Pseudoarchaeology Research Archive (PARA)
Cite as: Titcomb, Anna. 2007. Scientific Inquiry into Bigfoot, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Sasquatch. PARA Research Paper A-09. http://pseudoarchaeology.org/a09-titcomb.html
Scientific Inquiry into Bigfoot
Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Sasquatch
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For hundreds of years, people across North America have reported seeing a large hairy biped with a uniquely terrifying scream and a scent that would kill an ox walking around in the wild. However, the actual existence of these creatures has yet to be unequivocally proven to the satisfaction of science. Having so many of these sightings and anecdotes relating to sasquatch but lacking some sort of uncontestable physical evidence leaves a gap where speculation runs free, creating wild theories that are difficult to address properly in a scientific paradigm. In recent years, one proposed theory as to the veracity of the sasquatch’s existence comes from paleoanthropological ideas and has interesting implications for the evolution and divergence of the primate lineage. This paper will explore the possibility of sasquatch being a yet-undiscovered extant hominid species descended from a past member of the primate lineage, surviving in thick deciduous forests in the northwest regions of the United States. Possible candidates for the ancestral sasquatch species include Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Gigantopithecus blacki. By looking at the present-day ecology of those regions in the US, past models of primate divergence and evolution, present-day primatology, opportunities for migration, the fossil record of the proposed ancestor species and the ethnographic record of sasquatch literature, it is possible to evaluate this theory surrounding the mystery of sasquatch in a scientific as opposed to pseudoscientific framework. In assessing the value of this theory, further questions and strategies can be raised as to aid in the verification or the debunking the status of the sasquatch as an extant species.
First and foremost, how can sasquatch be studied if none have yet been found to exist? Within North America, the sasquatch is indeed one of the best known subjects of cryptozoology; that field of study defined by Barnard Heuvelmans in 1955 as “. . . the ‘science’ of unknown and of hidden or undiscovered animals . . . promoted as a classical supplement to paleontology, the science of extinct animals, and to zoology, the science of known and discovered animals (Simpson 1984: 1-2).” Cryptozoologists research two types of animals, the first category being those creatures that have been found alive and belonging to an already established taxon due to fossil evidence. The second being animals whose existence is only known through circumstantial or anecdotal evidence, such as sasquatch. Interestingly enough, of the genera that have been discovered in the last fifty years, none were detected by using non-objective, cryptozoological methods despite cryptozoologists insisting on their field being an equal complement to paleontology and zoology (Simpson 1984: 17).
However, by ignoring this sasquatch movement or dismissing it case out of hand due to its cryptozoological overtures, professional academics and scientists do themselves and the layperson a grave error. Due to their frequently being lumped together, it is too easy to relegate sasquatch to the realm of such topics as UFO abduction, psychic channeling or crystal healing, labeling it all as pseudoscience and therefore unworthy of further discussion, “. . . scientists appear to have passed judgment, apparently concluding that the subject is unworthy of their attention (Bindernagel 2004).”
This attitude only furthers the re-occurring negative view of the academic community in that it typecasts them as elitist, close-minded and unable or unwilling to entertain ideas that do not figure into their uniform set of propaganda. This is best seen in the often vehement tirades against mainstream science among nonacademic sasquatch researchers, that “it is common at Sasquatch gatherings to hear vicious derogations of the academy for ‘repressing’ information or for blindly ignoring the obvious and thereby pulling the rug out from under the worthy ranks of the dedicated amateurs (Pyle 1995: 186).” This attitude has some basis in fact; in 1978 a survey conducted of 300 American and Canadian academics including 100 physical anthropologists determined academic attitudes towards both sasquatch and the purported Loch Ness monster. Out of the 71 physical anthropologists that responded, 74.4% said they felt that the sasquatch was “imagination, hoaxes or myths” and, when asked the reason for rejecting sasquatch reports, 74.4% replied “lack of specimens (or parts of)”closely followed by 46.2% answering “lack of fossil evidence” and 35.9% basing their skepticism on “could not have remained so long ‘undetected’ by science (all statistics and quotations from Greenwell 1981: 79-Table 2).”
