have examined five specimens of preserved feces and three specimens of
animal hair suspected to be of Sasquatch or Bigfoot origin. They find
that two of the fecal and two of the hair specimens are definitely attributable
to known animals, but the remaining samples are
not. Recognizing the limited sample studied, they call for further such
analyses to ascertain the origin of the unidentified specimens.
The major problem associated with the phenomenon of Sasquatch is proof
of its physical existence. Many types of circumstantial evidence already
exist and are used by believers and skeptics alike. Believers consider
that the Sasquatch phenomenon results from the existence of a large group
of these creatures which have thus far eluded capture. These people also
argue that each piece of circumstantial evidence by itself is not sufficient,
yet when all the circumstantial evidence is combined, the proof for Sasquatch
existence is overwhelming. Likewise, the skeptics argue that since all
available evidence for the existence of this creature is purely circumstantial
it cannot be used as convincing evidence of this creature's existence.
in Sasquatch spans a decade of research and effort. As biologists and
anthropologists, we feel that the knowledge of these disciplines can bring
new insight to the scientific study of certain types of phenomena, especially
those for which only circumstantial
evidence exists. We also hope that our studies may help to locate and
identify some of the first tangible pieces of evidence that might help
prove, beyond doubt, whether or not this creature actually exists. Our
areas of research expertise pertain to the identification and evaluation
of fossil and modern mammal hairs and to the analysis of mammalian fecal
These areas have become highly specialized over the past several decades,
and we feel that the techniques developed for these disciplines can be
applied to the search for the Sasquatch. Obtaining well-documented fecal
and hair samples of suspected Sasquatch Origin has been difficult for
several reasons. First, not many people who find those kinds of samples
realize what they are or realize the important role the samples might
play in proving the existence of these creatures. Second, some people
believe that every hair or fecal sample found in a region of past or recent
Sasquatch sightings must belong to that creature; and, third, even when
a suspected fecal or hair sample has been located, few people know where
to send it for analysis. In spite of these problems, we have had an opportunity
to analyze several suspected Sasquatch hair and fecal samples.
Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to achieve the breakthrough we
are seeking and thus, for the present, can only provide additional pieces
of circumstantial data. However, we hope,that this article we will make
our research and our willingness to examine well-documented hair and fecal
samples of suspected Sasquatch origin known to others. In this way we
hope that someday we may find that one piece of conclusive evidence which
might help move current Sasquatch research out of the realm of the circumstantial.
Scientists have been conducting analyses of prehistoric fecal specimens,
called coprolites, for more than one hundred and fifty years. Mantell
was one of the first to investigate ancient coprolites when he examined
specimens of preserved fish (probably shark) feces found in Cretaceous
chalk deposits in Sussex, England.(1) His examination of those specimens
did not reveal much evidence about the diets of ancient sharks, but he
recognized the potential scientific value of those coprolites. For example,
he noted that the coprolites could be used as one type of evidence for
the past existence of sharks in the Sussex region more than a hundred
million years ago when the Cretaceous chalk deposits were being formed.
investigations of non-human coprolites followed, many of which are summarized
in a recent book on coprolite research.(2) However, it was the later research
on preserved human feces that helped to provide the greatest amount of
coprolite data and which eventually led to the refined methodology which
we are currently applying to our studies of suspected Sasquatch fecal
specimens. Harshberger may have been the first to realize the potential
value of prehistoric human coprolites when he suggested that the undigested
seeds and bones found in the feces of prehistoric man not only proved
man's presence, but also could be used as a clue to the understanding
of prehistoric human diets.(3) For the next sixty years few other scientists
examined prehistoric human coprolites, mainly because no one had yet discovered
a useful method of analysis that would prevent damage to the delicate
tissue remains of animals and plants contained in coprolite specimens.
Early investigators, such as Jones(4), employed mortar and pestle to crush
dried human coprolites and found that they contained the remains of seeds,
acorns, and hickory nuts. Later, Webb and Baby broke open human coprolites
recovered from caves in eastern Kentucky and found that the samples contained
the remains of seeds and
insects which were once part of prehistoric man's diet.
(5) The next year,
MacNeish noted that he had found broken fragments of ancient human coprolites
in Mexico which contained evidence that prehistoric man in that area had
eaten a diet of snails, insects, squash, and maguey.
