Giant Hominid of western North America. By extension, the term is also applied to similar Ho-MINIDS observed elsewhere.
Etymology: Named in 1958 when a series of huge tracks was found near Bluff Creek in northern California. Coined by newspaper columnist Andrew Genzoli, in the Humboldt (Calif.) Times, October 5, 1958. Plural is usually Bigfoot, sometimes Bigfeet.
Scientific names: Paranthropus eldurrelli, proposed by Gordon R. Strasenburgh Jr. in 1971; Gigantopithecus canadensis, Australopithecus canadensis, or Gigantanthropus canadensis, all proposed by Grover Krantz in 1985.
Variant names: Jacko, MATAH Kagmi, Mountain devil, PATTY, SASQUATCH, Tuni-ka (Tanana/Na-Dene). See also Cannibal Giant.
Physical description: Bulky, robust body. Height, 6-9 feet, with an average of 7 feet 10 inches. Average weight estimated at 660 pounds. Shaggy body hair, ranging from dark brown or black to light brown and gray. Color variation does not seem related to height or age. Small, pointed head. Sloping forehead. Flat face. Heavy browridge with upcurled fringe of hair. Facial hair except around nose, mouth, and ears. Deep-set eyes. Broad and flat nose. Wide mouth. Short, thick neck. Huge shoulders and chest. Females have large, hairy breasts. Arms are thick and long in proportion to height.
Behavior: Primarily nocturnal. Walks upright with a long stride and long arm swing, leaning forward slightly with its knees bent. Not afraid of walking in water, perhaps even using waterways as travel paths. Top running speed may be as much as 35-40 miles per hour. Inactive in cold weather. Solitary, though family groups have occasionally been reported. Calls are high-pitched whistles, screams, and howls, including: "eeek-eeek-eeek," "sooka-sooka-sooka," "gob-
uh-gob-uh," "ugh-ugh-ugh," and "uhu-uhuuhu." A strong, putrid odor often reported. Omnivorous (rodents, deer, roots, larvae, carrion, berries, grasses, clams, fishes, and vegetables). Searches for rodents by digging up rocks and piling them up. Splits rotted logs in search of grubs. May also pursue and kill deer. Kidnappings of humans, usually females, have been reported. Sometimes throws rocks at people. Shows curiosity about human activity. No apparent use of fire or tools. The population in the Pacific Northwest has been estimated as 1,500-2,000 adult individuals.
Tracks: Five-toed human print 4-27 inches long, with an average length of 14-18 inches. The width ranges from 3 to 13.5 inches at the ball of the foot, with an average of 7.2 inches. Heels are 1.5-9 inches wide, with an average of 4.8 inches. Toes are slightly curled and in a straight line like peas in a pod. Big toe is not appreciably larger than or separated from the others. A substantial ridge of soil or sand separates the toes from the ball of the foot. The foot is narrow in the middle (sometimes described as an "hourglass" shape), and the impression of the heel is deeper in the inner rather than the outer side. Flat arches. Transverse, midsole dermal ridges (dermatoglyphics) and sweat pores often present. Stride measures 4-6 feet. Tracks point straight ahead, with feet turning neither inward nor outward. Tracks are found in remote areas, and the movements indicated by the tracks (meandering, zigzagging) are typical for a wild animal. The morphology of the tracks, including small details, is uniform enough over a wide geographic area to suggest authenticity. Feces and hair samples have also been recovered.
Habitat: Montane forests.
Distribution: From northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho north through British Columbia and southwestern Alberta to Alaska.
Significant sightings: In the fall of 1869, a hunter saw a male and female Bigfoot near Orestimba Creek in Stanislas County, California. The male was covered with dark-brown and cinnamon hair, stood 5 feet tall, made whistling noises, and disrupted the hunter's campfire.
When the steamer Capilano put into an Indian village at Bishop's Cove, British Columbia, in March 1907, the crew was assailed by terrorized villagers who wanted to escape from a 5-foot-tall monkey covered with long hair that came on the beach at night to dig clams and howl.
A group of miners claimed to have taken a shot at a huge, apelike creature near a mine in a canyon on the east side of Mount St. Helens, Washington, in July 1924. Later, one of them, named Fred Beck, shot another ape in the back three times, causing it to fall off a cliff. At night, a group of the apes assaulted the miners in their cabin for five hours, pounding on the walls and hurling rocks. The cabin had no windows, so the miners couldn't see what was attacking them. The next day, they packed up and returned to Kelso and told their story. Large tracks were found in the canyon, which was thereafter named Ape Canyon.
