By Ashley Surdin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 16, 2008
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 15 -- Bigfoot has been found in the Georgia woods and is being held in a cooler at an undisclosed location.
So say two self-proclaimed Bigfoot trackers, Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer, who held a news conference in Palo Alto on Friday to publicize their claim of having found the elusive Sasquatch, or at least the body of one, in the northern part of the Peach State. The exact location is being kept secret, they said, to protect other Bigfoots still wandering there.
The public was excluded from the conference, but a picture of the supposed 500-plus-pound dead biped was posted online at on http://www.searchingforbigfoot.com, looking like a mangy mound of fur, entrails and the pinched face of a close cousin to "Star Wars' " Chewbacca -- all crammed into a water-filled icebox. A second photo showed the proud captors, and Tom Biscardi, a fellow Bigfoot hunter and owner of the Web site, posed next to the wet heap of fuzz.
Some Bigfoot enthusiasts were less than convinced.
"It looks like a costume, a waterlogged costume that's been stuffed into a freezer," said Jeff Meldrum, an associate professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University, and one of the few PhDs conducting Bigfoot field work. "It just doesn't have the hallmark of a real corpse."
The Web site said the male, flat-footed man-ape, christened Rickmat in honor of its locaters, measures 7 feet, 7 inches tall, bears reddish hair, blackish-grey eyes and humanlike teeth.
Claims of finding Bigfoot have been legion; zealous pursuers have girdled the globe in search of the legendary creature. But interest piqued again several weeks ago when Whitton and Dyer went on an Internet-based radio show, the "Sasquatch Detective," to make their announcement.
The two later chose Biscardi, who says he has been searching for the creature since 1971 and is known in some circles as "the real Bigfoot hunter," to verify their find.
But Meldrum said the choice of Biscardi did little to bolster their credibility. Biscardi once said he found a severed hand from a likely Bigfoot, said Meldrum, who studied the artifact himself and concluded it was an old bear paw.
"He has a history of lack of reputability," Meldrum said.
Whitton and Dyer said a team of scientists is purportedly being dispatched to Georgia over the next few months to pursue the matter. Meantime, Biscardi and his team are making plans to capture a second creature alive, the Web site said.
Whitton is a Georgia police officer on administrative leave after being wounded on duty. Dyer is a former correctional officer. The two co-own http://www.bigfootracker.com and Bigfoot Global LLC, which offers Bigfoot expeditions.
At the news conference, a throng of media representatives swarmed as Biscardi handed out two new photos: a grainy outline of a creature standing in the forest; and a close-up of an ape-like muzzle, one lip drawn back to reveal a row of teeth. A bloated tongue hung between them.
The trio of trackers also handed out what they said was DNA evidence from an expert, who found three matches: indeterminate, human -- and possum.
Asked how much the men hoped to make from the discovery, Biscardi said, "As much as possible."
According to the Web site of the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton, Calif., there is a discernible difference between "fake hairy" and "genuine" bipeds. Among the telltale signs of fakery: "knees lock and feet flap when walking," "ankles too dainty" and "buttocks too tiny." The real thing has "extra thick" calluses on its feet, "very large jaws" and "bad body odor when afraid or provoked."
It was unclear how many of those characteristics Rickmat might possess.
Special correspondent Paul McHugh in Palo Alto contributed to this report.