Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, is a name given to a legendary ape-like monster thought to live in the woods of North America. Anecdotal sighting reports, purported video and audio recordings, pictures, and castings of enormous footprints are just some of the questionable items presented in efforts to establish Bigfoot’s existence.
Some of them have been exposed as forgeries. Stories of wild, hairy humanoids may be found all over the globe, and they even appear in North America’s mythology and indigenous myths. The legend of Bigfoot lives on as a fixture of mainstream society and a cult classic in the cryptozoology community.
Most established scientists have always cast doubt on the veracity of Bigfoot sightings, attributing them more to myth, misidentification, and hoax than to the presence of a real creature. Folklorists attribute the Bigfoot phenomenon to several different elements and origins, including folk stories, the European wild man figure, and the beliefs of native peoples.
Others have pointed to wishful thinking, a cultural rise in environmental concerns, and a general rise in public knowledge of the topic as contributing elements.
In addition to Bigfoot, several cryptids with similar descriptions are said to exist in other parts of the globe. These include the Skunk ape of the southern United States, the Almas, Yeren, and Yeti of Asia, and the Yowie of Australia.
What Is a Bigfoot, And How Does It Look Like?
Most accounts of Bigfoot depict a giant, muscular, bipedal ape-like creature with black, dark brown, or dark red hair. According to hearsay, these animals stood between 1.8 and 2.7 meters (6 and 9 feet) tall. However, other accounts place their height at 3.0 to 4.6 meters (10 to 15 feet).
Bigfoot has been described as more “man-like” in some purported sightings, with details including a human-like face. One man said he had the “overgrown ape” in his rifle’s scope in 1971. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to fire it because “it appeared more human than animal,” according to the police report of numerous witnesses in The Dalles, Oregon.
Skeptics point to the common accounts of a bear’s wide shoulders, invisible neck, and extended arms as evidence that the animal was misidentified as a human. Witnesses said the creature’s eyes “glowed” yellow or red in the dark, and there have been reports of sightings at night.
However, humans and other primates do not have eyeshine, leading researchers to speculate that animals such as owls, raccoons, and opossums perched in foliage might account for the phenomenon.
“Imagine a skunk that had rolled about in dead animals and had stayed around the trash pits,” says Bigfoot Discovery Museum owner Michael Rugg of Northern California, who claims to have smelled Bigfoot.
The creature is called for its supposedly massive footprints, measured 610 millimeters (24 inches) in length and 200 millimeters (8 inches) in width. Claw markings have been found in specific footprint castings, suggesting that they originated from creatures like bears with five toes and claws.
History and Original Ancient Documents
Anthropologist David Dangling claims that traditions of hairy, forest-dwelling monsters before modern sightings of “Bigfoot” are shared by many indigenous communities throughout the North American continent. The particulars of these tales varied from one place to another and from one family to another within the same neighborhood.
A group of Bigfoot known as “the Family” may have been shown in petroglyphs carved by the Yokuts at Painted Rock on the Tule River Indian Reservation in Central California. The glyphs are thought to date back between 500 and 1000 years; the biggest of them is known as “Hairy Man” among the indigenous tribes.
According to legend, large animals known as Los Vigilantes Oscuros stalked the camps of 16th-century Spanish explorers and Mexican immigrants in California. In 1721, a French Jesuit priest among the Natchez people in Mississippi heard tales of hairy monsters in the forest who screamed and stole animals.
Ecologist Robert Pyle thinks that the yearning for “some larger-than-life entity” is shown in the widespread presence of folk tales about humanoid giants across cultural boundaries. Each region’s version of these myths has its language-specific term for the monster at its center.
Many titles refer to the creature’s appearance (wild man, hairy man, etc.), while others reflect its behavior (eating clams, shaking trees, etc.). Chief Michelle of the Nlaka’pamux shared one such tale in Lytton, British Columbia, with Charles Hill-Tout in 1898.
The Sts’ailes people have legends about a shapeshifting monster called a sasq’ets that serves to keep the forest safe. The term “Sasquatch” originates from the Halq’emeylem word sasq’ets (sas-kets), which means “hairy guy” in its anglicized form.
Many Lummi folktales include mysterious beings called Ts’emekwes. The fundamental descriptions of Ts’emekwes are consistent throughout the tales, but specifics, like the creature’s food and pastimes, vary from family to family. Children were instructed not to mention the names of these “monsters,” the stiyaha or the kwi-kwiyai, for fear that they would come and murder them if spoken aloud.
The Iroquois legends relate to a ferocious, hairy, stone-skinned monster called the Ot ne yar heh, also known as the Genoskwa. Paul Kane wrote about skoocooms, a race of cannibalistic wild men that lived atop Mount St. Helens in southern Washington state, in 1847 based on accounts from locals. A party of gold prospectors allegedly had a violent encounter with a group of “ape-men” in this region in 1924.