Despite the continuing absence of a type specimen today, there are several lines of persistent evidence that have not been able to be satisfactorily dismissed as hoaxes or misidentification, such as the Patterson-Gimlin film which, after 40 years, has not been successfully reproduced, the hair and fecal samples sampled by Vaughn M. Bryant, Jr. and Burleigh Trevor-Deutsch in their 1980 study, or dermal ridges on footprint casts examined by Dr. Grover Krantz (1983). In labeling the sasquatch as myth or fantasy purely based on the lack of a physical body, academics do themselves and the layperson a disservice in their blanket refusal to take into account secondary lines of evidence which may prove to be just as important. In addition, portraying professional scientists as being above engaging with laypeople and content to remain in the ivory tower of academia, hoaxers have been encouraged to perpetuate lies as a way of exacting revenge and justice on a scientific community not interested in the layperson’s opinion (Daegling 2004: 257). Taking steps to reduce the knee-jerk reaction to the word “sasquatch” would encourage a more inclusive attitude between researchers from all backgrounds, academic or otherwise, and discourage the perpetual reality of hoaxes interrupting and disturbing serious research.
In interpreting sasquatch research as belonging to the science or pseudoscience camp, the nature of the enterprise seems to be squarely up in the air. Peter Thagard defines “pseudoscience” in the context of astrology as follows:
“A theory or discipline which purports to be scientific is pseudoscience if and only if:
1) it has been less progressive than alternative theories over a long period of time, and faces many unsolved problems; but
2) the community of practitioners makes little attempt to develop the theory towards solutions of the problems, shows no concern for attempts to evaluate the theory in relation to others, and is selective in considering confirmations and disconfirmations (Thagard 1978: 227-228).”
Daegling evaluates the nature of sasquatch research against this definition of pseudoscience and concludes that it has the possibility of achieving “science” status, despite its problems with assessing competing explanations for sasquatch, its inherent unresolved problems with evidence and scholarship and the preponderance of what Rene Dahinden calls lying by omission, i.e. opting “not to disclose the contextual information of evidence when it is crucial for deciding the legitimacy of particular data (Daegling 2004: 211).” Daegling calls for greater awareness of the ability to change the existing status of sasquatch research into a science; “the search for Bigfoot resides beyond the fringe of science, and its status as such has more to do with what those in the search are doing rather than any principle of exclusion erected by the scientific community (2004: 218).” With the interest in sasquatch not promising to wane in the near future and the existence of some evidence that can be analyzed in a scientific fashion such as above, scientists owe it to themselves to evaluate these claims and perhaps help usher sasquatch research into if not the mainstream then perhaps into the side currents of scientific inquiry, rather reflexively relegating it to pseudoscience based on its trappings of myth and fantasy.
In order to introduce sasquatch to at least the fringes of serious scientific research, the most important thing needed is objective evidence to prove or disprove the sasquatch hypothesis. The issue of evidence for the existence of sasquatch is a difficult one, particularly with the existing physical evidence that is available for study and what is considered to be legitimate evidence. At this point, it is perhaps useful to consider the distinctions between anecdotal and reliable, scientific knowledge. Anecdotal evidence is that which cannot be verified, confirmed or repeated, regardless of its truth or falsity. The issues of repeatability and independent verification are extremely important to scientific investigation since science can be simply seen as “. . . little more than a protocol for observation and explanation (Daegling 2004: 62).” The difference between the two types of evidence is the difference between hearing some sort of weird screaming outside a tent in Oregon one night and producing a recorded tape of those noises that can be analyzed in a sound lab by many different people. It is only through evidence that can be analyzed in a scientific fashion, that is, evidence that can be examined in a quantifiable and repeatable way that a hypothesis can definitively proven or disproven (Daegling 2004: chapter 4).