Prospector Albert Ostman claimed he was kidnapped in the summer of 1924 near Toba
Inlet, British Columbia, and lived six days with a Bigfoot family consisting of an older male and female and two younger ones, also male and female. The adult male was between 7 and 8 feet tall and had carried Ostman in his sleeping bag for three hours to a remote valley. Ostman tried to escape, but the old male blocked his way. While he was there, Ostman made many observations about their lifestyle and habits. He finally tricked the adult male into swallowing the contents of his snuff tin, and in the ensuing confusion, he made his escape back to the coast.
In October 1941, Jeannie Chapman and her three young children fled from a Bigfoot that came toward their isolated cabin near Ruby Creek, British Columbia. Later, 16-inch, humanlike footprints were found circling the house. The creature had apparently entered a woodshed and opened up a 55-gallon barrel of salt fish.
William Roe was climbing Mica Mountain southwest of Tete Jaune Cache, British Columbia, in October 1955 when he saw what he at first thought was a grizzly bear about 75 yards away. Soon, he realized it was a huge female, 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide, completely covered with dark-brown, silver-tipped hair. Its arms reached almost to its knees, and it had breasts. It squatted down to eat the leaves from some bushes, but when it saw him, it stood up and walked away cautiously. Roe leveled his rifle to shoot it but thought it was too human-looking to kill.
Gerald Crew and others found large numbers of giant tracks around their road construction camp in high country near Willow Creek, California, several times between August 1958 and February 1959. The tracks descended an incline of 75°, and the average stride was more than 4 feet. Occasionally, the track maker would disturb heavy fuel drums and steel culverts, and once it moved a 700-pound wheel belonging to earth-moving equipment. Recently, some doubt has been cast on these events; it's been alleged that the footprints were hoaxed by the construction crew contractor and foreman, Ray and Wilbur Wallace. However, the Wallaces had difficulty keeping contract workers because the tracks terrified the crew.
On October 20, 1967, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin took 952 frames of 16-millimeter film showing a female Bigfoot walking away from them near Bluff Creek, California. See PATTY.
Numerous 18-inch tracks of a Bigfoot with an anatomically accurate clubfoot deformity (Talipes equino-varus) in its right foot were found near Bossburg, Washington, in October 1969.
Joe Medeiros and Dick Brown saw an 8- to 9-foot Bigfoot standing under an oak tree at a trailer park near The Dalles, Oregon, on June 2, 1971. Brown observed it through a telescopic rifle sight and said there was a crest on its head. It had muscular shoulders and walked with an exaggerated swinging of its arms. The next day, 20-inch-long tracks were found in the crushed grass.
On October 21, 1972, Alan Berry made a high-quality audio recording of Bigfoot calls at an altitude of 8,500 feet in the Sierra Nevada, California. The vocalization includes a wide variety of whistles and sounds, some quite humanlike. A rough transcription might read: "Gob-uh-gob-uh-gob, ugh, muy tail." A pitch-frequency analysis undertaken in 1977 by R. Lynn Kirlin and Lasse Hertel indicated that there was more than one speaker, that the animals were probably larger than adult male humans, and that their larynxes must be significantly longer than a human's in order to produce the sounds.
On June 10, 1982, U.S. Forest Service Patrolman Paul Freeman saw a Bigfoot about 8 feet tall at relatively close range in the Umatilla National Forest, Washington. On the day of the sighting, plaster casts were made of tracks the creature left. On June 16, two different sets of prints were found a few miles away at Elk Wallow by Forest Service biologist Rodney Johnson and U.S. Border Patrol tracker Joel Hardin, who made casts. All of the prints show the impressions of dermal ridges and sweat pores, features that are consistent with the friction skin on the soles of higher primates. Although Grover Krantz considered the tracks genuine, Johnson and Hardin felt they were hoaxed, since they were too shallow, followed an unnaturally straight line, had an oddly uniform stride and pressure whether going uphill or down, appeared and disappeared abruptly, and showed abnormally pronounced dermal ridges.
