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We begin with a Bigfoot with bad BO. That's how the legendary Florida creature known as the skunk ape has been described. People say it lurks in the Sunshine State, even leaving prints. Does it add up to proof, or is it a bit too perfect? Panama City Beach in Florida's panhandle is a popular vacation spot with a lively nightlife. But in July 2020, Chloe Brennan and her boyfriend found something that might make them never leave the house again.

NARRATOR: Let's push in on that. It's a claw or paw print left on the rear windshield of Chloe's car. You can see the markings of those long claws and detailed creases in the skin. Weirder still, Chloe says it smelled.

It was just, like, stinky, greasy, and it looked like a monkey hand. NARRATOR: On social media, friends wonder whether it could be evidence of a legendary creature called the skunk ape. [music playing] Field researcher Ken Gerhard has investigated dozens of sightings. There seem to be more accounts of it chasing people, terrorizing people. People describe the face as being somewhere between a human and an ape-- very broad shoulders, no neck, very long arms. NARRATOR: And it might be more than a legend, the skunk ape has allegedly been captured on video.

Almost 600 miles south in the Florida Everglades, this famous footage emerged in 2000. It appears to show the Southern Bigfoot ambling through a swamp. Watch as it suddenly breaks into a long limb to run, almost aware that it's being watched, finally escaping into a grove of palm trees. One big difference between the skunk ape and Bigfoot, the skunk ape is said to stink of rotten eggs and moldy socks.

But we want to know, do these videos pass the smell test? For answers, we turn to wildlife biologist Lucy Eckersley. When I first saw this, I have to say I wasn't sure what it was. NARRATOR: Could it be a neighborhood dog or cat? This is a pretty large print from a pretty large animal, and it's going up a windshield. That's pretty unusual behavior.

From what I can see here, this is an animal that has both digits and a flat area of its foot the same way that we have. Many animals, like dogs and cats, are digitigrade. So that means they're walking just on the tips of their digits. NARRATOR: That eliminates those domestic animals since this print has longer, flatter fingermarks. So could it be from a human-like creature with sharp claws? I can see a few clear digits and then some folds of skin in the center. The claws were actually a big part for me.

When you look at them, they are printed, the entire length of the claw, but claws actually curve like this. So if it was a real animal, you would expect to only see the tip of the claw a little far away from the end of the digit. I think that this is somebody's back of their hand, and then they've drawn on or included in some way the claws. NARRATOR: Anthropologist Kathy Strain also examines the print. I did not find a single animal that would match that print. CHLOE BRENNAN: We've had a lot of people come and say that they think that this is a print that we have done.

It is not something that we have done. NARRATOR: As for that incredible skunk ape video-- Extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof. NARRATOR: Strain does a gait analysis, comparing how this creature runs compared to a known ape.

KATHY STRAIN: Up until the time the animal starts to run, it was potentially believable. But once it runs, it just falls apart. NARRATOR: Note the fluid, balanced strides of this chimp compared to the clumsy, awkward motion of the alleged skunk ape. KATHY STRAIN: That's how I run, really sloppy, not very good at it. And I would think an animal that is natural to the environment would be able to run fast and easy and elegant and just perfect, and that's not at all what you see here.

[music playing] So what's the verdict? The lack of a separated claw means the paw print is probably the back of a human hand. As far as the video, the creature's gait strongly suggests it's a person in a suit. We're calling both a hoax. That doesn't mean the skunk ape isn't real.

Indigenous tribes have legends dating back hundreds of years. It's March of 2011. Scott Carpenter, a systems administrator for a small software company in East Tennessee, is conducting Bigfoot research in his spare time when his trail camera records this mysterious footage. It's a tough angle, but look at the upper left corner of the screen.

Missed it? Scott himself didn't notice it until he got home and reviewed the footage. Then, he made this enhanced magnification, and here, it seems like you can make out a dog-like head bobbing between the tree branches. The movement caught my eye. You could literally see the nostrils opening and closing as it was taking breaths, and I did some research, called some people, and described what I had.

And they're like, that's a dogman. NARRATOR: Field researcher Ken Gerhard explains that while dogman encounters are relatively new, reports seem to be increasing rapidly. There are popular podcasts where eyewitnesses will come on and tell about their stories or accounts or encounters. The encounters are often very chilling. Dogman is often seen feasting on roadkill. It chases and claws at automobiles as they go by.

