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AKA: Sasquatch

Frame 352, alleged image of Bigfoot, from the Patterson-Gimlin film.
Grouping Cryptid
First reported In folklore
Country United States, Canada
Region Pacific Northwest (Primary)
Habitat Forests, Swamps, Mountains

Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, is an alleged ape-like creature purportedly inhabiting forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Bigfoot is usually described as a large, hairy, bipedal humanoid. Many believers in its existence contend that the same or similar creatures are found around the world under different regional names, most prominently the Yeti of the Himalayas.

The scientific community considers Bigfoot to be a combination of folklore, misidentification, and hoaxes, rather than a real creature.[1] Despite the repudiation of Bigfoot by science, it is one of the more famous examples of cryptozoology.



Bigfoot is described in reports as a large ape-like creature, ranging between 6–10 feet (1.8–3.0 m) tall, weighing in excess of 500 pounds (230 kg), and covered in dark brown or dark reddish hair.[2][3] 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. Bigfoot is commonly reported to have a strong, unpleasant smell by those who have claimed to have encountered it.[4] The enormous footprints for which it is named have been as large as 24 inches (61 cm) long and 8 inches (20 cm) wide.[2] While most casts have five toes—like all known apes—some casts of alleged Bigfoot tracks have had numbers ranging from two to six.[5] Some have also contained claw marks, making it likely that a portion came from known animals such as bears, which have four toes and claws.[6] Proponents have also claimed that Bigfoot is omnivorous and mainly nocturnal.[7]

About a third of all Bigfoot sightings are concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, with most of the remaining sightings spread throughout the rest of North America.[6][8][9] Some Bigfoot advocates, such as cryptozoologist John Willison Green, have postulated that Bigfoot is a worldwide phenomenon.[10]


Before 1958

Bigfoot descends, more or less, from wildmen stories of the indigenous population of the Pacific Northwest.[neutrality disputed] Its origins are difficult to discern as the legends existed prior to a single name for the creature.[11] The legends differed in their details both regionally and between families in the same community. Similar stories of wildmen are found on every continent except Antarctica.[11] Ecologist Robert Michael Pyle argues that most cultures have human-like giants in their folk history: "We have this need for some larger-than-life creature."[12]

Members of the Lummi tell tales about Ts'emekwes, the local version of Bigfoot. The stories are similar to each other in terms of the general descriptions of Ts'emekwes, but details about the creature's diet and activities differed between the stories of different families.[13]

Some regional versions contained more nefarious creatures. The stiyaha or kwi-kwiyai were a nocturnal race that children were told not to say the names of lest the monsters hear and come to carry off a person—sometimes to be killed.[14] In 1847, Paul Kane reported stories by the native people about skoocooms: a race of cannibalistic wild men living on the peak of Mount St. Helens.[6] The skoocooms appear to have been regarded as supernatural, rather than natural.[6]

Less menacing versions such as the one recorded by Reverend Elkanah Walker exist. In 1840, Walker, a Protestant missionary, recorded stories of giants among the Native Americans living in Spokane, Washington. The Indians claimed that these giants lived on and around the peaks of nearby mountains and stole salmon from the fishermen's nets.[15]

The local legends were combined together by J. W. Burns in a series of Canadian newspaper articles in the 1920s. Each language had its own name for the local version.[16] Many names meant something along the lines of "wild man" or "hairy man" although other names described common actions it was said to perform (e.g. eating clams).[17] Burns coined the term Sasquatch, which is from the Halkomelem sésquac meaning "wild man", and used it in his articles to describe a hypothetical single type of creature reflected in these various stories.[6][17][18] Burns's articles popularized both the legend and its new name, making it well known in western Canada before it gained popularity in the United States.[19]

After 1958

While the legends that form the basis of Bigfoot had been around for decades, if not centuries, and had been unified by Burns, it was not until the 1950s that Bigfoot truly came to fame. In 1951, Eric Shipton photographed what he described as a Yeti footprint.[19] The photograph was published shortly thereafter and gained wide attention.