The Oregonian published an article on the alleged sighting on July 16, 1924; the story has since gone down in Bigfoot legend history, and the location in question is now commonly known as Ape Canyon. In his book published in 1893, The Wilderness Hunter, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt recounts hearing from an elderly mountain man named Bauman that a foul-smelling, bipedal creature ransacked his beaver trapping camp, stalked him, and eventually became hostile, breaking the neck of his traveling companion.
Roosevelt comments on Bauman’s nervous demeanor when recounting the tale but suggests the trapper’s Germanic folk heritage may have impacted him.
Other tamer renditions are available, such as the 1840 version by Reverend Elkanah Walker. The Spokane, Washington area indigenous told Walker (a Protestant missionary) tales about giants. Legend has it that these gigantic creatures make their homes atop the neighboring mountains and take salmon from fishermen’s nets.
Origin of the “Bigfoot” Moniker
A forestry bulldozer operator named Jerry Crew in Humboldt County, California found what seemed to be human footprints in the mud of the Six Rivers National Forest in 1958. The impressions were 410 millimeters (16 inches) in length.
He shared this information with his colleagues, who all reported seeing identical footprints at past construction sites and a number of strange occurrences, such as the mysterious relocation of a 450-pound (200-kilogram) oil barrel. The guys from the logging firm quickly started calling the unknown perpetrator “Bigfoot.” The crew initially thought it was a joke but later saw more of these countless, gigantic footprints and phoned Andrew Genzoli of the Humboldt Times.
Genzoli spoke with lumberjacks and published stories about the strange prints, coining the term “Bigfoot” to describe them and the local legends of big, hairy wild men. One of the plaster casts of the footprints found its way onto the newspaper’s front page on October 6, 1958, with Crew holding it. Genzoli quickly became the recipient of letters from primary media sources, including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, as the tale spread.
Therefore, the name “Bigfoot” became widely used to describe the gigantic footprints left by an unknown giant monster in Northern California.
The children of Crew’s late colleague Ray Wallace came forward in 2002 to claim that their father was responsible for the tracks and that he had secretly carved huge wooden feet. Despite what the Wallace family has said, some people still think of Willow Creek and the surrounding area of Humboldt County as the “Bigfoot Capital of the World.”
Other Instances of The Term “Bigfoot” Being Used.
A Wyandot leader from the 1830s was named “Big Foot” owing to his massive stature and robust build. A state park and a school in Walworth County, Wisconsin, are named after Potawatomi Chief Maumksuck, also known as Chief “Big Foot.”
Bigfoot, Texas, was named after William A. A. Wallace, a renowned Texas Ranger from the 19th century who earned the name “Bigfoot” owing to the size of his feet. Chief Big Foot was another name for the Lakota chieftain Spotted Elk.
At least two giant raiding grizzly bears were extensively reported in the news in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and each was given the moniker “Bigfoot.” Bigfoot, the first grizzly bear to be officially named such, was supposedly slain in 1895 near Fresno, California, after 15 years of hunting sheep.
He weighed over 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms). The second was said to have had supernatural abilities and operated in Idaho between the Snake and Salmon rivers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Sightings of the Bigfoot
Over 10,000 Bigfoot sightings have been documented in the mainland United States, according to Live Science. About a third of all reported Bigfoot sightings are in the Pacific Northwest, with the balance of the sightings scattered over the rest of North America. Even among researchers who have found evidence that Bigfoot does exist, the vast majority of sightings are dismissed as errors or hoaxes.
The states of Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and British Columbia in the Pacific Northwest are the most common locations for reports of sightings. The rural Great Lakes and the southern United States are also rich in purported sightings.
Washington had almost 2,000 Bigfoot sighting reports in 2019, followed by California with 1,600, Pennsylvania with 1,300, New York and Oregon with 1,000, and Texas with barely 800, according to statistics gathered by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO).
In the 1970s, the dispute about the veracity of Bigfoot sightings was at its height; now, Bigfoot is primarily recognized as the prototypical example of mainstream pseudoscience in American society.
Alternate and Regional Labels
The Bigfoot and its variations are known worldwide but have different names. Sasquatch is a common name in Canada, albeit it is often interchanged with Bigfoot. Both terms are used, but there are many more, each with its own set of characteristics and regional associations, that describe the animals reported in the United States.
Florida’s Skunk Ape, the Big Muddy Monster of Southern Illinois, Arizona’s Mogollon Monster, Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp Monster, Michigan’s Dewey Lake Monster, Arkansas’s Fouke Monster, Virginia’s Wood Booger, New York’s Monster of Whitehall, and Missouri’s Momo are just a few.
