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Frame 352 from the Patterson-Gimlin film

Bigfoot, (also known as Big Foot and Sasquatch), is the name of a phenomenon which has polarised people around the world, being either the product of vivid imagination or a creature that has somehow avoided close observation or capture by man.

Bigfoot is described as a large, bipedal hairy humanoid creature living in remote wilderness areas of the United States and Canada, specifically those in southwestern Canada, the Great Lakes, the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, the forests of the U.S. Northeast, and the U.S. Southern states. Some claim it is a creature which may be found around the world under different regional names, such as the Yeti, or is at least a closely related species. Sightings have allegedly occurred in Malaysia, China, Russia, Australia, South America and Hawaii. [1] [2] [3]

The majority of scientists reject the possibility of the creature's existence, and consider the stories of Bigfoot to be a combination of unsubstantiated folklore and hoax. This is due to current scientific knowledge plus the lack of bones or a body.

Descriptions are widely divergent

Individuals claiming to have seen Bigfoot give widely divergent descriptions. They generally describe a 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meter) tall, ape- or human-like bipedal creature, broad-shouldered and of a strong build. Aside from the face, the palms of the hands, and the soles of the feet, the creature's body is said to be covered with short shaggy fur that is usually black or dark brown in color, though rust, reddish, sandy or silver fur are occasionally reported.

Reports sometimes describe large eyes (Green 1978:16), a pronounced brow [4], and a large, pointed, low-set forehead [5] that is alternately reported as crested and rounded.

Enormous human-like footprints attributed to this creature gave rise to the name "Bigfoot". Ecologist Robert Michael Pyle describes them as follows: "Tracks commonly measure fifteen to twenty inches or more in length. They have five toes, a double-muscle ball, and a wide arch" (Pyle, 3).

Foul odours, reminiscent of faeces, sewage, carrion (rotten meat/ dead animals) or strong body odour are believed by some to likely be associated with Bigfoot. [6]

What some people believe to be Sasquatch vocalizations have been described as high-pitched shrieks or whistles, and in others as low-pitched, guttural grunting or squealing. [7] However, there is no widely accepted evidence demonstrating a link between such sounds and the alleged creature.

Most alleged sightings have been at night, leading to speculation among proponents that the creatures, if they exist, could be nocturnal.

Opinions even exist about this theoretical creature's diet. According to Bigfoot researcher and anthropologist Grover Krantz, "the kinds of food that are consumed by sasquatches are reported by many observers; how many of these reports are accurate is a matter of diverse opinion." (Krantz, 159) He also adds, "In general I would describe the sasquatch as omnivorous. It is probably mainly a vegetarian and what might be described as an 'opportunistic carnivore'" (ibid, 160-161).

The alleged disposition of the individual creatures vary.

Bigfoot phenomenon

Bigfoot is one of the more famous creatures in cryptozoology. Cryptozoologist John Green has postulated that Bigfoot is a worldwide phenomenon (Green 1978:16).

Many who consider the creature's existence a possibility claim that accounts of large, hairy, ape-like or "wild man" creatures (or reports of inexplicably large, human-like footprints) from the Pacific Northwest date as far back as the late 18th century. Some researchers have argued that these earlier accounts are consistent with more contemporary Bigfoot reports, while critics doubt their authenticity and question the accuracy of interpreting older reports through modern preconceptions. Skeptics also question the authenticity of these earlier reports in general, as many of them were not documented before the 1950s.

The earliest unambiguous reports of gigantic ape-like 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 [8] As noted in "Etymology" below, similar reports appear in the mainstream press dating back at least to the 1920s.

The phenomenon reached widespread recognition in 1958 when enormous footprints were reported in Humboldt County, California.

