Sightings of monstrous apelike creatures lurking in the darkness of forests and mountainous regions of the world have been reported since the Middle Ages. In 840 C.E., Agobard, the Archbishop of Lyons, told of three such demons, "giant people of the forest and mountains," who were stoned to death after being displayed in chains for several days.
In his Chronicles, Abbot Ralph of Coggeshall Abbey, Essex, England, wrote of a "strange monster" whose charred body had been found after a lightning storm on the night of St. John the Baptist in June 1205. He stated that a terrible stench came from the beast with "monstrous limbs."
Villagers of the Caucasus Mountains have legends of an apelike "wildman" going back for centuries. The same may be said of the Tibetans living on the slopes of Mt. Everest and the Native American tribes inhabiting the northwestern United States. The Gilyaks, a remote tribe of Siberian native people, claim that there are animals inhabiting the frozen forests of Siberia that have human feelings and travel in family units.
Based on the eyewitness descriptions of hundreds of reliable individuals around the world who have encountered these creatures, it would seem that the creatures are more humanlike than apelike or bearlike. For one thing, these giants are repeatedly said by witnesses to have breasts and buttocks. Neither apes nor bears have buttocks—nor do they leave flatfooted humanlike footprints.
In 1920, the term "abominable snowman" was coined through a mistranslation of the Tibetan word for the mysterious apelike monster yeti, "wildman of the snow." For the next two decades, reports of the creature were common in the Himalayan mountain range, but it was not until the close of World War II (1939–45) that world attention became focused on the unexplained humanlike bare footprints that were being found at great heights and freezing temperatures.
The Himalayan activity reached a kind of climax in 1960 when Sir Edmund Hillary (1919– ), conqueror of Mt. Everest, led an expedition in search of the elusive yeti and returned with nothing shown for his efforts but a fur hat that had been fashioned in imitation of the snowman's scalp.
The humanlike creature—whether sighted in the more remote, wooded, or mountainous regions of North America, South America, Russia, China, Australia, or Africa—is believed by some anthropologists to be a two-footed mammal that constitutes a kind of missing link between humankind and the great apes, for its appearance is more primitive than that of Neanderthal.
The descriptions given by witnesses around the world are amazingly similar. Height: six to nine feet. Weight: 400 to 1,000 pounds. Eyes: black. Dark fur or body hair from one to four inches in length is said to cover the creature's entire body with the exception of the palms of its hands, the soles of its feet, and its upper facial area, nose, and eyelids.
Some question the existence of giant apelike creatures because there is so little physical evidence besides casts of huge humanlike footprints. Some researchers respond by pointing out that Mother Nature keeps a clean house.
Scavengers soon eat the carcasses of the largest forest creatures and the bones are scattered. Zoologist Ivan T. Sanderson suggested that if these beings are members of a subhuman race, they may gather up their dead for burial in special caves.
Dr. Jeanne-Marie-Therese Koffman agreed that the creatures might bury their dead in secret places. It may be, she theorized, that they may throw the corpses of the deceased into the rushing waters of mountain rivers or into the abysses of rocky caverns.
Others remind the skeptical that it is not unusual for certain of the higher animals to hide the bodies of their dead. Accounts of the legendary "elephants' graveyard" are well-known; and in Ceylon, the phrase "to find a dead monkey" is used to indicate an impossible task.
Proving the existence of such creatures may seem to many scientists to be an impossible task, but persistent searchers for undeniable evidence of the apelike beings feel that proof is right around the next corner in some darkened forest.
Reports of a large apelike creature in the United States and the Canadian provinces are to be found in the oral traditions of native tribes, the journals of early settlers, and accounts in regional frontier newspapers, but wide public attention was not called to the mysterious beast until the late 1950s when roadbuilding crews in the unmapped wilderness of the Bluff Creek area north of Eurka, California, began to report a large number of sightings of North America's own "abominable snowman."
Once stories of giant humanlike monsters tossing around construction crews' small machinery and oil drums began hitting the wire services, hunters, hikers, and campers came forward with a seemingly endless number of stories about the shrill-squealing, seven-foot forest giant that they had for years been calling by such names as Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Wauk-Wauk, Oh-Mah, or Saskehavis.
In North America, the greatest number of sightings of Bigfoot have come from the Fraser River Valley, the Strait of Georgia, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia; the "Ape Canyon" region near Mt. St. Helens in southwestern Washington; the Three Sisters Wilderness west of Bend, Oregon; and the area around the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation, especially the Bluff Creek watershed, northeast of Eureka, California.
In recent years, extremely convincing sightings of Bigfoot-type creatures have also been made in areas of New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida.
Reports of Bigfoot-type creatures in California go back to at least the 1840s when miners reported encountering giant two-legged beastlike monsters during the gold rush days.
Sightings of the Oh-Mah, as the native tribes called them, continued sporadically until August 1958, when a construction crew was building a road through the rugged wilderness near Bluff Creek, Humboldt County, and discovered giant humanlike footprints in the ground around their equipment. For several mornings running, the men discovered that something had been disturbing their small equipment during the night. In one instance, an 800-pound tire and wheel from an earthmoving machine had been picked up and carried several yards across the compound. In another, a 300-pound drum of oil had been stolen from the camp, carried up a rocky mountain slope, and tossed into a deep canyon. And in each instance, only massive 16-inch footprints with a 50-to-60-inch stride offered any clue to the vandal's identity.
When media accounts of the huge footprints were released, people from the area began to step forward to exhibit their own plaster casts of massive, mysterious footprints and to relate their own frightening encounters with hairy giants—stories that they had repressed for decades for fear of being ridiculed.
Not to be outdone, Canadians began telling of their own startling encounters with Sasquatch, a tribal name for Bigfoot, that had been circulating in the accounts of trappers, lumberjacks, and settlers in the Northwest Territories since the 1850s.
Long before the frontier folk discovered the giant of the woods, the Sasquatch had become an integral element in many of the myths and legends of the native people.
Copyright The Gale Group, Inc.
This article from Keep Media carried no author citation or date.
Article courtesy Ruth Ann Agajanian, Georgia 9/20/06
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