Wednesday Weirdness Roundup: Bigfoot, Smallfoot, and Another Atacama Humanoid

  • Another Boy from La Noria: The latest news on the Boy from La Noria (the “Atacama humanoid”) is that he wasn’t the first tiny child discovered in the Atacama Desert and paraded around as a sideshow curiosity. Back in the 1930s, Robert Ripley himself possessed and exhibited a 6.5″-tall human he named Atta. There’s a photo of Ripley posing with Atta in the palm of his hand in Neal Thompson’s recently-released biography A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert ‘Believe It or Not!’ Ripley.
    According to Thompson, Ripley was fascinated by shrunken heads and the much rarer shrunken bodies, and seemed to think that Atta was an adult human skeleton shrunk to miniature dimensions, perhaps by the Jivaro Indians of Peru. That’s not how head- or body-shrinking works, of course, but try telling that to a guy who’s been dead for nearly 65 years. 
beetlejuice-shrunken-heads

Nope.

Ripley’s Atta was probably bought by a private collector after its novelty wore off. Its current whereabouts are unknown.
It’s not easy to discern Atta’s features in the existing black-and-white photos, but there is nothing to indicate Atta wasn’t simply a mummified fetus, as many believe the boy from La Noria to be.  Edward Meyer, vice president of exhibits and archives for Ripley Entertainment, holds that view, but still wants to know what became of Atta. He has asked that anyone with information about Atta contact him at meyer@ripleys.com.

  • In Botswana, tiny humanoids aren’t a thing of the past. As Loren Coleman tells us, every part of Africa has its own folkloric man-beast that isn’t very tall, kind of like mini Sasquatches or short Ron Jeremys. On May 17, Mathiba Primary School in the town of Maun had to cancel classes for the day after hysterical children glimpsed a stumpy humanoid with thick black fur roaming the halls and classrooms.  Ten of the kids were sent to hospital to be treated for shock, and school authorities convened a prayer meeting. Greg Newkirk at Who Forted? observes that this mini Squatch  just happened to show up right before 7th-grade final exams. How totally inconsiderate.
  • Now, what about that full-size Bigfoot that was supposedly gunned down in Pennsylvania, as mentioned in last week’s Roundup? Well, no body turned up, and the only documented “sighting” around the time of the supposed kill was made by one John Winesickle, who reported to police that he had uncovered proof of Bigfoot. Someone overheard officers discussing Winesickle’s call over the radio and jumped to the conclusion that proof meant a dead body (it was, after all, the opening day of turkey season). What Winesickle actually found were some footprints in the woods.
  • If you simply must have a dead Bigfoot story, though, I suggest you dip into the bizarre conspiracy theory that rocked the Bigfoot world several years back. It involved Bobbie Short, a well-known Bigfoot researcher who passed away last week, and centred around film footage and photos from a 1967 Bigfoot expedition to Blue Creek Mountain in California. Canadian Sasquatch enthusiast John Green and the quirky Canadian Sasquatch-hunter Rene Dahinden traveled to Bluff Creek that summer to investigate Squatch tracks that were reported to have been left on Blue Creek Mountain, and they shot some film to document their trip. Several months later, in October, the famous Patterson-Gimlin film of a sauntering female Bigfoot was shot in the same area.
    Roughly six years ago, certain Bigfoot researchers claimed to find, in the film and photos from the Green-Dahinden expedition, clear evidence that the Patterson-Gimlin film was fake, part of a vast cover-up/conspiracy involving the massacre of several real Bigfoot. John Green, who published On the Track of the Sasquatch the following year, was supposedly the mastermind of this cover-up, if not the massacre itself.
    The evidence was pretty thin. One fellow tinted the hands of a man in a photo to make it look like he had blood on his hands. Others, like Bobbie Short, insisted the expedition pilot was actually Bob Titmus, an alleged hoaxer who amassed more plaster footprint casts of Bigfoot than anyone alive. Bobbie Short promoted the Bluff Creek Massacre conspiracy theory on her website, Bigfoot Encounters, and via rather cryptic emails to the others in the field. It’s a confusing but fascinating tale. Just Google “Blue Creek Mountain Bigfoot massacre” or something along those lines to find out more about it.  As always, Bigfoot researchers prove to far be more peculiar and intriguing than the beasts they’re seeking.