Mainstream scientists have found existing physical Bigfoot evidence and sightings unpersuasive; generally, science dismisses the phenomenon as the product of the misidentification of common animals, mythology or folklore. For instance, northern Europe's former belief in trolls has been suggested to be similar to Bigfoot legends. The Swedish author, naturalist and debunker of cryptozoological claims, Bengt Sjögren, suggested this humorous explanation (1962) to the reported hominid cryptids:

"Since we stopped worrying that the trolls would come and get us, their existence have become so pointless that they have all emigrated. Some of them got lost and ended up in the Rocky Mountains, and one of them was temporarily seen by professor Pronin in Soviet Pamir. But the majority of these poor trolls into exile have established themselves in Himalaya, where they only risk being seen by people with a desire to have something to tell."

Less charitable scientists have argued that many (or most) sightings are simply hoaxes.

Many academics and professionals contend that further study is a waste of time, but others argue that though current evidence may be lacking, new data should be evaluated objectively as it arises. Others (including an active subculture composed primarily of amateurs) continue research and consider the existence of Bigfoot a possibility.


The words "Bigfoot" and "Sasquatch" are often used interchangeably, though they have different origins worth noting. The term "Sasquatches" sometimes refers to the unknown beings collectively, whereas "Bigfoot" is often used to refer to an individual creature. Usually, in the plural, "Bigfoot creatures" is more acceptable, and this terminology is generally accepted by researchers.


The late Smithsonian primatologist John Napier noted that "the term Bigfoot has been in colloquial use since the early 1920's to describe large, unaccountable human-like footprints in the Pacific northwest" (Napier, 74). However, according to Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark, Andrew Genzoli deserves credit for the first formal use of the word on October 5, 1958 (Coleman and Clark, 39-40). Genzoli was a columnist and editor at the Humbolt Times, and that day's front page story showed Jerry Crew, a bulldozer operator on a road-building crew, holding an enormous plaster cast of a footprint. The text began, "While the tracks of old Big Foot have been in evidence for some time...," before detailing the worker's claims to have discovered an enormous footprint at an isolated work site [9]. Genzoli's story was picked up by the Associated Press and garnered international attention, culminating several years later into what anthropologist Grover Krantz characterized as "sasquatch mania" (Krantz, 5).

It is worth noting that Crew was overseen by Wilbur L. Wallace, brother of Raymond L. Wallace, who both later claimed to have collected conclusive evidence of Bigfoot's existence and to have hoaxed substantial amounts of it. Wallace 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).


The term "Sasquatch" was coined in the 1920s by J.W. Burns, a school teacher at a British Columbian Chehalis reservation. Burns collected Native American accounts regarding large, hairy creatures said to live in the wild. Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark wrote that Burns's "Native American informants called these beasts by various names, including 'sokqueatl' and 'soss-q'tal'" (Coleman and Clark, p. 215). Burns noted the phonetically similar names for the creatures and decided to invent one term for them all. That name, Sasquatch, happens to be similar to the word for the beast in the Chehalis dialect of Halkemeylem, sesqac (c=ts). Interestingly, proponents note, Chehalis is in the area where historic Bigfoot sightings are densest, and is generally considered to be, if anywhere is, "Sasquatch territory." The Sasquatch is, in fact, a local clan totem and the band is nonchalant about the creature's existence, except to say that the creature is camera-shy and would rather be left alone.

Over time, Burns's neologism came to be used by others, primarily in the Pacific Northwest. In 1929, Maclean's published one of Burns's articles, "Introducing British Columbia's Hairy Giants," which included the word "Sasquatch" in describing the enormous creatures.

After widespread publicity surrounding the 1958's Bigfoot reports from Humbolt County, California, researchers began searching old newspapers and documents for similar accounts, thus rediscovering and popularizing Burns's term.

To some ears, "Sasquatch" has a less sensationalistic association than does "Bigfoot," and is consequently more popular among researchers who strive for legitimacy.

Eyewitness reports

Some cryptozoologists have argued that the most persuasive circumstantial evidence for Bigfoot's existence is the high number (possibly thousands) of credible eyewitness reports from individuals, who claim to have clearly seen creatures that they describe as large, bipedal and ape-like.