Some people prefer Wood Ape to avoid the legendary connotations of Bigfoot, another moniker for the creature. Bushman, Treeman, and Wildman are a few alternative names for this people group.
The Bigfoot’s Supposed Conduct
It has been claimed by some Bigfoot researchers that Bigfoot uses rock throwing in territorial displays and as a form of communication. Wood knocking, or striking tree trunks with sufficient force to make a sound, is another communicating habit.
Critics say it’s simple to fake these kinds of actions.
Some people have even speculated that Bigfoot is responsible for constructing broken and twisted leaves that seem to be placed in certain spots. Some tiny trees, including lodgepole pine, have been reported to be twisted, uprooted, or piled in patterns such as woven and crisscrossed, which has led some to speculate that these modifications are territorial markers.
There have been reports of whole deer bones being hung from the branches of trees. The Olympic Project, a group of amateur Bigfoot researchers in Washington state, recently claimed to have found a cache of nests. They then sent them to primatologists for analysis; the experts concluded that a monkey likely constructed the nests.
Some have hypothesized that the creatures have nocturnal inclinations since most sighting reports include them occurring at night. Experts, however, view this line of behavior as completely incongruous in an ape or human-like species, given that all apes, including humans, are diurnal animals and only lower primates display nocturnality. Although most tales of Bigfoot sightings involve individuals, there have been a few accounts of groups of these creatures.
Reports of noises that may be voices
There have been reports, and maybe recordings, of what sounds like howls, screams, groans, grunts, whistles, and even a type of claimed language. Retired U.S. military personnel have listened to and evaluated some of these purported vocalization recordings.
Scott Nelson is a cryptanalyst in the Navy. He listened to the so-called “Sierra Sounds,” a collection of recordings from the 1970s purportedly made in the Sierra Nevada, and concluded that “it is a language, it is not human in origin, and it could not have been produced.”
Les Stroud has mentioned hearing a peculiar vocalization while filming Survivorman in the forest, which he claims originated from a monkey.
Most experts in the scientific community believe that Bigfoot noises result from anthropomorphism or hoaxes or that they are incorrectly ascribed to Bigfoot when made by more common creatures such as owls, wolves, coyotes, and foxes.
After one of the miners reportedly shot one of the “ape-men” with a gun, the others supposedly began to assault the miners by throwing boulders into their cabin roof from a nearby cliff in a tale from 1924 known as the “Battle of Ape Canyon.”
In 1971, a household from Fouke, Arkansas, said that a giant, hairy monster had reached through a window and terrified a lady inside. A further investigation concluded that this event never occurred.
Canadian prospector Albert Ostman claimed in 1974 that he had been abducted and kept hostage by a family of Bigfoot for six days in 1924 in Toba Inlet, British Columbia. The story was first reported in The New York Times.
Sasquatch, a documentary series set to premiere on Hulu in 2021, recounts the accounts of marijuana growers claiming Bigfoots terrorized and killed individuals in the Emerald Triangle area from the 1970s to the present 1990s, including the purported 1993 murder of three migrant laborers.
According to investigative writer David Holthouse, the area’s high murder and missing person rates can be traced back to human acts, and illicit drug enterprises are using the Bigfoot myth to drive away competitors, notably superstitious newcomers.
There have been claims that Bigfoot has murdered dogs. A homeowner in Kitsap County, Washington, placed a 9-1-1 call in the early 1990s, requesting help with a huge figure he described as “all in black” in his backyard. Before this, he had informed the authorities that someone had just tossed his dog over his fence and killed it.
Although any big predatory animal can harm humans, especially if provoked, most anecdotal reports of Bigfoot encounters end with the animals concealing or running from the humans, as pointed out by anthropologist Jeffrey Meldrum. Amateur researchers have observed that the critters have moved or taken ownership of purposeful “gifts” placed by humans, such as food and jewelry, leaving objects such as pebbles and twigs in their place.
According to skeptics, many of these supposedly human interactions may be readily faked, are the product of mistaken identification, or are entirely made up.
Arguments put forward
Sightings have been explained in various ways, and speculation on what natural species may have been mistaken for Bigfoot has been offered. Sightings are usually chalked up as hoaxes by scientists or incorrectly identified as the traces of more common species like black bears.
Most Bigfoot sightings, according to mainstream scientists, are most likely the work of American black bears, especially when witnesses look at a topic from a distance, are in deep vegetation, or have poor lighting.
In addition, there have been reports of black bears walking upright, most likely due to an injury. Anecdotal Bigfoot sightings are within the range of the heights reported for mature black bears (1.5-2.1 m; 5-7 ft) and grizzly bears (2.4-2.7 m; 8-9 ft).
Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization claimed to have captured images of a young Bigfoot in 2007. However, the Pennsylvania Game Commission said the displayed photograph could be a dirty bear. But despite their best efforts, the Pennsylvania Game Commission could not track down the mangey bear.
Scientist Vanessa Woods decided that the person in the picture was more similar to a chimpanzee after determining that it had roughly 560 millimeters (22 in) long limbs and a 476 millimeters (18.75 in the) body.
Some have hypothesized that Bigfoot sightings are just people seeing and misidentifying giant apes like chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans who have escaped from zoos, circuses, or private homes where they were kept as exotic pets.
It’s a common theory put out to explain the existence of Bigfoot-like Skunk apes in the southeastern United States. Some claim the environment is suitable for a community of feral apes due to its humid subtropical setting.
Some people have been hurt when they were mistaken for Bigfoot. During an alleged Bigfoot search in Oklahoma in 2013, a 21-year-old man was detained and confessed to shooting his companion in the back by mistake.
While on vacation in a North Carolina woodland in 2017, a shaman dressed in animal furs received many claims of sightings of the legendary creature. Fearing that someone dressed in a fur costume would be hurt or killed by accident, the Greenville Police Department published a public warning asking the public not to shoot Bigfoot.
In 2018, a hunter in Helena, Montana, fired at a man three times because he thought he was a Bigfoot.
Some have also suggested that people living in the woods, either as ferals or hermits, might be responsible for some Bigfoot sightings. The legend of the Wild Man of the Navidad claims that in the middle of the 19th century, an ape-man terrorized the wilderness of eastern Texas, robbing locals of their food and possessions.
A search team apprehended an enslaved African who had supposedly fled. State of Washington veterans’ affairs director Randy Fisher said that some mentally disturbed American Vietnam veterans had been hiding out in the state’s forested reaches in the 1980s.
Bigfoot sightings have been speculated to be explained by pareidolia, or the human propensity to see familiar patterns and shapes where none exist. A general term for this occurrence is “Blobsquatch,” which refers to low-resolution photos and videos purportedly showing Bigfoots.
Many recorded sightings are either hoaxes or mistaken animals, which both Bigfoot believers and skeptics can agree on. According to author Jerome Clark, the 1884 newspaper account of an ape-like creature seized in British Columbia was a fake called the Jacko Affair.
The Mainland Guardian of New Westminster, British Columbia, commented, “Absurdity is written on the face of it,” which he cites as evidence that the supposed capture was widely seen as very implausible at the time it was reported.
In 1968, a skeleton of a supposedly hairy hominid measuring 5 feet 11 inches (1.8 m) in height was shown as part of a touring exhibition around the United States. Numerous legends arose about where it originated, including that it had been shot by hunters in Minnesota or American troops in the vicinity of Da Nang, Vietnam, during the war.
Some people saw this as confirmation that Bigfoot-type beings existed. Scientist and primate expert John R. Napier investigated and found latex fraud. Others argued otherwise, saying that Napier had not researched the foundational material. The Minnesota Iceman, as he’s been nicknamed, has been on exhibit at Austin, Texas’ “Museum of the Weird” since 2013.
On the paranormal radio show Coast to Coast AM on July 14, 2005, Tom Biscardi, CEO of “Searching for Bigfoot, Inc.”, claimed that his group was “98% sure that his group would be able to capture a Bigfoot which they had been tracking in the Happy Camp, California area.”
A month later, he announced on the same radio show that he had access to a captured Bigfoot and was arranging a pay-per-view event to see it. A few days later, he returned to Coast-to-Coast AM to break the news that Bigfoot hadn’t been captured. He said that the show’s audience was gullible and pointed the finger at a lady he did not identify as the one who had misled him.
Recent Hoaxed Sightings
In a video they put to YouTube on July 9, 2008, Rick Dyer and Matthew Whitton claimed that they had found the remains of a Bigfoot in a forest in northern Georgia. The team reached out to detective Tom Biscardi.
The tale of Dyer and Whitton, who were paid $50,000 by “Searching for Bigfoot, Inc.,” was reported by several media outlets, including BBC, CNN, ABC News, and Fox News. The Searching for Bigfoot crew received the supposed Bigfoot corpse in a block of ice shortly after a news conference. When the contents were thawed out, it was discovered that the hair was fake, the skull was empty, and the feet were made of rubber. After being questioned by Steve Kulls, the director of SquatchDetective.com, Dyer and Whitton revealed that it was a fraud.
A guy wearing a ghillie suit and attempting to trick motorists into believing he was Bigfoot was struck and killed in Montana in August 2012.
