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Georgia men defend Bigfoot body claims

  • Story Highlights
  • North Georgia men say they stumbled upon body while hiking in forest
  • They also claim to have spotted three similar living creatures
  • The body of the furry half man-half ape is 7 feet, 7 inches tall, they say
  • Men won't reveal Bigfoot den's location because they don't want others disturbed
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(CNN) -- A pair of Georgia men faced more than a half-hour of skeptical questions from reporters Friday as they defended their claim that they stumbled upon the body of Bigfoot while hiking in a remote North Georgia forest.

From left, Matthew Whitton, Tom Biscardi and Rick Dyer next to the frozen creature.

The thawed body of a creature reputed to be Bigfoot reportedly weighs more than 500 pounds.

Introduced by a publicist and beside a man who promoted what turned out to be a fake Bigfoot discovery in 1995, Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer repeatedly said that their claim is not a hoax and that scientific analysis will prove it.

"We were not looking for Bigfoot. ... We wouldn't know what we were doing if we did," said Whitton, a police officer on leave after being shot in the hand while making an arrest. "I didn't believe in Bigfoot at the time. ... But you've got to come to terms with it and realize you've got something special. And that's what it was."

The men say they were hiking in early June when they discovered the body of a 7-foot-7, 500-pound half-ape, half-human creature near a stream. They also claim to have spotted about three similar living creatures -- and showed reporters video stills of what they say is one of those creatures shadowing them through the woods. Video Watch report of scientist skeptical of Bigfoot claim »

The announcement, which the men first made on the Internet radio show "Squatch Detective" several weeks ago, has been greeted with healthy skepticism, even among some Bigfoot enthusiasts.

Scientists, including the head of North Georgia College and State University's biology department, have said it's unlikely a tribe of 7-foot-tall creatures would have avoided discovery in a region popular among hikers, hunters and vacationers.

Several Web sites have popped up questioning the claim and comparing a photo that the men say is the creature's body inside a freezer to a widely available Bigfoot costume.

On Friday, Whitton acknowledged creating a pair of videos posted on the Internet video site YouTube, one in which his brother poses as a scientist and another in which Whitton briefly seems to admit that the body is a fake.

"It seems that the stalkers have busted us in a hoax," he says in the video. But then adds, "we still have a corpse. We just wanted to give you something to do for the weekend."

At Friday's news conference, Whitton first said that no video existed in which he calls the discovery a hoax.

But after speaking to Tom Biscardi, the self-described "Real Bigfoot Hunter" who has been searching for the creature of legend since 1971, he said the video was made "to have a little fun with it" and was originally intended to throw off the "psychos" who had stalked him and his family since the men first made their claim. iReport.com: Have you seen 'Bigfoot'?

The two also promoted a Web site registered to Whitton on June 16 and said they plan to write a book about their experience.

Friday's news conference was held in Palo Alto, California, near the home of Biscardi. About 100 reporters and onlookers attended the event, in a hotel banquet room, including a man who shouted questions while wearing a gorilla suit.

Dyer and Whitton said they were carrying a video camera during their hike to film wildlife.

They said they handed the body over to Biscardi, who is keeping it at an undisclosed location until a team of scientists can examine it.

One of the two photographs the men gave to reporters Friday showed what appears to be the creature's mouth, an effort to disprove allegations that what's in the photo is a costume.

"I want to get to the bottom of it," Biscardi said. "I'll tell you what I've seen and what I've touched and what I've felt, what I've prodded was not a mask sewed onto a bear hide, OK?"

Biscardi acknowledged that he promoted a fake Bigfoot discovery in 1995, saying the woman who claimed to have the body convinced his staff members before he visited her and discovered that she was mentally ill.

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Alleged Bigfoot sightings have surfaced from time to time for years, dating to at least the 1800s. The most famous was the so-called Patterson film from 1967, which is purported to show a tall, furry, apelike creature walking along, at one point looking over its shoulder at the videographer.

Most scientists who have studied the film say there's no way to authenticate it, and many say the creature appears to be a man in a costume.

CNN's Doug Gross and Chuck Afflerback contributed to this report.

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