The majority of Sasquatch reports are generated from areas having low human population densities, but many do originate from parks near major cities, such as Portland, Oregon [10], Washington, D.C. [11], and Baltimore, Maryland [12]. In addition, most sightings are near rivers, creeks or lakes, and from areas where annual rainfall exceeds twenty inches (500 mm). Researchers point out that these common factors indicate patterns of a living species occupying an ecological niche, as opposed to hoaxed sightings [13]. The late Grover Krantz noted these same points and offered a detailed proposal for Sasquatch ecology and social behavior (Krantz, 158-171).

Critics suggest people may have mistaken bears for Bigfoot, as sightings are near habitats of bears. However, the witnesses include experienced hunters and outdoorsmen, who claim to be familiar with bears, and insist that the creatures they saw were not bears. Biologist John Bindernagel argues there are marked differences between bears and Sasquatch reports that make confusion unlikely: "In profile, the bear's prominent snout is markedly different from the Sasquatch flat face. In frontal view, the Sasquatch squarish shoulders contrast with the bear's tapered shoulders. The Sasquatch has relatively long legs that allow for a graceful stride, in contrast with the short-legged shuffles of a bear when it walks on its hind legs. A bear's ears are usually visible, while those of the Sasquatch are apparently hidden under long hair" [14]. Krantz made similar arguments (Krantz, 5).

Problems with eyewitness reports

As previously mentioned, Bigfoot sightings are near the habitats of bears, including the grizzly bear. Bears are large and furry and often stand up on their hind legs, leading to speculation that Bigfoot witnesses mistook bears for something more exotic.

It has also been suggested that the number of people reporting Bigfoot sightings could be explained by hoaxes or "confusion" about what they really encountered. Similarly, 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" (Napier, 19). He also adds, "without checking possible (ulterior) motivations, they (eyewitnesses) cannot be acceptable as primary data" (ibid, 198).

Bigfoot researchers claim that there are many sightings that pre-date the worldwide interest in the subject. It has, however, been suggested that such stories were either not reported until afterwards, or have little or no resemblance to typical Bigfoot sightings; researchers may be misinterpreting or selectively citing these accounts to support their own conclusions.

Native American culture

There are various Native American artifacts presented as circumstantial evidence for the existence of Sasquatch.

Stone heads

Pyle writes, "Certain artifacts suggest that some Amerindians were acquainted with something having the visage of an ape," and adds: "several carved stone heads from the Columbia River basin" (Pyle, 146). Pyle also notes that prominent paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh wrote in 1877, "Among the many stone carvings (from the Columbia) were a number of heads, which so strongly resemble those of apes that the likeness at once presents itself" (ibid). Furthermore, the stone carvings are prehistoric (a conclusion supported by B. Robert Butler, who determined the heads as dating from Wakemap Middle Period, 1500 BC to 200 AD (Halpin and Ames, 299), depicting "prognathous, chinless faces with heavy brow ridges and in at least one case a sagittal crest." Pyle adds, "relics do not prove that Bigfoot exists or that they (natives) had contact with apes, but they do raise some uncomfortable questions" (Ibid, 146).

These artifacts are discussed at length by anthropologist Roderick Sprague in 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 monkey- or ape-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.

Face masks

In The Tsimshian Monkey Masks and Sasquatch, anthropologist and ethnologist Marjorie Halpin describes two wood facemasks that were collected from the Tsimshian and Nisga'a tribes (near Prince Rupert, British Columbia). One was obtained by Lieutenant G.T. Eammons in about 1914, and the other was obtained by C.M. Barbes in 1927.

Eammons described the artifact as "a mythical being found in the woods, and called today as a monkey" (Haplin and Ames, 211). Halpin also reports that physical anthropologist R.D.E. MacPhee examined the Eammons mask and noted that it had both monkey- and ape-like features, but could not match it exactly to any recognized species (ibid, 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 (ibid, 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.

