A Skeptic’s Special: Does Bigfoot Live?

Frame 352 from the film, alleged to depict a f...
Frame 352 from the film, alleged to depict a female “Bigfoot” mid-stride. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, I’m going to focus my attention on skepticism; particularly about the field of study known as cryptozoology. Bigfoot, perhaps the most famous of all the cryptids, remains to be a popular subject today. From the television show In Search Of in the 1970’s to today’s almost-comical Finding Bigfoot and compulsively disappointing MonsterQuest, popular culture has fed the Bigfoot machine and spitting out a world-wide search for this elusive and cunning higher primate. To their dismay – and to the skeptic’s anticipation – the tangible evidence for such a beast has yet to be seen. If one looks into the cultural beliefs of forest-dwelling primitive human beings, stories of ape-like humans are found. Ranging from the Yeti of the Himalayas, the Yeren of Mongolia, the Hibagon of Japan, and the Yowie of Australia, hairy-covered bipedal beings might inhabit some of the most dense and treacherous forests all over the word. The United States as well has a past tainted in Native American folklore, and if one looks deep enough, stories of the Sasquatch would surface.

We’ve all heard to stories: Bigfoot approaches campers, loggers, hikers; Bigfoot walks across the road in front of traffic; “I fed Bigfoot berries from my back yard!” But is there a cornel of truth to these stories? What has science told us about the existence of the ever-famous Bigfoot?

This post is dedicated to the Sasquatch of the Pacific Northwest part of the United States and Canada. In order to adequately explain this phenomenon, I must return to the root of the issue. Various different ethnic groups tell many tales of the “Wildman” that which inhabits the surrounding landscape, offering something the children fear and men take out after. It wasn’t until the 1920’s did it hit the mainstream media with a several articles written by J. W. Burns, of which tell the various regional tales about the large apes that have been spoken of for several centuries. Coining the term Sasquatch, Burns began a trend – a household name – that would snowball into something many never believed could happen.

Now jump the late 1950’s. This was when the phenomenon transported into an entirely new dimension. Emerging from the woods in 1958, Californian Gerald Crew presented the public with plaster casts of massive footprints found in Bluff Creek. As a professional logger, Crew allegedly stumbled upon these prints while working this remote part of Northern California. Once the images of the casts hit the newspapers, the Sasquatch was given a more direct, sensible name: Bigfoot. But this wouldn’t be the last we would hear from the Bluff Creek Bigfoot. The casts were removed from an area in the same general place that would birth another, and the most distinguishable, piece of evidence.

It is 1967. Bigfoot can be seen striding along the creek bed, swinging its arms at a brisk pace. The camera is shaky, but steady enough to capture the creature turning its head to make eye contact with the camera operator before disappearing into the forests in front of it. Essentially, this was what happened when Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin ventured into the woods of Bluff Creek in search of the monster that laid waste to the headlines of various Californian newspapers. On horseback, they intended to find the evidence needed to prove its existence once and for all; ironically enough, they came forth with footage that would propel the legend of Bigfoot into a staple of American pop culture.

And so here we are today. The most ardent of “researchers” will tell you that they’ve experienced rocks being thrown at them, returned calls in response to their ever-so-humorous call blasting techniques, have come upon elaborate stick-houses, and the always-famous bear tacks…err, I mean to say Sasquatch tracks. These may lend some credibility to the believing observer, but they aren’t enough to come to a pleasant conclusion – and Bigfoot hunters know this. We have yet to recover a single body, a shred of hair, or clear photo of the creature. In my opinion, Bigfoot is of myth and legend, birthed from cultures all throughout the world centuries ago. Knowledge was limited then and the most logical approach was to project their own likeness on to the wilderness; home to an assortment of dangers. Now, we find ourselves embroiled in a dispute that will likely last many more decades to come; a dispute that we probably shouldn’t be having.

So, does Bigfoot live? In a sense, yes. Bigfoot is the embodiment of our own primitive yearnings. But is there an 8-foot bipedal hominid stalking around the forests of the Pacific Northwest? Probably not.

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