Former Bigfoot hoaxer Rick Dyer claimed in January 2014 that he had shot and killed a Bigfoot in September 2012 near San Antonio. He said he kept the body in a secret location and planned to take it on tour across North America in 2014. He claimed to have had scientific tests conducted on the body, including “DNA tests, 3D optical scans, and body scans. It is the real deal. It is Bigfoot, and Bigfoot is here, and I shot it, and now I’m proving it to the world.”
He shared images and a video of people’s reactions to viewing the corpse but never shared the results of any testing or scans. He would not furnish a biological sample or provide the findings of the tests.
He claimed that an anonymous lab had analyzed the DNA and found no matches to recognized animals. Dyer promised to hold a press conference at Washington University on February 9, 2014, to show the corpse and test findings. However, he never did. The Bigfoot corpse was sent to Houston after its first viewing in Phoenix.
Dyer posted on Facebook on March 28, 2014, that the “Bigfoot body” was a fabrication. The bigfoot was a latex, foam, and camel hair prop that he commissioned “Twisted Toybox” to make for him. The tour of this second bogus Bigfoot body netted Dyer almost US$60,000.
According to him, he did kill a Bigfoot, but he was afraid someone would steal the genuine corpse if he took it on tour.
A man in Mobile, Alabama, uploaded what he claimed were Bigfoot images on Facebook in April 2022, with the accompanying message that the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office had verified the photos’ validity and that a crew from the TV show Finding Bigfoot was on its way to investigate.
Once the images went viral, NBC 15 took notice. The man later confirmed that the pictures were faked for publicity as an April fool prank.
Coyote Peterson, a wildlife educator and media personality, made headlines on July 7, 2022, when he posted a Facebook update claiming to have discovered a large primate skull in British Columbia and that he had subsequently excavated and smuggled the skull into the United States for primatologist review.
On top of that, he said he suppressed the finding at first because he was afraid the government would step in. After the article went viral, other researchers examined the skull and concluded it was most likely a fake.
“I’m told that Coyote Peterson does this sort of thing fairly often as clickbait and that this is a stunt to promote an upcoming video. Maybe this is meant to be taken as harmless fun. But in an age where anti-scientific feelings and conspiracy culture are a serious problem, it—again—really isn’t a good look. I think this stunt has backfired,” said vertebrate paleontologist Darren Naish.
Bigfoot believers Grover Krantz and Geoffrey H. Bourne both theorized that Bigfoot was a remnant of the Gigantopithecus blacki population that went extinct in southeast Asia. Bourne claims in his book that G. blacki might have made the journey to the Americas simultaneously as many other species, following the path of the Bering land bridge.
No Gigantopithecus fossils have been discovered in the Americas so far. The only fossils of G that have been discovered in Asia are parts of jaws and teeth. Most are in black. In his book, G. Blacki’s mandible form led him to speculate that the creature was bipedal.
However, the necessary mandibular region is missing from all fossil records. Current conventional wisdom is that G. Blacki was a quadrupedal creature since it would have struggled to walk upright on two legs with its massive frame.
Matt Cartmill criticizes the G. blackie theory:
“However, the physical evidence suggests that Bigfoot is an upright biped with buttocks and a large, robust, permanently adducted hallux, which is inconsistent with the fact that Gigantopithecus was not a hominin and was maybe not even a crown group hominoid.
“These characteristics are unique to humans and are not seen in other primates or bipedal animals. These distinctively human features are unlikely to have emerged in Gigantopithecus simultaneously.”
Some people doubt that Gigantopithecus is extinct, as Bernard G. Campbell writes: “The evidence for these animals is not persuasive,” specifically about the Yeti of the Himalayas and the Sasquatch of the northwestern American coast.
Apes and humans that have since gone extinct
Although fossils of Paranthropus are only found in Africa, primatologist John R. Napier and anthropologist Gordon Strasenburg have proposed a species of Paranthropus as a possible candidate for Bigfoot’s identity, specifically Paranthropus robustus, with its gorilla-like crested skull and bipedal gait.
In episodes 131 and 132 of the Bigfoot Discovery Museum Show, Bigfoot Discovery Museum employee Michael Rugg compared human, Gigantopithecus, and Meganthropus skulls (reconstructions produced by Grover Krantz).
Those who believe Bigfoot represents the “missing link” between apes and humans often claim that Bigfoot is descended from the extinct ape Gigantopithecus blacki; however, this ape split from orangutans around 12 million years ago and is thus not related to humans.
No bones of Neanderthals, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, or any other giant ape have been discovered in the Americas, leading some to speculate that they are the monster.
Perspectives from the Sciences
There is widespread agreement amongst experts that Bigfoot’s existence claims lack scientific merit. Sightings of a giant ape-like creature are seldom accepted as accurate and instead are chalked up to pranks, misunderstandings, or hallucinations.
