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Thoughts on the Patterson-Gimlin Footage

By John Green

Almost thirty-seven years ago two young men from Yakima, Washington,
Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin, emerged from a remote forest in the
northwest corner of California with a brief 16-millimeter film showing
a hairy creature walking along a sand bar on its hind legs, and the
debate on whether their film shows an unknown animal or a man
wearing a fur suit has gone on ever since.

Now, thanks to a new book on the subject, that debate should be at
an end. The answer has been in plain view all along, the creature on
the film holding it, quite literally, in its arms. And that answer,
ironically, is the opposite of the one in the book.

The creature can not be a man in a suit.

The writer of the book, of which only review copies are so far
available, claims to have cracked the case by finding two key
witnesses, the man who wore the suit, a Yakima acquaintance of
Patterson and Gimlin named Bob Heironimus, and the man who
sold a gorilla suit to Patterson and told him how to modify it,
Philip Morris, a costume maker from Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Heironimus story is not new. It surfaced several years ago
one of the many unsubstantiated claims to have been "the man
in the suit" that crop up from time to time. Phillip Morris appears
to be a real find, a man who actually was making gorilla costumes
in 1967 and who says he remembers selling one to Roger Patterson.

One of the things that Morris is quoted as saying is that the way
to make the arms in the suit look longer than human arms is to
extend the gloves of the suit on sticks. Many people have noted that
the arms of the creature in the film look unusually long, almost as
long as its legs. Some, including myself in 1968, have published
estimates of their length. No one went on to deal with the question
of how human arms could be extended to match the extra length
and what such an extension would look like.

There is no way to establish for certain if any of the dimensions
estimated for the creature in the film are accurate, but what can
be established with reasonably accuracy is the length of the
creature's legs and arms in relation to one another. From that ratio,
which anatomists call the "intermembral index," it is simple to
calculate how many inches must be added to the arms of a man of
known size in order to make his arms long enough to fit the
supposed suit. In my own case the answer turns out to be about 10

But in order for the arms to bend at the elbow, which they plainly
do in the movie, all of that extra length has to be added to the
lower arm. The result, in my case, is about 12 inches of arm above
the elbow and 29 inches below it~almost as much of a monstrosity
as Edward Scissorhands. The creature in the movie has normal-looking
arms. It cannot be a man in a suit.

Many issues in the long debate about the movie remain unresolved -
what the film speed was, whether a man could duplicate the
creature's unusual bent-kneed walk, whether its behavior was normal
for an animal, whether the tracks left on the sandbar could have
been faked, and so on - but all of them turn out to have been
irrelevant to the main issue.

My measurements of the film, made 36 years ago, gave the creature
arms that were 30 inches from the shoulder to the wrist and legs
that were 35 inches from the hip to the ground. My own measurements
are about 24 inches from shoulder to wrist and 40 inches from hip
to ground. Only the ratios of the measurements matter, the actual size
of either the human or the creature makes no difference, and the
ratios for creature and human are so much different that precise
accuracy of the measurements is not significant either. The much
ridiculed Patterson-Gimlin film does not show a man in a suit.

What about Roger Patterson buying a gorilla suit? Philip Morris
does not claim to have records, only a memory, and neither Mrs.
Patterson nor Bob Gimlin remember Roger having any such suit.
But Roger was trying to make a Bigfoot documentary at that time
and most such documentaries contain re-enactments by someone
wearing a fur suit. If he did buy one it has little more significance
than an apprentice carpenter buying a hammer.

And the descriptions of the suit by the two key witnesses are
totally contradictory. Morris is quoted as having described his
suit in precise detail, and how he made it. The suit had six
separate pieces: a head a body (arms, torso and legs), two hands
and two feet. A knitted cloth material served as a backing to
thousands of synthetic nylon strands called dynel, which were
driven by a powerful knitting machine with needles through the
knitted cloth material and then pulled back through to the other
side. It had a 36-inch zipper up the back.

Bob Heironimus is also quoted, saying that Patterson made the
suit himself by skinning a dead horse and gluing fur from an
old fur coat on the horsehide. It was in three parts, head,
torso and legs that felt like bigger rubber boots and that went
to his waist. He thought the feet were made of old house slippers.
The suit weighted 20 or 25 pounds and he needed help to get in
and out of it. It also smelled bad. "It stunk. Roger skinned out a
dead, red horse."
=============================================A comment by Jeff Meldrum

"It has been obvious to even the casual viewer that the film subject
possesses arms that are disproportionately long for its stature.
John Green is a veteran researcher into the question of Sasquatch
or Bigfoot. He was among the first to view the film captured by
Patterson and Gimlin and has studied it intensely in the intervening
years. His recognition of the significance of the unhumanly long arms
of the film subject is point that has not previously been articulated
in such a straightforward manner. It is such a fundamental observation
that it is considered a breakthrough in assessing the validity of this
extraordinary film. Anthropologists typically express limb proportions
as an intermembral index (IM), which is the ratio of combined arm and
forearm skeletal length (humerus + radius) to combined thigh and leg
skeletal length (femur + tibia) x 100. The human IM averages 72. The
intermembral index is a significant measure of a primate's locomotor
adapatation. The forelimb-dominated movements of the chimp and
gorilla are reflected in their high IM indices of 106 and 117 respectively.
Identifying the positions of the joints on the film subject can only be
approximate and the limbs are frequently oriented obliquely to the
plane of the film, rendering them foreshortened to varying degrees.
However, in some frames the limbs are nearly vertical, hence parallel
to the filmplane, and indicate an IM index somewhere between 80 and
90, intermediate between humans and African apes. In spite of the
imprecision of this preliminary estimate, it is well beyond the mean
for humans and effectively rules out a man-in-a-suit explanation for
the Patterson-Gimlin film without invoking an elaborate, if not
inconceivable, prosthetic contrivance to account for the appropriate
positions and actions of wrist and elbow and finger flexion visible on
the film. This point deserves further examination and may well rule
out the probability of hoaxing."

Jeff Meldrum Ph.D. Associate professor of Anatomy & Anthropology
Idaho State University Pocatello, Idaho, 83209-8007. Dr. Meldrum
is an expert in primate anatomy and locomotion. He recently coedited,
From Biped to Strider: The Emergence of Modern Human Walking,
Running, and Resource Transport. He became interested in the
Sasquatch question eight years ago after witnessing 15-inch tracks
in southeastern Washington state. He has examined numerous
footprints, including those associated with the Patterson-Gimlin footage.

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Indiana Bigfoot Awareness  is an ad-hoc, not-for-ANY-PROFIT,  believe-it-if-you-want-to-or-not website for Hoosiers or anyone else who cares to report a sighting or encounter. While any report to this site IS checked out before posting, I nor anyone else can be held responsible for verifying that in fact that everything posted here or at any linked site can be held as completely true or real. While I certainly believe Bigfoot/Sasquatch is real, neither this site or any other currently on the web has any form of concrete proof.
Indiana Bigfoot Awareness  is a "No Kill" website as it pertains to the intentional hunting or killing of a Bigfoot/Sasquatch.
This site created Sat. Oct. 25, 2003.

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