In August 1987, Agnes Perkins and Charlotte White were driving west along the TransCanada Highway when they saw a man on the side of the road ahead. As they got closer, they realized it was a 7-foot Bigfoot covered with black hair. It climbed up the steep embankment on two legs. They had seen it for about forty-five seconds.
Early in the morning of May 23, 1988, Susan Ray Adams and Scott Stoness encountered what they thought was a bear as they were going to the public washrooms at the Crandell Lake Campground in Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. It snorted at them, and they ran for their car. They turned on the car headlights and could see that the animal was walking around on two legs. Another couple had seen the same thing and were similarly terrified. The animal was 8 feet tall and taking huge strides, arms swinging.
At Bella Coola, British Columbia, on November 11, 1989, Jimmy Nelson, his mother, and a friend noticed a terrible odor and saw a 7-to 8-foot creature approaching the back porch where some deer meat was hanging. It returned the following night, and the boys chased it toward a nearby creek.
A five-second video recording of a Bigfoot taken by a television film crew on August 28, 1995, in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park near Crescent City, California, is interesting, if inconclusive. It shows a massive, hairy, black creature with a distinctly erect penis.
Psychologist Matthew A. Johnson was hiking with his family on July 1, 2000, near Oregon Caves National Monument, Oregon, when they smelled something skunky and heard something making "whoa whoa whoa" sounds. Johnson got a brief glimpse of a Bigfoot while he was off the trail by himself.
The body imprint of what might have been a Bigfoot's forearm, hip, thigh, and heel was found September 22, 2000, in the Skookum Meadows area of Gifford Pinchot Forest, Washington, by a Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) expedition led by LeRoy Fish,
Derek Randles, and Richard Noll. More than 200 pounds of plaster were required to produce a cast of the entire impression.
Artifacts: Numerous stone carvings referred to as "anthropoid ape heads" have been found in the Columbia River valley of Oregon and Washington. One was obtained from the Wakemap mound near The Dalles, Oregon, which would date it between 1500 B.C and A.D. 500. They are about 6-7 inches long, carved from basalt, and show a being with a flat face, large eyes, browridges, splayed nostrils, and full lips; some have folds of loose flesh below the chin, and one appears to have a sagittal crest. Some clearly represent human faces, mountain sheep, or seals, but at least seven are apelike and could represent Bigfoot. Myron Eells, "The Stone Age of Oregon," Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution, 1885, pp. 283-295; Alfred Russel Wallace, "Remarkable Ancient Sculptures from NorthWest America," Nature 43 (1891): 396; James Terry, Sculptured Anthropoid Ape Heads Found in or near the Valley of the John Day River (New York: J. J. Little, 1891); Frederick W. Skiff, Adventures in Americana (Portland, Oreg.: Metropolitan, 1935), p. 186; Roderick Sprague, "Carved Stone Heads of the Columbia River and Sasquatch," in Marjorie Halpin and Michael M. Ames, eds., Manlike Monsters on Trial: Early Records and Modern Evidence (Vancouver, Canada: University of British Columbia Press, 1980), pp. 229-234. Possible explanations:
(1) An upright Brown bear (Ursus arctos) or Black bear (Ursus americanus) might briefly be misidentified. However, bears have short hind legs, sloping shoulders, and visible ears. Bigfoot prints do not look anything like bear tracks, in which the first toe is the shortest and the third toe the largest. Bear foreprints and hindprints overlap, the big toes are on the inside of the stride, and their feet turn inward. Black bear hind feet are about 6-7 inches long and 3-5.5 inches wide. Brown bear hind feet range from 10-11 inches long and 6-6.5 inches wide for grizzlies to 16 inches long and 10 inches wide for Kodiaks. Distortion from overlapping prints would make these seem larger.
(2) Hoaxes of both sightings and tracks have definitely occurred. However, the long stride of many of the tracks would be difficult for one individual to fake, and the dermal ridges and sweat pores are unlikely touches for a hoaxer (especially prior to the publicity they were given after the discovery of this feature). Tracks are often found serendipitously in remote places, where the likelihood of their being found is equally remote. The depth of some prints would also require a hoaxer to exert as much as 450 pounds of pressure in compact soil.
