Science, especially in the last 100 years, has solved a great many mysteries. Health, technology, and nature. In short, questions have been answered. Smallpox is now a memory from the past, and human cloning seems likely. One day a woolly mammoth may lumber past your door, brought back from extinction through its DNA. Whether or not these events actually occur, one thing is absolutely certain: The world is learning more. Finding out about things.
However, intelligent as we are, we cannot know everything. To even hint at such an accomplishment is beyond arrogance. For every single fact we cement, there are a thousand that slip through our fingers. Knowledge, like water, is not always easy to grasp. That being said, there has been, for the past six decades or so, a subject which has raised much debate amongst the people of North America. I am of course talking about Bigfoot or Sasquatch if you prefer. The legendary ape/ape man that dwells in the darker regions of the continent. That term, first coined in 1958, has set off a firestorm of controversy. Is it real or not? That is the question…
The following paper is a brief example of my take on the whole business. I am but an amateur on the matter, so please ingest it with a grain of salt. I do not pretend to know the truth, but am I willing to share my opinions. You may find them useless in the end, but then again, perhaps not…
Part 1: History
There is, as far as I can tell, no known archaeological record of any native primates living or having lived in North America at any time (Except for humans, of course, and even we are a transplant from other areas of the globe). That is, the fossil evidence shows that Bigfoot was not present on this landscape, and that the entire region itself has only been occupied by humans for about 14,000 years (The Clovis People being generally accepted as the first Americans). Therefore, one might assume from this very simple fact that the whole question has been put to rest, and that we should stop searching for something that has never been there in the first place. However, the lack of bones or other physical material does not necessarily mean the creature was or is not present. It just says that we have yet to find such specimens for ourselves. As I shall attempt to explain in the pages to follow, there may be many reasons why we find no ancient Bigfoot bones. A lack of evidence does not mean a lack of existence. Let us make that clear now.
It is a fact, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that stories of Bigfoot-like beings have been passed down from generation to generation by cultures all around the world. There is a memory within the human brain of a “wild man of the woods,” someone or something that was not quite human but not quite animal either. Now this in and of itself, while interesting, does not prove anything, but it does make clear the notion that this is not a new phenomenon. That in truth we may have been living side-by-side with these creatures for thousands of years now and that the oral traditions and folklore regarding them did not just appear from thin air. There are Native American drawings on cave walls all across the United States which shows large bipedal characters, either engaging with humans or even attacking them. While it’s possible that this artwork could have been an example of pure imagination, it is more likely that it is based on an actual event. This is because prehistoric man, while likely capable of deeper thought, tended to draw what they saw, rather than creating images from their own mind. Once more, this is not proof, but it does give weight to the hypothesis that ancient man and Bigfoot did in fact meet once upon a time.
But besides the pictorial evidence from the past, there have been credible reports from more recent times, especially since Europeans started colonizing North America in the early 16th and 17th centuries. In the past 200 years there have been Bigfoot sightings in all 50 states, including Hawaii, where the Aikanaka has been seen on the island of Oahu (The term means “the man-eater of Oahu”). The Skunk Ape has been spotted in Florida, as well as The Grassman in Ohio. All tend to speak of a similar being. Large, hairy, apelike. Yet, the main bulk of these reports tend to come from the Pacific Northwest, a region vast in size and distance and to this day largely unexplored. It is here one will find the greatest number of sightings related to the elusive beast: California, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. This is Sasquatch country.
Now there are two reports which tend to stand out from all the rest, due to the unusual nature of the first and the alarming evidence of the second. The first involved a man named Albert Ostman from British Columbia, who swore that in 1924 he had been abducted and held by a family of Bigfoot for nearly a week. There were four of them in number, three adults and one juvenile, and they fed him grass which tasted somewhat “sweet.” Ostman managed to escape but did not relate his story to anyone for over 20 years. To this day it is one of the more extraordinary tales attached to the phenomenon.
The second, however, might be the grand-daddy of them all, as it may have produced visual proof of the creatures themselves. It pertains to Roger Patterson and his now legendary footage, known to this day as the Patterson-Gimlin film. Patterson, an adventurer, along with his friend Bob Gimlin, were out looking for the creatures along the Klamath River in California one day in October of 1967. After a spell they approached an area known as Bluff Creek sometime in the early afternoon, and when they did Patterson’s horse reared up in fear, nearly knocking him to the ground. As both men looked they saw a Bigfoot-like creature “crouching beside the creek,” and when it noticed them it rose and began to walk away. Patterson, grabbing his camera, told Gimlin to “cover him” with his rifle, and for the next minute or so filmed the creature walking off into the woods. An attempt was made to track the animal, although the men lost it in heavier brush. To this day the film that encounter produced is still being studied and debated.