It's an utterly terrifying creature, whatever it is. NARRATOR: The dogman craze traces back to Michigan. A local legend about the half man, half hound first caught fire in 1987 and then blew up again in 2007 when a man named Mike Agrusa recorded this now-famous footage known as the Gable Film. It starts out like an unremarkable home video but then shows a creature crawling on all fours, then standing erect, and finally charging the cameraman.

[music playing] [growl] The legend of the dogman made people afraid to go into the woods, and I'm sure many 10-year-olds were scared to death by parents retelling the story around a campfire. Now, here's the thing. Mike Agrusa has always been up front about the fact that the Gable Film was a hoax. That's Mike himself in a costume, running at the camera.

Pretty impressive that the dude can move like that on all fours. But the phenomenon of reported dogman sightings is very real, and Scott Carpenter swears his footage is proof positive. So what do our experts think? NARRATOR: First, we took the footage to anthropologist Kathy Strain. She says that, if true, reports of the dogman describe different behavior from what we see here.

Dogman is thought to be extremely aggressive. And if you're in their space, they will do everything possible to get you out of their space, including running you down. The video I don't believe shows a dog man because it would have tried to run Scott out of the area. NARRATOR: That prompted us to analyze the video more closely, and our main man Michael Primeau saw nothing hinky with the source footage. But when he inspected Scott's enhanced magnifications, the pixels told a different story. This recording has undergone some sort of change.

The operator essentially stabilized this part of the video image and then applied what's called pixel interpolation, or zooming. And I'm seeing symptoms of that here. Information may have been added to make something look subjectively better but not objectively accurate. Based on the analysis that I've performed, I cannot authenticate these images, and I'm concerned about the opportunity to manipulate these pixels to represent something that wasn't originally recorded.

Since Scott Carpenter's enhanced videos cannot be considered reliable evidence, we are going to have to conclude this is a hoax. While the Gable Film video and images like these may capture the imagination of those who want to believe in dogman, the rest of us will just have to keep sniffing around for proof. NARRATOR: November 2016, the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan. A car is traversing a snowy road at an elevation of about 5,213 feet in the Ural Mountains after dark.

As is common in Russia, a dash cam is recording the journey, then this. NARRATOR: Let's slow that down and take another look. Suddenly, a light-colored figure dashes across the road. Whatever it is moves quickly and on two legs.

It seems to be covered in fur, and it leaves behind footprints that the stunned occupants of the car record as well. MAN: [non-english speech] Here we can see the footprints going across the road. So we have 12 feet from maybe here to over here. A guy would be hard-pressed to make big leaps like that at the same time running through the snow. I am open to this being a real yeti video.

NARRATOR: Field researcher Cliff Barackman says that a thorough analysis of the figure's gait only adds more credence to the video. Yetis have a wide arm swing, and that's what we do see here. I do like the fact that the trailing leg kicks up snow, because one of the small details that differentiates the gait of a yeti is that the trailing leg reaches a degree bend of about 90 degrees. In humans, it's about 76 degrees, and that would explain why the snow kicked up behind the thing, if the trailing leg was going to such an extreme angle. NARRATOR: The search for the yeti dates back to 326 BC, when Alexander the Great set out to conquer the Indus Valley. Having heard tales of the mysterious beast, he demanded to see one, but the local people told him the yeti could not survive at that low altitude.

Unlike Bigfoot, the Yeti is reputed to be extremely aggressive towards humans. There are a number of accounts of it attacking local villagers and killing their yaks, generally just displaying a nasty disposition altogether. NARRATOR: In the modern era, the yeti gained worldwide attention when a famous mountaineer found these mysterious footprints high in the Nepalese Himalayas. They actually photographed these footprints next to an ice ax and next to a shoe, and these photographs basically made worldwide news.

NARRATOR: And there's another possibility here. In 2010, researchers found evidence proving the existence of a population of early humans, known as Denisovans, in a cave in Siberia. Denisovans were extinct primates that were very human-like, and they are regarded as being a separate species of archaic human. NARRATOR: Could this be a surviving member of that species? DNA studies have shown that some Tibetans inherited a gene that helps them breathe easy at high altitudes from Denisovans.

So that seems to lend some credence to the idea that a relict hominin of that lineage could persevere in this harsh of an environment. But is that what we're looking at, or a yeti, or a plain-old Homo sapien? We ask the experts. NARRATOR: First, that intriguing Denisovan theory, biologist Floyd Hayes says that if there were still Denisovans living today, we'd have more recent bones, not just ancient fossils. They're thought to have interbred with humans and merged into the human lineage about 15,000 to 30,000 years ago. NARRATOR: Of course, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But anthropologist Kathy Strain agrees that this can't be a surviving Denisovan because they looked much more like us than this furry figure does.

