Bigfoot “London footprints” declared a hoax

Back in February of 2012, we reported on a finding of a long Bigfoot footprint trail found in Eugene, Oregon. Bigfoot researcher, Cliff Barackman, as soon as he could, rushed to the Cottage Grove Reservoir, as researchers used 300 pounds of plaster to cast 122 tracks. At the time, Cliff (of the show Finding Bigfoot) said this about the tracks:

I think it’s probably safe to say that the London Footprints are the most significant footprint find in the last 40 years.  They certainly represent the largest collection of data ever retrieved from any single bigfoot site, ever.

Source: North American Bigfoot: London, OR Footprint Find

Credit: Bigfoot Lunch Club/Toby Johnson

Credit: Bigfoot Lunch Club/Toby Johnson

This was an area of many reported sightings of Bigfoot. All those involved were excited about the find. It was even written up in The Relict Hominoid Inquiry journal [PDF] edited by Dr. Jeff Meldrum.

Well, now, Barackman and others, having looked more closely, have changed their minds and consider the trackways a hoax.

At first, I was convinced the tracks were real.  Now, after more than two years of closely examining them, I have my doubts.  I have since started experimenting with fake tracks to see if I can duplicate what I see in the London Trackway, and a research paper is in progress detailing my findings.

Here is a video documenting the trackway and the move to a new interpretation.


You’ll note the original argument from incredulity – they couldn’t figure out how it could be a hoax so, it wasn’t a hoax. Until they started actually making hoax tracks. This approach is a bit too late since it’s been clearly shown that prints made with “stompers” look just like this. Fake Bigfoot trackway expert Matt Crowley exhibited this back on 2009.

"Since toes are hinged, most tracks made with feet that have toes show the deepest impression at the ball of the foot, and not the toes. But what we see here in the “sand and gravel bar” photo is entirely consistent with what rigid fake feet often do, and that is digging in at the toe area." ~ Matt Crowley. PHOTO: Matt Crowley.

“Since toes are hinged, most tracks made with feet that have toes show the deepest impression at the ball of the foot, and not the toes. But what we see here in the “sand and gravel bar” photo is entirely consistent with what rigid fake feet often do, and that is digging in at the toe area.” ~ Matt Crowley. PHOTO: Matt Crowley.

A hoax should have been the default conclusion. Instead, the public was told that this was probably important evidence. Will they hear that that evidence is now discarded? I’m not sure it would matter. It’s difficult to give up an invested belief.

It would save Bigfooters (and ghost hunters, too) a LOT of backpedaling and potential embarrassment if they would only become acquainted with the excellent skeptical literature on their topics of interest. They are making extraordinary claims; it behooves them to learn how easy we can all be fooled by wishful thinking. As with the Patterson-Gimlin film and the Skookum body cast, the evidence for Bigfoot continues to fall away with nothing at all impressive to support it anymore.

But kudos to Cliff for looking into fake tracks and making this new interpretation public. That’s huge.

Tip: Matt Crowley

  42 comments for “Bigfoot “London footprints” declared a hoax

  1. Drew
    September 10, 2015 at 7:41 PM

    Glad it was a Hoax, I would have to say there is a Big old Grizzly Bear in England… Werewolves I can understand but Grizzly…. Yikes

  2. Sean A. Elliott
    September 10, 2015 at 9:44 PM

    I applaud them, better to show up late to the party than miss the whole shebang. I would hope this encourages them to scrutinize evidence more closely from here on out. In my opinion, the Elbe track way doesn’t look any better. Truthfully, the majority of prints look very poor. In no case is this more apparent than in the casts that show “dermal ridges”. The supposed dermals are considered while overlooking the ridiculous morphology of the tracks ( among the worst available ). There is a long standing tradition in the Bigfoot community to consider only the portion of the evidence that appears to support the reality of Bigfoot while ignoring the abundance of indicators that it does not. I have seen a few casts that leave me puzzled, but always keep in mind the ingenuity of our species, after all, if we can explore the depths of the ocean, go into space, and blanket the planet in mind boggling structures, surely a convincing footprint is not beyond us.

  3. David H
    September 11, 2015 at 2:02 AM

    Um, the London in question is in Oregon, not England.

    Not many bears in England outside of Paddington.

  4. September 11, 2015 at 2:49 AM

    I wasn’t reading this site back in 2012, but wonder if I am the only one amused by the approach of the hoaxers, in that they literally made big footprints.

    Can anyone recommend decent literature that documents the history of belief in these supposed creatures? If nothing else, it should tell us an awful lot about how these modern myths have evolved, and how much they have changed the last few years when the public’s credulity has been exploited by TV shows.

