Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Possible Wood Ape Thermal Footage From The Olympic Project

(Updated on December 12; See Bottom of Article for Size Comparison Update)
"Forest Giant In Profile" by Thomas Finley
Members of the Olympic Project, a Washington state association dedicated to documenting the existence of sasquatch through science and education, have recently released alleged thermal footage of a large sasquatch. This footage was taken on October 30, 2013 in Grays Harbor Washington by property owners Sara, Jon, and Ben Brown with a FLIR BTS series thermal imaging camera which was provided to them by Olympic Project investigators (who had been working with the owners daily after sasquatch activity was frequently reported).1  

The alleged sasquatch was filmed at 11:00-11:15pm after the owners heard a faint knocking sound and went to investigate.1 Unfortunately, the thermal imager switched to Stand-By mode before the subject moved away, thus causing complications on judging what is shown in the footage, but more on that later in this article. The subject was located on the other side of a steep ridge 117 feet away, and appears to have had a shoulder width of between four and five feet (although it seems that these measurements were likely off due to the rush to publish the video).1 The subject appears to turn its head during some segments of the footage and appears to be wide-shouldered, muscular, and clothless.1 People who have done enhancements of the possible wood ape (if you are interested, here is why I prefer to use the term "wood ape" rather than "bigfoot" or "sasquatch") heat signature claim to be able to make out facial features, however, such alleged features are questionable due to the possibility of them simply being artifacts due to the image being expanded. Other intriguing features of the video are the subject's behavior of hunkering down in stillness and the unalarmed reaction of the cow which passes in front of it. These features are noteworthy because witnesses have reported wood apes watching them while hiding in stillness for long periods of time and have also reported them passing by cows without causing them to become alarmed.

