When it comes to the matter of one of the world’s most famous monsters, Bigfoot, there’s no doubt that most people view it as a North American equivalent of the likes of an African gorilla, or an Orangutan. Certainly, there is no doubt that most cryptozoologists – monster-hunters, in other words – view the creatures from that perspective. Many of those who have carefully studied the history of Bigfoot lore suggest that the creatures may represent relic populations of a massive ape that lived in China, India, and Tibet, up until around 200,000 years ago, when, it’s generally accepted, the massive apes became extinct. Their official title is Gigantopithecus blacki. In terms of what is known about Gigantopithecus, we have to travel back in time to a relatively recent period: the 1930s. The immense beast has the thorny problem of nothing less than male impotence to thank for its discovery. For years, Chinese herbalists and doctors have utilized fossilized teeth to create cocktails that, so they claim, can cure the embarrassing ailment of being unable to “get it up.” Since the Chinese landscape is rich in fossilized bones, people have made significant profits from selling such items to apothecaries all across China.
It turns out that in 1936 a German man named Ralph von Koenigswald came across a huge fossilized tooth – specifically a molar – in a Hong Kong apothecary. It was highly fortuitous that von Koenigswald was the man that made the discovery, since he was a paleontologist, and instantly recognized the significance of what had fallen into his lap. Not only was the molar giant-sized, von Koenigswald was able to determine it came from a primate – and a large one; a very large one. In the immediate years that followed, von Koenigswald found further such examples and coined the term Gigantopithecus blacki – the former word standing for “gigantic ape” and the latter a reference to a deceased friend Davidson Black. Von Koenigswald was temporarily, and disastrously, interrupted at the height of the Second World War when he became a prisoner of war of the Japanese. Nevertheless, he was not deterred, and, when the hostilities were over, he continued his quest to understand the true nature and life of Gigantopithecus. As did several other people. One of them was an anatomist named Franz Weidenreich.
n his 1946 book, Apes, Giants, and Man, Weidenreich made the controversial assertion that Gigantopithecus may have been far more human-like than ape-like. Chinese scientists also got hot on the trail of Gigantopithecus during this same time frame. Then, in 1956, a massive jawbone of the huge ape was unearthed at a cave in Liucheng, China. The result was that, in a relatively short time, a great deal was learned about this previously unheard of hairy giant. Perhaps most amazing and impressive of all were Gigantopithecus’s statistics: estimates suggested that the height for an adult male would have been around ten-feet, while it might have tipped the scales in excess of 1,000 pounds in weight. As for when it lived, the estimates were intriguing. One could make an extremely valid argument that since people are still claiming to see giant apes in the very areas where we know Gigantopithecus roamed – such as Tibet, Vietnam, China, and India – this is evidence that the mighty, hairy giant is still among us, but now known by its far more famous names of Bigfoot. There is, however, one problem: due to its massive size, there is a general consensus among primatologists that Gigantopithecus walked on its knuckles. Whereas Bigfoot is almost exclusively described as walking upright, as we do. And, there are other problems, too.
The Supernatural Side of Sasquatch: Although most researchers of the Bigfoot phenomenon perceive the creatures to be nothing stranger than either surviving pockets of Gigantopithecus or an ape of unknown classification, the fact is that there is something very strange about Bigfoot. We might well say, even beyond strange. There are reports of the creatures being completely impervious to bullets. Numerous reports exist of hunters having a Bigfoot in their sights, but the bullets seemingly not harming the animals – and certainly never, ever killing one. More controversial, there are reports of the Bigfoot creatures vanishing in a flash of light when seen by startled witnesses. In other case, the creatures just wink out of existence. No-one needs telling that this is hardly the behavior of regular animals – known or unknown. There is also evidence that Bigfoot is a beast which has some pretty extraordinary skills – we might even call them paranormal powers. One of them is to get into the minds of the shocked eyewitnesses. People have told of seeing Bigfoot up close and personal, only to suddenly have their minds swamped with the booming voice of a Bigfoot, warning them to stay away: we’re talking about the likes of telepathic communication and extrasensory perception, or ESP, as it’s commonly known. Then there is the issue of what is known as infrasound – something which more and more researchers believe is directly tied to the Bigfoot phenomenon.
