This giant, hairy, biped (walks on two legs) is the most popular mystery animal in North America. In the middle 20th century, tales of encounters with an unknown ape-like creature began to circulate throughout the world. Witnesses described Bigfoot as 6-9 feet tall, with long arms, a pointed head, no neck, a ridge above the eyes, broad shoulders, a strong smell, and covered in dark hair from head to feet. Most sightings were from mountainous forestlands of northern California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. In Canada, Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch) was reported most often in British Columbia and Alberta provinces. However, sightings of ape-like creatures in various forms are documented all across the United States and worldwide. The name “Bigfoot” was first noted in 1958 to describe the 14-16 inch footprints attributed to this animal. Casts of the prints are commonly used as evidence for the existence of Bigfoot. Some hair samples collected have proved inconclusive. Other traces such as body imprints, tape recordings of eerie vocalizations and film evidence have not been enough to substantiate the reality of a Bigfoot population. The most cited piece of evidence is the Patterson film of 1967 showing a Bigfoot crossing a clearing in northern California. There are still serious questions and rumors about the authenticity of this film.
The latest theory of cryptozoologists is that Bigfoot is a living prehistoric ape or early human. But, this is speculation with no evidence to back it up. Serious Bigfoot researchers collect eyewitness accounts and try to lure the animal out of hiding. To the dismay of those who think Bigfoot is a real animal of scientific value, Bigfoot reports are occasionally associated with UFO sightings or strange paranormal occurrences. Since stories, footprints, photos and film of Bigfoot can be hoaxes or mistakes, it is likely that only a live Bigfoot or the remains of one will serve to finally answer the questions. Whether the creature is real or not, the legend of Bigfoot is part of our culture.
- Sharon Hill (Scientist)