October 1, 2008

Dermal Ridges and Artifacts

Jimmy Chilcutt rocked the world of bigfooting in 2003 by revealing that dermal ridges found on several casts, especially the Onion Mountain cast, provided evidence for the existence of the creature. In 2005, Matt Crowley demonstrated through experiments with volcanic ash and hydrocal that he could produce casting artifacts that were similar in appearance to the dermal ridges on the Onion Mountain cast. I, too, have been experimenting with the concept of dermal ridges being casting artifacts and this article provides information on my results. I hope this will foster discussion about whether or not dermal ridges and casting artifacts are an issue every time you cast, or something that can be avoided.Matt Crowley has done excellent work in this regard, but we still do not know under what conditions these artifacts are possible. My work has been about what specific conditions are needed to create artifacts. While I do not have all of the casting done yet, this article will describe my results to date.

Background Information:

Throughout my experiments, I have spoken with the following agencies to verify information about the soil the Onion Mountain casts were made in, the type of casting material used during the event, what other casting materials might have been available in 1967, what methods Mr. Green used to cast the print, and how that all related to the possible presence of casting artifacts in the Onion Mountain cast:

1. USGS.

2. NRCS.

3. Six Rivers National Forest

4. Gifford Pinchot National Forest

5. Soil Scientists with Humbolt County California

6. Soil Scientist of 20 + years who works with Cornell University

7. A Volcanologist currently working on Mt. St. Helens

8. An expert in casting cements (who has instructed such agencies as the FBI in how to properly mix various casting cements in the field in relation to their work recovering evidence, even dermal ridges).

Please note that I will not disclose the names of anyone I spoke with publicly, as they requested not to be referenced in relation to this research. Also important to this research is the background story of the people and the circumstances surrounding their involvement. It has been suggested that John Green mixed the plaster of paris used to cast the Onion Mountain track, thereby resulting in the casting artifacts. In my search for information, I discovered that there was another man there the day the track was cast by the name of Don Abbott, who was an archaeologist for a Museum in BC. Mr. Abbott knew how to recover items of interest to the field of archeology. Given his profession, one would assume that he was educated in the proper mixing of plaster of paris. I know it is said that John Green actually cast the Onion Mountain track, but it may not be as simple as that.

I asked why Don Abbott would have flown down from BC over some footprints in the dirt. I was told that Mr. Green was attempting to get enough proof (for a purpose I can not verify yet) to verify the existance of this North American Primate, and asked Mr. Abbott to be present. Mr. Abbott’s position within the BC Museum would have given credibility to anything that was found. It is also reported Mr. Abbott arrived a skeptic and left a firm believer. Now, does any of this prove anything about the validity of the dermals found in the Onion Mountain track? No, but it is so important to understand the entire picture surrounding a situation.

Would Mr. Abbott have shared his knowledge and experience in archeology with Mr. Green, in the event he was to come across a find and Mr. Abbott not be able to make it down in time? I think that's highly probable. Remember, Mr. Green was trying to prove the existence of this animal, and someone in the position of Mr. Abbott would care about the quality of the work attached to his name.

I mention this because it has been said that at that time no one really cared about the details within the tracks, casting was only done to preserve the shape of the track. Well, I became interested in more information when I seen pictures of Mr. Abbott using various items as a "barrier" (such as sprays and liquids). Why did Mr. Abbott feel it necessary to try these various barriers? It’s my contention he wouldn't, unless he were trying to preserve something within the track itself. It’s my contention that Mr. Abbott may have seen something else within those very tracks. Thus, the attempts to preserve all the details within those tracks. At the very minimum, he was interested in more than just the shape of the track.

I have no proof that Mr. Abbott shared any information with Mr. Green about how to cast, that would have helped him recover dermal ridge evidence or to even minimize the damage that could have been done in prior casts. I do think the likelihood of this is pretty high. Why would Mr. Abbott waste his time, or even get involved if he was not interested in getting results from a situation he was involved in?


The first picture is the soil I chose for this set of experiments. The soil is specifically from Onion Mountain in the Six Rivers National Forest. This is important because Matt used volcanic ash in his experiments.

My first task was to determine if there was any volcanic ash on Onion Mountain back in 1967. To find this out, I spoke with a soil scientist for the NRCS and people currently doing this very work in this area as we speak.