Problems with Native American culture as evidence

Jerome Clark offers a skeptical perspective of Native American legends which are sometimes presented as evidence to support Bigfoot's existence, writing: "...such beliefs are usually taken out of context and selectively cited ... Comparable monsters loom large in a number of North American Indian mythologies; they warn members of violating taboos and serve other, more complex functions within tribal societies" (Clark, 28).

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, Samish and Klallam peoples. Suttles confirms the often-repeated observation that none of the groups makes "real/mythical or natural/supernatural dichotomy" (Sprague and Krantz, 43). 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" (ibid, 71).

Physical evidence

Bigfoot researchers make numerous claims that there is physical evidence for the creature's existence. Such evidence has seen, at best, minimal and scattered interest from mainstream experts, and are regarded as far from conclusive. Template:Infobox Pseudoscience

Alleged Bigfoot sightings

The Jacobs Creature 2007 sighting from the BFRO
  • 1811: On January 7, 1811, David Thompson, a surveyor and trader for the North West Company, spots large, well-defined footprints in the snow near Athabasca River, Jasper, Alberta, while attempting to cross the Rocky Mountains. The tracks measure 14 inches in length and 8 inches in width.
  • 1840: Protestant missionary Reverend Elkanah Walker records myths of hairy giants persistent among Native Americans living in Spokane, Washington. The Indians report that said giants steal salmon and have strong smell.
  • 1893: An account by Theodore Roosevelt is published this year in The Wilderness Hunter. Roosevelt relates 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. (Note: Roosevelt's testimony is the only evidence this encounter ever occurred.)
  • 1924: Albert Ostman claims to have been kidnapped and held captive for several days by a family of sasquatch. The incidence occurred during the summer in Toba Inlet, British Coumbia.
  • 1924: Fred Beck and four other miners claim to have been attacked by several sasquatches in Ape Canyon in July, 1924. The creatures reportedly hurl large rocks at the miners’ cabin for several hours during the night.
  • 1941: Jeannie Chapman and her children claim to have escaped their home when a large sasquatch, allegedly 7½ feet tall, approached their residence in Ruby Creek, British Columbia.
  • 1940s onward: People living in Fouke, Arkansas report that a Bigfoot-like creature, dubbed the “Fouke Monster”, inhabits the region. A high number of reports occur in the Boggy Creek area and are the basis for the 1973 film The Legend of Boggy Creek. The last known report was in 2004.
  • 1955: William Roe claims a close-up view from concealment of a female sasquatch near Mica Mountain, British Columbia.
  • 1958: Two construction workers, Leslie Breazale and Ray Kerr, report seeing a sasquatch about 45 miles northeast of Eureka, California. 16 inch tracks had previously been spotted in the Northern California woods.
  • 1967: On October 20, 1967, Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin capture a purported sasquatch on film in Bluff Creek, California.
  • 1995: On August 28, 1995, a tv film crew from Waterland Productions pull off the road into Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and film what they claim to be a sasquatch in their RV's Headlights.
  • 2007 On September 16, 2007 Pennsylvania deer hunter Rick Jacobs captured two images on an automatic camera mounted to a tree on a game trail in the Allegheny National Forest. They show what appears to be a dark, furry creature that was positioned in a manner that makes it impossible to make a positive identification but is believed by some to show a Juvenile Sasquatch. The Pennsylvania Game Commission, an organization that doesn't support any Bigfoot theories believes it was a bear with a severe case of mange. Conversely, several scientists have stated it is impossible to tell for certain what it is due to the extremely long limbs that make it appear ape-like. Jacobs, along with other family members decided to turn over the pictures to the world’s largest and oldest Bigfoot research organization the BFRO.