(3) An evolved Gigantopithecus blacki, proposed by Grover Krantz. This huge-jawed Pleistocene ape lived as recently as 500,000 years ago in southern China and Vietnam, while a smaller species, G. giganteus, dates to 9-6 million years ago in the Siwalik Hills of India and Pakistan. It is known only from jaw fragments and isolated teeth. It had a massive jaw and low-crowned, flat molars with thick enamel caps adapted for chewing coarse vegetation. Its estimated height was 9-10 feet tall and weight was 900-1,200 pounds. However, no weight-bearing bones have been recovered, and it is possible that the animal's teeth and jaws were disproportionate to its body size. Ivan Sanderson considered an evolved Gigan-topithecus the best candidate for his proposed category of NeO-GiANTS.
(4) A surviving, robust form of Homo heidel-bergensis, an archaic human known from Middle Pleistocene fossils in Europe and Africa, suggested by Will Duncan. Named from a mandible discovered in 1906 in a gravel pit at Mauer near Heidelberg, Germany, this human is thought to have lived around 500,000 years ago.
(5) A surviving Paranthropus robustus, suggested by Gordon Strasenburgh. The youngest known remains of this early, exclusively African hominid were found at Swartkrans, South Africa, and are 850,000 years old. However, reasonable estimates of its size, based on postcranial bones, range from 95 to 145 pounds, making this an unlikely Bigfoot candidate.
(6) Loren Coleman has suggested a surviving Meganthropus, a little-known hominid genus described from two partial mandibles with large teeth found in Java in 1939 and 1941. A handful of other fragmentary finds have been included in this taxon, but there is no consensus on its status. Many regard this animal as belonging to Homo erectus, though some consider it pathologically oversized.
(7) A Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) population is unlikely, as these distinctively cold-adapted hominids are not found outside Europe or West Asia any later than 30,000 years ago. However, if the Central Asian Alm AS represents an extant Nean-derthaloid group, individuals could have migrated across Beringia in time to populate North America. But its small stature (the average for males was 5 feet 6 inches tall) seems to rule out this species.
(8) A surviving Homo erectus has been pro posed by Ray Crowe. Following an appearance in East Africa 2 million years ago, erec-tus hominids spread into Asia and possibly into Europe. Their subsequent evolutionary history is unclear, though recent evidence suggests their persistence in Zhoukoudien, China, until as recently as 250,000 years ago. Few postcranial bones offer any glimpse of H. erectus stature, though femurs from East Africa indicate an average height of 5 feet 7 inches for adult males— much too small for the robust Bigfoot. H. erectus also seems to have preferred open, arid environments.
(9) A homegrown variety of North American primate is extremely unlikely. The oldest primatelike mammal, Purgatorius, appeared in the West at the end of the Mesozoic and continued through the Early Paleocene, about 66-64 million years ago. Other North American protoprimates were the Plesi-adapoidea and Carpolestidae from the Early Eocene; they had snouted faces and semi-grasping feet, and some species were as large as woodchucks. Fossils are mostly known from the Rocky Mountain region, which at that time consisted of lowland tropical forest. Recent molecular evidence indicates that these were more closely related to Flying lemurs (Order Dermoptera) than true primates. Also known from the beginning of the Eocene (about 55 million years ago) are the first members of the modern primates, the lemurlike Notharctidae and the tarsier-like Omomyidae, some of which apparently were as large as medium-sized monkeys. Forests shrunk with gradual cooling toward the end of the Eocene, and these arboreal species died off or migrated to South America. The genus Ekgmowechashala lingered until the Late Oligocene (28 million years ago) in Oregon and South Dakota. After this, there is no evidence of any primate occupation in North America until modern humans arrived, which archaeologists are now reluctantly accepting occurred as early as 40,000 years ago.
