A phenomenon that has been reported from throughout the world is that of massive, hairy wild men living in the remote wilderness, with perhaps the most widely known being the Bigfoot or Sasquatch of North America. However, a type of hairy hominid that is lesser known and more rarely reported on is Bigfoot’s cousin south of the border. Here we will take a look at Mexico’s own version of the Sasquatch, and it is every bit as strange as its northern neighbors.
Such creatures in Mexico are by no means a new phenomenon, and have been reported for centuries in one form or another. The early chronicler of Mexican history Fernando Alva Ixtlilxochitl, made mention in his book Obras Históricas”of a race of hairy giants that had lived in the region of what would become Mexico since long before the first human settlers arrived. These monstrous beasts were called the Quinametzin, and according to early settler accounts they were a fearsome and violent, warlike tribe. Indeed, it is said that these creatures frequently engaged in battle with normal humans, and that they were eventually defeated to either go extinct or into exile in the wilderness. These Quinametzin are perhaps the oldest account of large bipedal hairy humanoids in Mexico, but similar legends were often spoken of among the various native tribes of the land.
The area of the Mexican states of Campeche, Chiapas and Quintana Roo of southern Mexico have had stories of hairy wildmen going back thousands of years, which are called the Sisimite and have been found depicted in figurines dating back to 2,000 years ago. Also sometimes referred to as the Olmec Ape, the Sisimite was well known by the ancient Mayan and Aztec people, who believed it to be a spiritual creature, and indeed the name Sisimite is thought to come from the Aztec word tzitzimitl, which roughly translates to “supernatural creature” or “demon.” Whatever it is, the Sisimite has long been reportedly spotted roaming the jungles of the region stretching all the way down into Central America, and is typically described as a hulking bipedal ape-like brute covered in hair and with a human-like face, flat nose, a lack of discernible ears, and only four fingers, with no thumb. Oddly, some traditions claim that the creatures have feet that face backwards, making them harder to track.
In the 18th century, Spanish explorers searching for gold in the region began to report of seeing these strange creatures as well, which were often described as quite aggressive, and one expedition was even claimed to have shot and killed one of the beasts after it attacked them. In the 19th century another one of the Sisimite was reportedly shot and killed in 1868 by a Canadian gold prospector named Edward Jonathan Hoyt after he awoke to find it looming over his bunk. Other areas where the creatures have been reported are Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala, and cryptozoologist Ivan Sanderson wrote much of them in his 1961 opus Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life.
Possibly related to the more southern dwelling Sisimite is a similar ape-like creature long said to roam the arid desert and mountain badlands of the northern Mexican state of Sonora. One of the first mentions of this creature by outsiders was made by a German Jesuit missionary named Father Ignaz Pfefferkorn, who was in the region working with the Pima Indians from 1756 to 1767. During his time there, Pfefferkorn made meticulous notes of his observations of the Native people and the flora and fauna of the region, which would later be published in 1795 as Descripción de la Provincia de Sonora. Among the many descriptions of wildlife to be found are numerous references to what the Natives called “wood apes,” as well as descriptions of what ostensibly seem to be bears, but which suggest something more was going on. In one passage he describes the following:
Bears are a special menace to stock raising, for they eat many a calf, and, if no smaller prey falls into their clutches, they will attack even horses, cows, and oxen. They delight especially in eating maize as long as it is still tender and soft. Woe to the field if a hungry bear breaks into it at night. He eats as much as he can and makes off with as much as he can grasp and carry in his mighty arms. In so doing he ruins even more of the field by breaking it down and treading upon it. The inhabitants of the country assert that a bear defends himself by throwing stones when one attempts to chase him away and that a stone hurled from his paws comes with much greater force than one thrown from the hand of the strongest man. This seems the more remarkable because the bear is supposed to throw the stones backwards.
