Some people believe
in the Sasquatch. Others don't. Among those that say they don't are people
who have done the most research on them and produced the best evidence.
Possibly these researchers associate the work "believe" with
There is nothing theological about a Sasquatch. He is not a god, nor a
man. He is an animal.
The word "to believe" comes from the old Teutonic root LUB,
from which we also derive LOVE. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the
first meaning of believe as: "To hold dear, to have confidence in,
or to like." These words have nothing to do with credibility.
To my mind, a reasonable person who has studied the evidence carefully,
like John Green, Rene Dahinden, and Grover Krantz, may be expected to
have confidence that the animal exists, but they may not hold him dear
or like him very much, because his existence surprises or frightens them.
Even before I read John Green's book, "Sasquatch. the Apes Among
Us," I accepted the Sasquatch's existence. A year ago, as representative
of the Peabody Museum of Harvard, I was sent to a town in New Hampshire
just over the Massachusetts border to investigate a sighting.
A man who
lived just below the border in Massachusetts had driven his pickup truck,
which he had converted into a camper, to a wooded glade along a highway.
He stopped there and went to sleep at the wheel, his two young sons likewise
snoozing on bunks by a window.
At 11:00 p.m. the man awoke. Something was rocking his vehicle from side
to side. An earthquake? He stepped out and was immediately grasped on
the left shoulder by a seven foot tall creature covered with light brown or
yellowish hair. Its right hand pushed the camper off his running board
into the ground. It looked down on him, and stuck out its tongue. The
man jumped free, the creature stepped back. The man drove as fast as he
could up the highway, the creature following him.
"Step on it dad!" the boys cried, "He's gaining on us!"
The creature apparently turned off the highway to the right, and then
took another right into a so-called Lovers' Lane, where we later found
physical evidence of perhaps what the lane had been named for.
I went there twice. The terrain was a deep mat of fallen white pine needles.
Several weeks after the encounter, the prints of what had been going on
were still depressed an inch and a half to two inches below the surface
of the needles. Fully clothed, I weigh about 168 to 170 pounds, and wear
a size 12 shoes. My steppings and crawlings left no marks at all.
The forester of the local police department pointed out what might be
called a fanny-print along the tracks at the edge of the lane, as wide
as a very fat man's but as sharp-edged as that of a man both lean and
muscular. There were large footprints and small footprints, some pressed
over the other, hand prints on edge, as by a karate blow, and what could
have been elbow prints and knee prints. A professional photographer took
pictures of these prints just after the "sighting," on my first
visit. Plaster casts taken on my third show the outlines, but little more.
Later on, one of the sighter's sons saw the creature's face peering into
his bedroom below.
Two women also saw this blond Sasquatch, one when he crouched in front
of a stone wall, another when he was walking across the highway. Both
women refused to be interviewed, and let it be known that they had gone
The principal actor
and both his sons passed polygraph tests to verify their consistent accounts.
The father had never heard of the Sasquatch before, but one of his sons
had seen something about it on television. Several elements in
this narrative had been recorded elsewhere, in other encounters, by persons
who never heard of our New Hampshire actors and vice versa. Both these
encounters took place at night. The animals rocked the vehicle. It touched
its human occupant. Its touch was not aggressive, but apparently a clumsy
attempt at interaction, what might have been called a pat of affection,
or a way of saying: "I'm hungry!" or "I need a drink of
water."After he had recovered
from the first shock of his encounter, the principal actor was in a state
of shock, perhaps resembling hypnosis. I know what this means. I was once
almost equally pixilated by the unblinking gaze of a lion, although no
human being has ever hypnotized me. The fact in the window syndrome is
also on record elsewhere. So is the statement that the animal stank nauseously. "He smelled like rotten fish." That theme-smell is found in
many verifiable records of encounters, but not in all of them. After all,
some people's sense of smell is keener than others' is.
The first report of Sasquatch tracks came from Jasper, Alberta dated 1811,
the first recorded sighting was in Maryland in 1838, and in 1851 many
persons saw a hairy giant attacking cattle in Arkansas. They could not
all have been pixilated, or were they too afraid of ridicule to admit
what they had seen, as many viewers are today.
Unfaked footprints are reported every year. (One can usually tell the
difference because a man's weight is not enough to press the phony template
down enough, among other things). Sightings verified by investigators
are also in the hundreds, and come from almost every state and province
of the United States and Canada. At least an equal number are hushed up.
More plausible evidence, which some of the professional disbelievers may
believe (in my sense of the word) comes from some hair and blood left
behind by a Sasquatch seen bothering cattle on an Indian reservation in
Washington. It had torn down fences and even built what seemed to be a
sleeping nest out of branches, but had not escaped unscratched.