Infrasound is an extremely low-frequency sound level which, when directly targeted at a person, can cause all manner of distressing feelings and side-effects. Today, the U.S. military is actively researching what is known as “acoustic weaponry.” By all accounts, hitting an individual with low-frequency sound can cause a person’s blood-pressure to drop to dangerous levels. Their heart rhythm can go out of sync, and sometimes to a dangerous degree, Sudden outbreaks of severe anxiety are commonplace, as are nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, and even temporary short-term memory loss. So, you may well ask, what does all of this have to do with Bigfoot? In many cases, and according to eyewitnesses to Bigfoot, when they were in close proximity to the creatures – and usually when randomly coming across one or more in the woods – they exhibited the very symptoms that directed, low-frequency sounds can provoke. The idea that Bigfoot might be able to target us with infrasound is not at all impossible: after all, both giraffes and whales use it for communication. So, for Bigfoot to be able to use infrasound – but, admittedly, in a hostile way, rather than as a means to communicate – is not so strange, after all.
Now, we come to what is quite possibly the strangest aspects of this controversy: those reports where people claim to have seen Bigfoot not just dematerialize, but quite literally walk through walls. If such accounts are true – and, certainly, there are more than a few such reports on record – then Bigfoot may be that rarest of all the supernatural parasites in our midst: one that has the ability to exist in both physical and ethereal forms. All of which brings us to the matter of how, just like so many other paranormal entities referred to in this book, Bigfoot sees us as its prey. On the food-chain, we’re not the top dogs, after all. In his 1890 book, The Wilderness Hunter, President Theodore Roosevelt described the killing of a woodsman – in either Wyoming or Montana, the president wasn’t sure – a couple of decades earlier. It was a story that came to Roosevelt – who was a keen outdoorsman and hunter - by one of the primary players in the saga, a man named Bauman. According to the tale told to the president, Bauman and a friend were deep in the woods, stalking an unknown animal – but one which, as its tracks clearly showed, walked upright, on two limbs, and which was most definitely not a bear. The creature, then, was certainly no normal one. Abnormal would be a much better description. And, whatever made the tracks, it certainly wasn’t human, either: the sheer size of the prints made that very clear.
For days, the two friends trailed the beast – or, as they suspected at time, that was stealthily tracking them, too. The story had a terrible and violent ending: Bauman’s comrade was violently killed by the beast, while Bauman was briefly away from the camp. On his return, Bauman was shocked to see the camp in violent disarray. Shock turned to terror, though, when Bauman stumbled on the body of his friend: the man’s neck had been savagely broken and it looked like something large and heavy had trampled the body in crazed fashion, over and over again. Bauman fled the area, not stopping until he finally made it back to civilization. It was a shocking experience, one which Bauman never forget – indeed, from a psychological perspective it forever scarred him, and particularly so on his future treks into the deep woods of the United States. What became of the corpse of Bauman’s friend, no-one knows. Dinner, maybe?
True North: A Journey Into Unexplored Wilderness is the title of a 1933 memoir-style book written by Elliott Merrick, who died at the age of ninety-one in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1997. True North was Merrick’s very first book; his others included Green Mountain Farm, Cruising at Last, and From This Hill Look Down. In True North, Merrick told a story of a girl who had a distinctly disturbing close encounter with a Bigfoot that just might have seen her as a tasty meal. The location of what almost turned into a horrific tragedy was Traverspine, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada. The time: roughly twenty years earlier, which would have placed things approximately around 1912-1914. Merrick wrote in his book: “Ghost stories are very real in this land of scattered lonely homes and primitive fears. The Traverspine ‘Gorilla’ is one of the creepiest. About twenty years ago one of the little girls was playing in an open grassy clearing one autumn afternoon when she saw coming out of the woods a huge hairy thing with low-hanging arms. It was about seven feet tall when it stood erect, but sometimes it dropped to all fours. Across the top of its head was a white mane.”
