March 29, 2010

Tracks as Evidence By Michael Dean

Like it or not, the largest quantity of evidence for Bigfoot is the tracks they leave. Many of us are familiar with the work of Dr. Meldrum in relation to tracks and consequently foot anatomy so I will not delve into that here. I would, however, like to lift a paragraph or two from John Napier's book from 1972 which I think predates most if not all of Dr. Meldrum's work.

In review, John Napier was Professor of Primate Biology at the University of London and has done work on human walking and hand function which led him into the study of prehuman and early human fossils from South and East Africa. He also served as Director of the Primate Biology Program of the Smithsonian Institute.

"Foolhardy it may be to reconstruct a life-form from its footprints, but when footprints are the only evidence available, they cannot be ignored. This is the sort of problem that palaeontologists constantly have to rationalize. The fossil evidence for early pre-Australopithecine stages of human evolution, for instance, could be packed into a cigar box and still leave room for a few cigars, but this paucity does not inhibit scientists from drawing provisional and (inevitably) controversial conclusions; and it is right that they should do so. The only alternative is to place the suspect fossils in a drawer and forget about them until such a time as a larger series becomes available. The disadvantage of this procedure, admirable though it is in principle, is that when the drawer is closed on a new discovery, paleontology dies a little: as a science, paleontology thrives on controversy, and without it it would lose momentum. The virtue of an inexact science lies in the fervor of its acolytes."

By way of the number of tracks, some that have been cast and some that have not, together with eye witness reports and some photography evidence, it can be said that we actually do have more evidence available to construct a Bigfoot than palaeontologists have for constructing or reconstructing quite a number of life forms.

John Napier continues in his book to go into a detailed description of how the human foot works. Even in the confines of a shoe our feet are very dynamic in their function as we walk and run. I remember some time ago reading an article in an outdoor magazine about a mountain climber who became stranded on a mountain for some time. I don't recall if he was stranded due to injury, whether conditions or loosing his way but he ended up suffering frostbite on his toes. The frost bite on his little toe on one foot was so bad that it had to be amputated. The mountain climber commented on how much his balance and his stride had changed as the result of loosing a little toe. He said that he expected that there would be some difference afterward but it ended up being a much larger difference than he expected.

John's study of Sasquatch tracks and casts led him to observe that they also had a dynamic foot even though it worked differently than a human foot. He describes seeing more toe actions as well as what appeared to him to be a different "push - off" point. Larger toes are also talked about with less of a size difference in the four smaller toes than those of humans. He also uses a formula for estimating the height of a Sasquatch based on the of the foot. This formula is the the length of the longest foot times 6.6.

The peculiarities of tracks found in a single track way can tell us at least some of the functions and abilities of the foot that made them. The unfortunate thing about this is that finding three or four tracks is difficult enough let alone finding a track way of a series of tracks. If someone is fortunate enough to find a trackway I hope that they take the time to carefully study and document each and every track no matter how insignificant or obscure any single track might be. Casts would also be helpful for further examination by others.

Another aspect about finding tracks and hopefully a track way is the idea that such a find can possibly give some insight into Bigfoot behavior. Tracks found near a pond or a swamp should alert a person to wonder - why did the Bigfoot come to this pond? Perhaps there are other clues around such as the pulled up remains of plants that might be a food source. Tracking is more than just finding a set of tracks and following them to see where the lead. Moose, elk and even bear are known to change their behavior once they get the notion that they are being followed.

Not long ago a privately owned area of forest that is normally closed off to the public was opened for a short time so I decided to take a drive through parts of this area. As I was climbing a hill on an old logging road that lead to a flat area on the top of the ridge I spotted a bull elk that appeared to me to have gone to the opposite side of the ridge when he saw or heard me coming directly toward him at an angle. I had just climbed one side of the ridge and he looked like he was going to get out of there as quick as he could in the direction that I had just come from but on the opposite side of the ridge.
I decided to stop and watch down hill from where I had seen him in hopes that I would catch another glimpse of him crossing the road that I knew was there or traveling through an open area. After watching for plenty of time for him to reach the road proved to be fruitless I started walking back to where I had seen him looking for tracks. I was amused to find that while he initially headed in the direction I was looking, once he was out of my sight he turned going more directly toward the way I came. I don't believe that he was preparing to try to come up behind me, but it was a definite change in direction that appeared to be a behavior that would send me off in one direction while he made his escape going away from me in the very direction that I had just approached. I say I was amused because I knew that this is exactly what they do if they suspect that they are being tracked. I was neither hunting or tracking him, yet he still used this tactic.

Being aware of these kinds of tactics that wild animals use may be helpful. We are far from knowing or understanding Bigfoot habits or behavior and by all appearances Bigfoot is even more cunning, but I think that being mindful of these things could lead to more clues.

Note: Quote taken from John Napier's book "Bigfoot the Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality" published 1973.


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