same time, the Bigfoot turned its upper body sideways briefly to look at him, then moved off into the brush. Patterson kept filming for a while, though trees were in the way. After running out of film, he reloaded; then the men both tried following the tracks but lost the trail about 150 feet beyond the film site. Patterson took some footage of the tracks along the creek, but this has apparently been lost.
Forester Lyle Laverty took photos of the tracks the following day after a rainstorm, and taxidermist Bob Titmus visited the site on October 29 and made ten plaster casts of both right and left footprints. He was able to follow the trail and found some body impressions indicating that after the incident, Patty had sat down in some ferns about 125-150 yards away, perhaps watching the men.
Present status: The film consists of more than 23 feet of color footage (952 frames). The primary stumbling block is that the film speed of the camera was not noted at the time. The Kodak was adjustable to run at variable speeds. Patterson normally shot at 24 frames per second (fps), but sometime after the incident, he noted the camera was set on 18 fps. This may have been Patterson's misreading of 16 fps, since there is apparently no setting for 18 fps on the K-100 model. In any case, the adjustment may have occurred accidentally when he pulled the camera out of the saddlebag.
Biomechanics expert Donald W. Grieve pointed out in December 1971 that the creature's observable muscular movements are seemingly natural and would be difficult to fake, especially with the breadth of its shoulders. He said even a large human could probably not match the gait if the film speed was 16 or 18 fps.
In October 1972, Russian researchers Dmitri Bayanov and Igor Bourtsev correlated the bounces in the film with the steps taken by Patterson, concluding that the film speed must
have been 16 fps or Patterson would have been sprinting along at an unlikely speed.
Opinion is strongly divided on whether Patty looks plausibly real or is an improbable mix of human and ape characteristics. In 1973, primatologist John Napier wrote that, although he "could not see the zipper," the creature didn't make sense to him because its upper half is apelike and its legs and gait are humanlike. He also pointed out Patty's odd blend of both male (crest) and female (breasts) primate features.
In 1975, Peter Byrne noted that the time (Friday) and location of the sighting make a hoax improbable. In 1967, the rough road (since collapsed) near the creek was a popular
route for weekend campers and Bigfoot hunters. A hoax party could be too easily surprised by a pickup coming down the road, and the specific spot has open visibility from the south, north, and west. The noise of the creek itself would mask the sounds made by unexpected hunters or hikers. A man in a Bigfoot suit would be taking unnecessary risks by exposing himself to trigger-happy backpackers eager to bag the big prize. There are many sites farther upstream that offer a more convenient setting for hoax preparations (footprints) and the event itself.
Anthropologist Grover Krantz observed in 1992 that sagittal crests in apes are a function of size, not gender, and exist to anchor the massive jaws of the larger males.
Krantz also concluded that the sequence had been filmed at 18 fps, based on his estimate of the speed of the stride as measured by the swinging of the arms and the legs, and determined that it correlated with the reported height of
6-7 feet. At 24 fps, the subject would have been less than 4 feet tall; at 16 fps, it would have been well over 7 feet. In 1999, he found out that the settings on the K-100 model were only approximate (within 10 percent of the setting, according to Kodak); a camera set to 16 fps was electronically timed at 19 fps, or three frames faster.
The allegation that Patterson was permanently employed as a cameraman for American National Enterprises in Salt Lake City and commissioned to create a Bigfoot film is, at best, unsubstantiated. The charge was made in the Fox-TV special entitled "World's Greatest Hoaxes: Secrets Finally Revealed," which aired on December 28, 1998.
Cliff Crook and Chris Murphy claim to be able to see a metal latch on the torso, while Erik Beckjord says he has found a metal tube on Patty's arm. Neither of these objects have been identified by other analysts. Possible explanations:
(1) A man in a suit made by the late Hollywood special-effects artist John Chambers, who created the makeup and suits for the 1968 Planet of the Apes movie. Mark Chorvinsky has gathered considerable evidence to show that it was a common assumption in the makeup community of the late 1960s that Chambers was responsible. However, on October 26, 1997, Chambers denied to investigator Bobbie Short that he ever made or designed a suit used for the Patterson film.
(2) A hoax perpetrated by Patterson and Gimlin.
(3) A hoax perpetrated by Patterson and an unknown associate on Gimlin.
(4) A hoax played on both Patterson and Gimlin by unknown persons.
(5) If genuine, the film is one of the best pieces of evidence for the existence of a large unknown hominid in North America. Sources: Ivan T. Sanderson, "First Photos of
'Bigfoot,' California's Legendary 'Abominable Snowman,'" Argosy, February 1968, pp. 23-31, 127-128; Dick Kirkpatrick, "Search for Bigfoot," National Wildlife 6 (April 1968): 42-47; John Napier, Bigfoot (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1973), pp. 84-90, 203-208; Peter
Byrne, The Search for Bigfoot: Monster, Man or Myth? (Washington, D.C.: Acropolis, 1975), pp. 152-166; Dmitri Bayanov, Igor Bourtsev, and René Dahinden, "Analysis of the Patterson-Gimlin Film: Why We Find It Authentic," in Vladimir Markotic and Grover S. Krantz, eds., The Sasquatch and Other Unknown Hominoids (Calgary, Alta., Canada: Western, 1984), pp. 219-234; Grover S. Krantz, Big Footprints (Boulder, Colo.: Johnson, 1992), pp. 87-124; Danny Perez, Bigfoot at BluffCreek (Norwalk, Calif.: Center for Bigfoot Studies, 1992); Mark Chorvinsky, "The Makeup Man and the Monster," Strange Magazine, no. 17 (Summer
1996): 6-11, 51-53; Mark Chorvinsky, "Our Strange World," Fate 49 (September 1996): 18-20; Loren Coleman, "Footage Furore Flares," Fortean Times, no. 91 (October 1996): 39; Scott Essman, "John Chambers: Maestro of Makeup," Cmefex, no. 71 (1997): 172; Mark Chorvinsky, "Update: Makeup Master John Chambers and the Patterson Bigfoot Suit," Strange Magazine, no. 18 (Summer 1997): 5, 57; Mark A. Hall, The Yeti, Bigfoot and True Giants (Minneapolis, Minn.: Mark A. Hall,
1997), pp. 36-44; Dmitri Bayanov, America's Bigfoot: Fact, Not Fiction (Moscow: CryptoLogos, 1997); Loren Coleman, "Suits You, Sir!" Fortean Times, no. 106 (January 1998): 48; David Daegling and Daniel Schmitt, "Bigfoot's Screen Test," Skeptical Inquirer 23 (May-June 1999): 20-25; Henner Fahrenbach, "Case Closure on the Crook-Murphy 'Bell' Story," 1999, http://www.bfro.net/ref/theories/ closure.htm; Chris Kraska, "The Patterson-Gimlin Film: Enmity, Evidence, and Evolution," Crypto 3, no. 3 (May 2000): 9-13; Mike Quast, Big Footage: A History ofClaims for the Sasquatch on Film (Moorhead, Minn.: Mike Quast, 2001), pp. 5-19; Mark Chorvinsky, "The Makeup Man and the Monster, Part 2: Denials and Secrecy," Strange Magazine, no. 22 (Spring 2002), on line at http://www. strangemag.com.
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