A soil sample was taken the year prior to the casting of the Onion Mountain Track. The sample showed no volcanic ash. This soil sample was heavy in clay, which is a by-product of volcanic ash, but volcanic ash itself was not present. If unprotected from the elements, volcanic ash breaks down into other minerals within two years. Its chemical composition can be completely altered, and can be altered faster if that ash is on a hill or mountainside. This information was received from a USGS Volcanologist currently working on Mt. St. Helens in Washington State.

To reiterate, there is no volcanic ash in this soil. It is my contention that just because you can get artifacts using one specific soil, that does not mean it will happen in every known soil. I would not even call volcanic ash soil until it has broken down into the clay and surrounding soil. It should also be noted volcanic ash differs from volcano to volcano.

Much has been mentioned regarding road construction in the area at that time. I spoke with the gentleman in charge of road maintenance for Six Rivers National Forest. I asked him a few questions.

1. If you know, back in 1967, where were the rocks obtained that were to be used to add to the logging roads on Onion Mountain?

Answer: Back during that time the geologists working for the Six Rivers National Forest were very concerned with keeping to the natural setting of the forest, so, they would look for quarries within the forest to mine the rocks from for the roads. Back at that time the rocks were taken from quarries within a 10 to 15 miles radius. Now, they truck it in from as far away as Willow Creek - but it is the same kind of rock - the geologists on staff are sure of that.

2. When you grate a road, how far does this grating go into the current road?

Answer: About 2 inches.

3. When an area is excavated for a logging road, how much of the soil is removed for the road itself?

Answer: Any soil removed for the logging road is put back into the road. Very little, if anything, is removed from the site of the road. They do this to try and keep all the original minerals in that area.

But once the road is originally constructed, it is only grated before new rock is put back on; nothing is removed from the area.This is a National Forest. Projects are done in these types of forests with preservation of the area in mind, not just whatever it takes to get the job done. The road construction crew's and geologists are devoted to preserving the natural state of the forest, and they do whatever they can to accomplish this. These areas are set up so they are not lost to man's intrusion, and can be studied so that we may all benefit from them.

In summary, my interview with this employee suggests that the soil used to create and/or grade the Onion Mountain road was the same soil already present on the mountain (i.e., new soil was not brought in) and further, that the same soil present in 1967 is the same soil as today.


As mentioned above, I was able to obtain soil samples directly from Onion Mountain for my experiments. My very first cast was done in the state in which I received the soil, unsifted or cleaned. I then moved on to tests and sifted the soil, to remove the larger pieces of organic materials. Based on what I have read and have been told by Matt, if I heat my water to 100 degrees and create a thick mix of my plaster of paris and pour straight into the track, I will get the artifacts he did.

I found no expansion and no artifacts other than a deep depression in the soil where the casting cement made first contact. This I find curious, as I found a soil disturbance where the cement mix hit the soil in a straight pour, as did Matt in his first cast in this soil, but the Onion Mountain Cast did not show it.

My cast did show dermal ridges and flexion creases. How do I know this? The foot used for the cast was my own, therefore the dermal ridges and flexion creases were clearly from my own foot. So, even with all the organic material in this soil - dermal ridges and flexion creases can be obtained using a casting agent.

Did I think I would get dermal ridges? I really didn't expect to, so this was a pleasant surprise. The dermals are hard to see but are noted by the red arrows. This is to be expected, as I am a human female, and I have smaller dermals and flexion creases than a man. Nonetheless they are there.

My first attempt to create casting artifacts failed. But why? Matt was using Hydrocal B-11, which was not being manufactured in 1967; I am using plaster of paris, which is the only casting agent I can find that was for sale during that period. Is the use of Hydrocal B-11 the difference? I really do not think that is the case, as Matt Crowley was able to create these artifacts using plaster of paris in at least one cast I know about. He also used Volcanic Ash, while I used the soil from Onion Mountain. The soil from Onion Mountain is very high in clay, and clay is also something Matt used, and was able to recreate these artifacts.

I did have some very interesting results, and I will be sharing those shortly, along with the conversation I had with the gypsum expert. In lab conditions with the ability to alter water temps, air temps, etc., you can make anything happen; the question is, will it happen to us under the conditions we experience in the field? As of yet, we do not have that information.

Continuing Experiments:

My experiments are continuing, but so that it is clear, I am not yet using Hydrocal, as the Onion Mountain cast was made with Plaster of Paris. I will be using Hydrocal B11 very soon and will publish my findings shortly thereafter.


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