Stories of large, hairy men bigger than any normal human have existed for centuries. Native Americans have told such stories since long ago, and sightings of such beasts date back to the 1830’s. However, it was not until the 20th century that individuals truly began investigating the story of what is now known as Bigfoot or Sasquatch.
The term Sasquatch dates back to the 1920’s and the investigations of researcher J.W. Burns. While investigating myths of a number of different Native tribes in British Columbia regarding stories of man-like animals, he saw that the names for these creatures among the different tribes while not the same were all very similar. Burns coined the term “Sasquatch” to refer to the different creatures that these tribes spoke of, and determined that they were all truly the same creature.
The stories of what Burns would call “Sasquatch” existed among these Native tribes for generations upon generations. They generally spoke of a large, hairy man who lived in the forests. Many of these stories were used asmoral lessons, warning of the dangers of this beast.
The first use of the term “Sasquatch” in the media was a 1929 article in MacLean’s, a popular Canadian magazine. Following the publication of this article, interest began to rise in the idea of the Sasquatch in Canada, although nothing on the scale of the Bigfoot hysteria that would come in later decades.
The story of Bigfoot arose independently of the story of the Sasquatch. In Humbolt County, California in 1958, a large footprint was found at a construction site by Jerry Crew, a bulldozer operator. In the first story about the incident, “the tracks of old Big Foot” were mentioned in the first sentence. This is the first example of the term Bigfoot used in print.
The early writers of the Bigfoot were unaware of the stories of the Sasquatch which had been popular in Canada since the 1920’s. However, as more research was done the stories of the Sasquatch were found, and it was determined that the Sasquatch and Bigfoot were in fact the same creature. However, the Bigfoot term had already been popularized in the United States by that time, and it was more sensational to use in media reports that it remains the most commonly used term in the US, although Sasquatch prevails in Canada.
Evidence for Bigfoot
The Patterson Film
The most famous evidence for Bigfoot comes from a film recording made in 1967 by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin. The film shows what is claimed to be a female Bigfoot walking across a clearing.
At the same site where the film was taken, Patterson also claimed to have found footprints left by the Bigfoot. These tracks along with the film are among the most respected pieces of evidence among Bigfoot researchers.
The veracity of the film as well as of the tracks is still in dispute, however, even among Bigfoot researchers. The majority of experts have claimed that the figure shown in the film could very well be a homo sapien, despite the claim of many researchers that there is no way it could be human. The tracks found also do not seem to fit the stride of the figure walking in the film. However, many Bigfoot believers stand firmly by the film.
Other Bigfoot Tracks
Aside from eyewitness accounts, the most common Bigfoot evidence comes in the form of Bigfoot tracks. Tracks have been found all across the United States and Canada.
Unfortunately for Bigfoot researchers, these tracks are not very consistent. Tracks found have varied greatly, having different sizes, different shapes, even different numbers of toes. As more and more tracks are found that are so dissimilar from each other, it becomes harder for the Bigfoot enthusiast to show that they all come from the same type of creature.
A Bigfoot Hair
Hair, blood, even feces samples have also been commonly used as Bigfoot evidence. In July of 2005 a hank of hair found in the Yukon was claimed to have come from a Sasquatch. The hair was sent to the University of Alberta where it was studied by wildlife geneticist David Coltman and a team of researchers.
The researchers determined that the hair was not that of a Bigfoot, but rather a bison. In fact, Coltman’s team found that the hair had been dead for quite some time, and most likely came from a bison that had been stuffed.
Similar evidence that has been brought forward has generally met a similar fate, if it has been studied at all. However, these setbacks have not deterred the thousands of Bigfoot and Sasquatch enthusiasts out there.
While most believe that the entire Bigfoot phenomenon is primarily a collection of hoaxes, pranks and the work of those out there trying to make a quick buck, there are still many who believe in the truth of the Bigfoot.
The most common theory purported by Bigfoot believers on the origins of the creature is that the Bigfoot is the descendent of an ancient ape known as Gigantopithecus blacki. It was the largest primate ever to walk the earth, standing between nine and ten feet and weighing over 1,000 pounds.
The size of the Gigantopithecus matches similarly to the size of the Bigfoot, and it is thus thought by many that the Bigfoot are actually the last descendants of this species. Gigantopithecus is thought by most scientists to have gone extinct about 300,000 years ago, but Bigfoot researchers dispute this claim.
Another interesting point about the Gigantopithecus is that it existed at the same time and in the same place as our own ancestors, Homo erectus. There was a time, hundreds of thousands of years ago, when hominids and giant apes resembling Bigfoot existed together.
There are those who believe that, although Gigantopithecus no longer exists (and therefore neither does Bigfoot), the Gigantopithecus could be the origin of our stories of the Sasquatch, and also of other large ape-men such as the Yeti of the Himalayas.
It is theorized that encounters with Gigantopithecus left a sort of genetic memory into the human race which is the origin for these kinds of stories which seem so mythical to most of us living today. And not just Gigantopithecus. 10,000 years ago, when many scientists theorize
Homo sapiens first came to the American continents, these lands were covered with enormous beasts of all shapes and sizes. Many believe that ancient stories of these fantastic but real-life beasts are the origins of our tales of monsters today.
The Bigfoot Legend Continues
Unless major evidence is found, such as a skeleton or remains of some sort, the majority of people will not believe in Bigfoot. However, researchers from across North America continue to search out the legendary Sasquatch, and prove that it does indeed exist. No one truly knows the truth of the matter, and the legend of Bigfoot will always remain with us. Is it just a story or is it truth? For many, the answer doesn’t even matter.
Bigfoot has entered the lexicon of North American popular culture. Television shows such as Harry and the Hendersons revolve around the concept of Bigfoot. He is a common character in movies, comic books, video games, and more. No matter what evidence pops up for or against, there will always be a Bigfoot in the hearts and minds of people across the continent and across the world.