Each of these early researchers provided data concerning man's ancient
dietary record, but each was unable to derive a complete list of prehistoric
diets since they had had to break or crush the coprolite specimens in
order to examine the material inside. In doing so they inadvertently destroyed
evidence of fragile components.The real breakthrough in coprolite research
occurred in 1950, when two Canadians(7) discovered a new method of coprolite
reconstitution which returned the ancient dried specimens to their original
moist condition and permitted the careful separation and analysis of all
components. This new technique led to an expansion in coprolite work because
it provided scientists with a processing technique that permitted a more
precise evaluation of dietary components and also allowed researchers
to examine for remains of fragile items such as parasite eggs and cysts.
Unfortunately, one side effect of the newly discovered technique was
that during the processing phase it allowed ancient coprolites to emit
a noxious odor similar to the odor of fresh feces. Another new development
in coprolite research occurred when Martin and
Sharrock introduced the idea of searching for preserved pollen in human
coprolite specimens.(8) This approach not only provided new data on dietary
components, but also permitted speculation concerning the season in which
individual coprolites may have been deposited. During the 1960's, Eric
Callen became the recognized leader in coprolite research and after his
untimely death in 1970, Texas A&M University became the new centre
for coprolite research.(9) Since 1970
we have tried to continue the fine example set by Callen.(10) At the Texas
A&M University Anthropology Laboratory coprolite samples, such as
those of suspected Sasquatch origin, are initially measured, weighed,
and photographed, and their general appearance is described
before the laboratory process is begun. Next, the samples are thoroughly
cleaned in order to remove any surface contamination which may have adhered
after the coprolite was deposited. Once cleaned, coprolite samples are
subdivided for analysis and then placed in airtight containers. The amount
of coprolite that is actually used for analysis varies. In some cases,
where large-size specimens are available, a relatively large portion can
be analyzed. In other cases, only a very
small fragment is available for analysis. Once the fecal material is selected
for analysis, each specimen is placed in an airtight container, and to
each sample is added a 0.5 per cent trisodiuln phosphate solution. The
strength of the solution must be carefully regulated since Callenl' showed
that concentrations greater than 0.5 per cent will destroy the middle
lamella of plant cells and
thus cause the destruction of delicate plant tissues. Samples are then
sealed and allowed to soak for periods ranging from three days to several
weeks. The length of time needed to soak each sample is dependent upon
a number of factors; however, deterioration does not seem to occur even
after prolonged periods in the solution. For example, our studies have
shown that there is no detectable sample deterioration even when coprolite
specimens are allowed to soak for periods of up to three years.
the rehydration process is complete, a notation is made of its colour,
smell, and whether or not a thin scum appears on the surface. According
to Callen,(11) the presence of a thin surface scum is an indication that
meat was a part of the diet. Once these data are recorded, the material
is processed through a series of clean brass screens. During this process
the larger pieces of debris that are trapped on each screen are gently
agitated to liberate any trapped pollen grains. The residue on each screen
is stored for later analysis. The filtrate is then centrifuged and analyzed
for pollen. It is often difficult to determine the precise identity of
a coprolite producer. To solve this potential problem identification is
made at three stages of analysis: during the initial examination prior
to reconstitution; during reconstitution; and during the analysis of coprolite
to reconstitution, the shapes of coprolites can give clues as to their
origins. Fecal pellets from certain types of rodents, such as mice, pack
rats, gophers, and moles, and from many herbivores, such as elk, deer,
antelope, sheep, rabbits, and horses, can easily be recognized by their
shapes. Coprolites from large carnivores are characterized by their hard
outer coating of dried intestinal lubricant secreted as protection against
intestinal wall perforation by ingested bone fragments. However, it is
often more difficult to distinguish human specimens from animal coprolites
which may be shaped like those of humans. The problem is compounded when
samples have been crushed or fragmented. Another factor that makes fecal
identification of samples
from humans difficult is the great variety of shapes and sizes found in
stools which result from varied methods of consumption or from widely
varying human diets.
During chemical reconstitution, additional clues as to coprolite origin
can be found. When they are placed in a trisodium phosphate reconstitutive
solution, the liquid generally becomes tinted within
seventy-two hours. The resulting colour and the degree of transparency
are fairly reliable indicators of coproljte origin. Coprolites from carnivores
usually leave the trisodium phosphate solution colourless or turn it pale
brown to yellow-brown in colour. Transparency of the liquid is unchanged.