  5. MisterNeutron
    September 11, 2015 at 7:29 AM

    The credulons take the same approach to “Bigfoot tracks” as they do to crop circles. “We can’t figure out how these were made, therefore…. ALIENS!!!” They always take that huge leap from a lack of information to the least likely explanation.

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy
    September 11, 2015 at 12:59 PM

    In other words, tracing Sasquatchology as an evolving folk belief, similar to what Curtis Peebles did with UFOlogy in his book Watch the Skies.

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy
    September 11, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    Problem is, if there is anything genuinely crypto or paranormal in this, there’s a low signal-to-noise ratio to start with, and hoaxers and True Believers going overboard just add to the noise background.

    And crypto fans seem to tunnel vision onto one or two crypto-critters like Bigfoot or Nessie when there are a LOT of legendary cryptids out there, some of which might actually be real — at least having a better chance of existing IRL than the “celebrity cryptids” in the tunnel vision.

  8. Tony
    September 11, 2015 at 2:25 PM

    Blimey, who led the original investigation for this case, Inspector Lestrade?

  9. One Eyed Jack
    September 11, 2015 at 4:29 PM

    Check out the recommended books section of this website. Sharon has an entire section of recommended cryptozoology books.

    http://doubtfulnews.com/recommended-resources/

  10. DanielWainfleet
    September 11, 2015 at 4:34 PM

    Sorry I can’t recall the references but Bigfoot only goes back to around 1920 or so. It’ s significant that there are no earlier accounts from indigenous peoples, who ought to have known all of the very large animals in their domains.

  11. DanielWainfleet
    September 11, 2015 at 4:38 PM

    BBC-tv filmed and aired a handful of young adults making crop circles at night, showing how fast and easy it is with just make-shift equipment (made from ropes and boards) and flashlights.

  12. DanielWainfleet
    September 11, 2015 at 4:40 PM

    Chef-Inspecteur Clouseau, peut-etre?

  13. Josh
    September 11, 2015 at 5:53 PM

    That’s not true at all. Reports in newspapers and from indigenous people go back much further than 1920. Most native tribes have a name for a bigfoot like creature in their lore.
    The Bauman Incident was included in Theodore Roosevelt’s 1892 book The Wilderness Hunter. It’s a bigfoot story.

  14. pkron
    September 11, 2015 at 6:32 PM

    “Abominable Science” By D. Loxton and D. Prothero has an excellent history of the Bigfoot folklore. It’s surprisingly modern despite attempts to connect it to Native American folk tales. http://www.amazon.com/Abominable-Science-Origins-Nessie-Cryptids/dp/023115321X

  15. September 11, 2015 at 7:17 PM

    There is every reason NOT to count indigenous peoples’ stories as “proof” of Bigfoot or lake monsters or sea serpents. They are not referring to Bigfoot, they are referring to their folklore creatures which are many and various. It’s a serious flaw to connect this to the modern version of “Bigfoot” as we modernly define it.

    See my current research notes on https://idoubtit.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/cryptozoology-and-myth-part-1-the-illusion-of-facticity-in-unknown-animal-reports/

  16. Josh
    September 11, 2015 at 7:52 PM

    I never said it was proof. My response was primarily directed at the previous poster’s claim that reports of bigfoot don’t predate 1920, which there are many from 1800’s newspaper articles.

    Native Americans do in fact refer to the creature we call bigfoot by their own names. There’s really no debating that. In the end it doesn’t matter. Credible people have seen them and credible people will continue to see them. They don’t need us.

  17. September 11, 2015 at 8:15 PM

    There is no credible evidence of Bigfoot which is why the idea is rejected by science.

  18. Sean A. Elliott
    September 11, 2015 at 8:19 PM

    David J. Daegling’s Bigfoot Exposed is excellent for a look at the history of Bigfoot.

  19. Grumpy
    September 11, 2015 at 8:22 PM

    “It would save Bigfooters (and ghost hunters, too) a LOT of backpedaling and potential embarrassment if they would only become acquainted with the excellent skeptical literature on their topics of interest.”

    Aw! Having to take off their blinders? Unthinkable…
    Are there cases of disappointed “para researchers” _publicly_ stating they were completely mistaken? (“Embarrassment” isen’t something they seem to know all that well.)

    Now for the fun: a (US) “monster map”, so you can plan your vacations: http://disinfo.com/2015/01/monsters-america-cryptozoological-map-united-states/

  20. Josh
    September 11, 2015 at 9:08 PM

    Well that’s the thing. They aren’t so worried about being embarrassed. They are trying to figure something out. That actually takes some courage when you know most people will make fun of you. Knocking people down takes no courage, it’s the low lying fruit.

