Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch ("wild man of the woods"), is an unrecognized large primate species alleged to inhabit remote forests, mainly in the Pacific northwest region of the United States and the Canadian province of British Columbia. In northern Wisconsin, Lakota Indians know the creature by the name Chiye-tanka, a Lakota name for "Big Elder Brother". Bigfoot is sometimes described as a large, hairy bipedal hominoid, similar to other legends of bipeds around the world under different regional names, such as the Yeti of Tibet and Nepal, the Yeren of mainland China, and the Yowie of Australia.
Bigfoot is one of the more famous examples of cryptozoology, a subject that the scientific community classifies as pseudoscience because of unreliable eyewitness accounts, lack of scientific and physical evidence, and over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation. Scientific experts on the matter consider the Bigfoot legend to be a combination of folklore and hoaxes.
* 1 Description
* 2 Proposed creatures
o 2.1 Gigantopithecus
o 2.2 Other extinct apes
* 3 Theories
o 3.1 Skeptics
o 3.2 Proponents
o 3.3 Hoaxes
* 4 Alleged Bigfoot sightings
* 5 See also
* 6 Footnotes
* 7 References
* 8 External links
o 8.1 Bigfoot supporters
o 8.2 Skeptical views
According to most accounts, Bigfoot is a powerfully built bipedal apelike creature between 7 and 10 feet (2.10 and 3 meters) tall, and covered in dark brown or dark reddish hair. The head seems to sit directly on the shoulders, with no apparent neck. Alleged witnesses have described large eyes, a pronounced brow ridge, and a large, low-set forehead; the top of the head has been described as rounded and crested, similar to the sagittal crest of the male gorilla.
Various types of creature have been described by proponents to explain the sightings. These descriptions have received little support from the scientific community.
Grover Krantz argued that a relict population of Gigantopithecus blacki would best explain Bigfoot reports. Based on his fossil analysis of its jaws, he championed a view that Gigantopithecus was bipedal.
Geoffrey Bourne writes that Gigantopithecus was a plausible candidate for Bigfoot since most Gigantopithecus fossils were found in China, whose extreme eastern Siberian forests are similar to those of north-western North America. Many well-known animals have migrated across the Bering Strait, so it was not unreasonable to assume that Gigantopithecus might have as well. "So perhaps," Bourne writes, "Gigantopithecus is the Bigfoot of the American continent and perhaps he is also the Yeti of the Himalayas" (Bourne, 296).
The Gigantopithecus hypothesis is generally considered highly speculative. Given the mainstream view that Gigantopithecus was quadrupedal, it would seem unlikely to be an ancestor to the biped Bigfoot is said to be. Moreover, it has been argued that G. blacki's enormous mass would have made it difficult for it to adopt a bipedal gait. An analysis of the Patterson-Gimlin film shows that frames 369, 370, 371, and 372 all show a slender lower mandible, that does not match the massive lower mandible of Gigantopithecus blacki, which, assuming that the Patterson-Gimlin film is legitimate, would eliminate G. blacki as a candidate for Bigfoot. (Bigfoot Coop Newsletter, March 1997, also the documentary Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science).
"That Gigantopithicus is in fact extinct has been questioned by those who believe it survives as the Yeti of the Himalayas and the Sasquatch of the north-west American coast. But the evidence for these creatures is not convincing." (Campbell p.100)
Other extinct apes
A species of Paranthropus, such as Paranthropus robustus, with its crested skull and bipedal gait, was suggested by Napier and anthropologist Gordon Strasenburg as a possible candidate for Bigfoot's identity.
Some Bigfoot reports suggest Homo erectus to be the creature, but H. erectus skeletons have never been found on the North American peninsula.
There was also a little known genus, called Meganthropus, which reputedly grew to enormous proportions. Again, there have been no remains of this creature anywhere near North America, and none younger than a million years old.
Bigfoot is one of the more famous creatures in cryptozoology. Cryptozoologist John Willison Green has postulated that Bigfoot is a worldwide phenomenon (Green 1978:16).
Indian Native tribes in the Northwest note the appearance of large creatures they call Sasquatch. Such creatures were said to exist on Vancouver Island and near Harrison Lake.
The earliest unambiguous reports of gigantic apelike creatures in the Pacific Northwest date from 1924, after a series of alleged encounters at a location in Washington later dubbed Ape Canyon, as related in The Oregonian. Reports the pro-Bigfoot authors claim are similar appear in the mainstream press dating back at least to the 1860s. The phenomenon attained widespread notoriety in 1958 when enormous footprints were reported in Humboldt County, California by roadworkers; the tracks pictured in the media inspired the familiar name "Bigfoot".