An interesting correlation to the problem of what construes as acceptable sasquatch evidence comes in the lack of a universally accepted standard of proof. From one investigator to another, what can be taken as an absolute proof of sasquatch existence other than a body varies tremendously. The only way to absolutely prove sasquatch as a species with such varying standards is to rule out all possibilities of human interference, as “for Grover Krantz, the inferred anatomy of footprints is sufficient; for John Green, the Skookum Cast is ample proof . . . Bob Titmus saw the animal twice with his own eyes . . . Jeff Meldrum believes . . . that some tracks would have been impossible to fake (Daegling 2004: 55).” Billie concurs, with the opinion “This problem raises the standard by which evidence is judged . . . the current situation can be stated very simply: the only evidence likely to result in widespread acceptance of any unknown large primate is a type specimen. As of now, no case meets that standard (2006: 128-128).” This lack of a physical body prevents the sasquatch from receiving a scientific nomenclature. The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature requires that a newly found animal, be it extant or extinct, must be represented by a type specimen that is offered up for examination by colleagues and is featured in a peer-reviewed publication (Simpson 1984: 2). Cryptozoologists counter with the argument this “. . . banishes many species to ‘non-existence,’ that is, the supposed species of ‘hidden’ or ‘unknown’ animals (Simpson 1984: 2).” However, as discussed above, presupposing existence based on such circumstantial and falsifiable evidence as the proposed “parataxa” made of trace fossils like footprints (Simpson 1984: 2) only leads back into pseudoscience.
Many books written on sasquatch place greatest stress on anecdotal evidence and mythology, throwing story after story at the reader as the greatest proof for existence, “by 2001, I had close to 4,000 reports in the computer, 67% involving sightings of a large hairy biped or bipeds . . . two things that have been proved beyond any doubt at all. . . the other fact is that thousands of people who would be considered credible on any other subject claim to have had a good look at one or more huge, bipedal, hair-covered creatures” (Green 2004). Both can be important sources of information for formulating a starting point for further scientific research i.e. for giving an idea of where to start, what to work with and further questions to be asked. However, as useful as these individual sources may be, they do not constitute evidence for physical existence, as it is impossible to rule out deliberate or unintentional hoaxing, misinterpretation of known phenomenon and the fact “. . . truth-tellers can be honest and the same time be wrong . . . perceptual mistakes happen” (Daegling 2004: 224).
Nevertheless, these myths and eyewitness accounts are two of the only sources available for speculating about behavioral and morphological characteristics of the sasquatch. Given that there are many tales involving sasquatch and too little room in this paper to recount them all, it becomes necessary to draw upon John Green’s summary of over 1,000 sasquatch reports to construct a hypothetical morphology of the animal. The biggest [no pun intended] difference between sasquatch and humans seems to be in both height and build as the sasquatch is estimated to be consistently taller than the vast majority of humans. Sasquatch height estimates average at a bit more than seven and a half feet with 57% of sasquatch being reported as “very heavy” in regards to build. From a front view of the animal, 78% were described as being “wide” (Green 1980). Grover Krantz hypothesized sasquatch body weight based on the foot characteristics derived from plaster casts of footprints, ending up with the conclusion that given the differences between sasquatch and human feet such as “greatly enlarged ankle bones, especially the heel, very short metatarsals, and a more nearly equal set of toes (1980),” these were logical adaptations to a human foot belonging to a creature weighing 500 lbs or more. Sasquatches are reported to be omnivorous creatures, feeding on a wide variety of foodstuffs including meat in half of reports collected by John Green by 1977 and reinforced by the findings in the fecal study done by Bryant and Trevor-Deutsch (1980). The primates are also characterized by their hairiness being “of the animal, not the human, sort (Green 1980),” lacking in longer hair on the head as is the pattern in humans. In addition to being big, hairy and hungry, sasquatches are overwhelmingly solitary, with only 5% of reports involving more than one individual animal, and there is great concurrence on facial features as having flat faces, large flat noses, sloped foreheads and brow ridges (Green 1980). Drawing on eyewitness accounts, we are given an image of a large bulky ape, entirely covered in hair and possessing hominid-like facial features, living alone off the varied resources of the northwest.
