Sasquatch

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Frame 352 of a film shot near Bluff Creek, California by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin on October 20, 1967, purporting to show a sasquatch.

Sasquatch is an alleged ape-like animal said to inhabit the remote forested areas of much of North America, with a large number of sightings taking place in the Pacific northwest of the United States and Canada. Along with the Loch Ness Monster of Scotland and the Yeti of the Himalayas, the sasquatch is one of the most famous animals of cryptozoology and is believed to exist by many, despite the fact that its existence has been dismissed by mainstream science as either native folklore or a series of hoaxes due to a lack of concrete evidence.

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Name

The word “sasquatch” is a corruption of se'sxac, which came from the Bitterroot Salish tribe of Western Montana, meaning “wild men”, and the first use of this word can be traced to the research of a school teacher at the Chehalis Indian Reserve in British Columbia named J.W. Burns in the mid-1920s. Burns had collected a large amount of material referring to the legends of the sasquatch by the Pacific northwest tribes, noting the similarity between the slightly different names used by individual tribes when referring to the wild men, and then possibly combining them all into one word. The famous modern term bigfoot has been in use since approximately the same time, but received national exposure during the late 1950s, when loggers in northern California county of Humbolt began seeing the large tracks for which they were named.

Description

To date, the sasquatch has never been confirmed by science to exist as a real animal in its own right; eyewitness accounts provide the only description, which can vary to some degree. The majority state that it is large and bipedal, standing between 6 and 9 feet tall, and covered completely with course, dark-reddish or brown hair. The ape-like head is said to sit directly upon the shoulders, with no neck visible, and is sometimes crowned with a sagittal crest. An extremely-foul odor has also been claimed by witnesses, giving the sasquatch the derisive name of skunk ape.

The closest animal fitting this description, at least for those convinced of the sasquatch’s existence, is the extinct anthropoid ape Gigantopithecus blacki, which is known only from a few molars and the frontal part of a lower mandible found in southern China. Current scientific consensus states that Gigantopithecus was a quadruped, and not bipedal as the sasquatch is claimed to be. Despite the lack of a pelvis as evidence, many scientists who believe in the existence of the sasquatch, most notably the late anthropologist Dr. Grover Krantz, have stated that the width of the Gigantopithecus jawbone widened considerably from front to rear, similar to humans and unlike modern apes, creating room for the windpipe to sit within the space of the jaw itself and thus indicating a bipedal stance.

Physical evidence

Tracks

The most common evidence found for the sasquatch are the many tracks found in remote areas by loggers, hikers, and others. They are human in appearance except for size, which if fitted for a shoe would be a size 23-24. These tracks are also commonly created by hoaxers wearing wooden or rubber fakes, and certainly many have been fooled by them. But many tracks defy any explanation except that of a real animal. One track found near the town of Bossburg, Washington in 1969 was cited by Krantz to have come from an individual with a deformed or “club” foot; its mate was normal. Other sets have been collected and preserved with intricate dermal ridges and wrinkles suggesting a real animal.

Skookum body cast

During the summer of 2000 members of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization deliberately constructed a fruit-baited “mud trap”, with the intent of collecting tracks; instead the researchers have claimed to have recovered a partial body impression of a “skookum” (sasquatch in the Chinook language) as it laid in the mud to eat. Collected was the impression of the animal’s hindquarters, ankles, and left arm, in addition to hair impressions. Critics, including several members of BFRO, stated what was recovered was the impression of an elk.

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