Mainstream scientists generally dismiss the phenomena due to a lack of representative specimens. They attribute the numerous sightings to folklore, mythology, hoaxes, and the misidentification of common animals.
Ecologist Robert Michael Pyle argues that most cultures have humanlike giants in their folk history. "We have this need for some larger-than-life creature."
Mainstream scientists and academics overwhelmingly "discount the existence of Bigfoot because the evidence supporting belief in the survival of a prehistoric, bipedal, apelike creature of such dimensions is scant". In addition to the lack of evidence, they cite the fact that while Bigfoot is alleged to live in regions unusual for a large, nonhuman primate, i.e., temperate latitudes in the northern hemisphere, all other recognized nonhuman apes are found in the tropics, Africa, continental Asia or nearby islands. The great apes have never been found in the fossil record in the Americas, and no Bigfoot bones or bodies have been found.
Moreover, the issue is so muddied with dubious claims and outright hoaxes that many scientists do not give the subject serious attention. Napier wrote that the mainstream scientific community's indifference stems primarily from "insufficient evidence ... it is hardly surprising that scientists prefer to investigate the probable rather than beat their heads against the wall of the faintly possible" (Napier, 15). Anthropologist David Daegling echoed this idea, citing a "remarkably limited amount of Sasquatch data that are amenable to scientific scrutiny." (Daegling, 61) He advises that mainstream skeptics take a proactive position "to offer an alternative explanation. We have to explain why we see Bigfoot when there is no such animal" (ibid 20). Indeed, many scientists insist that the breeding population of such an animal would be so large that it would account for many more purported sightings than currently occur, making the existence of such an animal an almost certain impossibility.
On May 24, 2006 Maria Goodavage wrote an article in USA Today titled, "Bigfoot Merely Amuses Most Scientists", in which she quotes Washington State zoologist John Crane, "There is no such thing as Bigfoot. No data other than material that's clearly been fabricated has ever been presented."
Bigfoot sculpture at the Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, Queens, NY.
Bigfoot sculpture at the Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, Queens, NY.
Although most scientists find current evidence of Bigfoot unpersuasive, a number of prominent experts have offered sympathetic opinions on the subject. In a 2002 interview on National Public Radio, Jane Goodall first publicly expressed her views on Bigfoot, by remarking, "Well now, you'll be amazed when I tell you that I'm sure that they exist... I've talked to so many Native Americans who all describe the same sounds, two who have seen them. I've probably got about, oh, thirty books that have come from different parts of the world, from China from, from all over the place...." Several other prominent scientists have also expressed at least a guarded interest in Sasquatch reports, including George Schaller, Russell Mittermeier, Daris Swindler and Esteban Sarmiento.
Prominent anthropologist Carleton S. Coon's posthumously published essay Why the Sasquatch Must Exist states, "Even before I read John Green's book Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us, first published in 1978, I accepted Sasquatch's existence" (Markotic and Krantz, 46). Coon examines the question from several angles, stating that he is confident only in ruling out a relict Neanderthal population as a viable candidate for Sasquatch reports.
As previously noted, Napier generally argued against Bigfoot's existence, but added that some "soft evidence" (i.e., eyewitness accounts, footprints, hair and droppings) is compelling enough that he advises against "dismissing its reality out of hand" (Napier, 197).
Krantz and others have argued that a double standard is applied to Sasquatch studies by many academics: whenever there is a claim or evidence of Sasquatch's existence, enormous scrutiny is applied, as well as it should be. Yet when individuals claim to have hoaxed Bigfoot evidence, the claims are frequently accepted without corroborative evidence.
In 2004, Henry Gee, editor of the prestigious Nature, argued that creatures like Bigfoot deserved further study, writing, "The discovery that Homo floresiensis survived until so very recently, in geological terms, makes it more likely that stories of other mythical, human-like creatures such as Yetis are founded on grains of truth ... Now, cryptozoology, the study of such fabulous creatures, can come in from the cold."
Bigfoot sightings or footprints are often demonstratively hoaxes. Author Jerome Clark argues that the "Jacko" affair, involving an 1884 newspaper report of an apelike creature captured in British Columbia (details below), was a hoax. Citing research by John Green, who found that several contemporary British Columbia newspapers regarded the alleged capture as very dubious, Clark notes that the New Westminster, British Columbia Mainland Guardian wrote, "Absurdity is written on the face of it" (Clark, 195).
In 1958 bulldozer operator Jerry Crew took to a newspaper office a cast of one of the enormous footprints he and other workers had been seeing at an isolated work site in Bluff Creek, California. The story and photo garnered international attention through being picked up by the Associated Press (Krantz, 5). Crew was overseen by Wilbur L. Wallace, brother of Raymond L. Wallace. Years after the track casts were made, Ray Wallace got involved in Bigfoot "research" and made various outlandish claims. He was poorly regarded by many who took the subject seriously. Napier wrote, "I do not feel impressed with Mr Wallace's story" regarding having over 15,000 feet of film showing Bigfoot (Napier, 89).
