Bigfoot skull fossil is a amateur mistake of wishful thinking (UPDATED)

(Originally published on Jun 23, 2013)
The assumptions in this story are astounding.

Man believes he found fossilized Bigfoot head.

“I found a fossilized Bigfoot skull.”

A journalist can go his or her entire life waiting to hear those six magic words. And yet, on a recent weekday afternoon, that very thing happened.

Todd May, of Ogden, dropped by the offices of the Standard-Examiner to see if someone would be interested in a story about a fairly impressive fossil find. After showing off a couple of digital photos, May offered six even more compelling words — “Do you want to see it?” — followed by the motherlode of sentences: “It’s out in the trunk of my car.”

May says he found it in the mouth of Ogden Canyon, Utah. He thinks it’s a skull because he has run into the real thing, he says, in his outdoor excursions before.

First, we are asked to believe he has actually seen a Bigfoot in real life. Then, we are asked to accept that this piece rock is not just a fossil but a fossil skull. And not just a fossil skull, but a skull of Bigfoot. Talk about a stretch of credulity.

It could be a fossil. It is not a skull and it is not Bigfoot. There is a mistaken assumption that you can create lithified bone in just a little while. It takes millions of years.

Here is the video of his find. He notes that HE SEES features of soft tissue, like tongue and nose. That would make this even more dubious since tongues don’t fossilize. They may mummify – but there is nothing (like bone) from a tongue that would be mineralized and end up a fossilized.

UPDATE: This story reappears in April 2016: Throwback Thursday: Man believes he found fossilized Bigfoot head
For reasons unknown, though I think the guy just wants attention, it is now back in the mainstream news.

Man claims to have found Bigfoot skull

I feel bad for posting this story. It’s ludicrous. But, there you have it – the power of wishful thinking, or of just wanting to get into the local newspaper.

It's a rock, not a bigfoot head. Sorry to disappoint but let's be serious here...

It’s a rock, not a bigfoot head. Sorry to disappoint but let’s be serious here…

For a similar story, check out this one where the collector thought he had an alien head. (Spoiler: So do I.)

One thing geologists do on a fairly regular basis is to inform people who think they found something awesome like a fossil or meteorite that it is not that thing, and there is a more mundane explanation. You know, often they don’t believe us. Sigh. Back to the real world.

  16 comments for “Bigfoot skull fossil is a amateur mistake of wishful thinking (UPDATED)

  1. June 23, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    I find that any old statue, where head compression was part o the culture, means aliens. No, babies had their soft heads compressed so they looked what was though to be more pleasing. For some reason it was popular. Carved rock depicting this means “we looked like this” now “aliens landed, oh and while we had a written language we didn’t talk about them. But these carved rocks are proof enough.” How much will he sell this rock for is my question? I wonder if a Creationist museum would purchase it (I’d go for it if I were him).

  2. DVMKurmes
    June 23, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    I worked as an intern in the geology department of a museum when I was an undergrad. This kind of thing was not unusual at all. Just in those few months, we had one guy bring in a pile of variably shaped limestone rocks that he was convinced were a new species of stegosaur, another guy who had a fossil “potato”, and several others show just had interesting looking rocks that they thought maybe were something. The stegosaur guy was really unhappy though, and thought we just wanted the credit for discovering a new species for ourselves.

  3. idoubtit
    June 23, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    Yep. I have had many bring me such things and assume it is a fossil, meteorite, diamond, rare mineral, etc. I’m glad they ask but I don’t give them the answer they want.

  4. June 23, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    From the looks of the ‘skull’, bigfoot comes from Easter Island.

  5. June 23, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    I hike the mountains about forty miles north of Ogden canyon three or four times a month, and … actually, Sharon would just have to edit or delete what I’d like to post, so let’s just say this article gave me a good laugh.

  6. LREKing
    June 23, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Once upon a long ago, I attended a UFO conference. One of the other attendees had a rock (about 10 inches long) that he believe was a fossilized UFO.

