A man dressed in a gorilla suit has been unleashed by St Andrews academics in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens – all in the name of science.
The exercise is part of an experiment by an expert team at the University which saw the man don the comical outfit in order to report how people react to encounters with mythical creatures, specifically the superstitious big-foot character.
Not only did the experiment see the use of gorilla suits, but also the use of other props and costumes to create a range of scary creatures.
Dr Charles Paxton, a research fellow and statistical ecologist who is running the project has previously catalogued all known sightings of the Loch Ness monster to look for uniformity in the sightings which could explain the myth as being caused by a natural phenomena.
Visitors who took part in the experiment were all prepared to encounter the weird and the wonderful, as they were told in advance that the experiment would be occurring.
The first group to be tested were told to look out for Bigfoot and sent on a route that would allow them to catch a glimpse of the fake gorilla. They then had to report to the team what they had seen in detail.
The other group were also sent on the route – but sadly were not allowed to catch a peek of the gorilla. However, they were asked to write a personal account as if they had seen it.
The main focus of the study was to look at the core differences in the two alternative sets of encounters.
Dr Paxton’s research team revealed details of their study in a day of talks in Edinburgh in which they discussed a diverse range of subjects including “Nazi flying saucers,” “Bigfoot” and “the evolution of sea monsters.”
Dr Paxton explained that it was a “serious” study that would explain important statistical patterns and admitted: “People think it’s a bit off until I explain what I’m doing.”
The experiment was chosen to take place in the popular Edinburgh park as it has trees which are similarly spotted in forests in the USA where Sasquatch sightings have been investigated.
Dr Paxton continued: “It’s like the area where you get reports of Bigfoot. There are other experiments that have involved fake monsters.”
Dr Paxton and his team of highly trained researchers insist that it is not all about monkeying around. He said: “It’s a serious study of people reporting things.”
However, we do not know exactly what the outcome of this experiment is as the academics are keeping their findings top secret until it has been published in a scientific journal.