Ivan Sanderson, "Things", 1967, Pyramid Books Chapter 8 (pages 80-93)- "The Maricoxi"
Reports of the continued existence of extreme primitives, usually covered in a profuse growth of furry hair; submen of both pigmy and average man-size; and possibly of some sub-hominoid (as opposed to truly sub-hominid) types have for some time been received from several widely separated points in South America. They are not, however, as numerous as those emanating from North America or Asia, and very few are detailed or specific. Nevertheless, neither the archives of local newspapers nor even the more serious popular periodicals, scientific journals, or books published in the South American countries have as yet been properly perused for data relative to this subject. Not a little mention of the matter has also been made by foreigners who have traveled in and written about that continent but it appears that this has likewise been mostly ignored.
The major sources of these reports, geographically speaking, are, the eastern slopes of the Colombian-Ecuadorian north Andean Massif; the Guiana Massif; the upper reaches of the Peruvian-Bolivian-Chilean Andes; certain of the southern Chilean Islands; and the area of the Matto Grosso. In the first, in addition to a rumored man-sized type, there is a hairy pigmy called locally the Shiru; in the second area there is a tradition of a larger, furred hominid called the Didi; from the third, have come certain affidavits signed at the request of the police, asserting encounters with a very large hairy hominoid of bestial appearance that would seem to compare very favorably with descriptions of the giant Sasquatches of Canada; reports from the fourth area stem from a remarkable 17th century publication, but have recently been augmented from other sources. The fifth and last major area is far the most pregnant of reports both in time and space, and it is at this area that we will herewith direct our attention.
No simple definition of the area is possible since its limits are ill defined. However, if one traces the thousand-foot (or the 300-meter) contour from just south of the mouth of the Amazon to the southwest, parallel to the valley of the Madeira, thence southeast along the Brazilian border to the 20th parallel, then east to the valley of the Parana, and finally north, via Goyaz, to the Maranhao Tocantins Valley and down to the north Brazilian coastal lowlands, one will have roughly encircled the territory from which a group of related reports have emanated. This great block is mostly rather dry woodland, but it contains in the northern parts extensive, tall, equatorial closed-canopy forest, covering the lower altitudes, and true, dry scrublands or Caatinga at higher altitudes. Most of it lies in the State of Matto Grosso, and is still known officially, as well as popularly, as the Tierra Incognita. Land clearance has been steadily encroaching from the southwest, south, southeast, and east for a century but neither it nor even exploration has yet really touched the main body of the area.
Since time immemorial, as it now transpires, the better organized Amerindian peoples who lived around this territory took for granted the existence therein of extremely primitive peoples of various kinds, which they appear to have regarded as being closer to what we would term "animals" than to themselves. It must not be overlooked, however, that, in this respect the South American Amerinds do not--or, at least originally did not--subscribe to our concepts of humanity, bestiality, or deity; in fact, it is clear that in some cases at least all three blended into one systematic plan along with whole hosts of other entities that we might call "spirits" and so forth. Thus, when asked what some creature, to which they had assigned a particular name, might be, they might just as readily give an answer that meant, to them, people so low in the scheme of things in their estimation as to be (again, to them) mere animals, as they might say that they were animals that walked on the ground on their two hind legs. Then again, there is definite evidence that in the area of which we speak, the more advanced (though still unsullied by contact with outsiders) tribesmen did not draw a line between what we call man and animal at any point, such as at the use of a comprehensible language, or of tools, nor even the knowledge of fire.
Since the arrival of the Portuguese, reports of bestial and dangerous sub-humans (some, forms of terrifying and seemingly sub-hominoid aspect) have filtered out of the hinterland in a more or less steady stream. Most of these accounts were singularly unspecific, having passed through the mouths of successive rings of detribalized and semi-civilized natives, half-breeds, white settlers of lower education, and finally through established country folk, before reaching the fully civilized great cities. Along the line, the description of the creatures is usually lost, while the accounts of their actions become enhanced and ever more exaggerated. The end product is a mere story with a name attached to it, like that of the Mapinguary. Nevertheless, these stories display a rather remarkable singularity while they may be divided rather clearly, on the regional grounds of their origin, into several quite distinct and readily recognizable types. One of the better known and most outstanding is of creatures that are invariably alleged to tear the tongues out of cattle after they have killed them.
This writer had supposed until recently that these extreme primitives or submen had not been directly reported upon either by educated Brazilians or visiting foreigners. This, however, turns out not to be the case at all. Due possibly to an increased interest in the whole matter of the possibility of living submen still being found, both in the popular press and through the medium of such books as that of Heuvelmans, quite a number of firsthand accounts are now coming to us; while others are ever more frequently being pointed out in published works. These latter have been overlooked but among them are some very specific and categorical statements. By far the most outstanding so far located are some made by none other than Colonel P. H. Fawcett, made world famous by his dramatic and still unexplained disappearance with his eldest son in this area. Colonel Fawcett's diaries were preserved up to this last fatal expedition, and were published by his son, Brian Fawcett, under the title Lost Trails, Lost Cities, from which edition the following extracts are taken.
Colonel Fawcett made an expedition in company of two Englishmen named Manley and Costin, from Bolivia into southwestern Matto Grosso, in the year 1914. They reached the Guapore River, a tributary of the Madeira, at about 14° S. 60° W. and then proceeded north and then east into the Cordilheira dos Parecis. After some weeks they stumbled upon an Amerindian people calling themselves the Maxubis, who were sun worshippers and showed many signs of having been descended from a once much more highly cultured people, for they had names for all the visible planets. After staying with them for some time the party proceeded for some days northeast into completely uninhabited and undisturbed forest. On the fifth day, they hit a trail. Col. Fawcett then writes:
"As we stood looking from right to left, trying to decide which direction was the more promising, two savages appeared about a hundred yards to the south, moving at a trot and talking rapidly. On catching sight of us they stopped dead and hurriedly fixed arrows to their bows, while I shouted to them in the Maxubi tongue. We could not see them clearly for the shadows dappling their bodies, but it seemed to me they were large, hairy men, with exceptionally long arms, and with foreheads sloping back from pronounced eye ridges, men of a very primitive kind, in fact, and stark naked. Suddenly they turned and made off into the undergrowth, and we, knowing it was useless to follow, started up the north leg of the trail.
"It was not long before sundown, when, dim and muffled through the trees, came the unmistakable sound of a horn. We halted and listened intently. Again we heard the horn call, answered from other directions till several horns were braying at once. In the subdued light of evening, beneath the high vault of branches in this forest untrodden by civilized man, the sound was as eerie as the opening notes of some fantastic opera. We knew the savages made it, and that those savages were now on our trail. Soon we could hear shouts and jabbering to the accompaniment of the rough horn calls--a barbarous, merciless din, in marked contrast to the stealth of the ordinary savage. Darkness, still distant above the treetops, was settling rapidly down here in the depths of the wood, so we looked about us for a camping site which offered some measure of safety from attack, and finally took refuge in a tacuara thicket. Here the naked savages would not dare to follow because of the wicked, inch-long thorns. As we slung our hammocks inside the natural stockade we could hear the savages jabbering excitedly all around, but not daring to enter. Then, as the last light went, they left us, and we heard no more of them.
"Next morning there were no savages in our vicinity, and we met with none when, after following another well-defined trail, we came to a clearing where there was a plantation of mandioca and papaws. Brilliantly colored toucans croaked in the palms as they picked at the fruit, and as no danger threatened we helped ourselves freely. We camped here, and at dusk held a concert in our hammocks, Costin with a harmonica, Manley with a comb, and myself with a flageolet. Perhaps it was foolish of us to advertise our presence in this way; but we were not molested, and no savage appeared.
"In the morning we went on, and within a quarter of a mile came to a sort of palm-leaf sentry-box, then another. Then all of a sudden we reached open forest. The undergrowth fell away, disclosing between the tree boles a village of primitive shelters, where squatted some of the most villainous savages I have ever seen. Some were engaged in making arrows, others just idled--great apelike brutes who looked as if they had scarcely evolved beyond the level of beasts.
"I whistled, and an enormous creature, hairy as a dog, leapt to his feet in the nearest shelter, fitted an arrow to his bow in a flash, and came up dancing from one leg to the other till he was only four yards away. Emitting grunts that sounded like 'Eugh! Eugh! Eugh!' he remained there dancing, and suddenly the whole forest around us was alive with these hideous ape-men, all grunting 'Eugh! Eugh! Eugh!' and dancing from leg to leg in the same way as they strung arrows to their bows. It looked like a very delicate situation for us, and I wondered if it was the end. I made friendly overtures in Maxubi, but they paid no attention. It was as though human speech were beyond their powers of comprehension.
"The creature in front of me ceased his dance, stood for a moment perfectly still, and then drew his bowstring back till it was level with his ear, at the same time raising the barbed point of the six-foot arrow to the height of my chest. I looked straight into the pig-like eyes half hidden under the overhanging brows, and knew that he was not going to loose that arrow yet. As deliberately as he had raised it, he now lowered the bow, and commenced once more the slow dance, and the 'Eugh! Eugh! Eugh!'
"A second time he raised the arrow at me and drew the bow back, and again I knew he would not shoot. It was just as the Maxubis told me it would be. Again he lowered the bow and continued his dance. Then for the third time he halted and began to bring up the arrow's point. I knew he meant business this time, and drew out a Mauser pistol I had on my hip. It was a big, clumsy thing, of a caliber unsuitable to forest use, but I had brought it because by clipping the wooden holster to the pistol-butt it became a carbine, and was lighter to carry than a true rifle. It used .38 black powder shells, which made a din out of all proportion to their size. I never raised it; I just pulled the trigger and banged it off into the ground at the ape-man's feet.
"The effect was instantaneous. A look of complete amazement came into the hideous face, and the little eyes opened wide. He dropped his bow and arrow and sprang away as quickly as a cat to vanish behind a tree. Then the arrows began to fly. We shot off a few rounds into the branches, hoping the noise would scare the savages into a more receptive frame of mind, but they seemed in no way disposed to accept us, and before anyone was hurt we gave it up as hopeless and retreated down the trail till the camp was out of sight. We were not followed, but the clamor in the village continued for a long time as we struck off northwards, and we fancied we still heard the 'Eugh! Eugh! Eugh!' of the enraged braves."
These creatures were apparently called Maricoxis by the Maxubis. They dwelt to their northeast. Due east there were said to be another group of short, black people, covered with hair, who were truly cannibalistic and hunted humans for food, cooking the bodies over a fire on a bamboo spit and tearing off the meat. These the Maxubis regarded as merely loathsome and lowly people. On a later trip, Colonel Fawcett was told of an "ape-people" who lived in holes in the ground, were also covered with dark hair, and were nocturnal, so that they were known in surrounding areas as the Morcegos or Bat-People. These types are called Cabelludos or "Hairy People" by the Spanish-speaking, and Tatus, or armadillos, by several Amerindian groups because they live in holes like those animals. Fawcett also records forest Amerinds as telling him that the Morcegos have an incredibly well-developed sense of smell which prompts even these acute hunters to suggest that they have some "sixth sense."
The full significance of these passages, and the information they contain, may not at first be apparent. So "incredible" do they appear when read out of context, one forgets that, read in context by one not especially interested in the niceties of physical anthropology or ethnology, and who has never heard of the possibility of submen (or "Apemen" as they used to be called) existing, they may hardly be noticed at all. The average reader of travelogues, and even the more erudite and the real aficionados among them, may read and pass over the most outrageous statements without comment. The real degree of analytical critique of the average well-educated person is enormously lower in specialties other than his own than is customarily believed. Even highly trained scientists may fail to note the significance of statements made in fields other than their own that are either, on the one hand, impossible or, on the other, of quite priceless worth.
There is, at the same time, at least in part, the legitimate attitude of the professional in the field concerned. This is naturally outright skepticism, amounting to a complete denial of the validity of the statement concerned. There is no published commentary on the passages from Fawcett's diaries reproduced above, that this writer has been able to find, by either anthropologists or anybody else. This can imply only one of two things. Either no anthropologist, or other person with training in other fields concerned, ever read said passages or, if they did, they either passed them over or decided then and there that they were so outrageous that they could only be straight fabrication. The non-specialists, such as reviewers of the book, newsmen, science-writers, and others, either missed the material entirely, failed to comprehend its significance, were unable to assess it, did not want to "stick their necks out," or took the view that it was mendacious and should therefore not be mentioned. None of these attitudes by either specialist or non-specialists is satisfactory. A proper assessment is called for.