Best Bigfoot Quote Ever

I couldn’t possibly care less about Bigfoot, but I find Bigfoot-hunters fascinating, because they all routinely say things like this:

you do not have the right to even hold an opinion on Bigfoot unless you do field research on it” the late Bigfoot hunter Jon-Erik Beckjord on a Snopes message board

So let me clarify: You can hold opinions on squirrels, wombats, giraffes, speckled trout, butterflies, and all other members of the animal kingdom, but you can’t hold an opinion on Bigfeet unless you’re out tracking them and examining plaster casts of their alleged footprints. Even though they’re totally as real as all other animals.

Okay. Just so we’re clear on that. I don’t want to be seeing any opinions on Bigfeet from anyone who isn’t a Bigfoot field researcher. If you’re not out there on a regular basis, poking around the woods for Bigfoot poop, just shut yer piehole. But to be fair about this, I also don’t want to see any opinions on the following unless certain conditions are met:

– moon landings (unless you’re an astronaut or an aeronautical engineer)
– feng shui (unless you are a scientist who has proven the existence of qi in a lab)
– the collapse of the World Trade Center (unless you took a high school physics course; judging by the comments I’ve seen thus far, most Truthers do not qualify)

Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet! They’re Huntin’ BIGFOOT!

The Georgia Bigfoot body has joined the ranks of the Minnesota Iceman and the “frozen burrito ET”: A childishly executed hoax.

For the two or three people who were fortunate enough to miss this:

Back in July, two young men from Georgia announced via YouTube, their website (bigfoottracker.com), and their local newspaper (The Clayton Times Daily) that they had found the corpse of a full-grown male Bigfoot in the woods and stuffed it into a deep freeze. They affectionately referred to the critter as RICKMAT. Matthew Whitton and Ricky Dyer just happened to already run a business that takes dupes into the woods to see Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) for themselves, and they claimed to be the best in the business. Do we really have to discuss the odds on that one? ‘Cause I’d rather not waste any more time on this. It’s disturbing enough to me that Bigfoot tours are apparently a cottage industry.

Anyway, the guys’ story seemed a little more solid than, say, the tales of sexual encounters with Bigfoot, because both men had law enforcement backgrounds. Dyer was a sheriff’s deputy. This fact, combined with the fact that they operated a business which would obviously suffer from a hoax, gave a patina of plausibility to the notion that – after decades of completely fruitless searching – someone just happened to trip over a Bigfoot body before it could decompose beyond recognition. It didn’t hurt that the Grand Poobah of cryptozoology, Loren Coleman, commented on his Crytomundo website, “I feel, in all honesty, this, indeed, may be the real deal, and I say this carefully after reviewing information that has been shared privately with me.”

Needless to say, any cryptozoologist in the world would have been delighted to help verify this find with scientific testing. But Whitton and Dyer wouldn’t release any photos or samples. Then, earlier this month, they sold the body and the exclusive rights to its story for “thousands of dollars” to another “Bigfoot hunter” known as Tom Biscardi. Biscardi convened a press conference in California, at which he released tantalizing details and a single low-quality photo of the body wedged into a freezer, and announced that he and the Georgia boys soon would be launching an expedition to capture a live Bigfoot. In the meantime, he had assembled a team of scientists to study and authenticate the body.
It took Biscardi’s scientific team all of five minutes to learn that the critter was really a gorilla costume stuffed with some animal parts to lend it an authentic aroma. He promptly appeared on several news shows to expose the hoax, threaten a lawsuit, and promote his own Bigfoot-tracking outfit (Searching for Bigfoot, Inc.).

But the story isn’t that straightforward. The world of bigfoot hunters is apparently a Byzantine one. The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization(BFRO) claims that Biscardi is a Bigfoot hoaxer himself. And BigfootTracker.com luridly boasts that Whitton, Dyer, and Biscardi are “the best hoaxers in the world”. (You can buy their Bigfoot for President T-shirts or hire them to “bust any hoax!!”). Whether these accusations are valid or just signs of rivalry among professionals in the burgeoning business of Bigfoot-hunting, I don’t know.

And, as with this entire subject, I couldn’t possibly care less.

Update: The BFRO was right on. According to Cryptomundo, in 2005 Tom Biscardi announced that he had a live Bigfoot in captivity, and charged people to subscribe to a live video feed of it. He was forced to admit he had been swindled.

I find it interesting that Coleman is now claiming he knew it all along – that the Bigfoot was a gorilla suit, that Biscardi was up to his usual tricks, etc. This, despite the fact that he suggested the Bigfoot be called The Georgia Gorilla until such time as a proper scientific name could be assigned to it. Sheesh. Just admit you were momentarily conned, man. Happens to the best of us. It’s what you learn from it that matters.