An enhancement by Paul Willison of a still from the footage.
Such enhancements are questionable, as they may simply be showing pixelations rather than actual features.
The prospect of the subject in the footage being a wood ape is further supported by the footprints and possible knuckle print which were found at the location the following morning. The footprints were 16.5 inches long and had a seemingly bipedal stride of four feet in length.1 The possible knuckle impression was found near one of the footprints, and indicates that the alleged wood ape may have moved up to the ridge on all fours.1 One of the footprints was cast, and it will hopefully be examined in comparison to previous wood ape footprint casts to determine if it belonged to an unknown hominid, a known species of animal, or was a hoax.
Two of the footprints found at the location where the possible wood ape was filmed. (Image source is here)
Interestingly, wood ape footprints have been found in Grays Harbor County in the past, suggesting that such primates may have lived in the region at one time. This aforementioned case involved a striking trackway discovered by several officers, including Deputy Sheriff Dennis Heryford, in 1982.2 The officers were investigating footprints found on a muddy logging spur and found distinct foot impressions in the mud.2  The footprints eventually changed from full length impressions to impressions of only the forefoot once the stride changed to nine feet.2 This indicates a midtarsal break present in the animal's foot, as running causes the foot to collapse into flexion across the midfoot due to the lack of an arch to poise the foot over the ball.3 Making the Heryford footprints even more interesting, the full length casts seem to exhibit pathologies at the fifth metatarsal's head and base.2 This seems to indicate that wood apes were present in Grays Harbor at one point in time, possibly giving credence to the idea that the subject of the thermal footage is a wood ape itself.
Cast of a full foot impression from the Grays Harbor trackway. (Image source is here)
Cast of a forefoot impression from the Grays Harbor trackway. (Image source is here)
Diagram overlaying the forefoot impression onto the full foot impression, exhibiting that the foot collapsed into flexion across the midfoot. (Image source is here)
So, assuming that the heat signature shows an animal rather than an inanimate object of some sort, what do the few discernible features indicate as a possible identity? The possible wood ape definitely appears to have great upper body muscle mass, comparable to that of the known nonhuman great apes. This great musculature is due to these primates primarily using their arms to gather foliage and defend themselves, among other behavioral factors.4 Wood ape reports from regions in the Pacific Northwest such as Washington seem to indicate a form of nonhuman great ape; possibly Gigantopithecus blacki or Paranthropus boisei. Fossils of these hominids suggest that they were robust primates which did not use complex tools; significant because it appears that nonhuman apes have greater musculature due to their lack of a need for smaller muscles which are tuned for delicate tasks such as tool use.5
Nonhuman ape species tend to have large upper body muscle mass compared to that of humans.
(Upper left image source is here; Upper right image source is here; Bottom image source: Time-Life Nature Library book Evolution)
In line with the hypothesis that sasquatch are relict forms of Gigantopithecus which crossed the Bering Land Bridge into North America and were bipeds with hominin-shaped feet due to possible parallel evolution with Asian hominins, Cryptozoological researcher Dale Drinnon compared Dr. Krantz's Gigantopithecus skull reconstruction with a still of the subject's heat signature. While such a prospect is possible, due to the facts that Gigantopithecus were present in Asia at the right time to make such a migration3 and some features of their anatomy could possibly make bipedalism beneficial (such as the shearing forces which these giant apes would have had on their clavicle if they had a quadrupedal locomotion2), Dale feels that the comparison does not support the animal in the Grays Harbor thermal footage being a Gigantopithecus.
Comparison between Krantz's Gigantopithecus skull reconstruction and an enhanced still of the subject's heat signature.
The comparison is from Dale Drinnon, who felt that the skull was not a good fit.
After I suggested to him that he tried the same form of comparison with a Paranthropus boisei skull, going off my hypothesis that wood apes may be descendants of the robust australopithecine line, Dale found the same problem with proportions that the Gigantopithecus skull exhibited. To him, the subject's "head" matches up the distance between the eyes and length of the face that the Paranthropus skull exhibits, but fails to match up in all other respects. Although I feel that overlaying a reconstructed skull over an undefined heat signature could prove to be a fallible comparison, I thought that Dale deserved to have his views shared here.
Comparison between a Paranthropus boisei skull and an enhanced still of the subject's heat signature.
The comparison is from Dale Drinnon, who felt that this hominid's skull was also not a good fit.
Aside from the subject being an actual ape, there is a strong possibility that the subject in the footage was a bear (or some other species of animal; maybe two cows standing side by side as commenter Gordon Ambrose suggested). Dale Drinnon feels that the bear explanation is the most likely, due to comparisons which he has made between an enhanced still of the subject and a photograph of a black bear. Although there is the possibility that the alleged features shown in the enhancement could simply be due to pixelations brought out by increasing the size of the image, the possibility of the thermal footage subject being a bear certainly remains as a possibility (although it is noteworthy that the ears of a bear are not visible in the footage, at least not in the view of the subject which we get).
Comparison of the enhanced image of the subject's heat signature with a large black bear. (Comparison from Dale Drinnon)
Thermal image of a bear for comparison to the heat signature in the footage. (Image from the Thermal Outfitters site)
However intriguing the footage may be to some people, the simple fact remains that it is not the evidence needed to prove the existence of these primates. The subject's features are not well defined, and the fact that the thermal switched to Stand-By mode after some time prohibits a view of the alleged animal walking away. Although the thermal footage itself is not totally indicative of the presence of a wood ape, the footprints and vocalizations at the location may support the notion. The Olympic Project team will be conducting future investigations at the property, and Derek Randles has stated that more evidence from the area is likely on the horizon. Although only a body will prove the existence of these reported primates, further investigation in the area will hopefully be the decisive factor as to whether the footage shows a bear, wood ape, or something else. Please note that I am not supporting the notion that the footage shows a wood ape, and I will be withholding judgment on my behalf until further data such as recreations comes forth. This article was not written to sway the minds of viewers, but rather to present data for them to make their own minds up with. Thanks to Derek Randles for allowing me to share the information here, and I wish him the best of luck with determining what the footage shows.
Derek Randles recently posted several images from his recent attempt at comparing the size of a woman subject with the thermal footage subject. Below is a video from Steve Alcorn which helps give a direct comparison between the two.

