- Evidence regarding Bigfoot
claims=There exists a great ape native to North America which has evaded detection in remote areas of the
Pacific Northwestand other regions of North America, in contrast to the mainstream view that no such creature exists.
origprop=J. W. Burns
John Bindernageland others
Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, (the supposed ape-like animal said to live in North America) is contentious. Every piece brought forward as evidence has aroused both criticism and support.
People generally report seeing Bigfoot in remote, wooded areas, some do originate from parks near major cities, such as
Portland, Oregon. [cddc.vt.edu (date of copyright unlisted). " [http://www.cddc.vt.edu/host/weishaus/Bigfoot/para-8b.htm The Silence of Sasquatch: Toeing the Dark Divide] " purporting to quote from, "A Bona Fide Bigfoot Sighting in Forest Park" by P. Stanford, Portland Tribune, August 17, 2001. p.A2.] Eyewitness reports are notoriously unreliable as the witness can both have seen events incorrectly as well as distorted the memory or them with time. [cite book|title=Principles of Cognitive Psychology |last=Eyesenck |first=Michael W. |edition=2nd ed |year=2003 |pages=p. 229 ] With only anecdotal evidence, there is no way to tell if a witness is describing events correctly or even trying to perpetrate a hoax. John Napier wrote that however accurate and sincere witnesses might seem, "eyewitness reports must be treated with considerable caution ... Although we don't always know what we see, we tend to see what we know." [cite book |last=Napier |first=John Russell |title=Bigfoot: The Sasquatch and Yeti in Myth and Reality |year=1973 |publisher=E.P. Dutton |isbn=0-525-06658-6 |pages=p. 19 |ref=Nap73 ] He also adds, "without checking possible ulterior motivations, eyewitnesses cannot be acceptable as primary data." [Napier 1973, p. 198]
Critics of eyewitness reports suggest that people may have mistaken bears for Bigfoot, as the forests where sightings most often occur are inhabited by bears. Standing on their hind legs, bears roughly match the description of Bigfoot. Bigfoot advocates counter that witnesses include experienced hunters and outdoorsmen, who claim to be familiar with bears, and insist that the creatures they saw were entirely different.
John Bindernagel, an advocate of Bigfoot, argues that the bear's snout and other body parts make it distinct from anything that would be identified as a Bigfoot. [Roger Thomas (date of copyright unlisted) " [http://www.rfthomas.clara.net/papers/binder.html Sasquatches In Our Woods] ".] However, these arguments assume that the witnesses had a good look at the creature. There are documented cases in which hunters have mistaken bears for Bigfoot. [cite news|url=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-490638/Is-Bigfoot---bear-bad-skin.html|title=Is this Bigfoot ... or is it a bear with bad skin?|publisher= Mail Online|date=30 October 2007 |accessdate=2008-08-16 ]
Proponents of Bigfoot claim that consistencies in the locations of reports support the hypothesis that they are caused by a real animal. The majority of Bigfoot reports are generated from areas having low human population densities. The often will occur near rivers, creeks, or lakes and from areas where annual rainfall exceeds convert|20|in|mm.Fact|date=September 2008 Bigfoot advocates claim that these common factors indicate patterns of a living species occupying an
ecological nicherather than hoaxed sightings. [Roger Thomas (date of copyright unlisted) " [http://www.rfthomas.clara.net/news/talesofbf.html Tales of Bigfoot legend include sightings in Georgia — even Clarke County] ".] [cite book |last=Krantz |first=Grover S. |authorlink=Grover Krantz |title=Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch |publisher=Johnson Books |year=1992 |isbn=1-55566-099-1 |pages=pp. 158-171 |ref=Kra92 ]
Native American artifacts
Legends and certain historical artifacts of the
Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coasthave been presented as circumstantial evidence for Bigfoot. The modern legend of Bigfoot has been suggested to descend from traditional Native stories.
