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Is that a Bigfoot foot?

You all know how I feel about claims regarding Bigfoot. Am I about to be proven wrong?

When the foot turned up at the Spotsylvania County, Va., landfill, the first thought was that someone had committed a brutal crime. Deputies began sorting through mounds of trash in a grim search for body parts.

Now, the foot is a phenomenon.

The hairless 8-inch appendage isn’t human after all. But no one knows yet what species — known or undiscovered — it is. And that has led to some wild conjecture.

Spotsylvania sheriff’s officials have said the foot might have come from an “ape-like species,” leaving Bigfoot-believers across the country wondering if there might finally be proof of the creature.

Bob Hagan, president of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, said speculation about the owner of this left foot has become a game.

“We did see a suggestion that it might be a Yeti or a Sasquatch, and that might be why they call it Bigfoot instead of Bigfeet,” Hagan joked.

Tom Biscardi, who runs Searching for Bigfoot Inc. in Menlo Park, Calif., posted an image of the foot on his Web site, www.searchingforbigfoot.com. Biscardi doesn’t know if this foot is a Bigfoot’s foot, but he is certain the creatures are real.

“I have no doubts in my mind,” Biscardi said. “I’ve had six encounters over the past 34 years. Not in my dreams. Up close and personal.”

He supports DNA testing to find out one way or another.

It’s not always clear how much lag time there is on these wire stories the Chron prints – this one has a WaPo dateline on it. A little time with Google News quickly reveals that this is much ado about nothing.

Russell Tuttle, a University of Chicago anthropologist who specializes in primate locomotion, thinks the appendage is the skinned hind foot of a bear. He said the quest for Bigfoot is “an escape from the realities of life, like focusing on soap operas and the personal life of often-pathetic celebrities.”

He added: “I pray this does not start an armed search for Bigfoot in the area. One is more likely to shoot a person in disguise, a person hunting, oneself, someone’s farm animal.”

But Bigfoot hunters consider themselves realists. William Dranginan of Manassas, who heads the Virginia Bigfoot Research Organization, admits that his heart fluttered at the possibility the foot belonged to a Bigfoot. But he also thinks it’s a bear’s foot.

Matt Moneymaker, president of the California-based Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, said one of his group’s 200 members is a world-class hunter who has skinned more than 200 black bears.

“That hunter, in British Columbia, is certain that this is the skinned left hind foot of an Ursus americana,” or North American black bear, said Moneymaker, whose quest for Bigfoot has been documented by National Geographic.

Jeffrey Meldrum, an Idaho State University anthropologist who is a proponent of Bigfoot’s existence, said bear remains are commonly mistaken for humans. Like others who have seen photos of the foot, he said it appears the ends of the toes, including the claws, were probably removed and remain with the pelt.

[...]

Idaho State’s Meldrum said officials should have publicly cleared up the matter by now. “The handling of the situation, as it’s been portrayed in the press, has been extremely clumsy,” he said.

Yeah, you could say that. Better luck next time, fellas.

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