The notoriety of ape-men grew over the decade, culminating in 1958 when large footprints were found in Humboldt County, California by bulldozer operator Gerold Crew. Sets of large tracks appeared multiple times around a road-construction site in Bluff Creek. After not being taken seriously about what he was seeing, Crew brought in his friend, Bob Titmus, to cast the prints in plaster. The story was published in the Humboldt Times along with a photo of Crew holding one of the casts.[6] The article's author, Andrew Genzoli, titled the piece "Bigfoot", after the 16 inches (41 cm) footprints.[20] Sasquatch received a new name and gained international attention when the story was picked up by the Associated Press.[6][21] Following the death of Ray Wallace, a logger who was at the site during the time the footprints appeared, his family attributed the creation of the footprints to him.[3] The wife of the editor of the original piece in the Humboldt Times has stated that her husband was in on the hoax with Wallace.[22]

The year 1958 was a watershed not just for the Bigfoot story itself but also for the culture that surrounds it. The first Bigfoot hunters began following the discovery of footprints at Bluff Creek. Tom Slick, who had previously funded searches for Yeti in the Himalayas earlier in the decade, organized searches for Bigfoot in the area around Bluff Creek.[23]

Distribution of reported Bigfoot sightings in the United States.

As Bigfoot has become more well known, becoming a phenomenon in popular culture, sightings have spread throughout North America. In addition to the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes region and the Southeastern United States have had many reports of Bigfoot sightings.

There has been a recent upsurge in televised entertainment concerning Bigfoot. Among these is the Monster Quest series, which has had shows on Bigfoot multiple times, and Destination Truth, which has had shows on Bigfoot and similar legends.

Prominent reported sightings

There have been many hundreds of alleged Bigfoot sightings. The most notable include:

  • 1924: Fred Beck claimed in a 1967 book that he and four other miners were attacked one night in July 1924, by several "apemen" throwing rocks at their cabin in an area later called Ape Canyon.[24] The men went outside and shot at what Beck described as "mountain gorillas". The next morning, large footprints were claimed to be found around the cabin.[6] Speleologist William Halliday argued in 1983 that the story arose from an incident in which hikers from a nearby camp had thrown rocks into the canyon.[25] There are also local rumors that pranksters harassed the men and planted faked footprints.[6]
  • 1941: Jeannie Chapman and her children claimed to have escaped their home when a large Sasquatch, allegedly 7½ feet tall, approached their residence in Ruby Creek, British Columbia.[26]
  • 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 at Bluff Creek, California. The crew was overseen by Wilbur L. Wallace, brother of Raymond L. Wallace. After Ray Wallace's death, his children came forward with a pair of 16-inch (41 cm) wooden feet, which they claimed their father had used to fake the Bigfoot tracks in 1958.[3][6] Wallace is poorly regarded by many Bigfoot proponents. Napier wrote, "I do not feel impressed with Mr. Wallace's story" regarding having over 15,000 feet of film showing Bigfoot.[27]
  • 1967: Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin reported that on October 20 they had captured a purported Sasquatch on film at Bluff Creek, California. This came to be known as the Patterson-Gimlin film, which is purported to be the best evidence of Bigfoot by many advocates. Many years later, Bob Heironimus, an acquaintance of Patterson's, claimed that he had worn an ape costume for the making of the film.[6]

Proposed explanations for sightings

Various types of creatures have been suggested to explain both the sightings and what type of creature Bigfoot would be if it existed. The scientific community typically attributes sightings to either hoaxes or misidentification of known animals and their tracks. While cryptozoologists generally explain Bigfoot as an unknown ape, some believers in Bigfoot attribute the phenomenon to UFOs or other paranormal causes.[28] A minority of proponents of a natural explanation have attributed Bigfoot to animals that are not apes such as the giant ground sloth.[29]


The reported size of Bigfoot approximates that of a bear standing on its hind legs, and bears have a high prevalence in regions said to be inhabited by Bigfoot; as such, they are likely candidates to explain some sightings.[30] A tale presented in Theodore Roosevelt's 1900 book Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches, describing an encounter between two hunters and a violent bear, is sometimes presented by Bigfoot proponents as historical evidence of the creature's existence.[31]


Even proponents of Bigfoot admit that many of the sightings are hoaxes or misidentified animals. Cryptozoologists Loren Coleman and Diane Stocking have estimated that as many as 70 to 80 percent of sightings are not real.[5]