  21. September 11, 2015 at 9:33 PM

    Second that, as well as Abominable Science. See our Bookshop. http://astore.amazon.com/doubnews-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=5

  22. One Eyed Jack
    September 11, 2015 at 11:15 PM

    It is true that there are a few BF researchers that are “trying to figure something out”, but the Barackman types are already convinced and desperately grasp at any “evidence” that comes along. This is the reason they get caught in spots like this. Their personal bias keeps them from using some healthy skepticism when evaluating “evidence”.

    Facing public ridicule does take courage, but adopting a skeptical approach and solid, scientific methodology helps avoid those embarrassing encounters.

  23. MisterNeutron
    September 12, 2015 at 12:18 AM

    My favorite such incident (I wish I could remember who did it, and when) involved a group that made a crop circle using simple “rope and board” gear, and filmed the whole thing. In the morning, they proclaimed, “Crop circle!!” and invited the “experts” in. The experts then spent a fair amount of time pontificating about how this was proof of something other-worldly going on. They pointed out how the way the stalks had been bent down without being broken was something that no human could do, how the complexity of the design meant that it would take humans many days to accomplish, etc., etc. Made complete asses of themselves.

  24. Rich
    September 12, 2015 at 4:39 AM

    “I never said it was proof. … Native Americans do in fact refer to the creature we call bigfoot by their own names. There’s really no debating that.”

    So it *is* proof, then?

    I think this position derives from the belief that somehow Native American folklore is *not* folklore but contains an essential truth about a literal animal because the people were at one with the reality of the forests. And if in the Venn diagram of Weird Shit in the Woods a thing in their mythology crosses the path of one in our mythology then therefore this is evidence. Not so.

    Saint Columba encountering Nessie in Christian mythology doesn’t put a plesiosaur into Loch Ness.

  25. Russian Skeptic
    September 12, 2015 at 9:07 AM

    Well, the upper one looks pretty like an authentic track of a bear. However, hardly resembles a hominin track.

  26. Russian Skeptic
    September 12, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    Friends, Josh apparently did not mean that Bigfoot WAS real BECAUSE there had been folklore reports of it. He only corrected the claim that the Bigfoot folklore did not appear before 1920.

  27. September 12, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    No, the problem is that Native folklore was NOT describing “Bigfoot”. It is wrong to even suggest that.

  28. Headless Unicorn Guy
    September 12, 2015 at 10:41 AM

    For what it’s worth, my usual summer jaunt to the East Coast puts me within easy range of both Flatwoods (Flatwoods Monster) and Point Pleasant (Mothman) in WV. Might do a little Monster Mapping next time.

  29. Headless Unicorn Guy
    September 12, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    Good map, though it only hits the highlights, i.e. the most famous local monsters. Just from the silhouettes on the map:

    Chessie, Nessie, & Tessie? Invite Aunt Nessie over from Scotland and they’ll have a foursome.
    “Ozark Howler” looks like a cougar — surviving population of East Coast “Panthers”?
    “Shunka Warakan” looks like some sort of wolf — another surviving population?
    Question: Does the Jersey Devil speak in the voice of John DeLancie?

    And as for the Texas Big Bird, here’s a little momento from classic Dr Demento:

  30. Scott Hamilton
    September 12, 2015 at 6:28 PM

    Josh, do you only know about the “Bauman Incident” from reading about it on Bigfoot websites? Because if you read the actual book it’s NOT a Bigfoot story. First, Roosevelt frames the story by saying that the Bauman in question is German, and we know how those Germans are, all superstitious and fearful. The story proper is about hunters being bedeviled by an unseen and never described “goblin.” The only part of the story that can even broadly interpreted as having anything to do with Bigfoot is one bit where the hunters find tracks, but the tracks are clearly described as being those of a bear, not a large human or anything else. Later, they find more tracks, but they seem that the bear is walking on two legs. The implication is that the goblin is a shape-shifter. To claim this has anything to do with a real creature, let alone the modern Bigfoot, is to ignore both the context and the details of the story. Always check primary sources.

  31. Josh
    September 12, 2015 at 7:46 PM

    Yeah, I know about the goblin claim. You’re right, I shouldn’t have said it was a bigfoot story.

  32. Ryan
    September 13, 2015 at 2:04 AM

    The the most thorough and most recent I’ve run into is “Abominable Science” by Daniel Loxton and Donald Prothero. They trace out the history of a number of the big crypto critters, and do a find job of pointing out the flaws in reasoning along the way.

  33. Ryan
    September 13, 2015 at 2:08 AM

    Re: That book I now notice at least 2 people recommenced before I did (Abominable Science) those “native legends” and early newspaper reports bear little resemblance to what we now describe as big foot. And if I’m remembering the book properly the actual Native American legends that directly inspired the big foot idea actually refer to a tribe of giant Native Americans. As in just HUGE humans, with language material culture and a direct connection to established native cultural groups. Distinguished from normal humans only by they’re immense size.

