Bigfoot is the name commonly given to a large, bipedal creature presumed to exist in North America, with similar varieties of man-monster reported in countless other parts of the world. Right from the outset, we must ask, in fairness, whether this rather awkward name is entirely warranted; are we really to presume that the creature, if it exists, possesses feet any larger in proportion to the rest of its body than its hands, nose, or any other part?
The question may seem absurd, and for a number of reasons. Why, some would argue, debate the name used for the creature if it is a term that has become recognizable in relation to discussion of it? Others would argue that the debate over a name is equally worthless for reasons of doubt pertaining to its existence in the first place: how could anything so fantastic really exist? If anything, a name so absurd as “Bigfoot” is proper for something that is little more than a legend, albeit a rather persistent one.
But maybe we can’t so easily dismiss the existence of a creature which, for purposes of clarity, and perhaps some integrity, we will refer to henceforth in this article as Sasquatch. Despite the scientific argument that such a creature could not exist and remain undetected, let alone feed itself and maintain a breeding population while doing so, a plethora of anecdotal reports exist that suggest, strongly at times, that something is indeed going on. What that is, of course, remains a mystery.
To be clear, what I’m interested in learning most are stories from readers that detail your experiences, observations, or encounters with something resembling the Sasquatch of myth and folklore, popularized in books and television programs aimed at “finding” and proving its existence, but which thus far have fallen just short of the mark of doing so credibly, and to the satisfaction of scientific rigor. Before we continue, if you feel you have had such an encounter or experience, I ask you to consider emailing me with your story, more of which I’ll discuss toward the end of this article.
While anecdotal evidence is not enough to prove to the existence of Sasquatch to physicists, chemists, or biologists, it must account for something. Primatologist John Napier came to this conclusion in the 1970s, and in writing about his own massive survey of the available evidence, he left convinced that something existed in support of the countless eyewitness testimonies offered over the years, though what that might actually, physically be is still a matter of question.
Due to it’s ability to evade capture and detection most of the time, there have been many that have offered their interpretations of Sasquatch as being some kind of a mystical creature; something which convenes upon our dimensional reality only as it chooses or needs to, and leaves it with similar ease. This, for proponents of a “mystical” creature of some sort, is the only way to account for its seemingly ghost-like ability to come and go, and yet despite the multitude of sightings and reports, still elude capture and confirmation as a flesh-and-blood animal.
The problem with this notion, despite its popularity among its proponents, is that we cannot scientifically validate that any life form is capable of existence in such a way. While this does not exclude the possibility, by leaping to such a determination that “this is simply what the creature is,” it offers us convenient excuses for dismissing attempts at validating its existence through science. Arguably, these are lazy excuses too, especially given the consideration that study of the Sasquatch as a physical species of animal could present so many rewards in relation to our understanding of the human species, as well as the incredible adaptive and evolutionary capabilities of other species as-yet only presumed to exist. In short, the final proof that a creature the likes of the Sasquatch may actually exist would present tremendous considerations, and challenges, to what we think we know about animal life in all parts of the world, as well as what role humans play in it.
Coming back to the argument against the creature’s physical existence, it has long been suggested that our present understanding of science accounts largely for what kinds of animals are likely to exist, and how they would do so. Though it is generally still accepted that undiscovered, physically large animals might exist in our oceans, where salt water and the buoyancy it lends can support the weight (and the appetite) of a large creature, the same does not apply to land-dwelling creatures. This is particularly true for those creatures which, like the American Sasquatch, would exist in remote regions, where temperature and food supply would be least fitting for a breeding population of large animals. When we consider reports of Sasquatch in the American Northwest, we are to believe that some group of large creatures have defied these natural challenges, and that somehow they have managed to thrive while doing the impossible.
But we must take into consideration that in these very same regions (the Pacific Northwest, for instance) not only are there other large animal species that have thrived in this way, but in relation to other animal species that are similar to them, they tend to be larger; examples would be the grizzly bear which, compared with a black bear, is both larger, and more aggressive. We also have elk and caribou which, again, are larger than their bovine cousins, the whitetail deer a little further south.
Interestingly, as we examine reports of Sasquatch-like creatures in other parts of the United States, particularly throughout the American Southeast, the descriptions, though consistent mostly with traditional features of the Northwestern Sasquatches, do seem to account for smaller varieties, as well as animals that possess a more primal behavior.
Live Science featured an article in May of 2014 called “10 Reasons Why Bigfoot’s a Bust,” which included a list of reasons it is unlikely that Sasquatch reports represent a real animal species, based on an interview with skeptical writer Benjamin Radford. Among the criticisms, the fact that there is an empty fossil record in relation to the animals, as well as a lack of physical proof (i.e. a body) and the unlikelihood that a population exists which could support breeding are made. Of these, perhaps the most difficult element to account for would be the lack of a body; claims that the creatures might bury their dead, while not entirely without merit, do little to account for this glaring lack of physical evidence.
However, such claims might at least suggest an element which, for the most part, is overlooked in relation to discussion about the creatures and their existence: that descriptions of Sasquatch entail something that is far closer to being human than any other animal species. This is hardly “proof” by itself, nor is it a substantial argument against the many problems we face with the assumption that Sasquatch could actually exist. But given careful consideration, the notion that we are dealing with something that is far more man-like than purely beast may point us in the direction toward understanding how it might have evaded us. That is, if we can suspend our disbelief long enough to consider that such a creature’s existence, while not likely to be scientifically probable, does at least conform to the physically possible.
In short, a creature whose description is far more like that of a human may, in fact, operate more like a human in the various facets of its behavior. Here, much like the problem presented by supposed Bigfoot footprints (for which there is no standard by which they can be measured, further complicated by the variety from sample to sample), we do not have a variety of large, feral or “wild” human by which reports of the Sasquatch can be contrasted or compared. If anything, apart from the reports of Sasquatch themselves, we have little to go off of in relation to how a more primitive species of hominid than modern humans might exist or behave.
If anything, Sasquatch are at least remotely similar to certain members of the anthropological record that have past existed–Paranthropus, Meganthropus, Gigantopethicus, and even Neanderthals, have all been discussed in relation to and compared with modern reports of Sasquatches (and while not recognized as directly related our modern mystery hominid, must at least be considered in relation to the argument against the Sasquatch in relation to an empty fossil record). As we have seen with these ancient hominids, the stresses of of competition amidst more successful branches of the family tree led to their demise; in the grand scheme of things, humans today may now be working to preserve the habitats of certain primate species, the likes of the mountain gorilla, while there could be others–at least in theory–among us that are far closer to extinction, and yet which have persistently evaded discovery in their own instinctive drive toward survival.
Hence, we return to my initial interest in hearing from MU readers about your own sightings and stories about these creatures. First hand reports are preferable, but a second hand description (from a friend, family member, etc) would do, so long as details about the date, time, location, and other useful data can be included. I would appreciate hearing about these from anyone who may have a story to share, which can be done simply by emailing me.
Little, if any, hard evidence that has managed to withstand the scrutiny of science has been offered that supports the existence of the Sasquatch, but perhaps it is not yet time to accept their non-existence; after all, had there been no cultural concept that supported their presence at all, the debate over whether they exist or not would never be an issue. And for what it’s worth, there does seem to be some hint that there is more to this story, though it may not be, as the late John Napier wrote, “all that it’s cracked up to be.” Whatever else that final “something” may turn out to be, arguably, could bring us to the heart of the mystery of the Sasquatch, or the lack thereof. Who knows, perhaps the final realization will lay somewhere in between.