Let us start with the author of those diaries--Colonel P. H. Fawcett. This man was no upstart. After formal education in England, he joined the Army, albeit rather reluctantly but, by the exercise of initiative and rectitude he was all too soon spotted by persons in authority as a young man of parts. On the recommendation of the Royal Geographical Society he was chosen to prosecute boundary surveys for South American Governments--not an endeavor that would be asked of or bestowed upon a nincompoop. These works he performed over a number of years on behalf of those governments and at their expense-and this point cannot be too strongly stressed, for this was almost an unique accomplishment for a foreigner, and especially an Anglo-Saxon--with much skill and with results that satisfied the most temperamental of those governments. Further, Fawcett was not passed over in his homeland. He was a recipient of a Gold Medal from the Society that had backed his selection, and he was much respected as an explorer and a person, as well as a consummate technician. Were those who bestowed upon this man these honors--both individuals and corporate bodies--all fools? Were they all misled as to the character, and sincerity, and knowledge of this man? Did they back him in his endeavors in South America again and again, knowing or feeling that he was nothing but a mystic? Frankly, that notion is preposterous. But, what is the alternative?
Percy Harrison Fawcett was a solid citizen, a serious student of that which he did not know, and an accomplished master of that which he did. In no circumstances could he be called a romancer and he never was so accused even by those who took the dimmest view of certain of his beliefs and who, as one scholar put it, considered that in one regard he was "chasing a moonbeam." In editing his father's diaries, Brian Fawcett interjects a wealth of further information about his father and gives us many sidelights on his personality. His central theme is that, while his father held certain views on certain subjects (outside his own specialties) which others in those fields considered quite unacceptable, he never once claimed to have made a discovery that directly supported his theories. Yet, he spent a lifetime collecting secondhand statements of facts that appeared to him to so support his beliefs. Had he been even one iota a charlatan, there was nothing to prevent him from claiming many of the latter for himself, and presenting them as evidence of his contentions; as so many others have done.
Colonel Fawcett was a professional surveyor, an explorer, and basically a geographer. He was not an ethnologist, anthropologist, or archaeologist but it was with these disciplines that he clashed, and it was towards the protagonists of the first that he most often expressed himself as feeling most bitter. In his extensive travels through hitherto unexplored territories he discovered many groups of people for the first time, lived with them, often acquired not a little of their language, recorded what of their customs he could, and attempted some classification of their origins. Much of all of this conflicted with established beliefs among ethnologists, and Fawcett's historical theories were at complete variance with what was then, and still is, accepted. Yet, while those theories were strongly criticized, the veracity of the facts he collected were never questioned. It was his assessment of them that was considered invalid.
It cannot be too strongly stressed that Fawcett was not particularly interested in lower cultures or the conduct of real primitives. Absolutely to the contrary, the whole theme and basis of his search was for evidence of higher cultures in South America, and it was on this score that he was, as quoted above, believed to be pursuing a phantom. However, Fawcett never went beyond speculation and he frankly admits that, apart from the established facts of upper Andean archaeology relative to such great stone works as Machu Picchu and Tiahuanaco, all he had to offer in support of his belief that there had once been a great civilization on upland Brazil, were some old documents of uncertain veracity, a mass of legends, and some indications of past glories noticeable in the tribal life of certain indigenes. If he had once said that he had stumbled upon one of the great-lost cities that he sought and had they failed to bring out any proof of his discovery, his word could well have been doubted. But, he never did. His encounter, quoted above, is moreover in a way exactly contrary to the main object of his travels at that time. He was searching for an unknown civilization of higher rank, not for sub-humans.
This puts his account of the hairy Maricoxis in an entirely different light, quite apart from the fact that his word was never doubted, that he had two reliable witnesses, and that what he saw was both before and afterwards confirmed by others, in that reports relayed to him by several people described exactly what he had seen without the relaters knowing anything of what he did see. We are therefore compelled to accept this report in toto; and this means simply that, in the year 1914, there were living to the northeast of the Parecis Range in the Matto Grosso, what were apparently tribal groups of fully-haired hominids of grossly primitive aspect, and in no possible way descended from or related to the Amerindian aborigines of the Americas.
This presents anthropologists with a problem that, without a considerable knowledge of the worldwide investigation of what has come to be called for simplicity's sake that of "ABSMs" (a term derived from the name "abominable snowman" given to an alleged form or forms of submen or subhominids in the Himalayas) is virtually unsurmountable. However, if the matter of ABSMs is taken into consideration, the seeming impossibilities of the facts related by Fawcett may be readily dispelled, though a very drastic revision of certain large areas of currently accepted theory of the past history of the hominids is thereby called for.
It was the original belief of anthropologists that the Americas, while the home of some primitive primates such as Tarsioids and obviously either the place of origin or the only retreat of so-called American Monkeys (or Platyrrhini) and Marmosets, was never invaded by any higher forms of Primates (the True Monkeys and the Apes) until the arrival over the Bering Strait of the Eskimos and the Amerinds, and this at a very late post-glacial date, to boot. The discovery of Folsom Man led to the rather reluctant acceptance of the fact that what were euphemistically called "Ice age Indians" were spread over North America during the last glacial advance. With the refinement of radiocarbon and other dating methods, however, evidence of the presence of human hunters prior to such as Folsom Man both in North and Central America has had to be pushed back in time very considerably, putting them in the middle and perhaps even in the first interglacial period. Evidence from South America is not as yet by any means so full or concrete but cultures of most extreme antiquity are now alleged there; and right the way down to the southern tip of the continent.
Nevertheless, there is still not an iota of evidence, in the fossil or any other state, of a single higher primate on the one hand, or subman (such as a Neanderthaler) or subhominid (such as an Australopithecine or a Pithecarithropine) on the other, ever having reached or lived in the New World. Further, although concrete evidence of tool making man has been pushed back a long way, the earliest manifestations of this in the Americas is still a long way short of the terminal dates given for the existence of subhominids and even submen in the Old World. What is more, there is no reason to suppose that the earliest "men" to reach the Americas were other than Modern Man or that any of them arrived by any route other than the Bering Strait, and this alone would at first appear to exclude the possibility of any more primitive forms ever having done so.
This belief long ago became an axiom; but is it valid?
There is now considerable reason to suppose that it is not; while, it is the very fact that there was only this one entrance passage (the Bering Strait) from the Old World to the New, which makes it possible, if not probable, that at least Submen if not also some Subhominids did so enter the Americas long before the arrival of the first Modern Man on the scene. At the same time, it would equally well explain why the True Monkeys and the Apes did not do so, for they are tropical and warm-temperate forms.
Leaving the possibility of Subhominids entering the New World aside for discussion at another time, let us concentrate upon those Submen which may be equated with the true Neanderthalers of Eurasia and other hominids of equivalent development and similar generic features--related forms, such as Rhodesian and Solo Submen. The true Neanderthalers were actually considerably advanced culturally, making fine instruments of stone and undoubtedly having the bow, knowledge of fire, and languages of human level. Moreover, they were spread from extreme Western Europe to farthest eastern Asia, and they lived immediately south of and adjacent to the extreme cold of the north during the second half of the recent southward ice-advances. In fact, they were essentially a subarctic life form. That they may have been clothed in furry hair seems not to have been much considered but, despite certain modern assertions that hairiness does not necessarily imply any special protection from cold, the notion does not exactly conflict with what is seen among other mammals such as the woolly mammoths and rhinoceroses.
If, therefore, early Modern Man could cross the Bering Strait at a very early date, and the Eskimos could do so, there is no argument that may be erected against the possibility that a subarctic race of Subman could not also have done so at a still earlier date. Further, even if the strait was wider then than now, and Neanderthalers did not have primitive boats or rafts, they could quite well have crossed over the ice in winter. There is also another consideration.
Until the discoveries of Dart and Broom in South Africa, and Leakey in East Africa, there was current a strange and illogical impression that subhominids were completely bestial and had not developed tools or weapons of any kind. Although very fine tools had been found in association with and were referred to Neanderthalers almost since the time of their discovery, the idea that some of the pre-Amerindian implements dug up in the Americas might have been fashioned by such creatures simply was not mooted. If anything as primitive as an Australopithecine could make his bone tools and the Zinjanthropines theirs of stone, there can likewise be no argument against some of the very crude artifacts discovered in lower strata in the Americas having been made at least by Submen.
Once in North America, there was plenty of time for submen to expand widely before the arrival of the first Modern Man, though we must bear in mind that early Man was probably contemporary with many Submen, while the latter appear to have lingered on until today all over the uplands of eastern Eurasia (vide: Reports of the Special Commission of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.). Despite the fact that the Neanderthalers were subarctic creatures, they seem to have been just as adaptable as Modern Man, and they were probably a lot "tougher," so that migration south, via the uplands of Central America to the Andes and thence down to the temperate regions of southern South America, would not be a hardship or in any way impossible. Further, if Submen did reach the New World, and if the reports of ABSMs from these continents, and especially from North America, are correct it would seem that they expanded in other directions also, and into both colder and warmer environments than those to which they were initially accustomed. Reports of fully haired hominids of subhuman appearance have been made from all across northern Canada to Labrador, and even to the Canadian Islands, Greenland, and all down the western mountains from Alaska to Idaho and northern California. Also, there remain traditions of them throughout the southwestern United States; and they are again alleged still to exist in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico, in Chiapas, and in Guatemala. Then, as we pointed out at the outset, they are scattered all over South America, where they have in some cases apparently been driven down into comparatively low and very hot and humid forest regions though always, be it noted, in mountainous territory.
In view of these facts--if facts they be--Colonel Fawcett's report and his description of the creatures he encountered may, and should be regarded in quite another light. From the impossible, it becomes at least possible, and, I would contend, in view of its author's reputation for extreme and almost pedantic veracity and devotion to detail, it must be elevated to the realm of the highest probability. Moreover, there are certain of the details given by Fawcett that may very materially strengthen this contention.
First, his description of the head of these Maricoxis is most specific, and is not to be matched with any description of any normal Amerindian. The reference to the small, round eyes, close together and seeming to look "straightforward" as those of apes appear to do, also coincides exactly with many descriptions given by those who, all over the world, say that they have met ABSMs face to face and at extreme close range. And do not forget that Fawcett was only a few feet from one of these creatures. The use of bows and arrows does not, as we have seen, conflict with "possibility": nor does it with some reports of ABSMs from Asia. But, most significant of all is undoubtedly the curious (and at first reading, almost laughable) matter of their chanting.
Colonel Fawcett describes or transliterates the sound made by these Maricoxis as "Eugh! Eugh!"--namely, as I appraise it, "OOgh, OOgh, OOgh" with the initial "Eu" sound as in the French "UE" in rue. If this be so, it exactly describes sounds alleged to have been made by a form of ABSM now commonly known as the Sasquatch of Canada, as given by a Mr. Albert Ostman in his extraordinary account of having been held captive by such creatures for a week. Mr. Ostman is of Swedish origin and has a distinct accent. He gave it as "Ugh-Ugh-Ugh" but, in an interview, reproduced the sound again with the initial French ue.
The only conclusion
we can therefore draw is, I contend, an acceptance of the fact that there
were Neanderthaloid-type Submen living in the Matto Grosso in 1914. There
is no reason to suppose that they are not still living there.
Ivan Sanderson, "Things",
1967, Pyramid Books
The possibility of the continued existence of some fully haired or furred human primitives, submen, or even possibly subhominids on the continent of North America has now for long been mooted. Most of these have originated from north of a line that may be drawn from about the 40th parallel (i.e. 80 miles north of San Francisco) on the west coast of the United States; north up the eastern face of the Cascades; around the Guttered Scablands of Oregon; to the Idaho Rockies in the region of the Salmon River. Thence, this line of southern demarcation crosses the Rockies to their eastern face in Montana, and then runs (back) northwest to the lower Nahanni Valley about the Laird River in the Canadian Northwest Territories. From that point it travels southeast through the northern third of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba to the south of the great Clay Belt, rimming James Bay of Hudson Hay, and thence continues almost due cast to Cape St. Charles at the eastern extremity of Labrador. Immediately west of Lake Superior, however, one report emanates from the true wilderness area of extreme northern Minnesota.
