Sasquatch, Yeti, Abominable Snowman, Whatever?
Fact or Fiction?
What is a Bigfoot, or Sasquatch?
The term sasquatch, for the North American primate under consideration in this website, is an anglicized derivative of the word "Sésquac", meaning "wild man". The original word, in the Stó:lõ dialect of the Halkomelem language, is used by the Coast Salish Indians of the Fraser Valley and parts of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Indian tribes across North America have a total of more than sixty different terms for the sasquatch.
Bigfoot was a journalistic term generated in the middle of the last century during a rash of sightings in Northern California; its use is not unreasonable since the species has proportionally much bigger feet than those of human beings and, furthermore, the word has come to be recognized widely. A goodly selection of fanciful terms have been used by pioneers and later non-native inhabitants of North America for the occasional published and repeated encounters with sasquatches.
The description given here is derived from a compilation of thousands of eye witness reports from the entire continent, some of astounding length, detail, and corroborative evidence; the Patterson movie, taken in 1967, and a recent computer-based image analysis of it; and statistical analysis of a large database accumulated over the last fifty years, primarily by John Green.
There are no modern reports of humans being injured or killed by a sasquatch.
Although retreating appears to be the typical response of a sasquatch to the presence of humans, many credible reports describe after dark harassment of campers and rural property owners by animals believed to be sasquatches. The harassment activity is usually limited to screams, crashing and snapping of tree limbs and brush, and occasionally the throwing of rocks. There is no way of knowing the purpose for this, but perhaps the common reaction of humans provides a good clue -- people usually get frightened and vacate the area.
While the entire body of reports strongly suggests that sasquatches do not make a practice of harming humans, the same body of evidence suggests they do hunt other animals. Among the animals that appear to be prey are deer, elk, raccoons, beavers, ducks, and rodents.
Sasquatches are also known to kill dogs that chase or threaten them. Dogs often flee or cower in their presence, but some dogs are more aggressive and sometimes receive very brutal treatment as a result. Aggressive dogs have been found torn apart, with sasquatch tracks around the remains.
Nobody Looks for Bigfoot Remains
No serious work has ever been done to look for remains of surviving wood apes in areas where they are rumored to reside. No one should expect remains of such an elusive species to be found, collected and identified without some effort.
Very few remains of ancient wood apes have ever been found in Asia, where they were much more abundant. Millions of gigantos (a branch of the wood ape line) lived and died in Asia over the ages. All the remaining physical evidence we have of them could fit into a few shoe boxes. Fossils of any land animal are very rare.
Remains do not become fossilized very often, but unless that happens, all the remains will, in time, become completely reabsorbed into the ecosystem. There would be remains of animals everywhere if remains were not naturally recycled, including bones and teeth.
Fossils or preserved bones of wood apes may exist in the Americas, but they will be exceedingly rare, because these animals are rare to begin with, and only a tiny fraction of that population will die in locations and soils that will preserve bones somehow. Odds are slim at best that any bones (which are normally fragmentary) will be found, collected and identified unless a focused effort is made to look for them. Until efforts are made in many places, over a long period of time, no one should be scratching their head wondering why "we" don't have any physical remains.
Most scientists discount the existence of Bigfoot because the evidence supporting belief in the survival of a prehistoric bipedal apelike creature of such dimensions is scant. The only notable exception is Grover S. Krantz (1931-2002), an anthropologist at Washington State University. For nearly forty years, Krantz argued for the probable existence of Bigfoot,* but was unable to convince the majority of scientists. The evidence for Bigfoot’s existence consists mainly of testimony from Bigfoot enthusiasts, footprints of questionable origin, and pictures that could easily have been of apes or humans in ape suits. There are no bones, no scat, no artifacts, no dead bodies, no mothers with babies, no adolescents, no fur, no explanation for how a species likely to be communal has never been seen in a family or group activity. There is no evidence that any individual, much less a community of such creatures, dwells anywhere near any of the “sightings.” In short, the evidence points more towards hoaxing and delusion than real discovery. Some believers dismiss all such criticism and claim that Bigfoot exists in another dimension and travels by astral projection. Such claims reinforce the skeptic’s view that the Bigfoot legend is a function of passionate fans of the paranormal, aided greatly by the mass media’s eagerness to cater to such enthusiasm.
In addition to the eyewitness testimonials of enthusiastic fans, the bulk of the evidence provided by proponents of Bigfoot consists of footprints and film. Of the few footprints available for examination in plaster casts, there is such great disparity in shape and configuration that the evidence “suggests many independent pranksters” (M. Dennett, 1996).
Probably the most well-known evidence for belief in Bigfoot’s existence is a film shot by Bigfoot hunters Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin on Oct 20, 1967, at Bluff Creek in northern California. The film depicts a walking apelike creature with pendulous breasts. Its height is estimated at between 6' 6'' and 7' 4'', its weight at nearly one ton. Over thirty years have passed, yet no cryptozoologist has found further evidence of the creature near the site except for one alleged footprint.
The North American Science Institute claims it has spent over $100,000 to prove the film is of a genuine Bigfoot. However, according to veteran Hollywood director John Landis, “that famous piece of film of Bigfoot walking in the woods that was touted as the real thing was just a suit made by John Chambers,” who helped create the ape suits in Planet of the Apes (1968). Howard Berger, of Hollywood’s KNB Effects Group, also has claimed that it was common knowledge within the film industry that Chambers was responsible for a hoax that turned Bigfoot into a worldwide cult. According to Mark Chorvinsky, Chambers was also involved in another Bigfoot hoax (the so-called “Burbank Bigfoot”). According to Loren Coleman, however, Chambers denied the allegations about the Patterson hoax in an interview with Bobbie Short and claimed that Landis had in fact started the rumor about him (i.e., Chambers) making the suit. Apparently, Short did not ask Chambers about the “Burbank Bigfoot” incident, nor did he interview Landis for his version of the story (Chorvinsky 1996). Short and Coleman remain convinced that the film is not of a man in an ape suit but is footage of a genuine Bigfoot.
According to David J. Daegling and Daniel O. Schmitt, “it is not possible to evaluate the identity of the film subject with any confidence” (Daegling 1999). Their argument centers on uncertainties in subject and camera positions, and the reproducibility of the compliant gait by humans matching the speed and stride of the film subject.
The interest in Bigfoot seems to have been succinctly captured in the saying of an old Sherpa: There is a Yeti in the back of everyone’s mind; only the blessed are not haunted by it.