Here we are now in the 21st century, and the reports continue to pile up. Again and again people are seeing Bigfoot, and sometimes even more than that. An alleged incident in 2010 had a man actually shoot and kill a baby Sasquatch, although no body was ever produced and therefore the story is in doubt. Regardless of hoaxes or tall tales, odds are these sightings will continue. Hundreds of reports across North America, with more to follow in their wake…
Part 2: Evidence and Speculation
This has always been a problem area when it comes to Bigfoot. Sceptics will always say “If they’re out there, where are the bodies?” It’s a valid point for sure, but please dwell upon this fact: Experienced hunters say it’s virtually impossible to find the carcass of a dead bear. For some reason they never come across them. Very odd…
Now, regarding evidence, there is of course the numerous sightings, coupled with multiple pictures or video footage, many of them from reliable witnesses. However, I do realize that this in itself does not constitute literal proof, at least not when it comes to a subject like Bigfoot. Extraordinary claims, after all, demand extraordinary evidence, and pictures, while intriguing, does not tell enough of the story. Yet. Besides the visual aids, we do have some physical artifacts. Things which the Sasquatch leaves behind that cannot be denied. They are:
Footprints - On the surface this may not seem like much, as footprints can easily be faked, but several casts have been collected which show dermal ridges (In other words the same as fingerprints on the toes. Not something a typical hoaxer would think of). Injuries as well, including cuts and signs of healing, have been present in some casts (Again, your typical trickster doesn’t usually include these details).
Unknown hairs - These have been found on more than one occasion, in both North America and Asia (The Yeti is said to inhabit the valleys below the Himalayan Mountains). While some results remain inconclusive, other tests show them as being from an unknown primate, similar to man in certain ways but definitely not human.
Droppings - While rare, there have been samples of scat found which contained unusual or unknown parasites. Although not proven, the fecal matter may have come from Sasquatch.
Blood - There was an incident in the past 10 years where a cabin in Canada was supposedly being visited by a Bigfoot, and a nail board used to stop the intruder led to blood samples soaked into the wood. Tests did not yield conclusive proof, as enough DNA could not be gathered, but further examination in the future may produce better results.
Forest beds - Mountain gorillas have been known to make beds, gathering up leaves and sticks to make a sleeping quarter. These same beds have been found in various locations throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Screams or Calls - Researchers have captured odd howls, screams and calls from the forest which zoologists cannot identify. Tree knocking or wood knocking has also been heard (Chimpanzees do use tools which sometimes include sticks).
Rock throwing - Primates can and have thrown rocks, and this has also happened to Bigfoot researchers. This typically occurs alongside the howls and tree knocking (Warning to stay away?).
I know, I know. Individually, these physical calling cards may not add up to much, but put them all together and they appear much more convincing…
Now, we’ve touched upon some of the evidence, as well as the history of sightings, but let us move toward a bit of speculation on the creature itself. Of course, no one can say exactly what a Bigfoot looks like, but from eyewitness accounts they tend to be:
Hairy or covered with hair, often black or dark brown in colour. Very tall, often 6-8 feet in height (Bigfoot sightings in the American South tend to be of a smaller animal, some 5-6 feet in height and occasionally featuring only 3 toes).
300-400 pounds in weight, estimated by the muscle mass and depression of footprints in the soil.
Other physical or mental characteristics include:
• Chattering, sometimes almost vocalizing, although certainly not human speech.
• Long arms and limbs, with an unusual gait.
• A strong smell, like that of rotten eggs.
• Inquisitive nature, investigating campsites or campgrounds.
Again, please let me remind you that this is only speculation. The exact measurements or physical attributes are unknown. However, if we are to take the reports seriously, this is what people are seeing. Exactly what it is or what it may be? Let’s discuss that now:
Some individuals may jump to a supernatural conclusion. That Bigfoot is in fact the ghosts of cavemen or creatures who died long ago. There are also those who say that it may be a being from another world, either from outer space, inner space or another dimension. While I cannot disprove these theories, I do not personally share that conviction. That is, I believe Bigfoot to be an actual flesh and blood animal, from and of this planet Earth. If that’s true, then we may begin to assume certain things regarding its nature. Namely, it must eat, sleep, move, etc., the same as any other beast of the air or field. In that case, we can begin to form a basis for its actions. The following is an outline which may or may not be accurate:
Have crossed into North America from an ancient land bridge which once connected the continent with Asia. They may have also crossed over on glaciers present in the region thousands of years ago.