Herbivores' coprolites turn the reconstitutive solution pale yellow to
light brown in colour and do not change the fluid's transparency. Human
coprolites, on the other hand, turn the trisodium
phosphate solution dark brown to black and render it opaque. There is
one additional clue that can be of use at this second level of identification--odor.
In our experience, most non-human coprolites
generally emit a musty odor during rehydration. Human coprolites, on the
other hand, produce an intense fecal odor. At the final stage, during
the actual analysis of coprolite contents, coprolites can be separated
based upon probable origin. Since herbivores generally eat a purely vegetal
diet of foods such as grasses, leaves, and twigs, coprolite specimens
that are composed entirely of these components probably represent the
fecal remains of these types of animals. The carnivore diet consist mainly
of animal tissues, thus their coprolites almost always contain traces
of hair, bone fragments, feathers, scales, and insect exoskeletons. On
the other hand, coprolites
from omnivorous animals, such as bears and man, often contain the remains
of both plant and animal debris. Therefore, knowing the diets of the potential
animal sources of coprolites being examined is always useful. Unfortunately,
in the case of Sasquatch this is a luxury we do not enjoy, even though some writers do discuss suspected dietary habits.(13)Eyewitness
accounts do offer some indications about the diet of Sasquatch. John Green
reported that, based on newspaper reports, personal letters, and eyewitness
accounts, Sasquatch is probably an
omnivore. Among dietary items which apparently are most favoured by Sasquatch
are: tree roots, grass, berries, deer meat, and garbage. Other foods apparently
eaten in lesser quantities include: bear, sheep, chickens, cows, horses,
rodents and other small animals, grubs, clams, fish, salmon, leaves and
evergreen buds, grapes, flour, eggs and bacon, milk, and doughnuts. Green
pointed out that nine of the reliable eyewitness reports refer to Sasquatch
eating vegetable foods while only four refer to eating of meat.(14) It is
difficult to use the above data to formulate a Sasquatch dietary pattern,
yet they do suggest a preference for vegetal foods. However,
one fact is certain: if Sasquatch does exist, its primary diet item is
not the meat of domestic animals such as cows, horses, sheep, or goats.
Modern history shows that animals like the wolf, coyote, puma, cougar,
and eagle have been hunted to near extinction because they have
occasionally preyed upon domestic animals. If Sasquatch regularly preyed
on livestock, then surely one would have been killed by now.
The analysis of suspected Sasquatch hair specimens holds more promise
of providing conclusive evidence for the existence of Sasquatch than does
coprolite research. However, the advantage of coprolite analysis is that
it can provide far more data and a greater variety of information than
can the analysis of a single hair sample. Our laboratory has thus far
examined a number of suspected Sasquatch hairs. However, we were not the
first to search for suspected Sasquatch
hair specimens. John Green reported that in 1968 Wayne Twitchell found
six hairs on a bush near Riggins, Idaho, near a reported sighting of two
Sasquatch.(15) The hair specimens were sent for analysis to Ray Pinker,
an instructor of police science at California State College in Los
Angeles. His study revealed that the hairs did not match specimens from
any known animal species and that they had some characteristics common
to both humans and non-humans. In his final report, Pinker stated that
he could not identify the hairs until he had had an opportunity to
examine some authentic Sasquatch hair specimens. Other people have collected
and, in some cases, have sent suspected Sasquatch hair specimens to various
laboratories for analysis. As
reported by Green and John Napier,(16) some of the hair samples have been
identified as being from known animals, yet others cannot be attributed
to any known animal species.