  1. "Ridge Watcher Bigfoot – Thermal Video & Photos." N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013.
  2. Meldrum, Jeff. Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. New York: Forge, 2006. Print.
  3. Meldrum, Jeff. Sasquatch Field Guide. N.p.: Paradise Cay Publications, 2013. Print.
  4. "GORILLAS - Physical Characteristics." GORILLAS - Physical Characteristics. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.
  5. "The Secret To Chimp Strength." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 08 Apr. 2009. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.


  1. I thought I should mention that I thought at first I was looking at a definite large ape, but for me the comparison to the face of the bear was most compelling. There are reasons why the ears would not necessarily show up and reasons why this is NOT any kind of an ape. However I was doing my own analysis separately. For the record, I made up the two comparison overlays that Jay used in his discussion, gave him permission to use them and put them at his disposal alone with several others in the series. I was not saying anything at all about the tracks or the possible connection of the tracks and the creature caught on the camera. And I shall have more to say on my own blog.

    And once again I must remark that "Wood Ape" is the literal translation of :"Dryopithecus" and was introduced into Cryptozoological circles as a reference to Coleman's North American Ape (NAPES), which is something quite different and for the reason that Coleman and Hall believe the NAPES belongs to that genus; and using it in the sense that Jay does is causing a needless and unnecessary confusion. There are other better known and more common names for the creature that Jay means (conventionally the Sasquatch) and I very much feel that Jay's continual insistence on promoting more confusion to an already overly confused terminology is not really helping people to understand the subject any better. Nor is "Wood Ape" at all the common usage term used in English to indicate the Sasquatch.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. My apologies, but I have removed this comment due to the rude behavior exhibited in it. While I do agree with the commenter's assertions that I have explained my reasons for using the "wood ape" term well enough and that the alleged "NAPE" footprint brought to the attention of the cryptozoological community by Loren Coleman is questionable due to its dissimilarity to known pongid footprints (although I do NOT think Mr. Coleman hoaxed the print himself, I think he may have been hoaxed or that it was possibly a misidentified track), I have removed his/her comment due to the slandering of other people in it.

    3. Do we know how much the stills have been enhanced and how that can impact the true features of whatever this is? Mr. Drinnon's skull comparisons are compelling but if the images are distorted from enhancing it doesn't mean much.

  2. Yes Dale, I made it clear that your only input was through the comparisons. Thanks again for those; I'll be awaiting your article on it. Dale, again, the reason I use the "wood ape" term in regard to sasquatch is due to this article:
    So please contact them if you have any further questions about use of the term. It has been gaining some popularity as of lately, mainly due to the TBRC changing their name to the "North American Wood Ape Conservancy," and it even has an Urban Dictionary page dedicated to it (

    1. Furthermore:

  3. Jay, you did a great job outlining this event; thanks for writing it.

  4. Great article as usual, Jay. Well written, and the most interesting I have so far seen on this footage. Thanks, Tim,U.K.

  5. Nicely done young man!

  6. Excellent article, Jay. Nicely written

  7. Great breakdown. This is the type of constructive analysis that helps figuring out what may or may not be a undiscovered species. It one thing to give your opinion as fact, it's another to actually back it up with credited references. Thanks Jay

    1. Thank you Spender, that's what I strive to do!

  8. I do think that, with regard to the alleged "facial features," that although it's correct that "Such enhancements are questionable, as they may simply be showing pixelations rather than actual features," such features definitely show on thermals; one would expect it to be faint at this distance; and although pixelation is to be expected and should raise suspicion, what is seen in the blown up frame would be one heck of a "man in the moon" coincidence, were pixelation all it was. To me, it lends credence to the 'wood ape' interpretation.


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