This construction of sasquatch morphology is all well and good, but given that a large number of people all over the heavily forested northwest have been seeing a large primate creature for hundreds of years, there remains that central problem of lack of physical evidence; namely skeletal remains, a carcass, a live sasquatch or even a clear photo or film. Skeptics raise issue with the total lack of unverifiable evidence and argue that for ecological reasons it is impossible for a primate the size of a sasquatch not only to successfully remain concealed for such a length of time in this day and age, but also to survive in the area due to its harsh winters and limited resources (Byrne 1975: 126-128). However, due to the ecological processes and nature of that particular region, it is entirely possible to give specific reasons as to why there is not more physical evidence available by drawing upon principles of fossilization, ecology and the current problems with the fossil record of extant primate species.
Dahinden and most other sasquatch researchers feel that British Columbia is the most likely place to find a sasquatch, more specifically in its northern midcoast region which is particularly remote and offers a moderate climate with varied ecosystems providing abundant resources. In addition, from the beginning of the 20th century the majority of sasquatch sightings have come from this area (Hunter 1973: 63). Byrne defines the sasquatch habitat as comprising of “. . . part of northern California and part of northern Idaho . . . all of the coast range and all of the Cascade range in Oregon and Washington . . . all of the coast range of British Columbia . . . the size of this area . . . is not less than 125,000 square miles (1975: 130).” This area is characterized by high mountain ranges and a low population density clustered in the coast and lowland regions, making it quite possible that sasquatch is “. . .obviously not sitting around waiting to be discovered (Byrne 975: 130).”
Despite this being a particularly large home range for an animal to exist in, it is not enough argument to serve as a reason to rule out sasquatch existence. Grover Krantz points out that the total population of sasquatch in the Northwest could be as low as 2,000; a seemingly tiny number until one considers it to also be the number of bears living in the same area (Coleman and Huyghe 2006: 168-169). Not only could sasquatch be living in extremely low densities, given what can be gleaned from eyewitness accounts and ethnographic records, the primate seems to be at least moderately intelligent, raising the issue of it not wanting to be discovered by its more nosy cousins (Coleman and Huyghe 2006: 169).
However, the particular ecological conditions of the Pacific Northwest make it extremely unlikely to find skeletal remains and such a deficiency is not unique to the sasquatch fossil record, despite there being “. . . a common tendency among primate palaeontologist and interested outsiders to treat the record as less fragmentary than it is in fact” (Martin 1990: 40). Often the primate and hominid fossil record that is known is incredibly sparse due to the inherent bias of the fossil record as successful fossilization of a deceased animal depends on many factors, most of which are due to chance. The animal must die in such a fashion and in such a place as its bones are unlikely to be disturbed by scavengers, weathering, bacterial decomposition or flowing water. In addition, the carcass must be quickly buried into a suitable substrate such as the shallows of a body of water or in a sheltered area such as a cave or overhang (Martin 1990: 40). Unfortunately, the soil composition of much of the Pacific Northwest is wet acid, which is the most inconducive to fossilization as it simply dissolves away the protein fibers of bone (Byrne 1975: 127). After the low probability of becoming a fossil, those remains must then be found by humans through exposure by geological processes and must be recognized as something worth excavating (Martin 1990: 40-41), making fossil-finding largely dependant on the “extent of chance of bias in fossilization and exposure to discovery (Martin 1990: 40).” While lack of evidence is not proof of existence, there are ecological principles that can explain the failure to find physical evidence of sasquatch.