There's no reason to suspect that any of our closely-related ancestors would also be hair-covered. So for me, there's no possibility for that to be a Denisovan because it is 100% covered in hair. NARRATOR: So what's left? KATHY STRAIN: For me, the only thing this could be is either a true yeti or a hoax. There isn't any other animal that lives in this area of Russia that would match the description of what you're seeing on the film.

So it can't be an upright walking bear. It can't be misidentified caribou. NARRATOR: And when Strain closely analyzes the gait of the mysterious creature, she sees something completely different than Barackman. KATHY STRAIN: When it goes over the edge, it almost falls over on the other side. So for me, I would expect that a yeti has been in the snow, and they would know how to maneuver from one side of a road to another side of the road. NARRATOR: Combine that with what wildlife biologist Dr.

Stephanie Schuttler observes, not about the creature, but about the occupants of the car. MAN: [non-english speech] Their reaction to the animal is much earlier than my reaction. Your brain takes a second or two to register, and then you have the reaction. And theirs seemed to come earlier than when the beam crossed the road. KATHY STRAIN: What I think we're seeing is a hoax. I believe this is a human in a yeti costume trying to pretend to be a yeti, likely with the knowledge of the people driving the car.

So based on the creature's clumsy motion and the premature exclamations of the eyewitnesses, we're calling this one a hoax. This was most likely a guy in a suit playing a gag with the occupants of the car. That's not my idea of fun. But hey, different strokes for different folks.

NARRATOR: April of 2021, it's nighttime on a rural road in Costa Rica when a security camera picks up this mysterious footage. [music playing] Let's slow it down and zoom in. It's dark, and the footage is grainy. But it appears as if some bizarre creature creeps out of the shadows. It's clearly much larger than the dogs that can be seen cautiously approaching it before it waddles away into the night.

Down the street, some men responding to the commotion step into the road and capture additional smartphone footage of the strange creature. Gustavo Martinez runs a local YouTube channel and has a theory. [non-english speech] NARRATOR: Field researcher Ken Gerhard, who studies Latin American folklore, says La Mona Bruja, also known as the monkey witch, is known throughout the region.

La Mona Bruja is said to be able to transform into the shape of a monkey, and countering La Mona Bruja is considered to be a portent of impending disaster, illness, or death. Essentially, it's just bad news. NARRATOR: And as strange as that seems, an even stranger theory soon emerges. Some on the internet feel they see more than four legs, here and here, and that scrambling movement-- get ready-- they think it could be a giant spider. Cliff Barackman says there are legends. There are stories of the J'ba Fofi, which is this folkloric spider in Central Africa that was apparently observed once by some explorers in the 1930s.

Apparently, it was a tarantula-like spider in the web that was 3 to 4 feet in diameter. NARRATOR: But this is a new world sighting. Are there any new world giants? Well, in a way. Check out this nightmarish footage captured by a biologist in the Amazon rainforest in 2019.

It shows a massive tarantula killing a possum. Wow. If there were to be some undiscovered species of spider or another creature, biodiverse Costa Rica would be a logical place to find it.

5,000 new species of animals and plants were discovered there between 2011 and 2013. But is what we see in this video even real? [music playing] NARRATOR: We wanted to know if this is some kind of CGI. So our first stop was to our video forensic analyst Michael Primeau. I haven't been given any real reason to question the authenticity of the video recording. NARRATOR: OK, then.

We asked wildlife biologist Dr. Stephanie Schuttler to address the theory that this could be a giant, unknown spider species. Spiders couldn't get to this size. They have an exoskeleton, and it would be too large and heavy. They also depend on tracheal openings.

They don't have lungs. They also have copper-based blood, which isn't as efficient as our iron-based blood. So the oxygen couldn't get throughout their body if it was this big. NARRATOR: Professor of biology Dr. Floyd Hayes goes through several other options among the known local wildlife.

Well, this doesn't look like any known species of mammals that lives in Costa Rica, like a tapir or a peccary or a sloth or a monkey. We don't know of any monkeys that walk with their legs splayed outward like this individual here, so it can't be a monkey. NARRATOR: Under closer scrutiny, Hayes thinks he spots a clue in the dark and grainy video. It looks like the rear legs are longer than the front legs, which is why I think it looks to me like a human trying to walk like a crab would walk. NARRATOR: Dr. Schuttler agrees and thinks that it's the behavior of man's best friend that provides the conclusive evidence.

