Mysteries, Oddities, and Everything Strange: Bigfoot


Bridget Vaughan, Staff Writer

Bigfoot: North America’s Bipedal Ape

Bigfoot: a strange creature with an even stranger name that has haunted the likes of urban legends and pseudoscience. Also known as Sasquatch, this ape-like bipedal cryptid has been thought to reside in forests across North America for decades. What exactly is this urban legend, and does it really exist? Or is it all just a hoax, cooked up by delighted pranksters?

The history of Bigfoot dates back hundreds of years, with images of the “hairy man” discovered inscribed in rocks on the Tule River Indian Reservation in California. Many different Native American tribes have described some sort of large furry man in their tales, all with varying attitudes and explanations. The Iroquois of Ontario and upstate New York detailed a giant, hair-covered beast called the Ot ne yar heh (“Stone Giant”), while Native Americans in Washington state told of a race of wild people known as skoocooms, residing nearby Mount St. Helens. Even Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, recounted a story he was told about a wild bipedal being ransacking camps and villages. 

The modern history of Bigfoot begins in 1958, when loggers in northern California stumbled upon giant footprints with no real explanation. They bestowed it the name “Big Foot” due to its evidently large feet. Andrew Genzoli reported and wrote an article on the far fetched tale in an attempt to make a jolly story out of it, but its readers were mesmerized. Many believed the presence of the footprints was simply vandalism, but the country was hooked on the idea of an ape man wandering around American wilderness. It began to boom in pop culture, earning itself novels, films, pseudo-documentaries, comic books, magazines, and anything else that the public would eat up. It has achieved a legendary status, similar to that of werewolves and chupacabras. Reports of the creature’s existence are plentiful, with sightings in every single state, first hand accounts, and even films. But does this evidence hold up when examined?

Sightings of Sasquatch have been extremely common since its popularity exploded. Over one third of sightings have been reported in British Columbia, California, Oregon, and Washington, with the rest scattered across the continent. Other hot-spots include Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York, with around 1,000 reports of the furry beast. The authenticity of these sightings has been debated for decades, with a high in the 1970’s, as more and more came flooding in. Most report a large black figure strolling along in the wilderness, occasionally throwing rocks or knocking wood as to mark its territory or appear threatening. They have been rumored to misplace trees and are mostly loners, with all sightings to date being of single creatures. They have been described as extremely violent, hurling around dogs and other smaller animals, while also fleeing from anyone who approaches them. The most famous piece of Bigfoot evidence comes in the form of the Patterson-Gimlin film. In 1967, Bob Gimlin and Roger Patterson were gallivanting around Bluff Creek, when they caught the movement of a massive ape-like creature. This evidence is one of the few pieces of Bigfoot proof that has not been disproven, and frame 352 has become one of the most well-known pieces of Bigfoot memorabilia to date. 

Many have been desperate to debunk the existence of Bigfoot. Skeptics believe sightings to be easily hoaxed, with fake suits, animal-like movements, and reported behavior replicated to match what the general public already knows. Claims of the reported sightings debunk them as bears, escaped apes, remaining Gigantopithecus from prehistory or even humans. Reported DNA findings have originated from dogs and bears, and footprints have been found to be deliberately placed. All the hoaxes surrounding Bigfoot could lead anyone to question the legitimacy of all the evidence collected at this point.

Despite this, the popularity of Bigfoot is undeniable. Some people are desperate to uncover the truth behind the Sasquatch, with numerous TV programs, museums scattered across the continent, statues, monuments, and even festivals. Others actively try to prosecute the existence of the ape creature, debunking every piece of evidence no matter how convincing it is. For now, the existence of Bigfoot remains without a certain conclusion, but who knows what will happen in the upcoming years. Will we finally have confirmation of a living Sasquatch, or will we forever live in the dark? We’ll simply have to wait and see.