Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. He is the author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), Dragons: A Natural History (1995), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), The Unexplained (1996), From Flying Toads To Snakes With Wings (1997), Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999), The Hidden Powers of Animals (2001), The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003), Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture (2013), The Menagerie of Marvels (2014), A Manifestation of Monsters (2015), Here's Nessie! (2016), and what is widely considered to be his cryptozoological magnum opus, Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors (2016) - plus, very excitingly, his first two long-awaited, much-requested ShukerNature blog books (2019, 2020).

Dr Karl Shuker's Official Website - http://www.karlshuker.com/index.htm

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Saturday 11 April 2015


The infamous 'dead bigfoot photo' (origin unknown)

On 21 November 2006, after having received it from a reader with the user name 'captiannemo' [sic], who claimed to have found it online, Craig Woolheater posted on Cryptomundo the very intriguing photograph opening this present ShukerNature blog article, and which has since become popularly known as the 'dead bigfoot photo', together with a request for any information available concerning it.

In view of its very striking, tantalising image, the photo attracted much interest, and was subsequently reposted twice by Loren Coleman on Cryptomundo (16 and 22 April 2009) with further requests for information. It has also been featured on many other websites. Yet although numerous opinions have been aired as to what it depicts (a shot bigfoot, bear, gorilla?) and whether or not it is authentic or photo-manipulated, no conclusive evidence as to its true nature has ever been obtained and presented - until now!

Earlier today, Facebook cryptozoological colleague Tony Nichol brought the following vintage picture postcard to my attention:

Vintage picture postcard depicting a hunter and shot Alaskan grizzly bear (purchased on ebay and now owned by Dr Karl Shuker – all rights reserved)

With an example of it available for purchase on ebay's USA site, it depicted a shot grizzly bear, photographed in Seward, Alaska, alongside the hunting guide who shot it. The guide's name, as given in white writing running diagonally across the photograph's top-left section, was C Emswiler, a famous licensed Alaskan hunting guide whose full name was Charles Emswiler (thanks to Facebook friend Bob Deis for informing me of this). The AZO date stamp symbol code on the reverse of the postcard confirmed that the card dated from the time period 1904-1918 (noted by its ebay seller in their auction listing's description of it) - and as I could instantly see, its bear photograph was unquestionably the original image from which the bigfoot version had been created by photo-manipulation. After almost a decade, and as revealed here in this ShukerNature world-exclusive, the mystery of the 'dead bigfoot photo' is finally solved - except of course for discovering the identity of whoever created it from the vintage bear image.

To ensure that the latter does not become another 'missing thunderbird photo', however, I have actually now purchased the example of it available on ebay, and should be receiving it in the post shortly.

Perhaps I should also begin scanning ebay for the missing thunderbird photo ?!

Meanwhile, my sincere thanks go to Tony Nichol for kindly bringing the bear postcard to my attention, and, in so doing, enabling me to bring the lengthy reign of yet another cryptozoological pretender to its richly-deserved end.

The original bear photograph alongside the derived, photo-manipulated 'dead bigfoot photo' (bear photo owned by Dr Karl Shuker – all rights reserved)

UPDATE: 15 April 2015

Yesterday (14 April 2015) on Cryptomundo, Craig Woolheater announced that following my above revelation of the bear photograph that had served as the source from which the infamous 'dead bigfoot photo' had been created by photo-manipulation (a revelation that I had simultaneously posted on Cryptomundo), he had contacted 'captiannemo', the Cryptomundo user who had sent him the 'dead bigfoot photo' back in 2006, and had asked him whether he had created the latter image. In reply, 'captiannemo' confessed that he had indeed created it, and that the copy of the above bear photograph that he had used for this purpose had appeared in an article on grizzly bear hunting published in an issue of Field and Stream from the early 20th Century.

So now, not only the source photograph from which the 'dead bigfoot photo' had been created but also a confession regarding its preparation by its creator have been obtained and made public at last. Congratulations to Craig for extracting the confession - click here to read this historic account on Cryptomundo.