Robert Pyle argues that "Certain artifacts suggest that some Amerindians were acquainted with "something" having the visage of an
ape," specifically "several carved stone heads from the Columbia Riverbasin," which Pyle believes depict "prognathous, chinless faces with heavy brow ridges and in at least one case a sagittal crest."cite book |last=Pyle |first=Robert Michael |title=Where Bigfoot Walks |publisher=Houghton Mifflin |year=1995 |isbn=0-395-44114-5 |pages=p. 146 |ref=Pyl95 ] These stone carvings date to pre-Columbian times, According to B. Robert Butler these stone carvings date to the Wakemap Middle Period, circa 1500 BCE to 200 CE. [cite book |last=Halpin |first=Marjorie |coauthors=Ames, Michael |title=Manlike Monsters on Trial: Early Records and Modern Evidence |title=University of British Columbia Press |year=1980 |isbn=0-7748-0119-0 |pages=299 |ref=Hal80 ] Pyle adds, "relics do not prove that Bigfoot exists or that [natives] had contact with apes, but they do raise some uncomfortable questions."
These artifacts are discussed at length by anthropologist
Roderick Spraguein "Carved Stone Heads of the Columbia and Sasquatch". Dozens of similar stone heads were recovered and most depict common animals. Sprague examines seven carved heads, which he argues have distinctively primate-like features. Like Pyle, Sprague notes that this does not necessarily support Bigfoot's existence, but Sprague sees the question of what inspired the carved stone heads as intriguing and unresolved.
In "The Tsimshian Monkey Masks and Sasquatch," the anthropologist and ethnologist
Marjorie Halpindescribes two wood facemasks that were collected from the Tsimshianand Nisga'atribes near Prince Rupert, British Columbia. One was obtained by Lieutenant G. T. Emmons in about 1914, and the other was obtained by Marius Barbeauin 1927. [Hancock House " [http://forum.hancockhouse.com/article.php/20050914091500648 First Nations Belief in "Mountain Monkeys"] "] [Sotheby's " [http://www.thecityreview.com/f99samind.html Lot 259, a rare and important Tsimshian wood face mask, Nishga 10 3/4 inches high] "] Emmons described the artifact as "a mythical being found in the woods, and called today as a monkey." [Halpin 1980, p. 211] Halpin also reports that the physical anthropologist R.D.E. MacPhee examined the Emmons mask and noted that it had both primate-like features. [Halpin 1980, p. 212] Halpin details the elaborate mask-related folklore and rites pertaining to a creature called "pi'kis", which has both human and animal traits (especially connected to otters). He also describes the creature as occupying a "dangerously close intersection between human and animal" in native lore. [Halpin 1980, p. 225] As with the carved stone heads, Halpin notes that these monkey-like masks alone do not prove that Sasquatch are real; rather, they are curious artifacts which warrant further investigation.
In the article "On the Cultural Track of Sasquatch", Wayne Suttles offers a detailed examination of such legends, cited from various Pacific northwest tribes, including tales from the
Salish, Lummi, Samishand Klallampeoples. Suttles confirms the often-repeated observation that none of the groups makes a "real/mythical or natural/supernatural dichotomy." [cite book |last=Sprague |first=Roderick |coauthors=Krantz, Grover |title=A Scientist Looks at the Sasquatch II |publisher=University Press of Idaho |year=1978 |isbn=0-89301-061-8 |pages=43 |ref=Spr78 ] However, Suttles concludes that rather than being inspired by a real creature, "It seems more likely that these beliefs have grown out of several sources and have been maintained in several ways. One of the sources may have been a real man-like animal. But I must reluctantly admit that as I have presented data and organized arguments, I have found its track getting fainter and fainter." [Sprague 1978, p. 71]
Some scientistswho have speculated that such evidence is, in fact, circular. Sasquatch statues and legends existed long before the modern Bigfoot sightings. Thus, it is speculated these legends reinforced the first modern-day "mysterious sighting" as "some kind of giant apelike creature", creating the Bigfoot legend. In other words, the legend of Sasquatch created the Bigfoot legend, and therefore cannot be used as evidence. [cite web|url=http://www.csicop.org/si/2007-01/i-files.html |title=Investigative Files: Mysterious Entities of the Pacific Northwest, Part I |first=Joe |last=Nickell |year=2007 |month=January |accessdate=2008-08-17 |publisher=
Skeptical Inquirer] [ cite web|url=http://www.bigfootencounters.com/classics/walker.htm |title=The Diary of Elkanah Walker |publisher=Bigfoot Encounters |accessdate=2007-08-01 ]