It is certainly an odd description for a bear, especially coming from a respected naturalist who was well-acquainted with the wildlife of the area. Since this description was taken from testimony by the natives, this has caused some speculation that he was inadvertently not talking about a bear at all, but rather the much different ape-like “wood ape” the Natives often spoke of, and that when relating the stories told to him he simply chose to label the animal as a bear since that was what he may have assumed they were talking about. Cryptozoologist Alton Higgins has said of his observations of this passage and its description:
Such comments may seem incongruous for a highly educated man who traveled widely and lived for years in bear country. Pfefferkorn had earlier described seeing a grizzly bear while he was on a journey. His Indian guide attempted to kill it, but the bear, wounded by his pursuer, killed the man instead. With this kind of personal experience, it seems odd that Pfefferkorn would think (or insinuate) the same species was capable of walking bipedally so as to carry off large quantities of corn “in his mighty arms” and to be able to throw rocks more forcefully than “the hand of the strongest man.” Is it possible that Pfefferkorn, while confident in the inherent truthfulness of his Indian collaborators, secretly harbored doubts that the Indians had accurately identified the nocturnal rock throwing visitors to their cornfields? While the supporting evidence is, admittedly, extremely limited, and the proposition speculative, I propose the possibility that Father Pfefferkorn heard some descriptions of wood ape observations and activity that have been credited for centuries to the grizzly bear.
More modern sightings have come in from Mexico from time to time as well, although they are rarer than those of the Bigfoot north of the border. An eyewitness only known as Lily claims that in 1985 she was camping in Mexico with her family when a pair of large creatures began circling their campsite in a menacing manner. The witness related the tale on an episode of the Sasquatch Chronicles podcast to host William Jevning, and said of the initial encounter:
We ended up going camping and we got there late, close to sunset, and when my parents were setting up camp they started hearing monkeys, my father said he could see the trees moving. My father thought it was ‘something with weight’, they sounded like monkeys. When it got darker, they started seeing huge shapes moving around the camp, and they started throwing things at us, so they put us in the back of the truck and took off.
Unfortunately for them, this was not the end of the terrifying ordeal, as one of the creatures then allegedly gave chase, ambling along at high speeds in a sort of knuckle walking gait. She says that she first took the shadowy form to be a bear, but soon began to have her doubts, which were soon justified. Just as the truck seemed to be pulling away from the pursuing beast, Lily claims that it leapt right into the back of the vehicle. She said of what happened next thus:
I looked again and I didn’t see it anymore, so I thought ‘oh, we must have lost it’. But then all of a sudden landed on the back of the truck, you know, grabbing on to the tailgate with its left hand, it was like on the back fender, and the weight of it made the truck move real bad. I didn’t get the impression that it wanted to grab me, I got the impression that it wanted me to take its hands.
It looked at me like…the eyes were really big and brown, but I got the impression that it was really curious, that’s the impression I got. I wasn’t afraid of it like I should have been… I was just thinking ‘what am I looking at?’
She says that at this point she got a good look at the thing’s hands, which she described as looking very human-like, only covered in leathery black skin and with glossy nails and thick black hair on the backs, and she likened them to the hands of a gorilla. After a few moments, her father purportedly poked his rifle through the rear window of the cab and fired at it to send it sprawling to the ground and out of sight. She said she then noticed another one of the creatures running off the road alongside the truck, and that this one was noticeably skinnier and with reddish brown fur. It apparently noticed that its companion had fallen off of the truck and gave up chase as the family sped off to safety.
Even more recent still is a report from the very active Popocatepetl volcano of central Mexico, which stands at 17,802 feet high and is the second highest peak in the country. The volcano already has plenty of weirdness surrounding it, as UFOs have long been sighted here, sometimes even entering or leaving the volcano’s mouth, and now the area can add sightings of Bigfoot, or at least something very similar. In 2015 a mountain climber named Guillermo Vidales claimed that his mountain rescue team had sighted thin, brown bipedal creatures measuring over 8 feet in height climbing about on the side of the volcano at high altitudes of up to 13,000 feet.
The creatures reportedly left behind large footprints that featured odd holes penetrating into the ground from the heel, suggesting claws of some sort. This would certainly explain the purported climbing prowess they supposedly displayed, with Vidales saying “Once, we saw one of these individuals climb up the glacier in 10 minutes, a stretch that we linger about 3-4 hours to go. They have an amazing agility.” There were even photographs of the creatures taken, but they are predictably rather unclear and indistinct. If they are real, then they picked a bad place to go frolicking about on the volcano as it went on to have several eruptions at around the same time.
Although Mexico seems to produce far fewer reports of Sasquatch-like creatures than the United States and Canada, there is nevertheless a long history of such accounts from here, and they are every bit as bizarre as anywhere else. They also pose some interesting questions in relation to, if they are real, where exactly they came from and how related they are to their more northern dwelling brethren. Are they a separate species or merely a different population of the same one? If they are related, then what does this tell us of the spread of these creatures across the continent? Are they even real at all or the product of hoaxes and misidentification? Whatever the case may be, the tales of the Mexican Bigfoot certainly add to the lore.