Have crossed over from Europe on an ancient glacier bridge across the upper North Atlantic. Evidence suggests this may have occurred over 15,000 years ago with ancient man.
Be nocturnal, as so many sightings occur at night. It may also have adapted this trait to avoid human beings.
Be an omnivore, as an animal (warm-blooded?) that large must eat constantly. Their diet might include fish, nuts, berries, mosses and various plants or small animals.
Bury their dead in secluded locations, or live in caves where they might expire. This would explain a lack of bones, both now and in the fossil record.
Have excellent vision, as well as hearing and sense of smell. If they hunt at night it would be needed to increase their chances of success.
Have excellent stamina, as some have been seen running at a good pace. Exceptional physical strength is also probable if upper muscle mass is as described.
Breed rarely, as their numbers have been estimated at no more than 2,000-3,000 over all of North America. They may also be territorial, thus lessening their chances for encounters with breeding partners. The female may also only give birth to a single offspring at a time, and even then the gestation period may be up to a year, as larger animals are known for this (A female elephant can be pregnant for nearly two years).
Scent mark, to establish their area or to attract mates. They may also hunt and eat skunk, which would explain their foul body odour, or intentionally rub their fur with the skunk’s scent gland to ward off predators or humans.
Not be able to swim, as apes lack this ability. Their mere size alone may cause them to sink helplessly when entering deep water.
Have no fear of horses, as mustangs are common throughout the western U.S. This may explain why Patterson and Gimlin were able to get so close at Bluff Creek, as both were riding horses and it may have masked their scent.
Fear humans, as they tend to flee when seen or discovered suddenly. However, if they are mammals, they would of course be curious, which would explain certain encounters which were initiated by the Sasquatch themselves.
Now, if this is what they look like and what their natural traits are, we may begin to speculate exactly what they are:
An unknown species of primate, simply undetected by modern man. The mountain gorilla was itself not discovered by western science until the 20th century.
A higher evolved species of primate, on the level of a chimpanzee, or perhaps even more advanced, just below humans as far as mental capacity.
A branch of the human family tree, which did not die off in the last great extinction 12-20,000 years ago. Either a Neanderthal man or other early ancestor of mankind.
A cross between a human being and an early ancestor of mankind. Such an individual was rumoured to have existed in Russia back in the 19th century.
A medical experiment, either of a human or an animal (This is highly unlikely, as it does not explain sightings which took place hundreds of years before significant medical advancement).
Wild human beings, who cannot or will not succumb to the modern world (Again, very unlikely, as their size and natural appearance does not coincide with this).
Misidentification. Simply bears or apes which have escaped zoos or private collections (May explain a few sightings, but not all of them).
These are but a few ideas pertaining to Bigfoot. It may be none of these at all. But let me ask, if it does exist, what do you think it is?
Part 3: Conclusion
Having studied many eyewitness accounts, as well as video and photographic evidence, I would like to now share my conclusion with you if I may. If you’ll recall, I mentioned previously that extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and while what we’ve discussed here is very compelling, it is not extraordinary. My conclusion, therefore, is that there is no undeniable physical proof that the creature exists. That is, science cannot say without a doubt that it is an actual, living, breathing animal. Science must operate within certain guidelines, or cease to be science at all. Unless a body is supplied, the matter remains in question…
Based upon the circumstantial evidence, the time line, the depth and consistency of the sightings, it is also my parallel conclusion that it is fairly likely that the creature known as Sasquatch or Bigfoot does exist. To say otherwise would be to ignore hundreds of years of testimony, and any respectable court of law in any country would tell you that’s ridiculous. I’m not saying I’m certain that it exists; I’m just saying that there is enough evidence to say that it might. I certainly hope it does. Would be a true wonder for the world…
In closing, please allow me to thank you for reading along. Again, I don’t know if any of this was useful, but if so, I’m glad. Please remember, there are things in this universe that we will probably never understand or explain. I hope that’s not the case with Bigfoot. I think it’s time he came out of hiding…