These reports were previously for the most part concentrated around the lower Fraser River area of British Columbia, and north up the coast of that province. In this area Burns and others have reported upon many dozen cases of alleged sightings of such creatures and finds of their foot-tracks. They are, in that area, called Sasquatches, a coined name derived from several similar-sounding names for them given by various indigenous Amerindian tribes. The existence of such very large if not truly "giant" (seven feet or over) creatures thereabouts has always been fully accepted by the Amerinds and of later years has become quite widely current among white people. In the unopened strip of forested territory along the coast and on the multitudinous islands off that coast their existence is fully accepted by everybody, and it is notable that when the Amerinds of that area speak of them in English, they call them "apes," though they still assert that they show many human traits--notably, being able to throw stones, over-arm, with great force and accuracy. It should be noted that as Prof. Kortlandt has recently suggested no animal, other than man, is known to be able to perform this act.
The matter of the Sasquatches, however, has until recently been considered so esoteric that anthropologists have not only failed to take it seriously but also have not found it worthwhile reading the reports, all of which have necessarily been by non-specialists without scientific training, and have, unfortunately, been published in the daily press or popular magazines. Nevertheless, the body of reports from the British Columbia area that are now on record--and including some official ones, and several sworn affidavits--is quite considerable, and at least one properly equipped scientific expedition was launched, in 1962, in pursuit of them.
There have, however, also been rumors and reports of similar creatures made throughout the past century, emanating from a very much wider area; in fact, from all over the subarctic and arctic regions of North America north of the line demarcated above, and all the way from Alaska to Labrador and north even it) Greenland. During the course of some twenty years' research into the question of what have unfortunately become popularly and almost universally known as "abominable snowmen" (and which we have recently designated "ABSM's"), a number of these reports came to our attention, but always secondhand, even as regards their alleged publication. It was therefore decided some years ago to endeavor to track down the original statements. This effort has now brought to light a number of important items, which are herewith preliminarily discussed, but none of these is yet in any way exhaustively researched, as will be noted in the body of the text below. From each, a number of further references have been obtained. At this stage of our investigations, however, we have to put on record our surprise at the wealth of this material, and even more so at the recent date of the publication of a great part of it. That such reports--and coming from persons of such standing as Knud V. J. Rasmussen --could be universally ignored, seems inexplicable.
As will be further discussed below, Gladwin, over a decade ago, suggested in a scientific-though in some aspects wholly unacceptable--context that several waves of extreme primitives (including some, in his opinion, of pigmy stature); of submen (in the form of Neanderthalers); and possibly even of subhominids, which we would today probably assign to the Pithecantbropine branch of the anthropoid stem of the Primates, crossed the Bering Strait and populated the Americas. If Gladwin was right in this basic suggestion, almost everything that we have to say hereunder displays perfect conformity.
Pre-Amerindian Man was in North America and probably South America. Nobody can any longer deny this fact, for these proto-Amerinds have left us too many artifacts and encampment sites that, by radiocarbon and other precise dating methods, have now been shown to be of origins prior to the last, and possibly even to the one-but-last, southward advance of the polar ice. There is no reason to suppose that all these types were wiped out prior to post-glacial times, and there is no evidence that they were so exterminated; while there is now considerable evidence that some may have survived until today in the vast and as yet unexplored territories of the far north.
The Eskimos of today maintain a large body of tradition about a race of very primitive people with revolting habits who occupied their territories prior to their own arrival. This tradition spreads all the way from Alaska to Greenland and throughout the Canadian Arctic Islands. These creatures are said to have been very tall, fully haired, dim-witted and retiring; but to have fought savagely among themselves, been carnivorous, and to have gone naked, though they built circular encampments of very large stones with whale-rib and skin roofs. The Eskimos say they had primitive stone and bone implements. They are referred to today on Baffin Island and north to Greenland as "Toonijuk" but are called by many different though similar names to the west.
This tradition has been reported upon by many, including Rasmussen and, most notably, by Katharine Scherman in her Spring on an Arctic Island. Rasmussen has even stated that some of these creatures existed in Greenland within the current century but were driven up into some "inaccessible valleys" by Eskimos. This, as Scherman has pointed out, seems hardly credible, since the interior of that country immediately behind the narrow coastal strip is an ice cap. However, there are still large areas of Greenland not fully explored despite massive air-travel over much of its periphery. Also, the extreme north, around the Cape Maurice Jesup area, is not glaciated and is extremely hard of access over land, and even from the sea, due to its fjord-like topography.
These Toonijuk are said by the Eskimos to have been of giant size and to have had some exceptional and, to them as well as to us, disgusting habits. They are said to have preferred rotten meat and, it is alleged, their females tucked meat under their clothing (?) to promote decomposition by their body-warmth. Further, since they did not know how to cure skins, they are said to have wetted them and then worn these raw to dry them; and then to have used them for bedding. Perhaps the most peculiar custom ascribed to the Toonijuk, as reported by Scherman, is that young men were sewn up in fresh seal skins containing "worms" (maggots?) which, by sucking their blood, reduced their weight and so made them fleet, lightweight hunters. These maggots are believed by the Eskimos to have been fostered in the rotting carcasses of birds and one such--an auk--was said by Rasmussen to have been discovered in Greenland in his time and to have been declared by the local Eskimos to have been left there by a party of Toonijuk who, they said, had only just fled back into these "inaccessible valleys" of the interior.
While regarded as being utterly primitive, the Toonijuk are said to have lived in underground houses (though without sleeping platforms) and to have had pottery--or at least "cooking pots"--and some weapons. In Greenland, the Eskimos say that they went naked but that their bodies were covered with feather-like fur; in more westerly areas, they are said to have used skin clothing. Everybody agrees that they were very good hunters; could call game by voice or gesture; and were so strong that they could back [sic] an adult Bearded Seal. In addition to these details, Scherman records--from information obtained from the Eskimos of north Baffinland, as transcribed by P. J. Murdoch, an agent of the Hudson's Bay Company, who speaks fluent local Eskimo--that the Toonijuk were not dangerous to the Eskimo but, to the contrary, were very timid and cowardly, and were particularly afraid of dogs, which they apparently did not understand. All agree that they fought a great deal among themselves, but some Eskimos assert that their own ancestors hunted the Toonijuk down individually and so eventually exterminated them. Yet, Greenlanders insist that even today some linger on in their country but that they are excessively wary--in fact, more so than animals.
Scherman further notes that: "Until 1902 an extremely primitive tribe of Thule people lived on Southampton Island, and some of their customs were those (alleged to be) of the Toonijuk." (The Thule along with groups named the Dorset Islanders and the Sarquaq, constitute known previous inhabitants of the Canadian Islands and the far north.) Scherman (1955) herself visited what was then stated by the Eskimos of Baffinland to be a Toonijuk settlement on Bylot Island, and gives a clear description of it.
In a small isolated valley her party was shown a series of circular mounds. These proved to be composed of very large stories half buried in the permafrost. Each circle was dug out and had obviously once been roofed; they were entered by what had been a three-foot high tunnel; were paved with large flat stones; and had stone benches at the back. Around the walls were very old rotten bones of the Greenland Right Whale. The party was greatly impressed by the ability of' the original builders to have dug so deeply into the permafrost with only crude stone and bone implements; and, even more so, by their having transported these enormous stones, which were not of local origin, even if they had had the use of dogs and sleds. Their Eskimo companions told them that the Toonijuk could lift rocks that no Eskimo could handle; that their houses were roofed with whale ribs; and that two whale jawbones were placed on either side of the entrance tunnel. However, this site, as Scherman remarks, showed abundant signs of having been occupied by Eskimos for long and frequent periods since its original construction.
It is most significant to note that the description of these round-houses coincides very closely with the Neolithic "Round-Houses" of the Shetlands, Orkneys, and the Hebrides off the coast of Scotland, which also were circular, sunk about three feet, surrounded by stone walls that rose some three feet above the ground, and had domed roofs made of a "wheel" of large whale ribs over which skins, peat-sod, or other insulating material was placed. The Eskimo still make stone igloos with ingeniously constructed roofs of overlapping stone slabs and which also have tunnel entrances--but they are of nothing like the size described; nor do the stones of which they are built in any way approach the size of those used in the structures said to have been built by the Toonijuk.
But of even more interest is the description of a nearby cairn of very large stones, which had partly collapsed. The interior of this is said to have been hollow, and in it lay a number of large human bones. One of the party leaned in and extracted what is said to have been a female pelvis; but, as there were no professional anthropologists in the party, they very properly replaced this and closed up the cairn to the best of their ability. Scherman quite rightly makes a strong plea for this site to be visited by competent experts and thoroughly examined before such potentially priceless relics finally disintegrate; and she ends by asking the pertinent question "Aside from the Toonijuk, if they ever existed, who else could have been here?"
Her only other thought is that they could have been Norsemen, whose sturdy build and stature, greater than that of the Eskimo, coupled with their propensity for feuding, might have given rise to legends that in time became transferred from one alien race to another; and she ends with the extremely significant remark that there were traditions and apparently detailed knowledge of White Men among the Eskimos long before recorded history. What is more, Scherman goes on: to the effect that in the year 1632, Captain Luke Foxe of the vessel "Charles" stated that he visited an island upon which he found no living people but a large number of small graves in which were tiny human skeletons only four feet in length, surrounded by bows, arrows, and bone lances. They were all adults, and there is some implication that not all of them were skeletons but might have been whole frozen bodies. His actual report goes as follows:
"This island doth lie in 64d. and 10m. of latitude; [footnote 1: There is no island exactly in this latitude. Probably the observation is somewhat out, and that one of the islands off Cape Fullerton is the island in question] and I took this place to be the m. e. end of Sir Thomas Buttons Ut ultra [footnote 2: It seems from the narrative that Foxe must have passed near Tom Island. As he makes no mention of having seen it, the fog-banks probably prevented him (from doing so).] I could see to the northeastwards of this at least ten leagues, but no land at east, or southeast, it being as cleare an evening as could be imagined. The land to be seen was from the north northeast to the west southward.
"The news from land was that this island was a Sepulchre, for the savages had laid their dead (I cannot say interred), for it is all stone, as they cannot dig therein, but lay the corpse on the stones, and wall them about with the same, coffining them also by laying the sides of old sleds about, which have been artificially made. The boards are some nine or ten feet long, four inches thick. In what manner the tree they have been made out of was cloven or sawen, it was so smooth as we could not discern, the burials had been so old.
"And, as in other places of those countries, they bury all their utensils, as bows, arrows, strings, darts, lances, and other implements carved in bone. The longest corpse was not above four feet long, [footnote 3: They seem to be People of small stature. God send me better for my adventures than these.] with their heads laid to the vest. It may be that they travel, as the Tartar and the Semoaid; for, if they had remained here, there would have been some newer burials. There was one place walled four-square, and seated within with earth each side was four or five yards in length; in the middle was three stones, laid one above another, man's height. We took this to be some place of ceremony at the burial of the dead."
Nothing further is recorded or known of this discovery; nor has the island itself been relocated. Again, Scherman notes that the present-day Baffinland Eskimos firmly believe that there were, in addition to the giant Toonijuk, a race of very small humans, or pigmies, in the Canadian Arctic before the coming of their own people. And, once again, we may note that hardby, in the neolithic Round-Houses of the west European Isles, there remains a very strong tradition and much legend about "Little People" (Pixies, Elves, Leprechauns, and so forth) who are said to have inhabited the adjacent hills in early times.
We should note also that Gladwin's theory envisions one of the waves of humanoids that entered the New World as being a race of pigmy stature, related to the ancestors of the Negritos and Negrillos, whom he suggests arrived here after the Neanderthalers but before the Amerinds and the Eskimos. There is nothing impossible in this, for pigmies need not have "black" skins or inhabit the tropics; nor, conversely, need the skins of any who reached the Arctic have been pale yellow. The skin-color of animals is probably due more to percentage of oxygenation rather than to temperature, quantity, or periodicity of sunlight--vide: the work of Fage, Derouet and W. D. and M. P. Burbanck and Edwards on albinism in cave animals. Primitives of small stature--four to five feet--could have been of any skin-color; and just because all known living "pigmies" have dark skins means nothing.
In 1953, a most curious little book entitled (perhaps somewhat appropriately) The Strangest Story Ever Told, was privately published in New York by a Miss Virginia Colp, in the name of her father, Harry D. Colp. In a preface, Miss Colp explains that this, as an MSS, was found by her mother among the possessions of her late father, then some years deceased. The slim volume, only 46 pages in length, presents a straightforward story, starting in the year 1900 and ending in 1925. It is published without comment.