As Washington State scientist John Crane said in a 1996 USA Today story, “There is no such thing as Bigfoot. No documentation has ever been given besides stuff that’s plainly been created.”
It’s doubtful that this creature could survive in the described environments due to climate and food supply concerns, as with similar animals. All known nonhuman apes are located in the tropics of Africa and Asia, making Bigfoot’s supposed habitat in the northern hemisphere’s temperate zones somewhat strange.
No significant ape fossils have been discovered in the Americas, and no Bigfoot bones have ever been unearthed. University of Buffalo’s cultural anthropologist Phillips Stevens provided the following summary of the scientific consensus:
“That there is a sufficient number of these things to keep them continuing defies reason. If you want to keep a species alive, particularly one that lives for a long time, you need a breeding population. To remain concealed from the authorities, a large group must disperse throughout a large region with suitable food and shelter.”
McLeod believes that scientists avoided giving weight to such extreme hypotheses by refusing to even dispute them in the 1970s when Bigfoot “experts” were routinely given prominent media attention.
In an interview on NPR’s “Science Friday” in 2002, primate expert Jane Goodall was asked about Bigfoot. “Well, now you will be amazed to hear that I am certain they exist,” she said with a laugh. “Well, I’m a romantic, so I always wanted them to exist,” she continued. “You know, why isn’t there a body? I can’t answer that, and maybe they don’t exist, but I want them to.”
In an essay published in 2016 by Scientific American, paleontologist and author Darren Naish argue that a monster like “Bigfoot” is implausible since abundant evidence would exist if such a thing did.
Naish outlines the proof of Bigfoot’s existence:
“Instead of the random and widely varying “Bigfoot” noises that have been heard, there would be constant reports of uniform vocalizations across North America, much as with any existing massive mammal in the area.
“Instead of a total absence of such tracks alongside “tracks” that experts believe are false, there would be numerous tracks that would be simple for experts to discover if “Bigfoot” existed, much as they readily locate ways for another rare megafauna in North America;
“Last but not least, if Bigfoot were real, we would have discovered plenty of Bigfoot DNA by now, just as we have found DNA from other comparable creatures. However, to date, no such DNA has been proven.”
An Article in “DeNovo: A Journal of Science”
After the publication of “Novel North American Hominins, Next Generation Sequencing of Three Whole Genomes and Associated Studies,” Ketchum, M. S., et al. in the DeNovo: Journal of Science on February 13, 2013, veterinarian Melba S. Ketchum, leader of The Sasquatch Genome Project, submitted a request to register the species name Homo sapiens cognatus.
Over a hundred and eleven biological samples were analyzed in the paper, including blood, tissue, hair, and other materials “characterized and speculated” to have been “obtained from enigmatic hominins in North America, usually referred to as Sasquatch.”
The paper was initially announced as having appeared in a publication called “DeNovo: Journal of Science.” Still, subsequent investigation revealed that this website was registered only nine days before the paper’s announcement and that its first and only “journal” issue consisted entirely of the aforementioned “Sasquatch” article.
The subspecies name Homo sapiens cognatus was registered in 2013 for the alleged hominid commonly known as Bigfoot or Sasquatch by the non-governmental organization ZooBank, which zoologists usually recognize to award species names.
To be “cognatus” with someone means that you share a common ancestor with that person (a Latin word).
“ZooBank and the ICZN do not review evidence for the legitimacy of organisms to which names are applied – that is outside our mandate and is the job of the relevant taxonomic/biological community (in this case, primatologists). “When H. s. cognatus was first registered. Needless to say, we received many inquiries about it. We scrutinized the original description and registration of this name as B.”
Primatologists have primarily rejected the existence of the putative species for the reasons given above.
The pioneers of the subculture and pseudoscience of cryptozoology, Ivan T. Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans, have spent their careers looking for Bigfoot. Jason Jarvis, Carleton S. Coon, George Allen Agogino, and William Charles Osman Hill were among the subsequent scientists that investigated the issue.
Still, they ultimately called off their investigations because no proof supported the purported monster.
According to John Napier, skepticism towards Bigfoot in the scientific world is primarily due to a lack of evidence. Grover Krantz, Jeffrey Meldrum, John Bindernagel, David J. Daegling, George Schaller, Russell Mittermeier, Daris Swindler, Esteban Sarmiento, and Mireya Mayor are among other scientists who have shown interest in the species to varying degrees.
In 1973, author John Napier reported the results of one investigation into the existence of bigfoots in his book Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality. Napier wrote that if science were to draw a conclusion based on the available “hard” evidence, it would have to say, “Bigfoot does not exist.”
However, he found it difficult to reject altogether thousands of purported tracks “scattered over 125,000 square miles” (325,000 km2) or to dismiss all of “the many hundreds” of eyewitness accounts.