    Most of the other folklore you hear about being connected to big foot are similarly different from the concept as it exists today. They get massaged into an inaccurate and more big foot friendly shape by believers looking back to bolster their claims. And had little to do with inspiring or contributing to the concept as it arose.

  34. Louis
    September 15, 2015 at 1:26 PM

    Actually indigenous peoples’ accounts of creatures are quite varied and only by cherry-picking features from various stories can one “quilt” together a representation of today’s popular idea of bigfoot…the latter, by the way, is not even agreed upon.
    The tendency to view unfamiliar people and other races as fearsome or monstrous persists today. Considering the fact that many Native Americans were relatively short and bairless, encounters with taller hairier and or darker tribes or races would expected to result in legends of giant hairy manlike creatures.

    The idea of “credible witnesses” is so much vapor. There are no perfect eyewitnesses. The so called databases of so called encounters make no effort to obtain information about the informant other than sex age and occupation. Unbelievably, nothing about visu acuity is provided, let alone a social/substance/medical history. and the reports are all filtered and paraphrased by the strongest most committed bigfoot cultists. The number of psychotics, liars, alcoholics attention seekers, profiteers and hallucinators dwarfs the number of reports. Don’t get me started on law enforcement officers. Yes they have a hard job and we appreciate them and respect them…that’s all good but which kids from your high school class chose that profession?

    In sum. The blanket assertions of bigfoot among indigenous peoples is hogwash, and unsubstantiated claims of personal credibility are whitewash.

  35. Louis
    September 15, 2015 at 1:45 PM

    Dr. Jeff Meldrum is conspicuous by the amount of effort he puts into media appearances and equally notable by the lack of time he puts into footprint science and authenticating new track finds. I guess he knows something….

  36. Drewbot
    September 15, 2015 at 2:34 PM

    Will Cliff Barackman withdraw his current paper (in the Relict Hominid Inquiry) about the London Trackway immediately, pending his new paper’s release? His most recent repsponse is inconclusive: https://twitter.com/Awebster_Snakes/status/641638685067362304

  37. Mike
    September 16, 2015 at 8:40 PM

    The claim of persecution is a characteristic tactic of cults.

  38. September 19, 2015 at 11:38 PM

    Everything about Bigfoot is still a hoax.

  39. Roger Knights
    November 16, 2015 at 6:07 PM

    “The only part of the story that can even broadly interpreted as having anything to do with Bigfoot is one bit where the hunters find tracks, but the tracks are clearly described as being those of a bear, not a large human or anything else. … Always check primary sources.”

    OK, here is Bauman’s account, from Bobbie Short’s site at http://www.bigfootencounters.com/classics/bauman.htm Notice that the tracks are not “clearly” identified as a bear’s. “Apparently a bear” was inferred from the way the camp had been disturbed, which is a common bearish behavior. It was not stated that the shape of the tracks had led the trappers to that conclusion. (It was likely a conclusion from negative evidence—What else could it have been but a bear?) The trappers later argued over whether the tracks could be human, after the beast’s second visit, but decided they were not. It wasn’t stated whether that was because of their too-large size or because they had claws, so we’re left in the dark. Nothing is “clear.”

  40. Roger Knights
    November 16, 2015 at 6:44 PM

    The story proper is about hunters being bedeviled by an unseen and never described “goblin.” The only part of the story that can even broadly interpreted as having anything to do with Bigfoot is one bit where the hunters find tracks, . . . .”
    ———–
    Not exactly: Bauman saw the outline of a “great body” that made noise. That’s more consistent with a Bigfoot than with a presumably small (and insubstantial?) goblin. “At midnight Bauman . . . caught the loom of a great body in the darkness at the mouth of the lean-to. Grasping his rifle, he fired at the vague, threatening shadow, but must have missed, for immediately afterwards he heard the smashing of the under wood as the thing, whatever it was, rushed off . . . .”

    And “goblin” is not part of “the story proper”: it was part of Roosevelt’s lead-in: “I once listened to a goblin-story which rather impressed me.”
    =========

    “Later, they find more tracks, but they seem that the bear is walking on two legs. The implication is that the goblin is a shape-shifter.”
    ————-
    Since no “goblin” is part of the story proper, there can be no implication that it is a shape-shifter.

  41. Roger Knights
    November 16, 2015 at 7:01 PM

    PS: Bauman also noticed “a strong, wild-beast odor,” which is more consistent with a Bigfoot than with a goblin.

  42. thom powell
    December 8, 2015 at 9:05 PM

    There are a few important reasons why Cliff’s new ‘findings’ are far from definitive. As with the PGF, the skeptical view is more quickly and widely embraced than the ‘it’s real’ view.

Comments are closed.