There is no confirmatory evidence presented in the book, and we have been unable to trace all through other sources. Search has been instituted for the other persons named or mentioned in the incidents recorded but all would now be gentlemen of very advanced age, while the original author states categorically that he had given his word that he would not disclose their names. (His daughter cannot be expected to break this trust.)
The book is divided into seven chapters, each of which gives an account of incidents that were alleged to have occurred to a number of people in a somewhat limited wilderness area east of Thomas Bay--and centered apparently around the headwaters of the Patterson River--on the coast of the Alaskan Panhandle. Thomas Bay opens inshore from Kupreanof Island, which lies about halfway between Juneau and Wrangell. The latter is just south of the mouth of the Stikine River and is on the north tip of Wrangell Island.
The story begins in 1900. Harry Colp at that time was resident in Wrangell where he apparently worked for a small sawmill. He had three partners in prospecting enterprises. These he names "Charlie," "John," and "Fred," for purposes of identification. It appears that the first named had learned from an old Amerindian that free-gold quartz in quantity was exposed on a scree in the area named, and the other three partners staked him to a trip by boat to investigate. He left in early May and returned a month later entirely dispossessed but for his canoe, a paddle, and the clothes he wore. He brought a piece of quartz, shot through with gold flecks. He refused to discuss his trip and borrowed money to take a ship out of Alaska for good. Before leaving, however, he told Colp his story.
Shorn of irrelevant details, this is to the effect that, having climbed a tree on a hill to get his bearings after some days of prospecting, he saw a band of humanoid creatures, covered in thick hair, rushing towards him up a slope. He described them as "the most hideous creatures. I couldn't call them anything but devils, as they were neither men nor monkeys, yet looked like both. They were entirely sexless [no visible genitalia or mammary glands presumably-Author] their bodies covered with long coarse hair, except where scabs and running sores replaced it." "Charlie" recounted that he had slid down the tree, thrown his already damaged gun at the first, and then run for his canoe, apparently most closely pursued by the creatures. He was unable to give a clear account of what followed but he finally found himself adrift, in the bottom of his boat, after dark, and managed to row back to Wrangell.
The next five chapters of the book relate the experiences of first "John" and "Fred"; then "John" and the author on two trips, three years apart; the author and a man named Bush; the author alone; and the author and a Norwegian identified only as "Ole." These trips took place respectively in July, 1900 (immediately after Charlie's return and departure); September of that year; 1906; 1908; and 1911. In 1914, Mr. Colp says that he sent in two men to investigate--a half-Russian and a Japanese; in 1919 he sent in three men but they came out in two weeks with three completely different stories--one that they had never been to Thomas Bay; one that they had gone to another part of it; and the third that they had gone to the area designated, up the Patterson River, and had found everything as Mr. Colp had previously stated, including two odd-shaped lakes--but no gold. This was the final enigma that apparently caused Mr. Colp to give up what had been almost a quarter of a century of investigation.
The complete contradictions in the stories of these three men were not by any means the oddest events alleged to have occurred in this district; and not only to them, but to Mr. Colp, himself, though he seems to have been less affected psychologically than any of the others. These events need not concern us except to remark that they sound not just improbable but altogether inexplicable. Through all these stories there runs, nonetheless, a thread of reference to hairy, stinking humanoids.
But it is the last chapter of Harry Colp's book that is the most interesting. In this he tells, albeit secondhand, the history of a trapper in 1925 who penetrated the same area but up the Muddy River from the south. This was related by a dairy farmer resident at the mouth of that river.
The trapper had laid a line of traps up to one of the odd-shaped lakes mentioned above but had had to take up this line because all the traps along it were sprung by some creature that left foot-tracks of a nature that this trapper had never encountered before in a lifetime in that general area. He tried to trap the creature itself but failed; and then, one night, his dog vanished after alarmed barking and a disturbance. Following its tracks he found them paralleled by the unknown's and then, at some distance, those of the dog stopped abruptly. The trapper followed the unknown's but discovered in time that it was just ahead of him for it made two complete circles back to the point where it had presumably picked up the dog!
The trapper described the tracks as being for distances bipedal but then--alternating with these stretches-quadrupedal. The hind prints he describes as "about seven inches long and looked as if they were a cross between a two-year-old bear's and a small barefooted man's tracks. You could see claw marks at the ends of the toes, toe pads and heavy heel marks; between toe-pad marks and heel marks was a short space where the foot did not bear so heavily on the ground, as if the foot were slightly hollowed or had an instep. The front set looked like a big raccoon's tracks, only larger."
It should be pointed out here that the Amerinds farther south on this coast speak of these creatures as "apes," in English; while several reports of the Meh-Teh type of ABSMs, made by native Nepalis in the Himalayas, speak of these creatures occasionally dropping onto all fours like a gorilla. Further, the outline of a raccoon's front feet is not unlike a diminutive man's but for the prominent claws.
The trapper is stated to have returned to his camp but never to have been seen again. His effects were found three weeks later, and a number of his traps were sprung.
Through the mail, the author has received over the past fifteen years a number of letters from interested parties, giving accounts of alleged ABSMs in a large number of localities spread all across Canada from the Mackenzie, Stikine, and Rocky Mountains in the west, to Labrador in the east. During the past years, over a hundred such letters have been received, but only two of these warrant comment at this time. The first relates an incident alleged to have occurred about 1911 in the northern tip of the State of Minnesota. As received (from a lady who was a resident of said district at the time) two men were hunting in the deep forest several miles from a small town in that state when they came upon some strange foot-tracks. Following these, they came up with what they described as "a human giant which had long arms and short, light hair, covering most of its body" (italics mine). One man remained while the other ran back to town, collected a posse, and returned. The woods were then beaten for a considerable distance but nothing more than the tracks were found. Northern Minnesota is on the southern fringe of the great northern boreal forests and, even today, little but a highroad separates it from them. If ABSMs existed in those forests in 1910, there is no reason why one should not have wandered south to this point. Of significance in this report is the color of the hair. It agrees with several reports of the larger Sasquatches.
The other item of interest is a series of new expressions on the nature of the famous "Wendigos" or "Wentigos" of the northern forest Amerinds. These ghosts, spirits, or demons of Amerindian myth and legend have always had much in common with the "Trolls" of Scandinavia and other traditional humanoid monsters in other parts of the northern subarctic. In a brief article for a Canadian magazine, a retired fur-trader related a description of Wentigos given to him by an old Cree of Amisk Lake, named George Custer. This, like other previous descriptions, stated that Wentigos were mentally unbalanced persons who did not respond to treatment by local medicine men and who, being exiled to the woods, developed certain supernatural aspects. However, George Custer's description mentions that medicine men could "smell" them at a great distance; that they traveled in packs like foxes; followed trails but always kept off them; defended themselves by biting; lived underground; and were finally exterminated by his people. In fact, it seems clear that there is much of ancient factual observation of ABSM-type primitives involved in the tradition of the Wendigo--a tradition that incidentally, is spread almost all across Canada. (The Wendigo, Windigo, Whitico, or "Ice-Giant" of the Algonquians is of the same tradition.)
One of the most extraordinary accounts of what we call ABSMs that has come to my attention may be found in a book entitled True North, by Elliott Merrick, and concerns certain affairs on the Traverspine River at a point where that stream flows into the Grand or Hamilton River near Goose Bay, Labrador; and specifically at the homestead of a family named Michelin. The date was about 1913. The author of this book regarded the report as a "ghost-story" and notes that such are very real in what he describes as "this land of scattered, lonely houses, and primitive fears." However, in the light of discoveries made since his book was published, one may perhaps now legitimately consider it in quite another light. It is best quoted directly; and for permission to do this we are indebted to the publishers, Messrs. Charles Scribner & Sons, of New York. The pertinent passage reads as follows:
"About twenty years ago one of the little girls was playing in an open grassy clearing one autumn afternoon when she saw come out of the woods a huge hairy thing with low hanging arms. It was about seven feet tall when it stood erect, but sometimes it dropped to all fours. Across the top of its head was a white mane. She said it grinned at her and she could see its white teeth. When it beckoned to her she ran screaming to the house. Its tracks were everywhere in the mud and sand, and later in the snow. They measured the tracks and cut out paper patterns of them, which they still keep. It is a strange-looking foot, about twelve inches long, narrow at the heel and forking at the front into two broad, round-ended toes. Sometimes its print was so deep it looked to weigh 500 pounds. At other times the beast's mark looked no deeper than a man's track. They set bear traps for it but it would never go near them. It ripped the bark off trees and rooted up huge rotten logs as though it were looking for grubs. They organized hunts for it and the lumbermen who were then at Mud Lake came with their rifles and lay out all night by the paths watching, but with no success. A dozen people have told me they saw its track with their own eyes and it was unlike anything ever seen or heard of. One afternoon one of the children saw it peeping in the window. She yelled and old Mrs. Michelin grabbed a gun and ran for the door. She just saw the top of its head disappearing into a clump of willows. She fired where she saw the bushes moving and thinks she wounded it. She says too that it had a ruff of white across the top of its head. At night they used to bar the door with a stout birch beam and sleep upstairs, taking guns and axes with them. The dogs knew it was there too, for the family would bear them growl and snarl when it approached. Often it must have driven them into the river, for they would be soaking wet in the morning. One night the dogs faced the thing and it lashed at them with a stick or club, which hit a corner of the house with such force it made the beams tremble. The old man and boys carried guns wherever they went, but never got a shot at it. For two winters it was there. They believe to this day it was one of the devil's agents or more likely 'the old feller' himself."
This item was kindly brought to our notice by Mr. Bruce S. Wright, Director of the Northeastern Wildlife Station, operated cooperatively by the Wildlife Management Institute of Washington, D. C. and the University of New Brunswick at Fredericton, N.B.
From the cases cited above, together with the now-massive reports of the Sasquatches--now having continued for over a century--and the numerous other isolated incidents claimed by people to have occurred all across Canada, it would seem manifest that at least one, if not two (should the pigmies of the Canadian Arctic Islands be rediscovered in skeletal form) types of hairy Primitives or submen were once widely distributed over the arctic and subarctic belts of North America. Further, it would now appear to be increasingly difficult to assert positively that none of these could have survived until today.
The obvious question is then--and it is quite permissible--what exactly might these creatures be?
We have mentioned the name of Gladwin. This student, though never professionally employed as an anthropologist or archaeologist, prosecuted a great deal of worthwhile and original fieldwork; and the foreword to his book was written by none less than Earnest Hooton. In this preface, moreover, Hooton states that, while several of Gladwin's opinions were not then acceptable to established thinking, his basic thesis required most careful consideration. This thesis states simply that several waves of Hominids passed over the Bering Strait from eastern Asia and thence spread all over the New World. Gladwin's chronology hints at, first, subhominids (such as Pithecanthropines) arriving; next, Neanderthal types; then representatives of what we call Primitives (as represented today by the Bushmen, the Negrillos, and the Negritos); then some early Modern Men of, in his estimation, a Proto-Caucasoid, or Australoid type; and finally the Mongoloid Amerinds and Eskimos.
Whether all these types did so immigrate to the New World is, of course, very far from being accepted: in fact, it is only very recently that it has even been considered that any hominids, other than modern Mongoloids, ever reached North America. But, the possibility that more primitive peoples did so, cannot be positively denied; while there seems to be some valid reason for supposing that some did. The Pekin Pithecanthropidae lived at the same latitude and on the edge of the same vegetational belt as the ABSMs of Canada, and we have recently received information from Professor B. F. Porshnev of the Russian Academy of Science that ABSMs have now been reported from far eastern Siberia. There is no reason why such creatures should not have crossed over the Bering Strait. If they did so, in either the first or middle Interglacial, along with several other large mammals, there is no reason why later, more developed types, such as the Neanderthalers (who were available in far eastern Asia) should not also have done so; and, still later, the Negrito-Negrillo or Pigmy type; then the Proto-Caucasoid, or Australoids; and, finally, Mongoloids. As each of these successive waves of more highly cultured races appeared, the former immigrants must have been pushed back into the less hospitable areas.
And, it is from just
such areas throughout South, Central, and North America that reports of
hairy primitives and other ABSMs emanate today!