Shortly after Wallace's death, his children called him the "father of Bigfoot". They claimed Ray faked the tracks seen by Jerry Crew in 1958. There were some wooden track makers among Ray's inherited belongings which the family said were used to make the 1958 tracks. At the height of the publicity, the Wallace family sold the story rights to a Hollywood filmmaker. The film, set to star actor Judge Reinhold, was never produced.
Canadian newspaperman John Green argues that Ray never claimed to have made the Bluff Creek tracks and was not present in the Bluff Creek area when the Crew cast was obtained. Wallace had road-building contracts in various parts of the north-west and was usually not around in Bluff Creek. Years after the fact, Wallace attempted to capitalize on the interest in various ways. He tried to sell various items from a roadside shop, including Bigfoot footprint replicas, which he made behind his shop using a pair of wooden track stompers.
Alleged Bigfoot sightings
* 1840: Protestant missionary Reverend Elkanah Walker recorded myths of hairy giants that were persistent among Native Americans living in Spokane, Washington. The Indians claimed that these giants steal salmon and had a strong smell.
* 1870: An account by a California hunter who claimed seeing a sasquatch scattering his campfire remains was printed in the Titusville, Pennsylvania Morning Herald on November 10, 1870. The incident reportedly occurred a year before, in the mountains near Grayson, CA.[dubious – discuss]
* 1893: An account by Theodore Roosevelt was published in The Wilderness Hunter. Roosevelt related a story which was told to him by "a beaten old mountain hunter, named Bauman" living in Idaho. Some have suggested similarities to Bigfoot reports.[dubious – discuss] (Note: Roosevelt's testimony is the only evidence this encounter ever occurred).
* 1924: Albert Ostman claimed to have been kidnapped and held captive for several days by a family of sasquatch. The incident occurred during the summer in Toba Inlet, British Columbia.[dubious – discuss]
* 1924: Fred Beck and four other miners claimed to have been attacked by several sasquatches in Ape Canyon in July, 1924. The creatures reportedly hurled large rocks at the miners’ cabin for several hours during the night. This case was publicized in newspaper reports printed in 1924. 
* 1941: Jeannie Chapman and her children claimed to have escaped their home when a large sasquatch, allegedly 7˝ feet tall, approached their residence in Ruby Creek, British Columbia.
* 1940s onward: People living in Fouke, Arkansas have reported that a Bigfoot-like creature, dubbed the “Fouke Monster”, inhabits the region. A high number of reports have occurred in the Boggy Creek area and are the basis for the 1973 film The Legend of Boggy Creek.
* 1955: William Roe claimed to have seen a close-up view of a female sasquatch from concealment near Mica Mountain, British Columbia.
* 1958: Two construction workers, Leslie Breazale and Ray Kerr, reported seeing a sasquatch about 45 miles northeast of Eureka, California. Sixteen-inch tracks had previously been spotted in the northern California woods.
* 1967: On October 20, 1967, Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin captured a purported sasquatch on film in Bluff Creek, California in what would come to be known as the Patterson-Gimlin film.
* 1970: A family of bigfoot-like creatures called "zoobies" was observed on multiple occasions by a San Diego psychiatrist named Dr. Baddour and his family near their Alpine, California home, as reported in an interview with San Diego County Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Doug Huse, who investigated the sightings. 
* 1995: On August 28, 1995, a TV film crew from Waterland Productions pulled off the road into Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and filmed what they claimed to be a sasquatch in their RV's Headlights.
* 2005: On April 16, 2005, A creature resembling a bigfoot was reportedly seen on the bank of the Nelson River in Norway House, Manitoba. Two minutes and forty seconds of footage was taken by ferry operator Bobby Clarke from across the Nelson River.
* 2006: On December 14, 2006, Shaylane Beatty, a woman from the Dechambault Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada, was driving to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan when, she claimed, saw the creature near the side of the highway at Torch River. Several men from the village drove down to the area and found footprints, which they tracked through the snow. They found a tuft of brown hair and took photographs of the tracks.
* 2007: On September 16, 2007, hunter Rick Jacobs captured an image of a possible sasquatch using an automatically triggered camera attached to a tree. A spokesperson for the Pennsylania Game Commission challenged the Bigfoot explanation, saying that it looked like "a bear with a severe case of mange." The sighting happened near the town of Ridgway, Pennsylvania in the Allegheny National Forest, which is about 115 miles north of Pittsburgh.
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