The larger mystery to hypothesize about is the question of how such a large primate came to North America, given its lack of indigenous primate populations and despite the earliest known “archaic” primate fossil coming from the area (Martin 1990: 178). Given that the rather large group of the New World monkeys could not have been a viable ancestral population for the sasquatch as outlined below, the primate and hominid lineage from the Old World must be considered in the framework of diffusionist and migration theories. By evaluating these hypotheses within the critical framework of science using lines of reasoning from existing primate studies, paleogeography, hominoid evolution, we can determine which are more valid or more likely to be true.
As for sasquatch evolving from an already present New World primate species, there is no physical record of primates existing in North America before the migration of Homo sapiens over the Bering Strait. The evidence of primate population in the New World is becoming clearer, with one hypothesis being migration to northern South America through the Caribbean area during the Eocene, i.e. between 56 - 33 million years ago (McKenna 1980: 61). This group of New World monkeys is restricted around the equator in South and Central America, illustrating the broad trend of primate-suitable ecosystems being overwhelmingly in tropical areas. More importantly, the range of primates found in the New World are the gap group between the subcategories of primates known as “simian” and “prosimian”, where in relation to each other simian primates, such as the chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan and human, tend to have more complex morphology than the prosimians, i.e. the New World monkeys tend to be smaller and less complex than the great apes (Martin 1994: 5). In addition, ecological competition between New World monkeys has been fierce, resulting in a restriction of adaptive radiation to a mainly arboreal, frugivorous, and diurnal niche (Martin 1994: 19-25). Looking at the available record for primate migration and presence in the New World, it seems unlikely our ancestor primate species for the sasquatch will arise from this group.
In the available sasquatch literature, two main candidates for an ancestral species seem to be Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Gigantopithecus blacki. Turning to these proposed ancestral species, the most likely way for this hominoid species to travel to the New World would be via the Bering Land Strait, a 60 mile strip of land created by receding coastlines which connected Siberia to Alaska in the past. At only a few times in the relatively recent past has this land been exposed, most notably allowing for the migration of Homo sapiens but also as the major highway for large mammal species and even plants traveling from eastern Europe into the Americas. The difficulties created by the strait are those of chronology, as water levels have been extremely varied over the hundreds of thousands of years (Dixon 2000). A positive correlation between the hypothesized dates of the land bridge emergence and the known dating of Gigantopithecus and Neanderthal existence and range is strongly needed to lend credence to these hypotheses.
The hypothesis of sasquatch evolving from a relic Neanderthal population coming to the New World is advanced most notably by Myra Shankley and Boris Porshnev (Hunter 1973). Interesting anecdotal tales come from Professor Boris Porshnev in Russia of an apparent relic population of Neanderthal-like hominids, co-existing and interbreeding with modern humans. He writes of a woman named Zana, who was captured by hunters in the 19th century and brought to live with humans, “she was tall, bulky . . . her face was broad, with prominent, high cheek bones, a very flat nose, and small eyes which in some lights appeared red . . . she apparently became content to live among humans . . . (Hunter 1973: 103).” Most surprising, she was said to have given birth to several hybrid children, some of which survived into adulthood and were successful in human society, “. . . said to possess more or less normal human faculties . . . (Hunter 1973: 104).” Porshnev, in 1973 at least, was said to be on the hunt for Zana’s bones in the Caucasus area near the Black Sea but had not been successful as of the time of printing. Hunter speculates a bit on the possibility of Zana herself being “. . . the result of a mixed-mating (1973: 105)” but ultimately realizes his being unqualified in the field of genetics to answer such questions, “. . . the question is one for students of genetics, should any ever get around to considered (1973: 105).” It has also been noted that the 1974 English translation of his article The Troglodytidae and the Hominidae in Taxonomy and Evolution of Higher Primates shows “. . . that Porshnev had little or no grasp on scientific zoology and also on historical or physical anthropology (Simpson 1984: 16).”