During the past few months, we have spoken with several other scientists
who, like us, are involved in the analysis of hair specimens thought to
be associated with the suspected Sasquatch. However, to date neither they
nor we have yet found a single hair specimen which we can definitely attribute
to being of Sasquatch origin. Some of our hair specimens are puzzling
and are not yet identified because they show similarities to certain known
mammals yet are not identical to known
hair samples from those mammals.We hope that as our research continues
we will soon be able to determine whether or not these unknown hair specimens
are from some as yet unknown
Mammal pelage is composed of several types of hair which are classified
as guard hairs, body or underfur hairs, and bristles. The most useful
type is guard hair. These are generally long and spear-shaped. Beneath
the guard hairs are the softer, finer body or underfur hairs. They are
often short, can be curly or straight, and are usually the same diameter
throughout their entire length. It is the body hairs which provide most
mammals with insulation and protection against the natural elements. Bristles,
when present, are generally long, stiff, and straight, and often serve
as sensory organs, as with the whiskers of most mammals.Hair identification
is sometimes difficult since many mammals grow two sets of pelage each
year; a thinner, shorter one in summer and a longer, denser one during
the winter. In some animal species the problem of hair identification
is further complicated by seasonal changes in hair colour. Other identification
problems can occur with the hairs of some animal species in which juveniles
have hair colouration patterns which
differ from those of mature adults. Despite these difficulties, morphological
clues remain sufficiently constant so that accurate hair identifications,
at least to the generic level, can generally be
accomplished. Typically, the structure of a mammal hair can be divided
into three parts: the medulla, the cortex and the outer cuticle.(17) The
central portion of a mammal hair often contains a medulla region, yet
in some cases, as with man, this structure may be largely absent. When
present, the medulla can be categorized as being: continuous (air spaces
arranged in the form of a column); intermediate (separate air spaces arranged
in a pattern); discontinuous (air spaces present but widely separated
in the medulla); or fragmented (air spaces arranged in an irregular manner).(18) Surrounding the medulla is a dense, amorphous layer of keratin
called the cortex. It makes up the bulk of a hair and contains most of
the pigmentation. Outside the cortex is a layer of flat, overlapping,
keratinized cells called the cuticular scales. It is the combined characteristics
of these three structures, along with the hair colour, that are used for
making identification of mammal hairs. This is possible since each animal
species produces hair which contains a unique
combination of the above characteristics.
Thus far, we have examined five coprolite samples of suspected Sasquatch
origin. Two of the fecal specimens were found in the Pacific Northwest
region. We were unable to use the coprolite analysis to confirm the identity
of the animal which deposited these samples. Our analysis showed that
in almost every respect these samples were similar. However, some minor
differences did exist. One sample did not contain any conifer needles.
This could have reflected a slightly different diet preference, sampling
bias due to having only one sample from each locale, or it could have
meant that these samples reflected the diets of two different animal species.
The pollen content or each coprolite was also somewhat different, but
that was expected since the samples were recovered from different locales,
each of which was characterized by different flora. We consider that the
specimens could have been deposited by a cow or by some other large animal
which had similar eating habits -- a diet composed entirely of plant foods
-- and which produces large, unsegmented fecal masses. For both specimens
we are able to rule out many large animals such as man, moose, elk, deer,
and bear as being the organism that produced these samples.
The three remaining coprolite samples we have examined were collected
on Mound Key in Florida. Everything about these specimens was radically
different from the two coprolite specimens we examined from the Pacific
Northwest. All three samples consisted primarily of remains of non-
vegetal diets, only one containing a significant amount of any vegetal
material (grass stems and leaves). None of these samples contained parasites.
The Florida samples were produced by an organism or organisms which ate
mainly small mammals, insects, birds, and crustaceans.
sample resembled coprolites produced by owls; however we cannot be certain
that it was of owl origin. Two other samples were similar in many respects
(smell, colour, dietary components) yet could have been produced by either
the same or two different kinds of animals. The origin of these three
coprolites remains a mystery. None of the specimens appear to be of human
origin and whether or not they were of Sasquatch origin remains unknown.
As is the case with many scientists working with other types of Sasquatch
evidence, we have not yet found a hair specimen which could be used as
conclusive evidence to prove the existence of this creature. We have received
specimens from three locations, each associated with Sasquatch sightings
or footprints--two in California and one in Idaho. One set of hair specimens
was that originally sent to Ray Pinker for identification. We have now
had an opportunity to examine the hairs ourselves and have thus far been
unable to match them to the hairs of any known animal. However, we are
planning to send these hairs to other scientists and also plan to expand
our own hair reference collection before we arrive at any definite conclusion
concerning these hairs.
Another hair sample expresses its greatest diameter at the base, a rare
morphological trait which is typical of the tail hair of domestic cows.
Also, the lack of a well-defined medulla region adds further strength to
our conclusion that this hair came from the tail of a domestic cow (Bosraurus).
The remaining samples have a granular medulla like that found in the hair
of the black bear and not like the small discontinuous hair medulla characteristically
found in anthropoids. On the basis of size, colour, and medulla structure
and based upon comparisons with our collections of reference hairs, we
conclude that these samples are from the black bear (Ursus americanus).
As scientists, we remain open-minded about the possibility of the existence
of Sasquatch. A decade of research has shown us that there are many aspects
about the Sasquatch phenomenon which cannot easily be attributed to any
known animal species or be easily explained as fakery. However, from our
studies there remains no conclusive evidence for or against the existence
of Sasquatch and, as such, its existence remains an open question.