SECOND UPDATE – 16 April 2015

Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would have said if this had happened in Wonderland! Just when it seemed that the tangled tale of the 'dead bigfoot photo' was finally disentangled, another knot of controversy has duly presented itself.

Yesterday evening (UK time), I received an email from Bill Munns, a much-celebrated cinematographic special-effects expert. His notable contribution to bigfoot investigation is his book When Roger Met Patty (2014), in which his extensive analysis of the famous Patterson-Gimlin film purporting to show a female bigfoot swiftly striding into and back out of view at Bluff Creek, California, on 20 October 1967 concluded that the alleged bigfoot (popularly nicknamed Patty, after Patterson) was not a man in a fur suit as many critics believe, but was a bona fide creature.

Bill had now analysed both the 'dead bigfoot photo' and its bear precursor, and to my great surprise he announced in his email to me that in his view not only the 'dead bigfoot photo' but also the bear photograph were hoaxes! He alerted my attention to an illustrated report that he had written, documenting his analysis and containing his reasons for believing both images to be hoaxes, which he had uploaded onto the Bigfootforums discussion website a short time before emailing me (click here to read his report).

Bill's report confirmed that the 'dead bigfoot photo' had resulted from not particularly good-quality photo-manipulation of the bear photograph. He then pointed out a number of lighting issues present in the bear photograph that made him believe that it was not a natural outdoors photograph, in spite of its apparent outdoors setting. He also brought to attention what he considered to be suggestions of retouching.

As I am certainly no expert in photographic analysis, and, even if I were, I seriously doubt whether I could match Bill's many years of accumulated experience working in his capacity in the Hollywood film industry, I cannot comment upon the lighting issues that he discusses – other than to wonder whether a photograph known (via the existence of my picture postcard depicting it) to date back almost a century could have been modified so expertly back then. Consequently, I expressed my concern about this in my reply to Bill's email, and in a second email to me, dated today, 16 April 2015, he agreed with me, noting that it would indeed have been a challenge to achieve at that time.

Also, I need to emphasise here that even if Bill's assessment of the bear photograph is accurate and that it is itself a hoax, it does not change anything in relation to its status as the original long-existing image from which the 'dead bigfoot photo' was created by 'captiannemo'. This is because, as already noted, my recently-purchased picture postcard containing the bear image confirms the image to be of vintage age, as the postcard's own production dates from the period 1904-1918, i.e. almost a century before the 'dead bigfoot photo' appeared on the scene. Don't forget too that 'captiannemo' stated in his confession of fakery re the 'dead bigfoot photo' that the copy of the bear photograph that he had used to create the bigfoot version from was one that had appeared in an article on grizzly bear hunting published by the periodical Field and Stream during the same time period as the postcard's publication. Speaking of which: it would be good if this particular article could be traced, thereby placing its own existence beyond any shadow of doubt and adding to the postcard's existence a second, independent publication source verifying that the bear photograph dates back at least as far as that early period of the 20th Century.

So to anyone reading this ShukerNature blog article who has access to an early run of Field and Stream: if you could check through it and locate the grizzly bear hunting article, I'd greatly welcome its precise publication details (and a scan of the article too if possible).

As far as the 'dead bigfoot photo' is concerned, however, all considerations regarding the bear photograph's authenticity are in any case wholly irrelevant (including the obvious fact that because the bear is positioned much closer to the camera than the hunter, the bear looks bigger than it actually is - a familiar optical illusion known as forced perspective). All that matters is that we know definitely that the 'dead bigfoot photo' was created from it via photo-manipulation, and is therefore a hoax (with the bear photograph known to have been in existence for almost a century at least).