However, the hypothesis that the sasquatch is a remnant of Neanderthal population that traveled to North America over the Bering Strait, when evaluated in the light of present-day knowledge about the Neanderthal population in eastern Europe, seems unlikely, despite the stories from the old USSR about Neanderthal half-breeds. While Homo sapiens neanderthalensis was extraordinary successful at surviving in Paleolithic Europe, the archaeological record in both northeast Europe and in North America does not suggest Neanderthal ever made it as far as America. Recent archaeological evidence from Russia suggests a human presence in the European Arctic by about 34-38 ka, however the artifacts found, including two stone tools and deliberate marks on a mammoth tusk, are ambiguous in regards to their manufacturers being Neanderthals or Homo sapiens sapiens. If they had been made by humans, this suggests a much more rapid expansion into the north than previously thought; if made by Neanderthal, this evidence supports a greatly expanded possible range of habitation (Pavlov et al 2004). In addition, the archaeological discovery of a hypothesized hybrid Neanderthal-human child in Spain is ambiguous and still highly contested as to its veracity (Tattersall 1999).
What is known of Neanderthal morphology does not accord with the proposed sasquatch morphology outlined above. Despite the two sharing such traits as pronounced brow ridges and a robust postcranial skeleton, Neanderthal size never reaches the range proposed for sasquatch and indeed Neanderthal morphologies from the later Middle Pleistocene are “. . . associated with a modest decrease in cranial and postcranial robusticity . . . (Trinkaus 1986: 195),” showing the Neanderthals evolving towards smaller bodies, not larger ones (Trinkaus 1986).
Furthermore, the material cultures associated with Neanderthals have not been discovered in the New World, as archaeological evidence for the expansion of hominoids into the Americas is solely composed of material associated with H. sapiens sapiens, with no evidence for any other sort of hominid migration. The earliest occupation sites in eastern Beringia have been dated to 11,000 to 10,000 BP and already show signs of several distinctive cultural traditions, suggesting colonization of the New World actually began around 13,000 BP (Dixon 2000: 295). Unfortunately, the nature of the Bering Land Bridge prevents much of further research being carried out as to the possibility of earlier migrations, as the rising water levels at the end of Pleistocene have destroyed much of the archaeological sites clustering close to the waters’ edge (Dixon 2000: 295). The first accepted range of dates for when the land bridge would have been revealed by the drop in water level spans from 200-150,000 BP (Hopkins 1973), before the second period when H. sapiens is thought to have come across.
As the evidence for Neanderthal migration over into North America seems implausible due to morphological characteristics and incongruity in the chronology and archaeological record, we turn to Gigantopithecus as an alternative. Known from only fragments of jaw bone and isolated teeth, this now extinct ape lived across a broad range of modern-day southeast Asia, including China and Vietnam. Recent dating techniques have revealed the regional co-existence of H. erectus and G.blacki for at least a million years, during which time G. blacki increased in size until its hypothesized extinction around 100,000 BP (Ciochon et al. 1996). Russell Ciochon, John Olsen and Jamie Jones in fact argue this evidence for the coexistence of H. erectus and Gigantopithecus blacki in southeast Asia suggests that the awareness and fear felt today regarding sasquatch is some sort of atavistic memory, dating from an ancestral H. erectus group (Pyle 1995: 317). Based on what little fossil evidence is available and using the known proportions in body size of modern-day gorillas, Gigantopithecus is estimated to have been 20-25% larger than the average gorilla and 42% heavier (Johnson 1979), putting it in the range of about 600 lbs (Simons 1970) which correlates to estimations of sasquatch weight. Analysis of opal phytoliths bonded to teeth enamel reveals a highly opportunistic diet consisting mainly of leaves, seeds and fruits i.e. carbohydrates and starches that required heavy chewing. Given that Gigantopithecus far exceeded any other known primate in body size and weight, this study shows that a purely vegetarian diet is enough to sustain a 600 pound animal while its eclectic feeding habits open the possibility of adopting an omnivorous diet (Ciochon 1990).