Ivan Sanderson, "Things",
1967, Pyramid Books
Since this depiction showed certain points of similarity to some early Mongolian brush drawings of Hun-guressu, namely the Gin Sung or "Bear Man" of the Chinese, or Dzu-Teh of the Nepalese--in other words the largest of the three types of those creatures which have come to be called "Abominable Snowmen" colloquially and collectively, that are alleged to occur in the eastern part of Eurasia--we decided to write to Messrs. Sotheby in the hope of obtaining further information on the bestiary in question and also with a view to obtaining sight of the document if possible. We received a most courteous and highly informative reply from that company, giving some extremely valuable new and unexpected information not only on the document in question but upon the whole matter of "wild men" in mediaeval illuminations of all manner of manuscripts other than bestiaries. They also drew our attention to a collection that they had sold on the 9th of December, 1958, under the title of Dyson Perrins, and with particular reference to Folio 82 (Plate 45 in their illustrated catalogue) of that collection, while further advising us that a high quality reproduction of said plate might be inspected in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.
Following this kind action and suggestion we inspected this document and thus came to the first of a series of most surprising and enlightening discoveries. In this research and for subsequent discoveries we are very deeply indebted to Miss Mary Kenway, Supervisor of Readers' Services of the Pierpont Morgan library, for it was she who called our attention to numerous other documents that displayed similar depictions.
This research culminated in a review of several dozens of both originals and reproductions of 8th to l6th century depictions, a reappraisal of two outstanding books-Apes and Ape Lore, 1952, by H. W. Janson, the Warbury Institute, University of London, and Wild Men in the Middle Ages, 1952, by Richard Bernheimer, Harvard University Press--and finally to similar depictions on Roman and Etruscan pottery, some very ancient silverware, and a number of bronzes.
Our findings may perhaps be claimed to be "discoveries," but only for one reason. This is that, although the individual figures in all these depictions have been fully catalogued by scholars, they do not appear to have been critically examined by anthropologists or zoologists with full knowledge of the literature pertaining to the field of what we have been constrained to call "ABSMs"--stemming from the inappropriate but now firmly established moniker "abominable snowmen," to cover all cases of existing or allegedly still existing haired Primitives, Submen (Neanderthaloids, et alii) and/or Subhominids (Pithecanthropines, Australopithecines, etc.), or even sub-hominoids such as Gigantopithecus. As a result, some very significant features of a number of these depictions of Wild Men, and of a number of others stated to be of apes and monkeys, have been entirely missed.
Upon such critical
examination of these depictions, moreover, it seems to be clear that Dark
Age and Middle Age European artists knew a very great deal more about
the anatomy and external morphology of Primates than has been supposed;
and that they went to particular pains to differentiate between seven
distinct categories of Primates. These are:
The crude clubs carried by the Wudéwásá types are invariably of the same form and size, and are nearly always carried in the left hand, even if the right hand is free. But even more convincing than this detail is the care with which they depict the feet of each of the different categories. It is the form of the feet that is, moreover, of greater significance than any other anatomical detail in distinguishing between Hominid and Pongid anthropoids. A notable example of this is an illustration in a folio volume-listed in library catalogs, and the original of which is in the Morgan Library in New York--see Bibliography--entitled The Dyson Perrins Folio. This is captioned: "Historiated initial; the Adoration of the Magi; in the border wild wodehouses run down to a river on which one of their number, mounted on a golden bird and armed with club and shield, fights a silver merman whose upper half is encased in armor."
There are several points of the utmost significance in this picture. First, at the top are men in then current dress, hunting a stag, with dogs. However, two figures on the left are smaller, apparently naked, hairy, and armed with a bow and arrow and a spear, respectively. These figures are shown on an open "down." To the right is a river, shown in very fine perspective, running from a gap in these downs, the other bank of which is heavily forested. Three wodehouses are shown running down this river bed to a foreshore, immediately off which a fourth, mounted astride a large bird with a doubly hooked beak and prominent narrow tongue, defends himself with a wooden club and an exceedingly crude shield of most significant construction.
The clubs carried by the wodehouses are deliberately and carefully shown to be but crude logs with rounded ends and of somewhat lesser diameter at the end held by the hand. The "shield" is composed of two laths of wood, presumably held together by crosspieces, but arranged so that the holder may peer between the two slats. Such shields may be found today among the Hill Batuks of Sumatra, an exceedingly primitive group of proto-Malayans who have been driven up into the montane forests by the tribalized Batuks who are of much more advanced culture. The Hill Batuks have no actual name, have Melanesian features, and practically no possessions other than wooden spears, bows, and these "shields" (which, in their case, are made of two bits of stout bamboo bound to three lighter crosspieces with vines). Similar defensive mechanisms seem to be portrayed in Spanish Stone Age cave paintings, such as those in the Cuevas de Civil near Albocacer Castellon.
As to the weapons and "tools" alleged to have been carried by various ABSMs, after review of hundreds of reports by those persons who say they have observed these various creatures, it transpires that nobody claims they ever carried anything made of other than wood; while, of wooden objects, we have constant reference to crude clubs, and primitive bows and arrows such as described by Colonel Fawcett. It is this author's contention that a dendritic phase preceded both the odontokeratic and the petrolithic in Hominid "culture" and that subhominids, in tearing green branches from trees, came upon bark-strips and thus the "string" for the bow (and subsequently simple weaving) at a very early period when he was still a wet-forest denizen.
The external morphology of the wodehouses in this illustration is of even more significance than the implements they are carrying. They are shown to be small of stature with short legs and long arms. They have comparatively large heads with massive but shortish hair and fringe beards under their chins. The brow-ridges are pronounced and "beetle"; the nose is large; the mouth wide and full, and the naked face is very cleverly shown to be black but very shiny. Most important of all, the artist went to very great pains to draw no less than seven hands and two feet of these individuals in great clarity, one of the latter being a left foot of the second figure back, planted squarely on the beach sand, the other seen in semi-profile on the back of the great bird, of the front figure. These feet, like the hands are completely hominid, with a fully apposed (not in any way opposed) great toe. In other words, despite the very animalistic features of their overall morphology, these wodehouses are depicted as decidedly human on two counts--the use of offensive and defensive weapons; and the form of their feet. The importance of the latter fact cannot be too greatly stressed.
The last point of real significance in this depiction is the contemporary written mention of "wodehouses." This name has an increasingly precise meaning and import as one goes backwards through Wodehouse to Woodwose, Wodwose, Wodewose, Wodewese, and Wodwos to the late Anglo-Saxon Wudéwásá (which, incidentally, remained current till at least the fifteenth century), and thence to Wudu Wasa. The first of this combined term is the Late Old English for a "wood"; the word wasa is discreetly described as obscure, but is frankly unknown. However, in combination Wudu Wasa or Wudéwásá means a "Wild Man of the Woods"; a savage, a satyr, or a Faun. Later, it was also applied to a person dressed to represent such a being in a pageant. One suggestion has been made as to the origin of wasa; namely, that it originally derived from vu'asear, from assir, aesir, Asia-Man, or Asiatics. The implication would then be that the mediaeval artists knew of "wild men of the woods" armed only with primitive wooden weapons that lived in Asia and attempted to defend it from knights in armor coming to the mouths of rivers from the sea--as allegorically depicted at the bottom of the Dyson Perrins Folio.
Monkeys, and the Orangutan, as the only ape known to mediaeval artists, are a fairly common item in depictions from the earliest phases of illumination in Europe. A large number of these have been assembled by H. W. Janson in his book Apes and Ape Lore. On critical analysis, consistent with a prior knowledge of the literature on ABSMs as defined above, most of these indeed prove to be careful and considerably detailed depictions of such creatures. However, some do not, and for equally cogent reasons--cogency's most carefully introduced by the artists. One of these displays two anthropomorphic figures apparently dancing, and holding hands, but naked and shown to be fully haired all over by formalized lines of tashes [dashes?]. The faces are humanish but low-browed and almost chinless; and the head hair is very short. The hands are completely human but very long-fingered; the feet, however, are completely humanoid with fully apposed big toes, and shown in four different positions and from four different angles. There can be no doubt at all that these are meant to be hominids as opposed to pongids (i.e. apes) for the very simple reason that all pongids are shown with very widely opposed big or great toes.
Another illustration is stated to be by Hans Duren and is in a Prayer Book of Maximilian. This is of a (presumably) family circle of fully haired anthropoids, father, mother and child. The father is pouring water into a pool from a coffeepot. These figures have longer head hair and even more simian faces--in the case of the mother almost a dog snout--and rather short legs but again the feet are clearly shown with apposed great toe, though that of the female, shown from below, is ambiguous.
The most enlightening illustration is, however, one captioned "Fortitude transfixing Ape" from Fons (Oxford, Baliol College). In this we see "Fortitude" in the guise of an entirely human, though naked and furred figure, with curl-peaked helmet and a thin lance standing over a prone "ape" through the head of which he has driven the lance. The former's feet are completely humanoid and have apposed great toes; the latter has handlike feet with a fully opposed great toe.
Other plates in Janson are of special interest. The first (Plate II (B)), shows an "ape-devil" from the Temptation of Christ (Puerta de las Pretends, Santiago de Compostela), a bas-relief showing a winged "ape" standing and leaning on a plinth. This figure although extended in a very rare and unnatural pose is in all proportions--even to the slender legs and "Pointed" hip--a Rhesus Monkey; the head, face, and more especially the feet being superbly and most accurately sculpted. The other picture is even more startling, being "Homo sylvestris-Orang outang" from Tulp. (Observationtinz med. libri tres, Amsterdam, 1641.) This, although of much later date, shows an Orangutan with very considerable fidelity and especially with regard to the feet. From these two examples alone we can see that the true external form of monkeys and apes were known throughout the ages and that the artists went to great pains to reproduce accurately the details of their extremities. They did not, in fact, mix the details of humans with pongids or lower primates; or vice versa.
In the same plate (No. LIII) of Janson, two standing figures are reproduced, captioned respectively "Breydenbach's Ape" from Gesner's Historia Anitnalium, Zurich, 1555, and "Ourang Outang'' from Bontius, Historia Naturalis, Amsterdam, 1658. The former is a grotesquery with semi-erect gait, bended knees, a long tail, a monkeylike face surrounded by a ruff reminiscent of a Wanderoo Monkey, and holding a crutch-like stick in the right hand. This creature's feet have very long toes and the great toe is clearly opposed, while both feet are rolled outwards. The creature is a female with prominent and pendent breasts but is hairless. The second figure has a completely human stance and appearance, is again female with prominent genitalia, and is fully furred with long head hair, a big sub-mandibular fringe or beard, and heavy fur on the hips and buttocks. The hands and feet are most carefully shown as being entirely human. This creature is called an "ourang outang." Bontius, seventeen years previously, had given us a most correct reproduction of the ape known properly as the Mia (though colloquially as the Orangutan) published also in Amsterdam (While the name orang utan means simply "wild man" in Malayan, as Bernard Heuvelmans has pointed out, Orang utang (as opposed to utan) means "'a man in debt."
There is then a very curious plate in Hoppius' Anthropomorphia (Erlangen, 1760). This depicts four anthropoids entitled respectively a Troglodyta, Lucifer, Satyrus, and a Pygmaeus. The first three are standing upright, the Lucifer having a short thin tail, a prominent facial fringe, hair along the back of the thighs only, and (again) holding a straight stick in the right hand; it appears to have been taken from Gesner. The big toes are opposed. The Satyr is a short-legged, potbellied, large-headed, grotesquery, fully furred and having pronouncedly simian feet. The Pygmaeus is seated on a stool, holds a straight stick in its right hand, is fully furred with a monkeyish face, long fingers curled into almost a full circle outwards and upwards, and feet more reminiscent of a Langur than any other primate. The Troglodyta, presumably a female is, however, entirely human, somewhat obese, and clean-shaven, with short curly head hair, and completely human hands and small feet. In this plate we do find evidence of the mixing of both monkey and ape, and man and monkey characters, in that the Lucifer and the Pygmaeus hold sticks; otherwise, however, all but the Troglodyta, though somewhat anthropomorphized, are clearly non-human in proportions and details if not in stance. Here the Troglodyte, or "cave-dweller" be it noted, is manifestly a wild man.
