The photographed figures in the snow appear to be loping, apelike creatures with an eerie resemblance to America's favorite mythical monsters.
The picture, taken by an Arizona Department of Transportation highway camera recently, caused a buzz in the pseudo-scientific world of Bigfoot hunting.
"We might have spotted a family of sasquatches on SR 260 near Heber... What do you think?" says a caption on the photo on ADOT's official Facebook site.
One "creature" seems to be resting on powerful forearms, like a mountain gorilla. A smaller apparition apparently walks on two legs, swinging its arms.
At a quick glance, this image and corresponding statement by ADOT looks like it might be proof that an elusive, large, human-like mammal — called the legendary Mogollon Monster in Arizona — actually exists. After decades of denials and cover-ups, the curtain has finally been pulled back on the government conspiracy to keep evidence of this amazing animal hidden from the public!
Several Bigfoot hunters quickly began checking into the astounding news. Here's a sample from a Bigfoot Evidence blog site:
"Our friends at Bigfoot Evidence Facebook fan page has been trying to get to the bottom of the "family of sasquatches" blip that was posted... and one fan actually decided to contact the Arizona Department of Transportation asking for the video. Here's their response:
"Arizona Department of Transportation Hi, Mr. Tay. Unfortunately, we don't have video from those cameras. I hope this answers your question.
"There you have it, folks. Could this be another government cover-up or are they just having fun with people? Maybe, someone will come forward?"
Another intrepid researcher, Steve Alcorn of the Bigfoot Scoop blog site, posted a short blurb about the photo, headlined, "Arizona Bigfoot Caught On Traffic Camera?" and proceeded to conduct his own investigation.
He soon found the ADOT traffic camera on State Route 260 that snapped the shot. It broadcasts live still images every few minutes. And, as he posted in his analysis on YouTube, it turned out the "family" members were still there — in exactly the same places. Because they're bushes or small trees — not animals, mythical or otherwise.
Put away the .30-06 and the nets.
Timothy Tait, ADOT spokesman, admits the post wasn't meant to be taken seriously: "We were just having fun, as we often do on our Facebook and Twitter feeds."
Not all ADOT fun on Facebook generates headlines, though, like this one has. Some Bigfoot believers want to hang on to every grainy photograph, every audio recording of a twig breaking in the woods, and — of course — every dubious footprint, as potential proof the animal actually exists.
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We can't tell you if Bigfoot is real or not. But we can tell you that if it lives anywhere in Arizona, it must have evolved to eat nothing but cholla, pine cones — and the occasional hiker, naturally.
(This article originally was posted January 5, 2015)