Professor Stephen I Rosen of the University of Maryland has identified
its hair as that of a previously unknown primate--and he has hair on file
for most of the living primates of the world. He has given me permission
to state that its scale pattern is primate, its pigment dense and black
like that of a lowland gorilla, and its internal structure "unusual." This last refers to the medulla of the hair strand, which is quite variable among
the living races of man.
On this substantially impeccable evidence we may be justified to state
that a primate other than man, which is either a pongid (ape), or hominid
(kind of man) is alive in Washington, even if the hairs did not come off
the animal identified as the creator of the local disturbance.
The blood that came with the hair has been examined by a professional
in another institution. A newspaper report quotes him as saying that his
sample is primate, possible human, but too degraded for further speculation.
Now that we are on relatively stable scientific ground, and while we await
other statements from experts in hair and blood analysis, tooth analysis,
or the dissection of a cadaver, it seems sound enough to speculate on
the zoological classification of our subject.We are still speaking
only of North America. We have reports of many variations in size, but
few in shape. Its footprints range from about twelve to eighteen or even
twenty inches (30.5, 45.7, 50.8 cm), with allowances for sex and age.
For an adult male its footprints come to about 600 square centimetres,
or about ninety square inches. With a weight over 500 pounds, that would
put about fifty-six pounds per square inch (4kg per cm2) on each footprint,
without counting the added pressure from leaping.
When we reckon stature
against weight, according to the best estimates, we obtain a ponderal
(height-weight) index of forty, as compared to figures of 22 to 24 from
such heavy weight "Homines sapientes" as Eskimos and Finns.
This makes the Sasquatch's build more like a gorilla's than like those
of people not too fat to run.
While the feet could be called human, except for those with fewer than
five toes, the hands are subhuman. The thumb branches off the palm lower
down than in the case of man, and it is relatively short. In a 1971 paper
that Grover Krantz gave me, there is a sense of a lesser manual dexterity
than most human hands have, but I may be wrong.
Another item that Grover Krantz notes is that the joint on the astragalus
where the tibia seems to set the weight of the body onto the arch of the
foot lies farther forward than in Homo sapiens in general, and this has
also been observed by David Pilbeam in actual Australopithecus foot bones.
What we need most at this point is teeth, but these must probably await
an autopsy. In recent microscopic studies of tooth enamel, a difference
has been found between enamel patterns in apes on the one hand and both
Ramapithecus and man on the other. With just one Sasquatch tooth it could
be determined whether he is an ape or something closer to a man.
In either case, the fact that he stands and walks erect does not make
him close kin. An octopus' eye is very much like a mammal's. Both eyes
arose through the processes of mutation and selection. More than one primate
can have found it advantageous to stand and walk erect. A gibbon can,
but we are not descendants of gibbons. David Pilbeam has found at least
six kinds of Ramapithecus in Pakistan and neighboring parts of India.
In Africa the succession of the ancestors of three human races, one after
another, make that continent seem peripheral rather than seminal, but
who can tell?The world is wide.
The outlines of the continents have changed. What once were bridges of
land are now swirling straits.
How many races, species, genera, and subfamilies even may be represented
not only by Sasquatches, but also by the wildmen, so called, of Europe,
Asia and Africa? The lady Kapitar of Caucasus who bore children to a local
man belonged to a species or race interfertile with modern Homo sapiens.
Anyhow, in 1978 interfertility has ceased to be an open-or-shut criterion
It is easier to say what they are not than what they are. They are not
Neanderthals. Neanderthals had beaky noses and brains bigger than those
of most men alive today. They had fire and flaked sophisticated tools.
They were not dropped out of flying saucers. It is unlikely that they
are the unaltered descendants of our ancestors.They are fellow primates.
They are smarter than we are in the sense that they can live without modern
inventions, in apparently every climate, even deserts, if the latter are
within walking distance of mountains and water. It is less costly and
easier to find out what they are than it is to dig up our fossil ancestors,
and possibly theirs, in lands now torn by war and seething with newfound
national pride. If we don't destroy the atmosphere, it may be they who
have the better chance to survive, if it is true that the meek shall inherit
Oh, yes, how about
my title? Two years ago a reporter asked me over the phone why it was "WHY THERE HAS TO BE A SASQUATCH." I really don't know. It seemed
like a good eye-catcher, and I could fill in the reason later. So I told
him, "With the world in the mess it's in, we need a Sasquatch to
take our minds off our troubles." This was both egocentric and anthropocentric.