Photographs or plaster casts of presumed Sasquatch footprints are often cited by cryptozoologists as important evidence. It is from that that Bigfoot received its most widely used name. Advocates of Bigfoot claim that tracks provide enough evidence to determine whether a footprint is genuine or hoaxed without having a gold standard from which to work from (i.e. a cast made from a footprint that is universally agreed to have come from Bigfoot). [cite book |title=Bigfoot Exposed: An Anthropologist Examines America's Enduring Legend |last=Daegling |first=David J. |authorlink= |year=2004 |publisher=Altamira Press |isbn=0-7591-0539-1 |ref=Dae04 |pages=p. 170 ] Coleman and Clark write that hoaxes are often clumsy in comparison to presumably genuine prints, which "show distinctive forensic features that to investigators indicate they are not fakes."cite book |last=Coleman |first=Loren |coauthors=Clark, Jerome |title=Cryptozoology A to Z, Fireside Books |year=1999 |isbn=0-684-85602-6 |pages=p. 42 |ref=Col99 ] Notably, Krantz claimed to have two ways of determining if a footprint was genuine or a hoax. He did not reveal his two techniques due to concern that they would be used in future hoaxes. However, Krantz authenticated a known hoax sent to him using his two criteria. [Daegling 2004, p. 175]
One of the features that Krantz argues suggests that footprints are due to a real creature rather than hoaxers is pressure ridges. These are small mounds of soil created "by a horizontal push of the forefoot just before it leaves the ground."Krantz 1992, p. 36] For normal human locamotion the main pressure ridge occurs near the front, but in some Bigfoot tracks the primary ridge occurs in the middle of the foot. [Daegling 2004, p. 172] Krantz writes that "the push-off mound in midfootprint is one of the most impressive pieces of evidence to me," and argues that neither artificial wood nor rubber Bigfoot feet can create this feature, after trying to duplicate it.Krantz 1992, p. 36] However, anthropologists David Daegling and Dan Schmitt were able to creat many different patterns of pressure ridges by walking with a complaint gait. [Daegling 2004, p. 173]
Another feature of Bigfoot tracks that is used in support by advocates is the spacing between prints. Krantz writes: "The comfortable walking step for humans is about half the individual's standing height, or a trace more. Sasquatch step measurements correspond, in general, to stature estimates that are reported from sightings." [Krantz 1992, p. 22] Krantz also reports that reputed Sasquatch steps are "in excess of three feet", [Krantz 1992, p. 21] arguing that this enormous step would be difficult or impossible for hoaxers to create artificially by wearing fake feet. Critics argue that proponents discount the ingenuity of hoaxers. Krantz, himself, reported an instance of a high-school hoaxer creating convert|8|ft|m long Bigfoot strides up a steep slope by strapping fake feet on backwards and running down the slope. [Daegling 2004, p. 169]
Bigfoot prints have a wide variety of features. In addition to the normal prints of a human-like foot with five toes, casts with anything between two and six toes have been attributed to Bigfoot.cite web|url=http://www.csicop.org/si/2002-03/bigfoot.html |title=Bigfoot at 50 |last=Radford |first=Benjamin |publisher=
Skeptical Inquirer|year=2002|month=March/April|accessdate=2008-09-27 ] Even among the standard type of footprint, variations occur in pressure ridges and toe position, which Krantz argues points to a real creature rather than a hoax. [Krantz 1992, p. 23]
Henry Franzoni argues that the distribution of Bigfoot prints supports the hypothesis that they are caused by a real animal rather than hoaxers:cquote| [W. Henner Farenbach] has studied a database of 550 track cast length measurements and has made some preliminary observations... The Gaussian distribution of the 550 footprint lengths gives a curve that is very similar to the curve given by living populations of known animals without much
sexual dimorphismin footprint length. The standard error is very low, so additions to the database will not affect the result very much. It is not very likely that coordinated groups of hoaxers conspiring together for 38 years (the time span covered by the database of track measurements) could provide such a 'life-like' distribution in footprint lengths. Groups of hoaxers who did not conspire together would almost certainly result in a non-Gaussian distribution for the database of footprint lengths." [Roger Thomas (date of copyright unlisted) " [http://www.rfthomas.clara.net/papers/faq.html#q1 Bigfoot/Sasquatch FAQ: Question 1: Is "Bigfoot" real? And if you believe it is real, what is your best evidence for believing so?] ".] The Gaussian distribution is found in many phenomena. A Gaussian distribution of hoaxed footprints is possible if hoaxers had a conception of roughly how big a Bigfoot print should be. This would result in a greater number of prints around the mean with the prevalance of larger and smaller prints falling off similarly to a Gaussian distribution.
