Bigfoot

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It has been reported that messing with sasquatch can have disastrous consequences.

Bigfoot, also referred to as Sasquatch, is a massive, bi-pedal ape rumored to inhabit the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Legends of the creature stem from Native American tradition, and sightings have been consistently reported for decades. Most of these sightings are located in the state of Washington, but extend as far north as Alaska, down the coast into California, and sightings of a similar creature have been reported in the everglades of Florida. No solid scientific proof of the creature's existence has ever been discovered, however.

Contents

Legends

Stories of giant, vicious wildmen were common throughout the indigenous population in the northwestern region of North America. The details, however, differed beetween regions, tribes, and even different families in the same community. These stories are virtually universal in primitive populations the world over, as a way to humanize fears, and in some cases, as cautionary tales to keep children from wandering off on their own.

There is a legend of a tribe known as the Seeahtik, or Seeahtkoh, thought to have died off in the late 1800s, though there is a recorded encounter with this tribe by white settlers in 1924. The Seeahtik people were said to be seven to eight feet tall, covered in long, thick hair, and able to hypnotise and stun their prey.

Sightings

In 1924, a man named Fred Beck claimed he and 4 other men were attacked by ape-like creatures throwing rocks at their cabin. Beck went on to write a book about the encounter, but was discredited by his own claims of psychic premonitions about the event. The story's similarity to an event in which nearby hikers threw stones into the valley, along with rumors of local prankster harassing the men and leaving fake footprints further discredit the story.

In 1941 a woman named Jeannie Chapman fled her home with her children, claiming a seven and a half foot tall Sasquatch approached her house in Ruby Creek, British Columbia.

In 1958 a bulldozer operator by the name of Jerry Crew made a plaster cast of one of the footprints he and his coworkers found in Bluff Creek, California, and brought it to a local newspaper office. The man overseeing the work crew was Wilbur L. Wallace, brother of Raymond L. Wallace, who was the first to se the term "Bigfoot" in his report on the event. When Ray passed away in 2002, his son Michael came forward with a pair of large wooden feet that had been used to stamp footprints in the woods of northern California.

Patterson Gimlin Film

A still from the Patterson Gimlin film.

In October of 1967, Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin went on an expedition to track down the creature in Bluff's Creek, and returned with the following footage.


This footage has been surrunded by controversy since it was shot. Both Pattersn and Gimlin have dismissed accusations that they had merely filmed a man in an ape suit, and Patterson went so far as to swear on his death bed that the footage was authentic. Gimlin refused to speak publically on the matter, and did not grant interviews on the subject until 2000.

Very few scientists were willing to view the footage at first, and those who did immediately dismissed it as a hoax. One of the most important details when trying to evaluate the footage itself is the film speed. Patterson's camera was capable of shooting film at several different speeds, if this footage had been shot at 24 frames per second, the creature's movement is indistinguishable from that of a human, supporting the idea that this was merely a man in a costume. However, if 16 or 18 frames per second is the correct speed, there are several details about the creature's gait that would be impossible for a human to duplicate. As visual technology has improved, the footage has been cleared up and stabilized, and many supporters point out that this has made details visible that simply could not be faked, including visible muscle movement and the shifting of hair over those muscles.

In 2002, Phillip Morris of the North Carolina-based Morris Costumes stepped forward and claimed he made the costume worn in the film. He has stated that the details pointed out in the creature's gait are simply the only way to move in that particlar costume, as a result of the large feet and the shoulder padding in the suit. A man named Bob Heironimus has claimed to have worn the suit in the video for a fee of $1000, however, his description of the suit he wore and the suit Morris claimed to have made are vastly different.

Likely Explanations

Many proponents of the existence of bigfoot have pointed to the now extinct giant ground sloth, some of which were elephantine in proportion, as opposed to the giant ape theory. These creatures, however, were largely concentrated in South America, and resided in grasslands and more lightly wooded areas, as opposed to the thick forests bigfoot supposedly inhabits.

Another theory is that bigfoot is a surviving population of Gigantopithecus, an extinct genus of ape. Fossils of these creatures have been found in China, India, and vietnam, and indicate the apes stood nearly 10 feet tall in some cases. As many species migrated over the Bering land bridge, it is likely that this species may have as well, even though no fossils have been found anywhere in the Americas. It is also unclear whether or not Gigantopithecus was bipedal, or moved on all fours like a gorilla, as no pelvic or leg bones have been uncovered.

Those opposing the bigfoot theory claim that most, if not all sightings can be attributed to people catching glimpses of bears on their hind legs, and the rest can be chalked up to hoaxes or pranks.

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