Aug. 15, 2008 -- Even the Bigfoot believers aren't buying it.
Three men held a press conference this afternoon in Palo Alto, Calif., to share the details surrounding what they claim is their "discovery" of a Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, in northern Georgia two months ago.
Matthew Whitton, a police officer, and Rick Dyer, a former correctional officer, maintained they happened upon the corpse of a half-human, half-ape creature while hiking in the woods. They also said they saw three other live creatures while carting the corpse away. Along with Tom Biscardi, an old hand at bigfoot hunting, the men intend to substantiate their bold claims with DNA evidence and photographs.
But long-time Bigfoot experts and trackers are almost certain the trio is taking the public for a ride.
"Discovery? It's a hoax. It's a Halloween costume in a box," said Matt Moneymaker, president and founder of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.
Created in 1995, the group maintains a database of Bigfoot sighting reports and organizes tracking expeditions for interested members of the public.
Jeff Meldrum, a leading Sasquatch researcher and Idaho State University professor of anatomy and anthropology, is equally skeptical.
"There's a whole number of things that raise red flags, in my opinion," he said.
The most glaring red flag: Whitton and Dyer's appeal to Biscardi.
"He does not carry a reputation of credibility," Meldrum said of Biscardi.
The 'Real Bigfoot Hunter'
Dyer said he and Whitton encountered the alleged Bigfoot body approximately two months ago and froze it to stave off rigor mortis. But, until they involved Biscardi two weeks ago, no one gave them much attention.
"We started to tell people the week after we found the body, but no on believed us," he said. "So we started to make fun of the Bigfoot trackers, and that got attention."
Whitton and Dyer landed themselves on the "Squatch Detective" radio show and announced their discovery on the air. When the host pressed the pair to let someone verify the body, they asked for Biscardi, the so-called "real Bigfoot hunter."
"You type in 'Bigfoot' and that's the name that comes up," Dyer said.
Biscardi, a 35-year veteran of the Bigfoot business, who declined to give his age, is CEO of Searching for Bigfoot, Inc., producer of the documentary "Bigfoot Lives," and host of an Internet radio show about... yes, Bigfoot.
He said he's been fascinated with the ape-like creature ever since watching a short film made by Roger Patterson in 1967 that famously purported to contain footage of a real Bigfoot.
"Be still my heart, I felt bad for the poor thing," Biscardi said of viewing the alleged corpse. "After being in the industry for the past 30 years, I wondered: Was it diseased? Did it die of old age?"
Scientific Findings Promised
Biscardi said he gave tissue from the body to Curt Nelson, a research scientist at the University of Minnesota with a personal interest in Bigfoot. Biscardi said he and his colleagues will present Nelson's findings this afternoon's press conference.
But on Thursday, Nelson told ABCNews.com that he's not certain he'll have anything to present at the conference.
For the world to really believe the existence of bigfoot, Nelson said, teams of unbiased scientists would have to collect and analyze DNA and thoroughly inspect the body.
"It would take a lot more than I'm doing," he said, noting that people will want to see an actual body rather than just tissue samples. "If the guy claims to have a body, he really should produce one," Nelson said.
Instead, Biscardi said he plans to keep the body at an undisclosed location while scientists, including two Russian hominid specialists, study the creature. Biscardi said the entire process will be filmed and then released as a documentary.
Legend of Bigfoot?
Instead of proving the existence of Bigfoot, Meldrum said profiteering antics like Biscardi's lend support to the cynics.
"Unfortunately, this kind of incident simply just casts further aspersion on the topic," he said.
Still, despite rampant skepticism within the community of Bigfoot believers and outside of it, there's also overwhelming interest.
"There's always an interest in these creatures, dating back hundreds of years -- mermaids, unicorns, dragons," said Benjamin Radford, managing editor of the science magazine The Skeptical Inquirer and a widely published writer on urban legends, Bigfoot and media criticism. "There isn't a populated place on earth that doesn't have these kinds of creatures."
But regardless of the doubts, most longtime Bigfoot devotees will be tuned in to Friday's news.
Loren Coleman, a prolific writer on the Sasquatch, Yeti and other mysterious creatures, said he thinks this is going to be one of the biggest Bigfoot stories of the decade, even it turns out to be hoax.
When it comes to the alleged creature, he says he doesn't use the word "believe."
"I accept or deny evidence. Based upon the evidence we have [about Bigfoot], 80 percent is proof and 20 percent is myth," he said.
With this one body found in Georgia, however, it's "99 percent a hoax and 1 percent a probability of reality," he said.
But he's still excited about the alleged discovery.
"I'll never turn down a chance to look at a body because it could be real, and we can't choose the accident of history. … The most undesirable people might be the ones to discover it, but who am I to judge them."