Accepting for a minute that Gigantopithecus could be the direct ancestor of the Sasquatch, turning to look at its closest known living relative can help shed some more light on this hypothesis. Just as scientists who study humans turn to our closest living ancestor the chimpanzee for help deciphering human traits, so could the study of sasquatch be helped by information in its supposed closest living relative the orangutan in Indonesia. Orangutans are a member of the Pongidae family, alongside the chimpanzees and gorillas, and are believed to have descended from Dryopithecus sivalensis, of which skeletal remains are found in northern India and Pakistan and hypothesized to Fossil remains also show that the extinct ancestor in China was about 40% larger than today’s species and even in more recent evolutionary history the species that first migrated to Sumatra may have been up to 16% larger (Maple 1980: 8).
One characteristic of the orangutan is particularly notable due to its uniqueness in other great apes and applicability to the proposed sasquatch behavioral traits. Orangutans, especially males, tend to be solitary creatures which keep to a strict territorial area of land. Fully adult males are normally seen by themselves and it is suggested that their distribution and ranging patterns are due in large part to the presence of ovulating females, as the level of violence present in territorial fights is positively correlated with the presence or absence of females, and to the distribution of resource patches within the territory (Maple 1980: 17). Females are more likely to be seen in mother-infant pairs or in more temporary female-young adult pairs. As an interesting correlation of this living arrangement, orangutans tend to have marked sexual dimorphism, with males typically weighing twice as much as females. Contrasted to the harem-style arrangement of the gorilla with an average of a dozen females with a solitary male as a group or the eclectic large multi-male multi-female social groups of chimpanzees with as many as 80 individuals, the orangutan pattern of solitude which is broken by territorial overlap between both males and females is intriguing and has implications for sasquatch behavioral and territorial characteristics (Martin 1990: 34-35) as echoed above in the eyewitness recounts of the sasquatch.
However, speculation on ancestry and behavioral morphology is just that: speculation, and it remains such until a specimen is found either dead or alive. Until then, arguing about whether or not sasquatch was monogamous or polygamous, carnivorous or omnivorous, whether he liked the BC winters or thought they were too cold is simply putting the cart before the horse. Both sides of the argument can be debated in an equally valid manner as there is no evidence to prove or disprove the premise. The speculation indulged in above seems to suggest a pattern of Gigantopithecus migration into the New World from Asia, resulting in an adaptation to the Pacific Northwest ecosystem and behavioral morphology perhaps similar to the orangutan. However, it is imperative to obtain physical evidence to support this through a living or dead sasquatch, as only that seems to be the definitive standard of proof for most scientists and researchers. If further years go by and still no truly verifiable evidence emerges, it is perhaps in our best interest to turn the issue of the sasquatch over the realm of psychology and folklore studies to better understand this truly cultural phenomenon. As Robert Pyle points out, the sasquatch occupies a mythical status in North America, standing for an increasingly urbanized population as a symbol of the rugged individual capable of wilderness survival, “His talk took on an incantatory tone, and the account became a beguiling litany of beasthood . . . the room was hypnotized . . . these guys don’t want to find Bigfoot – they want to be Bigfoot (1995: 204).” Until a body is found, we are left running in circles, debating back and forth over something that doesn’t yet exist.
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 In this paper I chose to refer to the animal as sasquatch, not as bigfoot, as the former carries less mythological connotations. I have also chosen not to capitalize the name, except in use as a proper name or as an archetype of the species; as mentioned by Daegling (2004) in endnote 3 of Chapter 1, capitalization, although the norm, serves to reinforce the notion of the sasquatch as a “singular mythical creature (7-8).”
 Tenacious D, in their popular 1999 song Sasquatch, identifies sasquatch as “the missing link,” clearly placing it into the Homo sapiens lineage by that phrase and by mentioning its human-like dexterity in discussing its “kickass” drumming skills.