A series of alleged Bigfoot tracks found near
Bossburg, Washington, in 1969 appeared to show that the creature's right foot was affected by clubfoot. The deformed footprints are consistent with genuine disfigurement, and somewho argue that a hoax is unlikely. John Napier wrote of this case, "It is very difficult to conceive of a hoaxer so subtle, so knowledgeable; and so sick; who would deliberately fake a footprint of this nature. I suppose it is possible, but it is so unlikely that I am prepared to discount it." [Roger Thomas (date of copyright unlisted) " [http://www.rfthomas.clara.net/papers/cripplefoot.html Cripplefoot hobbled] ".] Krantz declared that "analysis of the apparent anatomy of these tracks proved to be the first convincing evidence... that the animals were real." [Krantz 1992, p. 54]
Rene Dahinden, Ivan Marx, and another investigator found the tracks shortly after encountering another vehicle parked by the side of the road. Marx pulled over, got out, and walked off, returning shortly and explaining that they had to leave immediately to retrieve his camera equipment since he'd just found tracks. Many have suggested that the track makers (whose car was parked by the road) simply weren't done leaving the fake trackway for the Bigfooters to "find." John Green regards the entire Bossburg episode to be a hoax.
As another argument offered for the existence of Bigfoot, Krantz cited two alleged Sasquatch handprints taken from northeastern Washington in the summer of 1970. He claims the prints were of a left hand, showing a very broad, flat palm (more than twice as broad as Krantz' own larger-than-average hands) with stubby fingers, lacking an
opposable thumb. Krantz writes that the prints have "many irregularities ... which cannot be identified in terms of human anatomy." [Sprague 1978, p. 118]
Another pair of alleged handprints was recovered in the late 1980s by Paul Freeman and given to Krantz for analysis; for similar reasons, Krantz judged them genuine. [Krantz 1992, pp. 47–51]
Several alleged Bigfoot hand and foot impressions said to contain dermal ridges (
fingerprints) have been discovered; fingerprints are present only on humans and other primates.
Krantz reports that he offered casts of these prints to "more than forty" law enforcement fingerprint specialists across Canada and the United States for study. The reactions that he received ranged from "'very interesting' and 'they sure look real' to 'there is no doubt these are real.' The only exception was the
Federal Bureau of Investigationexpert who had said something to this effect, 'The implications of this are just too much; I can't believe it's real.'"Krantz 1992, p. 71]
Krantz offered these same casts to physical anthropologists and
primatologists. Conclusions were similarly varied, with several ruling them hoaxes. Tim White, unlike most respondents, said there was "no good reason to reject them." Opinion remains divided, however, with suggestions that the man who allegedly discovered the prints had confessed to other hoaxes.
One of the casts with visible fingerprints showed what Krantz took to be
sweatpores. Krantz reports that "police expert Benny Kling ... commented that anyone who could engrave ridge detail of such quantity and quality should be making counterfeitmoney."Krantz 1992, p. 77] This same print showed dysplasia, a common minor irregularity. Krantz writes, "The late Robert Olson was particularly impressed with this irregularity, as was Ed Palma of the San Diego Police Department."