Napier said, “There must be something in north-west America that needs explanation, and that something leaves man-like footprints,” adding, “I am certain that Sasquatch exists, but whether it is everything it is built up to be is another issue entirely.”
In 1974, the National Wildlife Federation financed a search for physical proof of Bigfoot. No official federation members participated, and the research yielded no exciting results. In the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Jackson County, Oregon, the now-defunct North American Wildlife Research Team set up a “Bigfoot trap” in 1974.
It was set up with animal remains as bait and managed to catch many bears but no Sasquatch. The trap was no longer maintained after the early 1980s, but it became a popular tourist attraction on the Collings Mountain Hiking Path once the United States Forest Service fixed it in 2006.
Grover Krantz, a physical anthropologist, began writing about Sasquatch in the late 1970s and wrote four books and several articles on the subject in the following decades. However, it was shown that he had made several scientific errors in his work, such as falling for hoaxes.
In 2009, J.D. Yancey published an article in the Journal of Biogeography. Using ecological niche modeling, Lozier et al. inferred desired ecological factors from the locations of Bigfoot sighting reports.
The environmental parameters of the American black bear, Ursus Americanus, were discovered to be a very similar match to their own. They think it’s unlikely that two species would have such similar ecological requirements, and they point out that an upright bear appears very similar to the reported appearance of a Bigfoot. Therefore, they conclude that Bigfoot sightings are likely erroneous observations of black bears.
In the first comprehensive genetic study of Bigfoot-like creature hair samples, just one of 30 pieces was discovered to be primate in origin. That monkey was determined to be human. In a collaborative study between Oxford University and the Cantonal Museum of Zoology in Lausanne, Switzerland, researchers employed a cleaning process that had previously been published to eliminate all surface pollution and the ribosomal mitochondrial DNA 12S component of the sample.
The species’ origin was determined by sequencing the sample and comparing the results to those in GenBank. Samples were sent from around the globe, including the USA, Russia, the Himalayas, and Sumatra. Only one sample is from a person, while the others are from animals. Most of the samples were from black and brown bears, but there were also ones from cows, horses, dogs, wolves, coyotes, sheep, goats, deer, raccoons, porcupines, and tapirs.
The last two samples were first assumed to be a match for a petrified DNA sample from a Pleistocene-era polar bear, but further testing revealed that the hairs belonged to a rare subspecies of brown bear.
A 1976 FBI examination of purported Bigfoot hairs was declassified in 2019. Peter Byrnes, an amateur Bigfoot hunter, contacted the FBI for help in identifying 15 strands he found clinging to a little piece of flesh. In 1977, the FBI’s associate director of Scientific and Technical Services, Jay Cochran, Jr., replied that the hairs belonged to the deer family.
Claims of Bigfoot
DNA Diagnostics, a veterinary laboratory headed by veterinarian Melba Ketchum, issued a press release on November 24, 2012, claiming they had found proof that the Sasquatch “is a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross between modern Homo sapiens and an unknown primate species,” based on what The Huffington Post called “a five-year study of purported Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch) DNA samples.”
As reported by The Huffington Post, the publication’s domain name was registered anonymously only nine days before the announcement. It was the single issue of DeNovo, and while labeled as “Volume 1, Issue 1,” it had just the Ketchum article.
Sharon Hill of Doubtful News summarized and examined the study for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry soon after it came out. Hill noted, “the few experienced geneticists who saw the manuscript gave a terrible impression of it, saying it made no sense.” The Scientist magazine likewise evaluated the paper and came to a similar conclusion.
In the opinion of geneticists who have read the work, it lacks merit. According to Princeton’s Leonid Kruglyak, quoted by the Houston Chronicle, “to state the obvious, no data or analyses are offered that in any way support the assertion that their samples are from a new primate or human-primate hybrid.”
The website for the DeNovo Journal of Science was created (sic) on February 4, and there is no evidence that Ketchum’s work, the sole article it has published, was peer-reviewed.
Some further attribute a body cast obtained in 2000 from Washington state’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest and nicknamed the Skookum cast to a Bigfoot who sat in the dirt to eat fruit placed out by researchers while shooting an episode of Animal X. Skeptics argue that the cast was created by a familiar animal, such an elk.
Monkey bipedalism expert Jeffrey Meldrum has collected over 300 casts of footprints he claims were created by a vast, non-human primate living in the Americas today and which cannot have been formed by wood carvings or human feet according to their morphology.
A cast of a purported Bigfoot footprint, known as the “Onion Mountain Cast,” was received by Matt Crowley in 2005, and he meticulously recreated the dermal ridges. In 2006, Michael Dennett of the Skeptical Inquirer interviewed police investigator and primate fingerprint expert Jimmy Chilcutt to comment on the replica.