Finally: just in case anyone was wondering whether the bear photograph had actually been created from the 'dead bigfoot photo' (thereby conveniently ignoring the bear photograph's confirmed very early production date) rather than the other way round, this ridiculous notion was swiftly scuppered as follows by Bill in his report:

First, the “dead bigfoot” photo can be verified as derived from the Bear photo because two sections of the Bear body were incorporated into the faked Bigfoot shape. And the lower resolution of the bigfoot body photo creates a source/derivitive connection that goes one way. Images can be made less sharp, but not more sharp, in the manner shown. Detail could not have been added to the bigfoot photo to achieve the bear photo. But the bear photo detail can easily be reduced to the level of the bigfoot photo.

My thanks to Bill Munns for alerting me to his analysis of the two photos and for discussing this fascinating matter with me.

THIRD UPDATE – 19 April 2015

On 16 April, I received the following trio of emails from Bill Munns, describing a discovery that he had just made online that had taken him very much by surprise, and leading him to draw a very different conclusion from his initial one as to the reasons for the lighting anomalies present in the bear photograph, and which he had drawn attention to via his Bigfootforums report. Here is his first email:

I was just doing a bit of research on trick photography, and came on this:

Apparently putting several image elements into one combination photo dates back to the mid 1800's, and frankly, I find the work quite astonishing, given I know darkroom procedures and can appreciate how painstaking the photo examples shown would be to create.

Needless to say, even if the bear photograph had indeed been manipulated, this discovery now provides a completely different motivation (i.e. from one of simply producing a hoax) for carrying out such an action, as Bill duly acknowledged in his second email:

Now that I've looked into vintage combination photography printing (the other email), I must wonder how widespread this process actually was for creating impressive photo scenes not conveniently photographed in one setting.

And again, in more detail, in his third email:

The more I reflect on this "combination printing", the more it seems to have been a respectable form of photographic art, with no intent to deceive, no hoaxing, just a way of creating imagery that could not be easily accomplished in one original photograph. If so, the bear could simply be one such example of recreating a real event that wasn't able to be preserved photographically when it actually occurred.

This seems an eminently sensible conclusion, and in my view is the most plausible explanation for the various anomalies perceived by Bill in the bear photograph.

FOURTH UPDATE - 24 April 2015

Today, my long-awaited, ebay-purchased, bear-depicting picture postcard finally arrived. Checking the reverse side revealed that its AZO date stamp symbol code consisted of four upward-pointing triangles, one in each corner of the square upon which a stamp would have been affixed had the postcard been written upon and posted (see picture below).

The reverse side of my ebay-purchased bear picture postcard, revealing its AZO date stamp symbol code ((c) Dr Karl Shuker)

This particular code proves that the postcard had been manufactured some time during the time period 1904-1918, thereby confirming its ebay seller's original claim, and that the bear photograph is indeed of vintage date.


  1. Great sleuthing. I love your posts. You really inspire me. Thanks!

  2. Great article as always, Karl!

  3. I think the bear is fake. Lol

  4. Great investigating - did Bill Munns' think the guide in the photo was flipped in the printing? It is something that had struck me the first time I had seen the picture.

    1. Thanks Lyall - no, Bill didn't mention anything about this. Interesting idea, though - what makes you think that this might have happened?

  5. The rifle looks like a Remington Autoloading Rifle from that time period - I think series 8 - but it looks like it was set up for a lefty and I'm not sure they were ever manufactured like that.

  6. It's a Winchester model 95 lever action rifle.
    I enjoyed the analysis about the progression of the photo!

  7. i have seen a very large print of this original photo at a local antique store here in fairbanks alaska recently. i knew the one with the "bigfoot" was fake, as i have seen the original one many times in my travels around the state.

  8. Thanks for this post! My husband just sent me the picture, which seems to be making the rounds on FB, of course. Every new hoax or claim goes there! Your article, and Loren Coleman's, are the first two that came up when I did a google image search, really helpful. I know about the techniques you were discussing, they were a way to give depth and reality to a picture that was made after the fact. Rather like a picture with different parts painted on several panes of glass for a complete picture when they were put together. And when you go back and look at the bear photo that's the impression it gives. As you say, how pictures were made of events that couldn't be recorded at the time. What would history be like if they had had light cameras or even phones?