Bigfoot sightings or footprints are often demonstrably hoaxes. Author Jerome Clark argues that the "Jacko affair", involving an 1884 newspaper report of an apelike creature captured in British Columbia, 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."[32]

On July 14, 2005, Tom Biscardi, a long-time Bigfoot enthusiast and CEO of Searching for Bigfoot Inc.:, appeared on the Coast to Coast AM paranormal radio show and announced that he was "98% sure that his group will be able to capture a Bigfoot which they have been tracking in the Happy Camp, California area."[33] A month later, Biscardi announced on the same radio show that he had access to a captured Bigfoot and was arranging a pay-per-view event for people to see it. Biscardi appeared on Coast to Coast AM again a few days later to announce that there was no captive Bigfoot. Biscardi blamed an unnamed woman for misleading him, and the show's audience for being gullible.[33]

On July 9, 2008, Rick Dyer and Matthew Whitton posted a video to YouTube claiming that they had discovered the body of a deceased Sasquatch in a forest in northern Georgia. Tom Biscardi was contacted to investigate. Dyer and Whitton received $50,000 from Searching for Bigfoot, Inc., as a good faith gesture.[34] The story of the men's claims was covered by many major news networks, including BBC,[35] CNN,[36] ABC News,[37] and FOX News.[38] Soon after a press conference, the alleged Bigfoot body arrived in a block of ice in a freezer with the Searching for Bigfoot team. When the contents were thawed, it was discovered that the hair was not real, the head was hollow, and the feet were rubber.[39][40] Dyer and Whitton subsequently admitted it was a hoax after being confronted by Steve Kulls, executive director of[41]


Bigfoot proponents Grover Krantz and Geoffrey Bourne believe that Bigfoot could be a relict population of Gigantopithecus. Bourne contends that as most Gigantopithecus fossils are found in China, and as many species of animals migrated across the Bering land bridge, it is not unreasonable to assume that Gigantopithecus might have as well.[42]

The Gigantopithecus hypothesis is generally considered entirely speculative. Gigantopithecus fossils are not found in the Americas. As the only recovered fossils are of mandibles and teeth, there is some uncertainty about Gigantopithecus's locomotion. Krantz has argued, based on his extrapolation of the shape of its mandible, that Gigantopithecus blacki could have been bipedal. However, the relevant part of mandible is not present in any fossils.[43] The mainstream view is that Gigantopithecus was quadrupedal, and it has been argued that Gigantopithecus's enormous mass would have made it difficult for it to adopt a bipedal gait.

Matt Cartmill presents another problem with the Gigantopithecus hypothesis: "The trouble with this account is that Gigantopithecus was not a hominin and maybe not even a crown-group hominoid; yet the physical evidence implies that Bigfoot is an upright biped with buttocks and a long, stout, permanently adducted hallux. These are hominin autapomorphies, not found in other mammals or other bipeds. It seems unlikely that Gigantopithecus would have evolved these uniquely hominin traits in parallel."[44]

Bernard G. Campbellin wrote: "That Gigantopithecus 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."[45]

Extinct hominans

A species of Paranthropus, such as Paranthropus robustus, with its crested skull and bipedal gait, was suggested by primatologist John Napier and anthropologist Gordon Strasenburg as a possible candidate for Bigfoot's identity,[46] despite the fact that fossils of Paranthropus are only found in Africa.

Some Bigfoot proponents suggest Neanderthal or Homo erectus to be the creature, but remains of either species are also not found in the New World.[47]

View among the scientific community

Scientists and academics overwhelmingly "discount the existence of Bigfoot because physical evidence supporting belief in the survival of a prehistoric, bipedal, apelike creature of such dimensions is scant or nonexistent."[3] In addition to the lack of evidence, they cite the fact that Bigfoot is alleged to live in regions unusual for a large, nonhuman primate, i.e., temperate latitudes in the northern hemisphere; all recognized nonhuman apes are found in the tropics of Africa and Asia. Great apes are not found in the fossil record in the Americas, and no Bigfoot remains have ever been found. Indeed, 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.[citation needed]