See also


  • Allen Zullo, The Ten Creepiest Creatures In America, Published by Troll Communications, ISBN 081674288X. One of many sources for the Fouke Monster and Momo the Monster.
  • Bayanov, Dmitri, America's Bigfoot: Fact, Not Fiction, Crypto-Logos, 1997, ISBN 590022922X
  • Bourne, Geoffrey H. and Maury Cohen, The Gentle Giants: The Gorilla Story, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1975, ISBN 399115285
  • Bryant, Vaughn M. and Burleigh Trevor-Deutch, "Analysis of Feces and Hair Suspected to be of Sasquatch Origin" (in Halpin and Ames)
  • Byrne, Peter, The Search for Bigfoot: Monster, Man or Myth, Acropolis Books, 1975, ISBN 0874911591
  • Campbell, Bernard G., Humankind Emerging, Little, Brown and Company, 1979, Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 78-78234
  • Clark, Jerome, Unexplained! 347 Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurrences and Puzzling Physical Phenomena, Visible Ink, 1993, ISBN 0810394367
  • Coleman, Loren and Jerome Clark, Cryptozoology A to Z, Fireside Books, 1999, ISBN 0684856026
  • Coleman, Loren and Patrick Huyghe, The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide, Avon Books, 1999, ISBN 0380802635
  • Coon, Carelton, "Why Sasquatch Must Exist" (in Markotic and Krantz)
  • Daegling, David J, Bigfoot Exposed: An Anthropologist Examines America's Enduring Legend, Altamira Press, 2004, ISBN 0759105391
  • Gill, George "Population Clines of the North American Sasquatch as Evidenced by Track Lengths and Average Status" (in Halpin and Ames)
  • Green, John Willison, Sasquatch - The Apes Among Us, Hancock House Publishing, 1978, ISBN 0888391234
  • Guttilla, Peter, The Bigfoot Files, Timeless Voyager Press, 2003, ISBN 1892264153
  • Halprin, Marjorie, "The Tsimshan Monkey Mask and Sasquatch" (in Halpin and Ames)
  • Halpin, Marjorie and Michael Ames, editors, Manlike Monsters on Trial: Early Records and Modern Evidence, University of British Columbia Press, 1980, ISBN 0774801190
  • Hunter, Don and Rene Dahinden, Sasquach/Bigfoot: The Search for North America's Incredible Creature, Firefly Books, 1993, ISBN 1895565286
  • Krantz, Grover S., Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch, Johnson Books, 1992, ISBN 1555660991
  • Long, Greg, The making of Bigfoot: the inside story, Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2004 ISBN 1591021391 (Long was able to track down the man who wore the monkey suit for Roger Patterson's film, and obtained a complete confession of the hoax.)
  • Markotic, Vladimir and Grover Krantz, editors, The Sasquatch and Other Unknown Primates, Western Publishers, 1984, ISBN 0919119107
  • Mozino, Jose Mariano, Noticas de Nutka: An Account of Nootka Sound, Iris Higbe Wilson, editor and traslator, University of Washington Press, 1970, ISBN 0295950617
  • Napier, John Russell Bigfoot: The Sasquatch and Yeti in Myth and Reality, 1973, E.P. Dutton, ISBN 0525066586
  • Powell, Thom, The Locals, Hancock House, 2003, ISBN 0888395523
  • Pyle, Robert Michael, Where Bigfoot Walks, Houghton Mifflin, 1995, ISBN 0395441145
  • Sanderson, Ivan T., "First Photos of 'Bigfoot', California's Legendary 'Abominable Snowman'", Argosy, February 1968, pg 23-31, 127,128.
  • Sjögren, Bengt.Farliga djur och djur som inte finns, Prisma, 1962
  • Shakley, Myra, Wildman: Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma, Thames and Hudson, 1973
  • Sprague, Roderick, "Carved Stone Heads of the Columbia and Sasquatch" (in Halpin and Ames)
  • Sprague, Roderick and Grover Krantz, editors, A Scientist Looks at the Sasquatch II, University Press of Idaho, 1978, ISBN 0893010618
  • Suttles, Wayne, "On the Cultural Track of Sasquatch" (in Sprage and Krantz)
  • Wasson, Barbara, Sasquatch Apparitions: A Critique on the Pacific Northwest Hominoid, self-published, 1979, ISBN 0961410507

Further reading

  • Long, Greg, The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story, 2004, Prometheus Books, ISBN 1591021391.

External links