Sources: Antioch (Calif.) Ledger, October 18, 1870; Theodore Roosevel t, The Wilderness
Hunter (New York: G. P. Put nam's Sons, 1893); Vancouver (B.C.) Province, March 8, 1907; C. P. Lyons, Milestones on the Mighty Fraser (Vict oria, B.C., Canada: J. M. Dent, 1950), pp 28-30; "Giant Footprints at Ruby Creek Took Railway Fence in Stride," Agassiz-Harrison (B.C.) Advance, September 12, 1957, reprint ed in INFO Journal, no. 64 (Oct ober 1991): 22-24, 41; Belle Rendall, Healing Waters: History of the Harrison Hot Springs and Port Douglas Area (Harrison Hot Springs, B.C., Canada: Belle Rendall, 1958), pp 30-32; Ivan T. Sanderson, "The St range St ory of America's Abominable Snowman," True, December 1959, pp. 40-43, 122-126; Ivan T. Sanderson, Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life (Philadelphia: Chilton, 1961), pp 22-147; Roger Pat t erson, Do Abominable Snowmen of America Really Exist? (Yakima, Wash.: Northwest Research Association, 1966); John Green, On the Track of the Sasquatch (Agassiz, B.C., Canada: Cheam, 1968); Loren E. Col eman and Mark A. Hal l, "Some Bigfoot Tradit ions of t he Nort h American Tribes," INFO Journal, no. 7 (Fall 1970): 2-10; Gordon R. St rasenburgh Jr., Paranthropus: Once and Future Brother (Arl ingt on, Va.: Gordon R. St rasenburgh Jr., 1971); Don Hunter and René Dahinden, Sasquatch (Toront o, Canada: McClelland and Stewart, 1973); John Napier, Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality (New York: E. P. Dut ton, 1973); Peter Byrne, The Search for Bigfoot (Washingt on, D.C.: Acropolis, 1975); B. Ann Slate and Alan Berry, Bigfoot (New York: Bant am, 1976); John Green, Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us (Seattle, Wash.: Hancock House, 1978); Roderick Sprague and Grover S. Krant z, eds., The Scientist Looks at the Sasquatch, 2d ed. (Moscow: University of Idaho Press, 1979); Marjorie H. Hal pin and Michael M. Ames, eds., Manlike Monsters on Trial: Early Records and Modern Evidence (Vancouver, Canada: University of British Columbia Press, 1980); Janet and Col in Bord, The Bigfoot Casebook (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 1982); Grover S. Krant z, "Anatomy and Dermat oglyphics of Three Sasquat ch Foot print s," Cryptozoology 2 (1983): 53-81; René Dahinden, "Whose
Dermal Ridges?" Cryptozoology 3 (1984): 128-131; Grover S. Krantz, "A Species Named from Footprints," Northwest Anthropological Research Notes 19 (1986): 93-99; Donald Baird, "Sasquat ch Foot print s: A Proposed Met hod of Fabricat ion," Cryptozoology 8 (1989): 43-46; Thomas Steenburg, The Sasquatch in Alberta (Cal gary, Al t a., Canada: Western Publishers, 1990); Grover S. Krantz, Big Footprints (Boulder, Colo.: Johnson, 1992); Robert Michael Pyl e, Where Bigfoot Walks (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995); Loren Col eman, "Was t he First 'Bigfoot' a Hoax?" The Anomalist, no. 2 (Spring 1995): 8-27; Mark A. Hal l, The Yeti, Bigfoot, and True Giants (Minneapolis, Minn.: Mark A. Hall, 1997); Wol f H. Fanrenbach, "Sasquat ch: Size, Scal ing and Statistics," Cryptozoology 13 (1997-1998): 47-75; Grover S. Krant z, Bigfoot Sasquatch Evidence (Blaine, Wash.: Hancock House, 1999); Thomas Steenburg, In Search ofGiants: Bigfoot Sasquatch Encounters (Surrey, B.C., Canada: Hancock House, 2000); "Bigfoot Leaves His Mark," Fortean Times, no. 142 (February 2001): 12; Tatsha Robertson, "No Ifs, But t s about Bigfoot ," Boston Globe, Jul y 14, 2001; Mike Quast, Big Footage: A History of Claims for the Sasquatch on Film (Moorhead, Minn.: Mike Quast, 2001); Will Duncan, "What Is Living in t he Woods, and Why It Isn't Gigant opit hecus," Crypto Hominology Special, no. 1 (April 7, 2001), pp. 44-49, at ht t p//www.st rangeark.com/crypt o/ Crypt ohominids.pdf; Bigfoot Fiel d Researchers Organization, http://www.bfro.net; The Skookum Cast, http://www.bfro.net/news/ bodycast/index.ht ml; Benjamin Radford, "Bigfoot at 50: Eval uat ing a Hal f-Cent ury of Bigfoot Evidence," Skeptical Inquirer 26 (March-April 2002): 29-34; David J. Daegling, "Crippl efoot Hobbl ed," Skeptical Inquirer 26 (March-April 2002): 35-38.
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