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Old 10th July 2006, 02:44 PM   #1
Skeptical Greg
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Bigfoot_ The Skookum Cast

We have discussed this at length in other threads..

I thought a new analysis by BFF member ' DesertYeti ' brings a nice perspective to the skeptical side of the table..

Here is the text of the original post ( with DY's permission ) and a link to the thread..

Here's a preliminary report (written in classic, dry scientific apologies), with accompanying first-draft figures of my study of the Skookum Cast. I want to stress that I traced out only those features that exist on the cast, and made no interpretation of them until after I was done with the photowork. This is standard practice is straigraphic geology, where we work with photopanels of outcrops, trace surfaces and features, then double-check them on the actual outcrop or specimens. This serves as a safety-check and helps correct errors made from 2-d images. The interpretation shown here is preliminary, and a newer one exists, but I still need to double check a couple of minor features. I know plenty of people will disagree with this study, and that's fine. All I can say is, look at the specimen yourself if you get a chance, and remember Occam's Razor!

The “Skookum Cast” as it has become widely known is a Hydrocal plaster specimen of a body imprint collected in September, 2000 by Rick Noll, members of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, and a television documentary crew. Although nothing has been formally published on the specimen, it has been touted as representing some of the best available evidence for the existence of Bigfoot. Yet no formal study or detailed interpretation of the cast has been published since its discovery.
The purpose of this study was to examine the slab and couterslab of the Skookum Cast in order to: 1) document the occurrence of footprints, body prints, and hair flow patterns; 2) compare these traces to known animal sign in an effort to identify the makers; and 3) evaluate previous claims that the Skookum Cast represents clear evidence for the existence of a large, hairy, non-human, North American hominid.

Materials and Methods
The cast and counterslab of the “Skookum Cast” were examined in detail, and high-resolution photographs were shot for use in photo-interpretative work. Interpretations were digitally traced directly over the photos, and later compared to the actual specimens to verify the details. First-order surfaces are those that are readily apparent, 3-d shapes in the cast, exhibiting textures and morphologies characteristic of animal traces and were traced in a heavy line. Second-order surfaces include hair patters and surficial textures and were traced in a lighter-weight line. All surfaces were traced and compared to the specimen, and no attempt was made during the tracing to interpret structures, morphologies, or the originator of the trace. Only upon completion of the tracing exercise were the results compared to casts of tracks of known animals, and also published examples of animal tracks and sign (see Elbroch, 2003).

In addition to the large body trace evident in the cast, four elk hoof prints, at least seven canid prints, and two boot prints are visible (Figs. 1, 2). Hair flow patterns are clearly preserved over much of the body trace, and match the pattern of flow in resting traces of large, hoofed mammals, including elk (see Figs. 1, 2). Although dermatoglyphic ridges have been informally reported on the “heel”, here interpreted as the wrist, none were evident to me during examination of the specimen. The elk hoof prints exhibit the characteristic rounded anterior margin and emarginated posterior margin of the species’ hoof morphology and are deeply impressed into the mud, ranging from 2-5 cm in depth.
The canid track was formed after the elk had moved away from the area as demonstrated by the superimposition of the canid’s prints over the main body imprint. The boot prints were left by the researchers at the site.

The Skookum Cast appears to be a perfect example of forcing data to fit a pre-formed conclusion. In this case, the researchers were out to find evidence of Bigfoot, and this colored their interpretation of the evidence. Despite the complete lack of any Bigfoot prints on any part of the specimen, or in the immediate vicinity, the Skookum Cast continues to be lauded as some of the best evidence available for the existence of large, non-human North American hominids. Elk hoof prints found in direct association with the body imprint, combined with the very characteristic hair flow patterns readily apparent on the imprint immediately suggest that the specimen represents an elk lay (see Elbroch, 2003 for a discussion of the characteristics of ungulate lays).
The elk body print clearly evident in the Skookum Cast reveals the animal’s flank, butt, thigh, knee, shin, and metatarsals in precisely the areas where they would be expected (see Elbroch, 2003; Fig. 2). The curvature so readily apparent in the anterior impression of the elk’s thigh and knee were interpreted as the imprint of the gluteus maximus of a large hominid by at least some of the researchers who examined the cast (Murphy, 2004). The metatarsal imprints were likewise interpreted as the forearm of a hominid, and the imprints of the wrist and metacarpus became a “heel imprint.” The paired wrist and metacarpus imprints are characteristic of elk, deer, and other ungulate lay traces (see Elbroch, 2003). Significantly, the lack of hoof prints directly within the outline of the main body print is exactly what is seen in deer, elk, and other ungulate lays (see Elbroch, 2003). Hoof prints found outside the main body outline, but related to the forelegs reveal how the animal stood up.
Since none of the previous interpretations of the Skookum Cast have been formally published, it is impossible to evaluate all the claims surrounding the specimen. Nor is it possible to determine from the available information whether any of the researchers involved in its analysis have actually compared the specimen to known elk lays. There is little doubt that anyone actually making a comparison between the Skookum Cast and an elk lay would find the resemblance absolutely compelling. To this end, it is perhaps significant that a young couple examining the cast at a recent exhibition looked at it for roughly three seconds before the young lady summed up her interpretation in a mild Texas accent: “It looks just like a cow.”

The main body of the Skookum Cast represents a near-perfect body outline of an elk. The flanks, butt, thigh, knee, shin, metatarsals, metacarpals, wrist, and possible head imprints are all clearly visible and in exactly the position in which they’d be expected. The position of the hoof prints demonstrates how the animal raised itself up from its resting position. At some later time, a coyote walked through the site, and finally, the site was visited by the researchers and a cast made.

References Cited

Elbroch, M., 2003, Mammal Tracks and Sign, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 779 p.

Murphy, C. L., 2004, Meet the Sasquatch, Hancock House Publishers, Blaine, WA, 239 p.
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