The Skookum Body Cast was collected in the summer of 2000 after the
Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization(BFRO) set out fruit bait in a rain run-off puddle near Skookum Meadows in the Gifford Pinchot National forest ( Bigfoot Field Researchers Organizationweb site). A handful of top U.S. primate anatomy experts argue that the impression left in the mud near the fruit is the impression of a Sasquatch. 325 pounds of casting material was used to capture a "half-body print" consisting of an imprint of what has been called "a Sasquatch's butt, ankles, hip, thigh, left arm, and apparent hair on the body." "Skookum" is the Native American Chinook word for Bigfoot or Sasquatch and according to Chinook Indian historian Joel Freeman, "Skookum" simply meant "powerful". [Coleman 1999, p. 18]
All of the scientists who have examined the Skookum Cast in person, including, but not limited to, Dr. Jeff Meldrum (Anthropologist - Idaho State University - Pocatello), Dr. Daris Swindler (Anthropologist - University of Washington) and Dr. Esteban Sarmiento (Anthropologist - The American Museum of Natural History - New York City) have unanimously confirmed that the Skookum impression is not an elk impression.Fact|date=August 2008
In March 3, 2001, journalist Marc Hume wrote an article for the "
National Post" in which he claimed he recognized, based on some photos of the cast, the tracks of an elk and described, "imprints left that would match perfectly with an elk's legs." In his opinion, the cast was "if anything, a cast of the impression made by the hindquarters of an elk."Fact|date=August 2008 Hume never saw the cast in person, however, and was not aware that there were a few elk tracks in the large slab cast. There were tracks of a least five different mammal species in the cast, including coyote, elk and human (the finders of the impression almost stepped on it).Fact|date=August 2008
In July 2006, a geologist named Dr. Anton Wroblewski saw a gallery duplicate of the cast at science exhibit in Texas. It was the first time that Wroblewski, a long-time skeptic of the Skookum cast, saw a duplicate in person. After seeing the duplicate at the exhibit, Wrobleswki wrote up an analysis which agreed with his prior skeptical opinion about the cast. His analysis disagreed with the scientists who examined the actual cast and who positively ruled out elk as a cause. Unlike the prominent anthropologists who carefully studied the cast in Seattle in late 2000, Wroblewski has no training in any field relevant to the study of mammals and their impressions.
Hair and blood
Hairs retrieved from a bush in 1968 near
Riggins, Idahowere given to Roy Pinker, a police science instructor at California State University, Los Angeles. Pinker concluded that the hair samples did not match any samples from known animal species. Pinker also stated that he could not attribute them as being Bigfoot hairs without a bonafide Bigfoot hair sample to compare to. [Halpin 1980, p. 296] Pinker's analysis did not use genetic fingerprinting, which was not developed until the 1980s. In "Analysis of Feces and Hair Suspected to be of Sasquatch Origin", anthropologist Vaughn M. Bryant Jr. and ecologist Burleigh Trevor-Deutch report the analysis of six alleged Bigfoot hairs recovered near Riggins, Idaho. [Halpin 1980, pp. 191-200] They examined several sets of hair samples and their results were inconclusive, but the samples appeared to be most similar to those from a Black bear. [Roger Thomas (date of copyright unlisted) " [http://www.rfthomas.clara.net/papers/bryant.html Analysis of Feces and Hair Suspected to Be of Sasquatch Origin] .]