This figure and the Bontius illustration are obviously depictions of wudéwásá though transferred to other locales and considerably more humanized than as [is?] shown in earlier works. In fact, by the l6th century, memory of the original wudéwásá seems to have become dimmed while considerable confusion has arisen in the minds of naturalists and artists alike due to the importation of many more kinds of primates from Africa and the Orient (and even from tropical America), and by an ever increasing infusion of legend, mythology, and hearsay from the past, combined with a growing skepticism fostered by strict adherence to the Biblical version of creation. Hairy hominids were, however, still considered up till the 15th century to be perfectly valid former inhabitants of Europe, as evidenced by a delightful little depiction in the British Museum, appropriately called "a drollery" in Queen Mary's Psalter, of the 14th century. This shows a very hairy wild man with perfectly human hands and feet pursued by one dog and confronted by two more.
From these and other examples it is plain that while monkeys and apes were not initially very well known or at all times realistically depicted, they were from the earliest times recognized as such, while an entirely different class of beings--namely wild, fully-haired humanoids or hominids--were also generally accepted as either still existing (at least in central Eurasia) or presumably, to have previously existed in the western part of that continent-i.e., Europe. The belief in trolls, satyrs, fawns, and their small counterparts the pixies, elves, and gnomes, has persisted until today in various forms and by various names in all the mountainous countries of Europe. In Scandinavia, country folk in the far north adjacent to the montane forests, assert that some of the first (or Wudéwásá) still exist; while the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. treats similar reports from the Caucasus with the utmost consideration and has now sent several expeditions to that area to search for evidence of them, called there Kaptar or Kheeter.
However, a further cause of confusion permeates the field of depictions of hairy men in mediaeval art. This is the very frequent occurrence of persons dressed in fur costumes in imitation of wudéwásá for pageants, plays and other performances. It is our belief that the figure in Folio 16 of the early English Bestiary described at the beginning of this chapter is of this nature. Such figures form the basis of Bernheimer's Studies, and it is interesting to note that while Janson adopts the thesis that most if not all such depictions are of what he calls apes, this author implies that all those which are manifestly not of apes or monkeys are of men in costumes. The third alternative, namely that some of them are of a specific creature, the wudéwásá, or even that the costumes are imitative of such a creature, does not appear to have occurred to either of these scholars. The costumed figures tell us a considerable amount about then current beliefs about the nature of the original "wild men."
Bernheimer reproduces what he captions a "Carnival figure from a Schembart book" (Stadtbibliothek, Nuremberg, 16th century), which is a large bearded figure clothed in a tight-fitting furry outfit with a crown and ceinture of leaves, and carrying a small tree over his right shoulder. To this tree is lashed either a very small man or boy. The giant's feet are in socks or slippers but his hands are naked. This is stated by the original artist to be of a costumed participant in a carnival, but it is more allegorical than realistic. Moreover, it carries some pertinent overtones.
It is to be noted that the reports of the larger or giant ABSMs not infrequently concern the kidnapping of humans, but very curiously all but one or two of these reports speak of young human males being taken: and, it is more often grown men in their prime rather even than boys who are alleged to have been carried off. There are also cases of these men having been carried over the ABSM's shoulder, in one case in a sleeping bag. Secondly these larger ABSMs are repeatedly said to tear up small trees by the roots. Some people have described some of them as having fringe-like beards and very thick, heavy, human hands but with permanently curled fingers, as shown in this picture. Finally, their footprints are grossly human at first sight, but, in some surfaces, appear to be more or less toeless.
Bernheimer reproduces two other pictures of costumed "wild men" that have particular points of interest. One is of St. Chrysostom being captured as a wild man (a woodcut from Fyner's edition of Lives of the Saints, 1481), in which said saint is shown crawling out from steep rocks on hands and knees while a hunter with a spear blows a horn and two dogs frolic around. The figure has long hair, a fringe beard, and is completely hairy but for his hands and feet, the exact form of which is not shown. This picture closely parallels descriptions of the Almas or Almasty of southern Mongolia as given by Rinchen (see booklets of the Russian Academy of Science.) of creatures that were in past centuries canonized by the monks of that region. The other illustration is of a play, the "Death of the Wild Man," from a woodcut by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. In this cut, the player costumed as the wild man carries the usual club of the wudéwásá.
The single most distinct and distinguishing feature of the true wild men or wudéwásá is the form of its foot; and with particular regard to the size, form, and disposition of the big or great toe. It is rapidly becoming recognized that the only constant and valid feature for differentiating Hominids from Pongids is the first toe; being in Hominids apposed and, in Pongids, opposed. All other characters and characteristics that have been put forward to so distinguish between the two groups have in time broken down--both anatomical, like the simian shelf, brain size, tooth size and structure; and cultural, like the use of implements, interpretable vocalization, and so on. Hairiness is really no criterion though we do not know of any race of fully haired hominids living today. This, however, makes the early depictions of the Wudéwásá, bestial as they may be in other features, the more convincing, for the human type foot and first toe pronounce them to be Hominids (and not Pongids) and proclaim also the artists' great care in so depicting them.
From these discoveries, and from detailed studies of these mediaeval depictions, combined with those of some earlier depictions on pottery, and later illustrations in early natural histories, we are forced to the conclusion that a type or types of primitive, fully-furred or haired human beings with long arms, beetling brows, dark skins, and possessed only of wooden implements, were known to these early artists. Further, this knowledge was very widespread throughout central and northern Europe until the 14th century, though it seems to have died out in the Mediterranean area during middle Roman times.
This is quite consistent with much western legend and folklore on the one hand and with considerable speculation of a more scientific nature on the other. It has for long been taught that the Neanderthalers disappeared from Europe at the end of the last ice advance; and, it is implied, in face of, or at the hands of modern man in the form of Cro-Magnon Man. However, Cro-Magnon man appeared rather abruptly on the extreme western fringe of the continent, and it would seem that the other peoples in the late Paleolithic and Mesolithic stages of advance also spread into tile Mediterranean from the west, ending with the appearance of tile Iberians. Although the ice was still not gone from the upper Scandinavian valleys in 8000 B.C. there were already people incising petroglyphs of fish and whales in central Norway by that time. There were settled communities all over the lowlands of central and western Europe in Mesolithic stages of culture in 4000 B.C., but vast areas of lowlands remained clothed in dense mixed forest while the mountain forests were not penetrated until much later, and some areas not until fully historic times. There remain considerable areas in northern Sweden and the Caucasus that have not yet been explored. Settlement followed by civilization spread northwards into Europe from the Mediterranean basin, but it took several thousand years to reach the ultimate peripheries of that continent, and during this period immediately postglacial conditions continued on undisturbed in many places until the 14th century. This is clearly shown by the progressive disappearance of the fauna.
The Aurochs lingered on till that century in the Black Forest; the Wisent still clings precariously to survival in western Russia. The lynx, the wolf, the bear, and the beaver shrank back to Scotland in the British Isles but lingered on till later, and the wild cat still so lingers there today. The highlands of Scotland formed a closed and almost virtually unknown country till 200 years ago.
Neanderthalers and other primitive humanoids or submen were not exterminated overnight by Cro-Magnon nor any other race of modern men. In some areas they appear to have been absorbed rather than exterminated but in other areas they just removed themselves, and probably back into the forests. Having the acute senses and knowledge of their environment that is common to wild animals plus, it would seem, a very considerable degree of intelligence--they were fine craftsmen quite apart from having a very large brain capacity, if that be any criterion for intelligence--they much more likely retired before the encroachments of modern man rather than trying to fight him and being driven out or exterminated. The great difference between the Neanderthaler and modern man is that the former was not tribalized, whereas the latter was; therefore the Neanderthalers undoubtedly did not fight unless attacked and cornered individually or in family groups. Further, if the reports of the Kaptur emanating from the Caucasus today are any criterion it would seem that these sub-humans were gatherers rather than hunters and did not even travel in family groups but individually and by sex and age group. Caucasians speak of there being three kinds of Kaptar differing in size and fur color but one being all males, another all females, and the third of both sexes but smaller. The males are said to be entirely solitary, the females to go to water in groups, the small ones to travel in small bands. From this one can but infer that they are all of one species but that the males are solitary, the females semi-communal, and the sub-adults travel in gangs not unlike young lions.
For these reasons it may then further be inferred that the Neanderthalers disappeared from Europe only very gradually and over a very long period; and that some of them remained in central Europe till mediaeval times, and some may still survive in the two extreme limits of that continent--in northern Sweden and the Caucasus.
There is no valid or conclusive argument against Neanderthalers being fully furred or clothed in hair. There is some concrete evidence that they were so clothed; and, it would seem logical that they should have been, for they dwelt in cold climates and even right up to the ice front. They were undoubtedly there at one time and they only "disappeared" when modern men appeared in each locality, in turn. What then is so extraordinary about modern man at the dawn of civilization first in the Mediterranean (see Etruscan depictions), then central Europe, and finally around its fringes, and right up to mediaeval times in the last case, knowing these creatures, and knowing what they looked like, what weapons they used, how they deported themselves, and that their feet were just like ours? There is nothing extraordinary about this at all; it isn't really even surprising or it should not be so. The difficulty in grasping this concept is due entirely to the gap between the end of the Dark Ages and current anthropological thinking: a gap that was filled with skepticism combined with outright lack of knowledge and progressive suspicion of ancient traditions and accounts.
It is our contention, therefore, that the wudéwásá are detailed and accurate descriptions of Neanderthaloids--maybe of more than one type--that lingered on in Europe north and east of a line drawn through central Ireland, Britain, Germany, Austria, and the Balkans to the Dardanelles, until comparatively late dates and progressively later as you travel from the extreme southwest to the north and east. There is today growing evidence of such "wudéwásá" in the Caucasus and the mountains of northern Iran, and thence via the Pamirs to the whole of the great Mongolian upland massif of eastern Eurasia. Reports have even more recently been received (Porshnev, B. F.; private communication) that they are also spread over the forested areas of easternmost Siberia. This would be consistent with both ecological and historical fact. The Neanderthalers went away; they were neither driven out nor exterminated. And, we may look for descriptions and depictions of them in early works from all Eurasian countries, be they called therein trolls, gnomes, or by other titles previously relegated to folklore.
The most pertinent argument against the notion that the wudéwásá and other wild men were Neanderthalers is that this group of primitives or submen were the creators of the very fine Mousterian type of stone implements and had therefore graduated from the dendritic phase very long ago, while these latter day creatures seem never to possess anything but wooden implements. This argument, while perfectly valid in one respect, is not, in our opinion, conclusive. First, not all the Neanderthalers which collectively were once spread all over Eurasia and in related forms apparently over Africa, Orientalia, and possibly even the New World need have progressed to the stage displayed by the makers of the Mousterian stone tools. In fact, it would seem much more likely that some should have remained on the borderline of culture. Secondly, if they were gatherers rather than hunters, the more primitive among them may not have carried weapons of stone, although using scrapers, burrins, and other such artifacts for peaceful activities. Such tools may have been the perquisites of the females. Thirdly, there is ever increasing evidence that primitives, dispossessed of their territory and forced to retreat into forests where stones may be a rarity or entirely unknown over great areas between watercourses, give up the use of all instruments of any complexity except for wooden ones. The Pi Tong Luang, also called "The Ghosts of the Yellow Leaves" of Thailand, a fine mongoloid race, today use nothing but bamboo
Finally, as to the
disappearance of the Neanderthalers or other primitives which gave rise
to the wudéwásá tradition, it should be pointed out
that small relic groups of low culture, especially if untribalized, once
split up and confined to limited and shrinking territories, invariably
appear to dwindle in numbers due to a progressive deterioration of their
fertility. This has been observed among the Bushmen, and the Negrillos
of the Orient. Thus, it was first the dissection and then the clearing
of the forests that brought about the dissolution and extinction of the
wudéwásá rather than any deliberate massacre by more
advanced races. The forests on the fringes of Europe have not even now
been finally cleared and especially in mountainous districts. The wudéwásá could well have still existed in many large areas up till mediaeval times.
Ivan Sanderson, More "Things," 1969, Pyramid Books
IN NOVEMBER 1967, two young men by the name of Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin turned up in New York with some thirty feet of 16-mm color film of a female "something" that they said they had taken up in the famous Bluff Creek in Del Norte County of northern California the month before. I had heard of this from a correspondent in the area the day after they came out of the woods. I had also corresponded with Roger Patterson for some years on the subject of what they call in Canada the "Sasquatch", and colloquially in Washington, Oregon, and California, "Bigfoot". It was up this same creek that the whole business of giant, fully-haired, ultra-primitive hominids first really got its start in the modern world. A number of very reliable citizens (employed in constructing the first access-road into a vast wilderness area that forms the north portion of the state of California) were constantly visited by "some-things" that left enormous, human-formed, naked footprints, making mile-long tracks night after night around their operations; they had taken plaster casts of these tracks, and in the same area they had found piles of fresh faeces of a human form but of enormous volume.