We see a dog appears to be barking at it, and then it seems to go really close to it. And if that were a real animal, I think the dog would be much more scared and acting more defensive. [music playing] So it turns out this isn't the legendary witch monkey of Costa Rica, and it wasn't a monstrously large spider. While we don't think the video was doctored, our verdict is that this is a hoax.

It's just a very flexible person in a costume imitating a crab walk, but we're still not sure why. NARRATOR: It's April 2020 in Billings, Montana. Resident Sean Ragan wakes up to discover a dead deer on his property. He decides to check his home security system to see if it's caught the culprit overnight. But upon review, he instead notices something even scarier than the average wild predator. Watch the right side of the footage.

Out of the darkness walks a tall, white figure that resembles an upside down V. There don't appear to be arms, a torso, or even much of a head. After a few seconds, it slinks back into the darkness. We just freaked out the second that we saw it because it didn't look like anything you would see in the woods of the United States, anywhere. It had such an inhuman quality to it.

NARRATOR: We've enhanced the dark, grainy video as best we can. And you can see that despite its abnormal shape, the thing sure looks like it's taking deliberate steps. And Sean isn't the first person to inadvertently catch a glimpse of something shaped like that. Another video from 2007 depicting a very similar figure continues to bounce around the internet. This video was set up by a man in Fresno, California. It's security footage, and what he captured was something incredibly bizarre.

They move with this extremely strange gait. The creatures were eventually dubbed the Fresno Nightcrawlers. NARRATOR: The man took his footage to authorities, but they came up empty. And as the footage ascended to internet fame, reports of other encounters with so-called nightcrawlers bubbled up. Nightcrawlers, according to people that have encountered them, are kind of phantom-like apparitions, the main characteristics being these very long, lanky legs and really not much else in terms of a morphology or a physical body.

NARRATOR: Any attempts to explain their origins or any connection to the dead deer on Shawn's property are as ambiguous as these pieces of footage. Some people on the internet have connected the Fresno Nightcrawlers to supposed Native American legends, that the nightcrawlers are actually Earth fairies that came down from the sky. There are also photos floating around on the internet of these wooden sculptures of creatures that look a little bit like the Fresno Nightcrawlers. However, no one really knows where those photos came from. NARRATOR: Wherever this creature came from, its brief presence is something Sean will not soon forget. It starts off as disbelief and then kind of trickles into paranoia about going back out, paranoia about even staying in the area, and also paranoia of even bringing this up to other people.

Both Sean and the Fresno homeowner never spotted the nightcrawlers again, but people as far away as Poland have reported similar sightings of these eerie figures. No physical specimen has ever been found. So let's see what we can determine when our experts put their best foot forward. [music playing] NARRATOR: First, archaeologist Ed Barnhart examines the theory that these creatures could be connected to Native American folklore. The Navajo talk about a similar phenomena called skinwalkers.

They come out at night. And they are evil witches who can transform into animals, but they do not look like anything that the Indians have ever talked about. NARRATOR: None of the known Native American folklore talks of a creature without a head or torso like these things. Barnhart's assessment is that this supposed legend is little more than internet speculation, perhaps even fabrication.

So perhaps Sean's camera just caught a person who was partly obscured. It's possible that someone just had some very brightly colored pants on, and they had a dark shirt. But the legs themselves don't really look particularly human. The legs look kind of spindly, like they just-- they end in points. NARRATOR: West concludes Sean was likely duped by a simple prank. He shows us how he thinks he was done.

I took a pair of my pajamas, and I put this little wooden armature here, which is a type of thing a puppeteer uses, and moved the avatar to move the legs of the puppet. And we got something that kind of looks a little bit like a pair of pajama legs just walking along. NARRATOR: Notice the similarity in the motion of the alleged nightcrawler and Mick's puppet, which is pulled along by a thin, taut string. And the type of camera also plays a role in the illusion.

MICK WEST: If you've got a low-resolution security camera video, the strings really aren't very apparent. They're very easily hidden. This type of hoax, it's quite easy to pull off. [music playing] Our verdict, Sean was the victim of a hoax. We can't say, though, whether it was intentionally meant to scare him or was just someone playing up the online nightcrawler legend. The dead deer found on the property was likely a coincidence.

As for the original Fresno Nightcrawler video that set all of this off, probably a version of the same stunt.

2022-09-25 18:40

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