Today we might switch it to: "WHY DOES THE SASQUATCH NEED US?"
or "WHY DO THERE HAVE TO BE PEOPLE?"
Green, John 1978.
Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us. Saanichton: Cheam Publishing and Hancock
Krantz, Grover 1971. Sasquatch Handprints. Northwest Anthropological Research
Notes 5 (2): 145-151.
was a major contributor to the study of human evolution from the late
1930s until his death in 1981. He was also among the first of the 'established'
scientists to openly discuss the possibility of living hominids other
than our own species. Coon was never very much afraid of controversy;
neither did he go out specifically looking for it. His anthropological
works range the full gamut from 'respectable' to what some thought to
be 'outrageous'. With Sasquatch he followed his normal pattern of studying
what was of interest and reporting whatever conclusions he found. Coon
never did extensive research into the subject of unverified hominoids,
but he kept an open mind on it and was happy to learn about what others
were doing. This paper is perhaps the only formal presentation of his
views at any length. Here he toys with various possible views as to
Sasquatch's relation to humans, and rules out only one--that they represent
surviving Neanderthals. While Coon refers to Ramapithecus as a definite
hominid, the present consensus of expert opinion would now class it
as a pongid. This, of course, has no direct bearing on the Sasquatch
problem and should not detract from his comments here. (G.S. Krantz)
Dr. Coon's books
are available here:
COON, CARLETON STEVENS (1904-1981)
Carleton S. Coon attended
Harvard University (Ph.D., 1928) and taught there from 1934 to 1948. He
then became a curator at the University of Pennsylvania University Museum.
Coon was an advocate of holistic anthropology, and he carried out ethnographic,
social anthropological, physical anthropological, and archeological studies.
His region of specialization was North Africa and the Near East.
Coon worked in Morocco
in 1925-1928, 1939, 1947, and 1962-1963. During the 1920s, he was primarily
concerned with ethnographic, social anthropological, and physical anthropological
studies of the Riffians, which was the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation
and his early books. He also became involved in archeological studies
of Stone Age cultures, especially through investigations of caves. During
World War II, Coon was a member of the United States Office of Strategic
Services and, in part, operated in Morocco.
In 1929-1930, Coon
studied northern mountaineer Albanians to test several theses, including
one that posited a Dinaric race and another that set forth a relationship
between stature and calcium in agricultural lands. In 1933, Coon was in
Ethiopia for research, but political complications forced him into physical
anthropological studies in Yemen. From 1925 to 1939 he was engaged in
fieldwork and anthropological research in Arabia, the Balkans, and N Africa,
where he discovered (1939) the remains of a Neanderthal. He taught (1934-48)
at Harvard and in 1948 became professor of anthropology at the Univ. of
Pennsylvania and curator of ethnology at the University Museum there.
In 1948-1951, Coon investigated the Iraqi and Iranian Stone Age. In 1954,
he surveyed and excavated Stone Age caves in Afghanistan and, on his way
home, visited Australia where he carried out work with the Tiwi. In 1955,
he was in Syria and in Central Africa.
While working with
the United States Air Force in 1956-1957, Coon photographed India, Japan,
Taiwan, Korea, Ceylon, Nepal, Sikkim, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the
Philippines. His pictures provided information about areas where airmen
might be forced down. In 1959, he was on a team to study Alakaluf physiology
in southern Chile. In 1965, he was in Sierra Leone, carrying out archeological
work in the cave of Yengema.
Coon became a controversial
figure after writing The Origin of Races (1962), in which he argued
that certain races had reached the Homo sapiens stage of evolution before
others; he said this would explain why different races achieved different
levels of civilization. Physical anthropologists now emphasize that the
amount of genetic variation between races, by any objective criteria,
is slight, indicating a recent origin for racial differences. His other
writings include Races (1951, repr. 1981), The Seven Caves (1957),
The Story of Man (2d ed. 1962), The Living Races of Man (1965),
The Hunting Peoples (1971), and his autobiography, Adventures
and Discoveries (1981).
Coon has produced
several general and sometimes quite controversial works in anthropology.
With Eliot D. Chapple, he published Principles of Anthropology
in 1942. Other works include The Races of Europe (1939), The
Story of Man (1954), The Origin of Races (1962), and The
Living Races of Man (1965). An account of his work during World War
II is the subject of A North Africa Story (1980).
Coon became a member
of the National Academy of Science in 1952 and served as president of
the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in 1961- 1962. He
passed away in 1981.
More on the work of Coon can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carleton_S._Coon
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