Subsequent events have made it clear that there are a lot of what one must call "ins-and-outs" to this story, and I therefore feel it best and only fair that I give Patterson's story first, and verbatim from my first interview. This went as follows [Footnote 36--Sanderson, Ivan T., "First Photos of 'Bigfoot', California's Legendary 'Abominable Snowman'", Argosy Magazine, February 1968; "More Evidence that Bigfoot Exists", Argosy Magazine, April 1968.]:
At three-thirty on the twentieth of October (1967) we were packing our horses back into one of the last remaining great wilderness areas, northeast of Eureka, California. Our saddlebags contained on one side rifles and grub and, on the other, ready-loaded movie- and still-cameras and other equipment. We were following a creek which had been washed out two years previously in the terrible floods that devastated most of northern California. This was some twenty miles up the access-road for logging, and about thirty-five miles in from the nearest and only blacktop road in this vast and as-yet-not-fully-mapped area of National Forest. [I have been up this Bluff Creek and, as a botanist I can tell you that it is rugged--four layers or tiers of trees, the tallest up to two-hundred feet, and a dense undergrowth. Also, the terrain goes up and down like a gigantic sawtooth. Author.]
We rounded a sharp bend in the sandy arroyo of the creek. Then it happened.
The horses reared suddenly in alarm and threw both of us. Luckily, I fell off to the right and grabbed my camera. Why? Because I had spotted what had turned our horses into mad broncos. About one hundred feet ahead, on the other side of the creek bed, there was a huge, hairy creature that walked like a man! 'Gosh darn it, Ivan', [he said] 'right there was a Bigfoot. And, fer pity's sakes, it was a female! Just wait till you see the film.'
On the other side of the creek, back up against the trees, there was a sort of man-creature that we estimated later, by measuring some logs that appear in the film, to have been about seven feet tall. Both Bob and I estimate--and this pretty well matched what others told us from examination of the depth to which her tracks sank into hard sand--that she would weigh about three hundred and fifty pounds. She was covered with short, shiny, black hair, even her big droopy breasts. She seemed to have a sort of peak on the back of her head, but whether this was longer hair or not I don't know. Anyhow, hair came right down her forehead to meet her eyebrows, if she had any; and it came right up to just under her cheekbones. And--oh, get this-she had no neck! What I mean is, the bottom of her head just seemed to broaden out onto and into her wide, muscular shoulders. She walked like a big man in no hurry. I don't think you'll see it in the film, but the soles of her feet were definitely light in color." [This last bit got me, as I have seen really black-skinned Melanesians with pale pink palms and soles.]
Roger did something then that I have never known any professional photographer to do, even if his camera was loaded with the right film: he had the cap off the lens, and the thing set at the right F stop and so on. He started running, hand-holding his Kodak sixteen-mm, loaded with Kodachrome film, trying to focus on this "creature". What he got was just about what any amateur would get in such circumstances. But then he got a real break. As he puts it:
She was just swinging along as the first part of my film shows but, all of a sudden, she just stopped dead and looked around at me. She wasn't scared a bit. Fact is, I don't think she was scared of me, and the only thing I can think of is that the clicking of my camera was new to her."
'Okay', I said, 'Tell me this, Roger--the hunting season was on, wasn't it?'
'You're darned-shooting-right it was,' Bob Gimlin chimed in. 'And out that way, anything moving with fur on it is liable to get shot. But actually, there just aren't any hunters way up there, twenty miles beyond the only road. Could it be that this Mrs. Bigfoot knew all about guns but was puzzled by the whirring of a small movie camera? And another thing: everybody who says they have been close to one of these creatures or has found one of their "beds" has stressed the ghastly, nauseating stink they exude and leave behind. Was this what really scared the horses or did the horses scare the thing?'
While Roger took the film, Bob got the horses calmed down and then rode over the creek. Roger was running again after the Bigfoot, still hand-holding his movie camera. Despite the logs and trash on the route she took--and it was not even a game trail--he got some parting shots, which turned out to be of particular interest to the scientists. (But we will come to that later.)
At that point, I asked Bob (because he was then what is called "the back-up man," which means that he was now close enough to see Roger clearly) "Just what was Roger doing?"
"He was running like hell, jumping them logs and going up into the real thick bush."
"Did you see her, too?"
"Yeah, Ivan, but 'way ahead and really taking off for the hills."
This brought me up sharp, because I had by this time viewed their film (and half a dozen out-takes, blown up, in full color as transparencies, examined under strong magnifying lenses on an illuminated shadow-box several times and projected by three different projectors). In every case, the creature was--at standard speed for photogs, i.e., twenty-four frames per see--as Roger said, at first just ambling along, swinging her rather long arms, not running-scared, and even stopping for a brief look-see over her shoulder as it were; then ambling on again into the deep woods. Yet here was the back-up man saying that she had "taken off for the hills". Roger, however, backed up his back-up man unprompted:
When she got around the corner and into the real heavy stuff [timber and underbrush] she did take off--running, I mean because, when we lost her tracks on pine needles after tracking her for about three and a-half miles, we took plaster casts of her tracks. Now, down by the creek, in the sand, where we first spotted her, her stride was from forty to forty-two inches from the back of the heel on the left side to the back of the right heel ahead; but when she got really going, she left tracks that measured sixty-five inches from back heel to back heel. Man, she was running just like you and I do!
We ran the film again, slowly, and we had a stop-and-hold device on the projector by which you can hold any frame without fear of burning it. This we did and--so help me--there are definitely large, pendant breasts fully covered with short, black hair. No ape (or monkey) is known to have any such development of the female mammary glands. Human beings, on the other hand, do--frequently.
This is the end of the Patterson-Gimlin story, and they have neither added to it nor detracted from it since. Nor, for once, have others attempted to do so, though there has been a great deal of both comment and criticism. This was occasioned by the nature of the story itself, and it is more than worth just mentioning, as a lot that has come to the surface throws new light on this knotty problem. But first, it is probably best to explain what happened after Patterson had his film developed.
To get this done he went to Hollywood where he sensibly had dupes made and then took the original back to Yakima and deposited it in a bank vault. He then tried to get some American scientists to look at it but none would, so he went to British Columbia at the invitation of the two oldest "Sasquatch"-hunters there--John Green, a newspaper publisher, and René Dahinden, originally a Swiss professional mountaineer but for nearly two decades employed by the Canadian Forestry Service. There, a showing was put on for a number of scientists. At this meeting, there were, in addition to Dr. Ian McTaggart-Cowan (Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of British Columbia, and the province's leading zoologist) a dozen or so scientists, including Don Abbott, an anthropologist with the Provincial Museum in Victoria. Most of the scientists admitted in print that, though they had come to the meeting as skeptics, they had left somewhat shaken. Here's how they stated their reactions in the Vancouver Province next day:
Dr. McTaggart-Cowan summed up the more cautious opinions when he said: "The more a thing deviates from the known, the better the proof of its existence must be." Don Abbott spoke for the dozen or more scientists who appeared remarkably close to being convinced: "It is about as hard to believe the film is faked as it is to admit that such a creature really lives. If there's a chance to follow up scientifically, my curiosity is built to the point where I'd want to go along with it. Like most scientists, however, I'm not ready to put my reputation on the line until something concrete shows up--something like bones or a skull." Frank Beebe, well-known Vancouver naturalist and provincial museum illustrator, commented: "I'm not convinced, but I think the film is genuine. And if I were out in the mountains and I saw a thing like this one, I wouldn't shoot it. I'd be too afraid of how human it would look under the fur. From a scientific standpoint, one of the hardest facts to go against is that there is no evidence anywhere in the western hemisphere of primate (ape, monkey) evolution--and the creature in the film is definitely a primate."
Beebe's objection, however, was typical of those given by other experts who ventured out of their own specialties to comment.
Since I know something about primates and about geography, I brought this matter to the attention of Dr. A. Joseph Wraight, Chief Geographer of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. His full statement appears later but may be summed up here by saying that the distinguished Dr. Wraight--whose doctorate is in Human Ecology--responded in effect, "Bunk!" to this last objection.
A representative of Life Magazine was present at this showing and advised his home office that they should review the film. As a result, Patterson and Gimlin were flown to New York where they put on a showing--or rather, let it be shown--to the American Museum of Natural History staff representatives. And here some very shocking performances were initiated. Once again, as in Canada, the press wire-services were on hand but were informed (in closed session, I am told) by these experts that the whole thing was nothing but a colossal hoax, the exact expression used by their spokesman being, as reported to me, "not kosher"! The reason alleged to have been given was simply that such a creature as depicted was impossible. The use of this term would, in this case, seem to imply that while considered a hoax, it was short of a fraud; but, if the creature depicted is impossible, then for my money it could only have been a manmade thing and thus an outright fraudulent design. I have failed to receive any suggestions for a third alternative. This is manifestly a most unsatisfactory situation. Furthermore, the verdict pronounced upon the pictures was handed down so fast that no time could have been given for a proper, thorough, and truly scientific examination of them to have been made. Finally, the existence of such a creature is not impossible. (I should add that Patterson and his associates were disbarred from the room while the film was run!)
Because of this, Life Magazine washed its hands of the matter and Argosy Magazine moved in swiftly. We then went to work to get this film a proper showing before some people who really knew what they were talking about in the field of human physical anthropology, primatology, and pongid and hominid distribution. At the same time, my organization went to work on the other aspect of the problem as we always do--i.e., the human aspects of the case. And this is where things began to come to light; and on both sides of the coin.
First, the film was flown down to Dr. W. C. Osman Hill at the Yerkes Primate Research Center, at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Hill was the first physical anthropologist to properly investigate the original "abominable snowman" business of the Himalayan region when he was Prosector of the Zoological Society of London. The film was then shown in Washington, D.C. to a distinguished group, including Dr. John R. Napier, also previously of London, now Director of the Primate Biology Program at the Smithsonian Institution, and probably the world's greatest expert on feet and foot-tracks; Dr. Vladimir Markotic, Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Dr. Allan Bryan, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alberta, Canada, and also a leading physical anthropologist; Dr. A. Joseph Wraight, Chief Geographer, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey; and Mr. N. O. Wood, Jr., Director of Management Operations for the U.S. Department of the Interior, representing the Honorable Secretary of that department, Stewart Udall, at the latter's specific request. Their expressed opinions were, for the record, as follows:
Dr. Wm. Charles Osman-Hill: The creature portrayed is a primate and clearly hominid rather than pongid. Its erect attitude in locomotion, the gait, stride and manner of that locomotion, as well as the relative proportions of pelvic to pectoral limb are all manifestly human, together with the great development of the mammary glands. This does not, of course, preclude the possibility that it is indeed a Homo sapiens masquerading as a hairy 'giant'. All I can say, at this stage, is that if this was a masquerade, it was extremely well done and effective.
Dr. John R. Napier: I observed nothing that, on scientific grounds, would point conclusively to a hoax. I am satisfied that the walk of the creature shown in the film was consistent with the bipedal striding gait of man (except in the action of the feet, which were not visible). I have two reservations which are both subjective: First, the slow cadence of the walk and the fluidity of the bodily movements, particularly the arms, struck me as exaggerated--almost self-conscious in comparison with modern man; second, my impression was that the subject was male, in spite of the contrary evidence of heavy, pendulous breasts. The bodily proportions of the creature, as far as could be seen, appeared to be within normal limits for man. The appearance of the high crest on top of the skull is unknown in man, but given a creature as heavily built as the subject, such a biomechanical adaptation to an exclusively fibrous raw vegetable diet is not impossible. The presence of this crest, which occurs only in male non-human primates, such as the gorilla and the orangutan, tends to strengthen my belief that this creature is a male. Finally, it might be supposed that a creature with a heavy head, heavy jaw and musculature and a massive upper body would have a center of gravity placed at a higher level than in man. The position of the center of gravity modifies the gait and the easy stride shown in the film is not in harmony with a high center of gravity. The opinions I have expressed on this remarkable film are those of an expert witness, rather than a member of a jury.