MACROFOSSIL CONTENTS OF UNIDENTIFIED COPROLITE SAMPLES FROM MOUND
Macrofossil Sample 3 Sample 4 Sample 5
Mammal hair A F C
Mammal bones A
Reptile skin B
Reptile skin and scales A
Grass stems and leaves A
Insect chitin C A A
Feathers B B
Bird bones A
Crustacean fragments C A
Key: A = 0-5%; B = 6-25%; C = 26-50%; D = 51-75%; E = 76-95%; F = 96-100%
I. See G.A. Mantell, The Fossils of the South Downs; Or Illustrations
of the Geology of Sussex (London, 1822).
Hantzschel et at., Coprolites: An Annotated Bibliography, Geological Society
of America Memoir no. 108 (Boulder, Col.: G.J.A, 1968) pp. 1-132.
J.W. Harshberger, "The Purpose of Ethnobotany," American Antiquarian
17, 2 (1896): 73-81.
4. See Volney H. Jones, "The Vegetal Remains of Newt Kash Hollow
Shelter." of Kentucky Reports in Archeology and Anthropology 3, no.
4 (1936): 147-65.
5. W.S. Webb and R.S. Baby, The Adena People. No. 2 (Columbus: Ohio State
6. Richard S. MacNeish, "Preliminary Archeological Investigations
in the Sierra de Tamaulipas, Mexico," American Philosoghical Society
Transactions 44, no. 5 (1958).
7. See Eric O. Callen and T.W.M. Cameron, "A Prehistoric Diet Revealed
in Coprolites" New Scientist 8, no. 190(1960): 35-40.
8. See Paul S. Martin and F.W. Sharrock, "Pollen Analysis of Prehistoric
Human A New Approach to Ethnobotany," American Antiquity 30, no.
2 (1964): 168-80.
reputation stems from a series of articles: "Diet as Revealed by
Coprolites," Science and Archeology (London: [?], 1963), pp. 186-94,
"Food Habits of Some Pre-Columbian Indians," Economic Botany
19, no. 4 (1965): 335-43, "Analysis of Tehuacan Coprolites,"
in The Prehistory of the Tehuacan Yalley: Yol. 1. Environment and Subsistence
(Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967), pp. 261-89, and "Les Coprolithes
de la Cabane Acheuleene du Lazaret: Analyse and Diagnostic," Memoires
la Societe Prehistorique Francaise 7 (1969): 123-24.
10. Results of this research are published in Vaughn M. Bryant, Jr., "Prehistoric
Diet Southwest Texas: The Coprolite Evidence," American Antiquity
39, no. 3 (1974): 2J 74, "Pollen Analysis of Prehistoric Feces from
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky," in Archeology of the Mammoth Cave Area
(New York: Academic Press, 1974), pp. 203-9, "Pollen as an Indicator
of Prehistoric Diets in Coahuila, Mexico," Bulletin of the Texas
Archeological Society 45 (1975): 87-106; Vaughn M. Bryant, Jr., and Glenna
Williams-Dean "The Coprolites of Man," Scientific American 232,
no. 1 (1975): 100-109; and Burleigh Trevor-Deutsch and V.M. Bryant, Jr., "Analysis of Suspected Human Coprolites Terra Amata, Nice, France," Journal of Archeological Science 5 (1 978): 387-90.
11. See "Tehuacan Coprolites."
13. Such as John Green, The Sasquatch File (Agassiz, B.C.: Cheam Publishing,
1973) and John Napier, Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality
(New York: E.P. Dutton, 1973).
14. John Green, Year of the Sasquatch (Agassiz, B.C.: Cheam Publishing,
15. On the Track ofthe Sasquatch (Agassiz, B.C.: Cheam Publishing, 1969).
16. Green, ibid., and Sasquatch: The Apes among Us (Saanichton, B.C.:
Hancock House, 1978); Napier, Bigfoot.
17. See Martin F. Brown, "The Microscopy of Mammalian Hair for Anthropologists,"
proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 85, no. 3 (1942) : 250-74.
18. See Charles L. Douglas, "Biological Techniques in Archeology," American Antiquity 31, no. 2. part 2(1965): 193-201.
'Manlike Monsters On Trial: Early Records and Modern Evidence',
Marjorie Halpin & Michael M. Ames, eds. (British Columbia: UVBC Press,
pp. 291-300, 1980)
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