And this is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program EXPLORATIONS. Many people in America’s Pacific Northwest believe in the existence of an animal that is half human and half ape. Other people have reportedly seen a huge creature in a famous lake in Scotland. Today we tell about these and several other mysterious creatures.
In nineteen-fifty-eight a young man named Jerry Crew was on his way to work. Mister Crew worked for the Wallace Construction Company in Humboldt County, northern California. Mister Crew drove large construction equipment for the company. It had rained for the past several days and the area where the construction vehicles were kept was very wet and muddy.
As Jerry Crew walked toward the vehicle he would drive that day, he saw something extremely unusual. What he saw frightened him. There, in the mud, were footprints--footprints that were almost ten times larger than a normal human foot.
Newspaper reporters found out about the huge footprints. They talked to Mister Crew and took pictures of the footprints. They published stories all over California. One newspaper story called the creature that made the prints "Bigfoot."
In nineteen-sixty-seven a man named Roger Patterson used a small movie camera to take pictures of an ape-like creature moving from a clear area into a forest. Many people said this proved Bigfoot was real. The movie pictures showed a large ape-like creature walking on two large feet.
Over the years, books and magazine stories were printed about Bigfoot using photographs from Mister Patterson’s film. Large groups of people spent their holiday time searching forests for Bigfoot. Many people worked long hours in an effort to prove that Bigfoot exists.
In two-thousand-two a man named Ray Wallace died of heart failure. He was the man who owned the Wallace Construction Company where the mystery creature’s foot prints first appeared. Soon after Mister Wallace’s death, his family told reporters that Mister Wallace had invented Bigfoot. They told how he had made huge feet out of wood and tied them to his shoes. They said Ray Wallace left the footprints that Jerry Crew found. They said Ray Wallace had done this as a joke.
The Wallace family said the joke became bigger and bigger. They said Ray Wallace just could not stop. He was having too much fun. For example, in nineteen-sixty-seven he dressed his wife in a monkey suit with large feet. Ray Wallace and Roger Patterson filmed her walking into the woods. That film became famous among people who really believed the creature existed1.
Our story about Ray Wallace and his joke should end here. But the Bigfoot story has not died with Ray Wallace. Many people say the Wallace family is lying. They say Ray Wallace never made the footprints. They say there really is a Bigfoot creature. They say someday someone will find the creature. These people plan to continue their search for Bigfoot. Several organizations of people are still searching for the creature. If you have a computer that can link with the Internet, you can find many stories about Bigfoot.
People have always been afraid of large areas of water, sometimes with good reason. Crocodiles and alligators have attacked people in rivers and lakes. That still happens in several areas of the world. But many people in many different countries tell of other huge creatures that live in deep lakes. In the United States, some people say a creature called Champ is living in Lake Champlain, in New York state.
These beliefs are not new. More than two-hundred years ago reports began about a creature named Selma seen in a lake in Norway. Other reports are very recent. In nineteen-ninety-seven someone took video pictures of some kind of creature in Lake Van in eastern Turkey.
But the most famous creature2 that reportedly lives in a very deep lake is the Loch Ness Monster, called Nessie. Many people believe Nessie lives in Loch Ness in the highlands of Scotland. Loch Ness is the largest freshwater lake in Britain. It is about thirty-seven kilometers long and about two kilometers wide. Special equipment shows it is as much as two-hundred-fifty meters deep.
The first written record of Nessie appeared in the year five-hundred-sixty-five. A Catholic religious leader named Saint Columba reportedly made the creature disappear after it threatened several people.
Few people visited the Loch Ness area until the nineteen-thirties. In nineteen-thirty-three a man and woman claimed to have seen a huge animal in the water. It looked like nothing they had ever seen before.
In nineteen-thirty-four Robert Wilson took a photograph of an unusual looking animal he said he saw in Loch Ness. The photograph and a story were printed in the London Daily Mail newspaper. That photograph provided the best evidence of the creature for the next sixty years. It showed an animal with a long neck sticking out of the water. It looked like some kind of ancient dinosaur3.Doctor Wilson’s photograph can be seen in books, magazine stories and on many Internet Web sites about the famous Loch Ness Monster.
Over the years, scientists have investigated Loch Ness. They have used special equipment to search the deep lake. These include special underwater cameras and sound equipment. Nothing of great importance has ever been found.
In nineteen-ninety-three a man named Christian Spurling admitted that he made the monster4 in the famous photograph. Mister Spurling said this as he was dying. He said it began as a joke with his brother and father. His brother really took the famous photograph. Then they asked Robert Wilson to take the photograph to the newspapers. The Loch Ness Monster became extremely famous after the photograph was printed.
Thousands of people came to Loch Ness each year in hopes that they too would see the famous creature. Each year about one-hundred-thirty people report that they have seen Nessie or at least something unusual in the lake. Loch Ness has hotels, museums, and boat trips that provide holidays for people hoping to see the Loch Ness Monster.
Many people believe in the truth of the stories about Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster and other creatures. Research scientists say that it is not good science to dismiss all claims of unusual animals. For example, many scientists dismissed reports of an animal we now know as the gorilla until scientists studied one in eighteen-forty-seven.
In nineteen-twelve reports of a huge, fierce5, meat-eating lizard6 were confirmed. Today we know this to be the famous Komodo dragon that lives on a few islands of Indonesia. It is the largest lizard in the world.
In nineteen-thirty-eight fishermen caught a strange- looking fish. Scientists recognized it as a fish they had only seen as a fossil7. They thought the fish had disappeared from the Earth millions of years ago. The fish is called a coelacanth (SEE-la-canth). Coelacanths8 are unusual but they are still very much alive.
Scientists say reports from people who claim to have seen unusual creatures are interesting. Photographs reportedly taken of such creatures are also interesting. However reports and photographs are not scientific evidence.
Researchers say some claims have led to real scientific research. However, no one has found the body of Bigfoot or Nessie or the many other creatures reported by people around the world.
Scientists must have a live animal or the body of such a creature to prove that animals like Nessie or Bigfoot really exist. Even the bones would be valuable evidence to study. Scientists must take detailed photographs. They must study the blood, hair, teeth, and genetic material of the animal.
So we have no scientific news to report about any of the mysterious creatures that live on land or in deep lakes. If we do find good scientific information about these creatures we will report it. Until then, visiting the northwestern part of the United States or Scotland’s Loch Ness is still a great holiday--even if you do not see anything unusual.
This program was written by Paul Thompson. It was produced by Caty Weaver. This is Steve Ember.
And this is Phoebe Zimmerman. Join us again next week for another EXPLORATIONS program in Special English on the Voice of America.