Most scientists do not give the subject of Bigfoot's existence serious attention, given the long history of dubious claims and outright hoaxes. 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."[48] Anthropologist David Daegling echoed this idea, citing a "remarkably limited amount of Sasquatch data that are amenable to scientific scrutiny."[49] 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."[50]

In a 1996 USA Today article titled "Bigfoot Merely Amuses Most Scientists", Washington State zoologist John Crane is quoted as saying: "There is no such thing as Bigfoot. No data other than material that's clearly been fabricated has ever been presented."[51]

George Schaller is one of a few prominent scientists[51] who argue that Bigfoot reports are worthy of serious study. A 2003 Los Angeles Times story described Schaller as a "Bigfoot skeptic," but he also expressed his disapproval towards other scientists who do not examine evidence, yet "write [Bigfoot] off as a hoax or myth. I don't think that's fair."[52] In a 2003 Denver Post article Schaller said that he is troubled that no Bigfoot remains have ever been uncovered, and no feces samples have been found to allow DNA testing. Schaller notes: "There have been so many sightings over the years, even if you throw out 95 percent of them, there ought to be some explanation for the rest. I think a hard-eyed look is absolutely essential."[53] Napier argues that some "soft evidence" is compelling enough that he advises against "dismissing its reality out of hand."[54] Other scientists who have expressed guarded interest in Sasquatch reports include Russell Mittermeier, Daris Swindler, and Esteban Sarmiento.[55]

Although most scientists find current evidence of Bigfoot unpersuasive, a handful 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, 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...."[56]

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."[57] 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.

In 2004, Henry Gee, editor of the prestigious magazine Nature, suggested 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."[58]

See also

Similar alleged creatures in North America
Similar alleged creatures outside of North America


