A team of Bigfoot buffs called a press conference earlier this week to present what they called “definitive video and DNA evidence from the elusive Sasquatch.” Several short video clips, presented with more sincerity than credibility, turned out to be a publicity teaser for an upcoming Bigfoot movie.

Sharon Hill, a blogger who has written extensively about this story for Doubtful News.com, noted that “high definition footage of the creature known as ‘Matilda’ presented… This conference was announced via press release but honestly, those of us seriously following this fiasco assumed it would be another joke. And so it is. Not only does Matilda remarkably resemble a throw rug but the face seems eerily reminiscent of Chewbacca. The clips that were shown in the news conference were described as short and grainy. That’s kind of odd for HD footage, don’t you think?”

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Pro-tip: If your high-def camera can’t distinguish between a sleeping Sasquatch and a throw rug, you need to buy lens cleaner. And why would there only be a few seconds of video? Surely the team stuck around long enough to videotape it as it woke up, if not call for additional cameras to surround it — or even a tranquilizer gun.

History of Bigfoot Hoaxes

This is only the latest of many confirmed and suspected Bigfoot hoaxes on film and video. The most famous recording of a Bigfoot is the short film taken in 1967 by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin.

Shot in Bluff Creek, Calif., it shows a supposed female Bigfoot striding through a clearing. The film is generally considered a hoax, though to this day — nearly 50 years later — it is widely described by Bigfoot believers to be by far the best evidence for the creature.

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This is of course not the first time that people have claimed to have found a Bigfoot, live or dead. The head of a prominent Bigfoot group, Tom Biscardi, appeared on the “Coast to Coast with George Noory” radio show in 2005 claiming that his group had captured a Bigfoot. It was, he said, a male standing eight feet tall and weighing over 400 pounds. Despite repeated promises to make the amazing discovery public, the whole thing turned out to be a hoax designed to drum up publicity for a Bigfoot film.

Three years later two Georgia men claimed to have found a dead Bigfoot creature towering nearly eight feet all, covered with hair, and weighing 500 pounds. They released a photograph of it inside a freezer and promised follow-up video and genetic analysis. That DNA evidence never materialized because the “Bigfoot” ended up being a rubber costume.

The history of Bigfoot evidence is full of similar audacious, high-profile hoaxes, and indeed there is no category of Bigfoot evidence that has not been widely hoaxed, including video, photographs, tracks, hair samples, blood samples and DNA samples. (One well-known sample of “Bigfoot blood” turned out to be transmission fluid.)

Dozens of people have admitted hoaxing Bigfoot prints. These days it’s easier than ever to fake Bigfoot tracks; anyone in the world can buy a cast of an alleged Bigfoot on eBay and use it to make tracks that resemble those accepted by some “experts” as authentic.

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These hoaxes frustrate those in the Bigfoot research community who take the subject seriously and try to bring science and good research to the mystery. Faked evidence — sometimes created by sincere Bigfoot believers — not only casts doubt on potentially legitimate evidence, but can also waste enormous amounts of time and effort in disproving the hoax.

In one case hoaxing turned deadly; last year a man in Montana died while trying to pull off a Bigfoot hoax. Randy Lee Tenley was struck and killed by several cars; according to police he was dressed in a dark camouflage costume standing near a highway at night in an attempt to spur Bigfoot sighting reports.

If the public is skeptical, the video of Matilda the Sleeping Sasquatch is considered dubious even among many Bigfoot believers. If Bigfoot are real, their existence will be proven using good science to help weed out the hoaxes from any real evidence.

Photo: Bigfoot claims have become common enough that photo services produce their own staged photos of the creature. Credit: Corbis