Sasquatchsicle Anyone?

On Friday, we sent 23andMe Science Writing Intern Massie Ballon to the most unusual science news event she has ever covered – the announcement in a Palo Alto hotel that two men had discovered the body of a creature they believe to be Bigfoot while hiking in the woods of northern Georgia.

This is her account …

Bigfoot empresario Tom Biscardi held up a printed email that he said contained DNA results from the tall, hairy carcass that Matt Whitton and Rick Dyer found two months ago in Georgia.

“Bottom line,” he told the reporters and Bigfoot enthusiasts who assembled in a Silicon Valley hotel ballroom on Friday, “one of [the three samples] came back and it was messed up, inconclusive. One came back as human. And the other one came back that because where they took the sample î º which was from the intestines, ok? î º it came back possum, so that may be possibly what this thing had eaten. We don’t know.”

With those words, Biscardi’s much-publicized press conference in Palo Alto’s Crowne Hotel turned from confirmation of Bigfoot’s existence into, well, anything but. But it sure was fun. Consider this exchange between reporters and the discoverers of the alleged Sasquatch:

Media: So you’re just keeping it in a freezer — that’s it?
Dyer: Well not now.
Media: How big is the freezer?
Dyer: It’s big.
Media: It’s been on ice for two months?…. When was the picture taken that we’ve seen on the net?
Dyer: When the freezer was being filled up with water.
Media: Why’d you fill up the freezer with water?
Dyer: To put it in a block of ice.
Biscardi: That’s what I asked also. I said why would you put water in there? He said, “Well, that’s how you make ice.” I said, “No, it freezes the way it is.”… But they just kept dumping the water in.

Both Whitton and Dyer wore beige caps emblazoned with the words “Searching for Bigfoot,” the name of Biscardi’s Menlo Park, Calif., company. Both men appeared slightly uncomfortable. Maybe that’s because of the death threats they claim to have received since going public with the discovery.

“It seems to be that way in the Bigfoot world, that there are a lot of people that may be little delusional, and they may be a little jealous too,” Whitton noted.

The men declined to reveal the exact location of their discovery, citing their concern for still-living members of the species. The next step, Biscardi says, is to go back and do research on Bigfoots in the wild by capturing one.

“We’re not saying we’re gonna keep it in captivity. We’re gonna keep it, study it, put a tracker on it, send it back to the protected area — that’s what the real purpose of this whole thing is,” he said.

Sadly, the Bigfoot carcass itself was not present at the conference. Whitton and Dyer say they’ve turned it over to Biscardi, who’s apparently promised the first viewing rights to Fox News’ Megyn Kelly.

“When can we expect results of the [carcass’] autopsy?” a reporter asked.

“Tom Biscardi’s contacted lot of people in the scientific world. I don’t know them by name but we’re gonna have top-name scientists,” Whitton replied.

Biscardi hinted that Richard Klein, a Stanford professor of anthropological sciences would be on his Bigfoot “Dream Team.” And he offered a somewhat cryptic explanation for why he hadn’t asked anthropology professor and well-known Bigfoot researcher Jeff Meldrum to join the effort.

“In my opinion,” he said, “Jeff Meldrum is an associated anthropologist, not a true anthropologist that can really do what we need.”

One thing somebody needs to do is explain the creature’s unusual dentition, which was the subject of another inconclusive exchange with the media:

Media: So how many teeth are in that picture? It looks to me like six incisors.
Biscardi: There are exactly six.
Media: And you’re telling us that a primate has six incisors?
Biscardi: I’m not telling you that. I’m not the scientist. I’m telling you what the picture shows.

Then Biscardi showed a photo of a live Bigfoot in the woods, explaining that it was better than other photos because it wasn’t blurred. “You’re actually seeing a bipedal creature covered with hair,” he said. “You can actually see his ear, its nose and its eyes also.”

“Is this a hoax?” a reporter called out toward the end of the conference.

“This is as real as you’re standing right where you are sir,” Biscardi replied.