Hair samples were also taken from a house located on the
LummiIndian reservation in Washington. Three more samples were retrieved from Maryland, Oregonand California. Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Ellis R. Kerleyand Physical Anthropologist Dr. Stephen Rosen of the University of Maryland, as well as Tom Moore, the Supervisor of the Wyoming Game and Fish Laboratory, examined the hair samples and stated that all the hair samples matched in terms of belonging to a "non species specific mammal". They concurred in finding that the four sets matched each other, were similar to gorilla and human but were neither, and they did not match 84 other species of North American mammals. They found that the samples had primate, carnivore and ungulate characteristics. Rosen said if he had to choose he would guess it was an unknown primate.Fact|date=August 2008 Blood associated with the sample from Idaho was tested by Dr. Vincent Sarich of the University of Californiaand found to be that of a higher primate though Dr Sarich has suggested that the blood could possibly have been human. Like the Riggins samples above, these were not subjected to DNA tests.Fact|date=August 2008
Dr. Jeff Meldrum at Idaho State University has other hair and DNA samples that are clearly primate in origin, but from no known primate species.Fact|date=August 2008 Dr. Henner Fahrenbach in Arizona has several hair/DNA samples which he concludes are Sasquatch in origin—samples screened from hundreds of possible samples sent to him over the years.Fact|date=August 2008 Many hair samples sent in for examination did not contain hair follicles, so DNA analysis was impossible.
The DNA tests used on somatic samples give very limited information as there is no known Bigfoot sample to compare it to. The process can only compare the unknown sample to a set of known samples, which necessarily lacks samples of all known animals. [cite web |url=http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050810133244.htm |title=Possible Sasquatch Hair Turns Out To Be Bison |date=2005-08-10 |publisher=Science Daily |accessdate=2008-08-20 ] Therefore, a hoaxer could obtain hair from a species that is not native to North America, which would have a high chance of not being included in the set of samples tested against. It would receive the same result as a genuine Bigfoot sample: inconclusive.
Absence of fossil evidence
There is ample fossil evidence in North America of prehistoric species of
bear, wolves, deer, cougar, moose, mammoth, ground sloth, and woolly rhinoceros. Most of these fossil remains have been collected from Plioceneand Pleistoceneera "death traps", such as sink holesand tar pits. In contrast, only one partial human skeleton has ever been recovered from a tar pit (currently housed at the Page Museum). Outside of these "death traps", only caves provide a concentrated source of poorly preserved fossil remains. Aside from those fossils identified as human remains, there is no evidence of a prehistoric hominid or any other primate in North America. Additionally, no one has found coproliths(fossilized dung) identified as coming from a Bigfoot.
Bigfoot researchers argue that the absence of fossilized evidence is not evidence of Bigfoot's absence. Coleman and Patrick Huyghe argue that "no one will look for such fossils, if the creatures involved are not thought to exist in the first place". Somewho have suggested that fossils identified as "large ancient natives" may actually be the mis-identified remains of Bigfoots; however, it was common in the early days of
paleontologyto mis-identify fragments of woolly rhinocerosas being human bones, and for the press to exaggerate mundane holoceneera finds as being the remains of giantsor nephilim. Even with recognized primates, fossil finds are usually meager at best. [cite book |last=Coleman |first=Loren |coauthors=Huyghe, Patrick |title=The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide |publisher=Avon Books |year=1999 |isbn=0-380-80263-5 |pages=p. 162 ] North American human remains are themselves quite rare outside of holocene era grave sites, although it is certain that large human populations existed in North America, as indicated by caches of discarded tools. It is worth noting that fossilscan only form where and when conditions are suitable, such as tar pits, sink holes, swamps, and some caves. Tar pits and sink holes concentrate fossil remains due to their longevity, their ability to trap and kill four-legged animals, and the rapid burial of the remains in their sediments. Humans (and presumably Bigfoots) avoid fossilization in these fossil troves due to their capabilities for self-extraction and communal extraction efforts.
Audio and visual evidence
Analysis of purported Sasquatch vocalizations have been recorded and analyzed, leading
bioacousticsexpert Dr. Robert Benson of Texas A&M University - Corpus Christito report that some recordings "left him puzzled", and helped alter his perspective somewhat, "from being a raving skepticto being curiously receptive." [USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. (2006). " [http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002-10-31-bigfoot-cover_x.htm Bigfoot's indelible imprint] ".]
There have been several alleged photos or motion pictures of Bigfoot. The best-known was filmed by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin on October 20, 1967. This film has generated much discussion and debate.
Critics noteFact|date=February 2008 that audio and/or visual evidence is typically of poor quality.
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