The girl, hardly surprisingly, was rooted to the spot with fear. That fear reached fever pitch levels when the half-animal / half-human thing motioned to the little girl – in a fashion that led her to think the beast was calling to her, and to come closer. If the girl had any plans to do so, they were quickly dismissed when the face of the monster broke out into that of an evil, sinister grin. It was at that point the girl could see the creature’s huge mouth – which was filled with huge, fierce-looking teeth. They were teeth that could easily have ended the life of the girl and made a meal of her. Luckily, the girl was able to summon up the willpower and strength to make a run for it – which she did, to the home in which she lived with her parents. In almost hysterical fashion, the girl blurted out what had happened – something which led her father to hastily and carefully check out the area in question. The animal, however, was already gone. But, there was some evidence to show that the girl had not simply fallen asleep and had a bad nightmare, or had mistaken a bear for a monster.
Of the evidence, Merrick told his readers: “Its tracks were everywhere in the mud and sand, and later in the snow. They measured the tracks and cut out paper patterns of them which they still keep. It is a strange-looking foot, about twelve inches long, narrow at the heel, and forking at the front into two broad, round-ended toes. Sometimes its print was so deep it looked to weigh 500 pounds. At other times the beast’s mark looked no deeper than a man’s track.” The local folk didn’t waste any time at all trying to find the hair-covered beast in their very midst. A posse was soon on the hunt, carefully scouring the nearby woods, which were seen as the most likely locations where the creature would hide out. A night-time stake-out of nearby Mudd Lake proved to be completely fruitless. As did another search of the lake on the following night. Traps were laid down by anxious townsfolk. Nothing worked: the monster was gone. For a while.
When the story reached Merrick himself, he was determined to try and find out if the account was true or a tall-tale of the kind which are so often told around campfires. It didn’t take Merrick long to learn that the people of Traverspine took the whole thing very seriously – even though by the time Merrick was onto the story it was already an old one. Having gained their trust, Merrick spoke with more than ten locals who had, at various times, and over the years, seen the unidentified abomination. It clearly wasn’t just a one-off event. No-one knew what the thing was – only that it was no normal, regular animal. Merrick added the following, based on what one of his informants in town told him: “One afternoon one of the children saw it peeping in the window. She yelled and old Mrs. Michelin grabbed a gun and ran for the door. She just saw the top of its head disappearing into a clump of trees. She fired where she saw the bushes moving and thinks she wounded it. She says too that it had a ruff of white across the top of its head. At night they used to bar the door with a stout birch beam and all sleep upstairs, taking guns and axes with them.”
It wasn’t just the people of Traverspine that were concerned, either – their pets were too. Specifically, the local dog population. On a number of occasions, the presence of the dogs near the woods of Mudd Lake provoked the monster to howl and growl in frenzied fashion – something which clearly demonstrated the creature knew the dogs were near and reacted in a fashion designed to keep them well away. It worked: the dogs kept well away from the area of all the action. Interestingly, on one occasion, said Merrick, the hairy horror swung at one of the dogs with what was described as “a club.” Fortunately, the dog was not injured – but just the fact that the monster had a club, or perhaps a large branch wrenched off a tree, suggests it was an intelligent animal, one which used not just brute force, but weapons too. And then, it was all over. After a few years of occasional mayhem, the monster was gone for good.
What are we to make of these stories of dangerous Bigfoot, of what may very well be killer Bigfoot, and of all the many and varied people who are never seen again after taking a trip into the forests of the United States? Yes, some may fall victim to accidents, to ill health, and even to fatal attacks by the likes of bears and mountain lions. There is, however, a body of evidence that suggests Bigfoot are not beyond kidnapping, killing and maybe even devouring those who intrude upon its territory. Remember that the next time you head out into one of the wilder, denser U.S. forests. Something large and hairy may be sizing you up…for food.