  1. ^ Daegling, David J. (2004). Bigfoot Exposed: An Anthropologist Examines America's Enduring Legend. Altamira Press. pp. 62–63. ISBN 0-7591-0539-1. 
  2. ^ a b "Sasquatch". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-17. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Bigfoot [a.k.a. Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, Mapinguari (the Amazon), Sasquatch, Yowie (Australia) and Yeti (Asia)"]. The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved on 2008-08-17. 
  4. ^ "Sasquatch Smell / Aroma / Odor / Scent". Bigfoot Encounters. Retrieved on 2008-08-15. 
  5. ^ a b Radford, Benjamin (March/April 2002). "Bigfoot at 50". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved on 2008-08-17. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Nickell, Joe (January 2007). "Investigative Files: Mysterious Entities of the Pacific Northwest, Part I". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved on 2008-08-17. 
  7. ^ "Physiology". Bigfoot Field Research Organization. Retrieved on 2008-08-19. 
  8. ^ "Geographical Database of Bigfoot/Sasquatch Sightings and Reports". Bigfoot Field Research Organization. Retrieved on 2008-08-19. 
  9. ^ Cartmill, Matt (January 2008). "Bigfoot Exposed: An Anthropologist Examines America's Enduring Legend/Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science". American Journal of Physical Anthropology 135 (1): 118. 
  10. ^ Green, John Willison (1978). Sasquatch - The Apes Among Us. Hancock House Publishing. pp. 16. ISBN 0-88839-123-4. 
  11. ^ a b Daegling 2004, p. 28
  12. ^ Goodavage, Maria (1996-05-24). "Hunt for Bigfoot Attracts True Believers". USA TODAY/bz050. 
  13. ^ Rasmus, S. Michelle (Spring 200). "Repatriating Words: Local Knowledge in a Global Context". American Indian Quarterly 26 (2): 292. Retrieved on 2008-08-18. 
  14. ^ Rigsby, Bruce. "Some Pacific Northwest Native Language Names for the Sasquatch Phenomenon". Bigfoot: Fact or Fantasy?. Retrieved on 2008-08-18. 
  15. ^ "The Diary of Elkanah Walker". Bigfoot Encounters. Retrieved on 2007-08-01. 
  16. ^ See Mizokami, Kyle. "Native American Sasquatch Names". Sasquatch Research. Retrieved on 2008-08-18.  for a list of names.
  17. ^ a b Mildrum, Jeff (2007). Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. Macmillan. pp. 50. Retrieved on 2008-08-18. 
  18. ^ "Sasquatch". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved on 2007-08-07. 
  19. ^ "J. W. Burns". West Coast Sasquatch Research. Retrieved on 2008-08-19. 
  20. ^ Krantz, Grover (1992). Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch. Johnson Books. pp. 5. ISBN 1-55566-099-1. 
  21. ^ Driscoll, John (October 30, 2008), "Birth of Bigfoot", The Times-Standard (Eureka, CA), 
  22. ^ Daegling 2004, p. 35
  23. ^ Beck, Ronald A.. "I Fought the Apemen of Mount St. Helens, WA.". Retrieved on 2007-08-01. 
  24. ^ Halliday, William R. (1983). Ape Cave and the Mount St. Helens Apes. ISBN 1886168008. 
  25. ^ "Sasquatch Classics: Ruby Creek". 
  26. ^ Napier 1973, p. 89
  27. ^ Boston, Rob (December 2003). "Scenes from a Bigfoot Conference". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved on 2008-08-19. 
  28. ^ Daegling 2004, p. 20
  29. ^ "Is this Bigfoot ... or is it a bear with bad skin?". Mail Online. October 30, 2007. Retrieved on 2008-08-16. 
  30. ^ An example is Green 1978, pp. 29-34
  31. ^ Clark, Jerome (1993). Unexplained! 347 Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurrences and Puzzling Physical Phenomena. Visible Ink. pp. 195. ISBN 0-8103-9436-7. 
  32. ^ a b
  33. ^ Boone, Christian; Kathy Jefcoats (2008-08-20). "Searching for Bigfoot group to sue Georgia hoaxers". Atlanta Journal Constitution. 
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^,4670,BigfootClaim,00.html
  38. ^ Keefe, Bob (2008-08-19). "Bigfoot’s body a hoax, California site reveals". Cox News Service. 
  39. ^ "Indianapolis Fox 59 - Whitton & Dyer incident revealed as hoax". Retrieved on 2008-09-11. 
  40. ^ KI MAE, HEUSSNER (August 19, 2008). "A Monster Discovery? It Was Just a Costume" (in English). ABC News. Retrieved on 2008-10-22. 
  41. ^ Bourne, Geoffrey H.; Cohen, Maury (1975). The Gentle Giants: The Gorilla Story. G.P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 296. ISBN 0-399-11528-5. 
  42. ^ Daegling 2004, p. 14
  43. ^ Cartmill 2008, p. 117
  44. ^ Campbell, Bernard G. (1979). Humankind Emerging. Little, Brown and Company. pp. 100. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 78-78234. 
  45. ^ Coleman, Loren. "Scientific Names for Bigfoot". BFRO. Retrieved on 2008-08-19. 
  46. ^ Daegling 2004, p. 16
  47. ^ Napier, John Russell (1973). Bigfoot: The Sasquatch and Yeti in Myth and Reality. E.P. Dutton. ISBN 0-525-06658-6. 
  48. ^ Daegling 2004
  49. ^ Daegling 2004, p. 20
  50. ^ a b "USA Today Bigfoot Articles". Retrieved on 2008-08-18. .
  51. ^ Bailey, Eric (April 19, 2003). "Bigfoot's Big Feat: New Life; A prankster's deeds revealed posthumously appeared to doom the legend." (in English). The Los Angeles Times. pp. section A.1. Retrieved on 2007-10-05. 
  52. ^ Theo Stein (2003). "Bigfoot Believers: Legitimate scientific study of legend gains backing of top primate experts" (in English). archive. The Denver Post. Retrieved on October 5 2007. 
  53. ^ Napier 1973, p. 197
  54. ^ Stein, Theo (2003-01-05). "Bigfoot Believers". The Denver Post. 
  55. ^ "Transcript of Dr Jane Goodall's comments on NPR regarding Sasquatch". Bigfoot Field Research Organization. 2006. 
  56. ^ Markotic, Vladimir; Krantz, Grover (1984). The Sasquatch and Other Unknown Primates. Western Publishers. pp. 46. ISBN 0-919119-10-7. 
  57. ^ "Flores, God and Cryptozoology". Nature Publishing Group. 2004.  (available only with subscription).
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