Chilcutt said, “Matt has shown that artifacts can be created under laboratory conditions, and field researchers need to take precautions.” Some of the supposed Bigfoot footprint plaster molds Chilcutt examined exhibited “unique dermal ridges,” leading him to conclude that they were real.
Dennett claims that before making his claims on the Internet, Chilcutt had not published anything on the issue of “distinct dermal ridges,” which Chilcutt claims are proof of genuineness. In addition, Dennett claims that, apart from “other Bigfoot aficionados,” no assessments of Chilcutt’s shares have been conducted.
Centralia College professor Michael Townsend made headlines in 2015 when he claimed to have found prey bones with “human-like” bite marks on the south slope of Mount St. Helens. Townsend said the bites were more than twice as broad as a human bite, and he and two of his pupils discovered footprints that measured 16 inches.
The Bigfoot Society Podcast’s Jeremiah Byron claims, “They eat plants and meat. I’ve seen accounts that they eat everything from berries, leaves, nuts, and fruit to salmon, rabbit, elk, and bear.” Ronny Le Blanc, the host of the Travel Channel’s Expedition Bigfoot, claims to have heard anecdotal reports of Bigfoot allegedly hunting and consuming deer.
Other paranormal theories, such as the idea that Bigfoot, extraterrestrials, and UFOs are all related; or the thought that Bigfoot creatures are psychic, can cross into different dimensions, or are entirely supernatural in origin; or the idea that Bigfoot has been the subject of a government cover-up; or any number of other such theories have all been linked to Bigfoot claims about their origins and characteristics.
A film by Patterson and Gimlin
The most famous video of a purported Bigfoot, the 59.5-second Patterson-Gimlin film, was shot by Roger Patterson and Robert “Bob” Gimlin on October 20, 1967, when they were investigating a location known as Bluff Creek in Northern California.
Most academics have concluded that the video offers “no supporting facts of any scientific significance,” with the film being a fake being the most often cited explanation.
Groups and activities
The North American Wood Ape Conservancy (NAWAC) is a non-profit organization studying Bigfoot sightings in North America. The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) is its most prominent and longest-running group, offering its database to the public for free.
The Bigfoot Crossroads of America Museum and Research Center in Hastings, Nebraska, was chosen in 2022 by the United States Library of Congress to add to its archives.
Every year since the 1960s, the Chamber of Commerce in Willow Creek, California, has held the “Bigfoot Daze” festival, capitalizing on the popularity of the local lore. Thousands of people attend, and events typically feature speakers, research and lore presentations, live music, vendors, food trucks, costume contests, and “Bigfoot howl” competitions.
The Bigfoot conference at the University of New Mexico in Gallup, which took place in February 2016, cost the school $7,000.
Bigfoot in popular culture
In 2018, Smithsonian magazine declared, “Interest in the creature’s existence is at an all-time high.” A poll conducted in May 2020 found that about one in ten American adults believe that Bigfoot is a real animal.
Bigfoot has also been the inspiration for the names of a medical company, a music festival, a sports mascot, an amusement park ride, a monster truck, and a Marvel Comics superhero.
In the state of Washington, some laws and ordinances make it illegal to harm or kill Bigfoot. In 1969, a law was passed in Skamania County that made killing a Bigfoot a felony punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and five years in prison.
This law was later reduced to a misdemeanor, and the county was designated a “Sasquatch refuge.”
The subject of Dan Wayne’s 2019 documentary Big Fur is World Champion taxidermist Ken Walker, who in 2015 created what he believes to be a lifelike Bigfoot model based on the subject in the Patterson-Gimlin film and entered it in the 2015 World Taxidermy & Fish Carving Championships in Springfield, Missouri.
Critics of Bigfoot’s popularity point out that media portrayals of the creature, such as in cartoons, reality shows, and advertisements, further diminish the validity of serious scientific research. Proponents of Bigfoot argue that the phenomenon’s appeal stems from people’s innate curiosity about the unknown and their desire to connect with others who share their experiences of isolation.
According to journalist and Wild Thing creator Laura Krantz (2018), “if you look at it from the angle that Bigfoot is a creature that has eluded capture or hasn’t left any concrete evidence behind, then you just have a group of people who are curious about the environment and want to know more about it, which isn’t that different from what naturalists have done for decades.”
Researchers and believers in Bigfoot are generally referred to as “Squatchers.” At the same time, looking for or investigating the animals is often known as “Squatching” or “Squatch’n,” thanks to the Animal Planet reality series Finding Bigfoot.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 epidemic, Bigfoot was featured in several North American social distancing marketing ads, earning the nickname “Social Distancing Champion” and becoming the focus of a number of online memes.
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