    Pareidolia makes me sad.

  7. spookyparadigm
    June 23, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    1. I was not expecting that. I figured it would look slightly more skull-like

    2. Sharon’s gonna hate me saying this, but watching the video, I can almost kind of a little get the “We’re picking on people” vibe. As sort of telegraphed in the text of this post. Because really, what can one say about the video that it doesn’t say itself (note: I stopped watching a minute or two in).

    3. What stories like this really make clear though, is the rebuttal to the attitude I cite above. IF things like Bigfoot were people either just telling tales on their lonesome, or having wishful thinking (which is a really polite way of stating this), then I think asking why does one bother to respond is a legit question. But that’s not the case, and it points out that the real issue are those who promote this stuff for lulz and profit. It is, if one were to give it a name, anti-education. People in the business of taking stories that are almost certainly not true, and often obviously, and then selling them as knowledge or investigation, that’s the problem. And they’re more than grown up enough to be able to deal with people pointing out that BS is BS.

    4. On that note, if this had happened in the 1890s, and there was just a grainy photo, we’d see it in paranormal books today. And if there was no photo, and just the text of “man found fossilized giant head” it would be clear evidence of the Smithsonian’s conspiracy to hide Moundbuilding Giants.

  8. Peebs
    June 23, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Why hasn’t the word ‘Pareidolia cropped up in this?

  9. spookyparadigm
    June 23, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    @kittynh I don’t even think it is modified crania. At this point, if a human figure shows up in artwork, and isn’t depicted in a very photorealistic or western cartoonish style, and it comes from a non-western and probably non-white society, it becomes an alien. See what is done with some rock art or other human depictions.

    Though notably no one (AFAIK) has applied these standards to the Book of Kells, which would assuredly produce aliens.

  10. Bonnie
    June 23, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    When I took some interesting rocks to a geologist, all I was looking for were the proper names. I thought it was funny when he said one rock was just a rock. 🙂

    I love picking up rocks. My husband says it’s a cheap hobby, but sometimes weighs the car down a bit much.

  11. idoubtit
    June 23, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    See keywords.

  12. June 24, 2013 at 4:28 AM

    It’s obvious the guy’s got a genuine Bigfoot skull. Just not the one in his hands.

  13. kamamer
    June 24, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    It’s nice the article actually devotes the last half of the article to skepticism, consulting some actual experts. The Toronto Star in my part of the world has been doing articles on wifi sickness, bee venom therapy for cancer, and vietnam vets found in the jungle and they’re exercising not one wit of skepticism. This is Canada’s largest newspaper. Sigh.

  14. June 30, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    This story was recently picked up by ‘Live Science’. They described Mr. May’s find and beliefs. To the credit of ‘Live Science’, they also wrote:

    “It’s worth noting that no previous claims have been substantiated by science. The newspaper sent a photo of May’s supposed skull to a paleontologist who gave a rock-solid assessment of the non-fossil: ‘Basically, it is just the odd way the rock has weathered.’

    “In short, Todd May is in all likelihood experiencing pareidolia (par-i-DOH-lee-a), the common and sometimes cloud-based phenomenon of seeing faces in inanimate objects.”

  15. Ryuthrowsstuff
    July 1, 2013 at 1:23 AM

    @kittynh The problem on that front is even broader than that though. Any culture where artistic depictions of humans or animals are anything other than attempts at realism. Or depictions from cultures where naturally elongated heads, or extended chins were considered desirable without a culture of body modification. Or realistic depictions of people with unusual features. Basically anything beyond ancient Greek style realist depictions of pretty people has been used to argue “They’re making pictures of ALIENS!!!”. Skull compression just seems to get a lot of buzz because there are actual modified skulls to point to instead of cave paintings.

  16. Russian Skeptic
    June 12, 2016 at 2:19 PM

    To me, it does not look even remotely like a skull. A piece of stylized garden sculpture, perhaps.

Comments are closed.