Bigfoot and Nessie's New Friend

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"Right now, I think it's critical that we get DNA tests on some of the hair we've collected."

Bigfoot sighting are largely associated with the Pacific Northwest. But Altman said Pennsylvania ranks fourth among states, with more than 500 sightings dating to the 1800s — and his group has investigated more than 50 reports.

"Even if 85 percent of the reports are hoaxes or easily explainable, 15 percent can't be explained," he says. "This is a worldwide phenomenon."

Bigfoot is a bit like Elvis. He's an ongoing national obsession. He's large. And he gets around.

In the last five years, a Bigfoot has been sighted munching on pinot noir grapes at a vineyard in Salem, Ore.; swiping lingerie from a trailer park in Ochopee, Fla; and menacing revelers on New Year's Eve 1999, in Tamworth, England.

Perhaps "Mr. Bigfoot" is just a big hairy guy who gets drunk and wears women's underwear — the ultimate party animal. Certainly, much of the purported evidence turned out to be fabricated by pranksters in monkey suits.

However, Altman is among those who believe there are unknown species of giant primates all over the world — known to us as "Sasquatch," "Yeti" and "the Abominable Snowman."

About 120 attendees showed up last month for the fourth annual East Coast Bigfoot Conference and Expo, just outside Pittsburgh. Sale items included T-shirts, key chains and plaster casts of footprints — some with five toes, some with three.

"You see souvenirs at any convention. That's just one way to raise money," Altman says. "But we're serious."

Altman says he's never seen the beast. But he's heard mysterious sounds in the forest, and he knows it's out there. Loch Ness Web Cam: You can now hunt for the world-famous Loch Ness Monster right in your own bedroom, with the 24-hour Loch Ness Web Camera (see link in right column).

The folks at Scotland Online might be milking the mysterious underwater creature for every tourist dollar imaginable. With a camera 750 feet below the water and another on the surface, you can try to confirm Nessie's status as "Lady of the Lake."