Dr. A. Joseph Wraight: The presence of large, hairy humanlike creatures in North and Central America, often referred to as Sasquatch, appears very logical when the physiographic history of the northern part of this continent is considered. The statement often made that monkeylike creatures were never developed in North America may easily be discounted, for these creatures are more humanlike than apelike and they apparently migrated here, rather than representing the product of indigenous evolution. The recent physiographic history of the polar edges of North America reveals that the land migration of these creatures from Asia to America is a distinct and logical possibility. The compelling reason for this distinct possibility is that a land bridge between Asia and North America is known to have existed several times within the last million years, at various intervals during the Pleistocene or Ice Age. The land bridges, both on the north and south sides of the Bering Sea, were admirably suitable for migrations several times during the Ice Age. It appears, then, that these hairy, humanlike creatures, sometimes called Sasquatch, could easily have migrated to North America at several times during the Ice Age. This is particularly plausible when it is considered that conditions were mild in that area when the land bridges existed. These creatures could have then found conditions along the way similar to their Asian mountain habitat and could naturally have migrated across the bridges.
During a four-hour session, the films and stills were shown, examined under high magnification, challenged, questioned, argued about, and studied. The scientists did not agree on all points. They did not even all see exactly the same details in the often hard-to-interpret blowups. But, after careful scrutiny over a period of hours, not one of the quoted men voiced the suspicion that there was even a vague possibility that someone with enormous funds, and a strange, undecipherable motivation, a disregard for life and limb, and an enormous knowledge of anatomy, physiology, photography and human psychology might have been clever enough to set up a hoax good enough to fool the top experts in their field. And this is a point that ought to be cleared out of the way first.
This whole case has to be broken down. First, we have the two opposed aspects, the human aspect (meaning the background of Patterson, Gimlin, and others involved) and the scientific aspect. Second, the scientific aspect must be split into consideration of the hoax--either as deliberately perpetrated by Messrs. Patterson and Gimlin, or as perpetrated upon them. This includes analysis of the film itself, per se--meaning, is there any evidence that it was tampered with afterwards, or even before (as this too can be done)?
Then, we must ask--could this thing be possible? And here we have to consider the overall picture, i.e., could there be ultra-primitive hominids in northern California; if this is a genuine film of one how does it (or does it not) fit into the known parameters of biological mechanics and performance? We cannot, as all the scientists pointed out above, even speculate upon its anatomy or physiology until we have got a specimen, dead or alive. Thus, we can deal only with its morphology or external form and its movements. I will now tackle all of these aspects, seriatim.
Certain facts concerning poor Roger Patterson have been brought to light, that might (if taken at face value and without proper investigation) not only look suspicious but cast serious doubt upon the whole matter. None of these facts is incriminating--in that none even alleges any form of criminality--but they are just the sort of nasty hints and even "rumors" that are calculated to make the skeptics and even the "fence-sitters" more readily doubt the whole thing. I have been in investigative work for over thirty years, and on this occasion I had advice from quite a host of specialists both paid and voluntary, and all I can say as of the time of writing (and I would like to say this emphatically) is that not one of these allegations has so far "proved-out," as the saying goes. Roger Patterson was at one time employed in show business, and Bob Gimlin was not available when a film unit went to make a documentary of this affair, and the creature in the film does look exactly like a drawing by Mr. Martin Kunsler for an article published by Sports Afield in 1960 [Footnote 37--Sanderson, Ivan T., "The Ultimate Hunt", Sports Afield, April 1961]; but none of this (and more especially the endless little petty-hints that the average human being seems incapable of foregoing) has so far stood up. One person even walked into a publisher's office in New York and stated flatly that he knew who had made the "monkey-suit" and the B-class movies in which it had been used; yet, he could not substantiate one single statement that he had made nor could he give names, dates, addresses or anything else. But none of this is in any way extraordinary: go ask any police officer.
Turning then to the scientific aspects we encounter almost as much nonsense. But on one point all seemed to be agreed. This was that not one of these specialists could find any more evidence than did the Hollywood special effects and make-up people, that the film itself had been tampered with or that the creature it depicted was a phony. I find this most interesting and significant. They all agreed that in this modern technical day and age almost anything could be constructed or "faked". Even in the late 1920s the "dinosaurs" in the film of Conan Doyle's The Lost World were utterly realistic--close-ups of their heads showed drooling saliva, nictitating membranes, and flashing eyes. (Incidentally, these "dinosaurs" were wearing skillfully constructed "suits" made by a man who had a degree in paleontology, and were fitted over live chickens!)
What all these true experts in design, delusion (legitimate) and technology have told me is simply this: "We have been asked if we could make a suit like the one in this film-strip. Our answer is 'Yes'--but given two things: time and a lot of money and a copy of the film to copy from." This is the point. Anybody can make a "King Kong", or a gorilla, or a Frankenstein monster provided they know what the producer wants, but they cannot and will not attempt to make a "something" that nobody has previously thought of. In this case, they one and all have pointed out that in view of the way in which the muscles moved reciprocally under the skin that they would have had to design a whole new set of muscles, somehow inflatable and controlled by the actor wearing the suit. These muscles would have to be moved in a manner quite different from his own, and quite differently from that of a gorilla or a "King Kong." To invent these from a still drawing, such as Kunsler's mentioned above, is difficult even for anatomists with a lifetime knowledge of pongid and hominid musculature and their movements. If then, this film is of a man wearing a "monkey-suit", whoever made it must have had very remarkable knowledge of both ape and human anatomy and also that of ABSMs. Just where did he get this?
When one comes to analyze the real possibility of this thing, we encounter something else: Dr. Wraight has answered the first question categorically. There were ultra-primitive hominids in eastern Asia--the Pithecanthropines, and especially those once called Sinanthropus, in Manchuria--and later the proto-hominids, called collectively Neanderthalers, right across Eurasia to eastern Siberia. According to all the anthropologists, archaeologists and even Prehistorians the Amerinds came over to the New World via the land bridges spanning the Bering Strait, and the Eskimos came over the same way later. Why shouldn't the earlier, more primitive hunters and gatherers have done likewise?
If the Patterson-Gimlin film is a fake it still does not detract one iota from the main problem. These young men were not alive when the "Sasquatch"-Tokimussi-Ohmah-"Bigfoot" business began over a century earlier. (They could have had a suit made and they could have made the plaster casts of the foot-tracks from casts made by others elsewhere, but the onus of proof lies with those that say they did.) Exactly similar creatures have been reported for over a century all the way from Alaska to Arizona and again from Sinaloa in Mexico to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. Further, similar tracks have turned up over this area for over a century by the tens of thousands, sometimes running for miles in uninhabited and unvisited territory. We have some hairs, and the piles of faeces of human form but of positively vast proportions, composed of local waterweeds and containing worm parasites. The composition of these faeces is like that of indigenous western-Amerindian tribal-groups and that of some men and pigs in western China, exactly where the Sasquatch-type "Hun-guressu" or "Dzu-Teh" with similar feet is found. But then come the really extraordinary objections of the anatomists and certain non-biological technologists. I will deal with the latter first.
Those of the latter principally concerned the lighting of the film and notably the angle of incidence of the shadows. Patterson and Gimlin stated that it was shot at 3:30 p.m. in late October. Several people tried to show that the shadows should have been much more attenuated. However, they predicated this on the fact that Bluff Creek runs generally north to south, and they completely overlooked the fact that it constantly twists and turns, and that at the particular point where the film was said to have been shot it ran (around the bend) west to east, so that the shadows were going away from the camera and not across its field of vision; however, this really has nothing to do with the authenticity of the film. The other queries all centered on the matter of the height of the creature depicted. The man best qualified to pronounce on this point, Quentin Keynes, who is among the best and most experienced wildlife photographers alive, came up with exactly the same estimate as Patterson and Gimlin, that the creature was between six and seven feet tall, most probably nearer the latter. I know the exact bend in the creek where this film is alleged to have been shot as I was specifically investigating the vegetation there, and this height-estimate is consistent with the foreground, background, and the nature of the ground.
Turning to the anatomists, we find three principal queries--the stance, the gait, and the movement of the muscles. To this must be added the most extraordinary contention that the creature is--or looks more like--a male despite the enormous pendant breasts, and particularly because of the funny little peak on the back of its bead. The arguments for this latter assumption seem to be purely subjective and, I fancy, due more to preconception than conception. They insist that no female primates have such back-of-head top notches, and that no male hominid has it either. This is just not so, since many known monkeys (both the New and Old World ones), the gorilla among the apes, and an endless parade of humans even today have veritable crests and at the back of their heads, as exemplified by certain Capuchins in South America, some Mangabeys and Guenons in Africa, several Langurs of the Orient and African women of many tribes. These crests or peaks are composed solely of hair; certain pongids like the male gorilla also have a bony crest called a sagittal ridge to which very large masseter muscles--which pull up the lower jaw in order to crack, crunch, and chew rough, hard vegetable food--are attached.
There is then a corollary argument put forward about the head of the thing as shown in this film. The anatomists tell us that if there is such a sagittal bony crest, the lower jaw or mandible would have to be very deep. This too is unfortunately not the case. This may be seen in all the bone-crackers (like hyenas) and the great cats which have very slender lower jaws, just as do the carnivorous reptiles, both living and fossil. The objection to the crest and the jaw just doesn't hold water. Nor does the matter of gait.
If the torso or upper part of a creature that stands and walks on its two back legs is larger and heavier than the lower part, it would have to tilt or lean forward simply to get going. The ultimate of this upper-body to lower-body bulk is the male gorilla, which cannot go forward at all unless it props its top- or front-end up on its long arms. The animal in the Patterson film leans forward just the right amount for its proportions. Its arms are long, but not excessively so, in proportion to the length of its legs. Likewise with its gait--it "swings" along with a very free and fluid motion.
It is very hard to comment on the movement of the muscles because no two real experts seem to agree just how they do move, both directly or reciprocally. From viewing the film, they look very "natural" to me, and I say this as one who has spent over forty years observing animals (and especially primates) in the wild and in captivity--but the naturalness could just as well be that of a very heavy-set human. After all, we are only animals, and primates at that, and even very closely related to the pongids. In my opinion the rippling and smoothly flowing muscles as shown in the film do not look artificial but, as I have said above, they could be.
This ends the queries of the anatomists, and I am afraid I have to say that not only do they not stand up on any one count, they are unfortunately just those points most vulnerable to refutation. Only Napier's "feeling" or impression that the thing was male impresses me. Curious indeed--and probably quite unscientific--to say this, since impressions have no place in scientific analysis--but how often has this sort of "feeling" for reality advanced knowledge when all the computers and laboratory bottles have gotten nowhere. And then comes another impressionist, the only morphologist so far, with vast experience and training, and one who has applied modem statistical (computer-type) analysis to just such a problem as this--Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans. His comments are as follows:
In all furry animals the hair has a definite pattern, that is, on each area of the body the hairs are oriented in a certain direction. For instance, on a chimpanzee's arm, or even on a man's if he is hairy, they go down from the shoulder to the elbow, and up from the wrist to the elbow. This definite hair pattern can be seen even on photographs of animals from the way the light shines on their fur.
On the creature shown on Patterson's film there is nothing of the sort. As can be seen from the way the hairs shine, giving the fur a speckled appearance, they point in all directions (compare the blowups of the film with photographs of gorillas or, better, of certain bears, which have 'short, shiny, black hair', and you will see that in the latter, the shine on the fur shows that on each part of the body the hairs all point in the same direction).
The aspect of the hair of the creature in the film is exactly what should be expected from artificial fur--whether thick velvet or nylon fur--in which all threads (not actually hairs) are attached uniformly on some canvas base. When you stroke this material in different directions, the artificial hairs get bent in these directions and remain so until you brush them all carefully in the same direction.
Patterson adds--which is also seen in the film-that 'even her big, droopy breasts' are covered with short shiny black hair. This would of course be possible in some unknown species of man, but it would be rather improbable to say the least. In all larger apes the breasts have a slight tendency toward swelling, and even dropping a little, when the female is nursing its baby or if it has been nursing many of them, but even in such hairy primates the chest is almost naked.
I want to add that this (to me) obvious hoax does not shake at all my firm conviction that some large unknown human-like primate lives in the northwest of the United States and in the western provinces of Canada, not to mention of course certain mountain ranges of northeastern and central Asia."
This sums up this
extraordinary case as of the time of writing. Nothing has been proved
and nothing has been disproved, despite all the sound and some considerable
fury. But this is par for the course in these matters. All we can hope
for is the capture of an ABSM in the area, which would settle one rankling
question. However, even that would probably not solve the second one--to
wit, was this film a fraud?
Ivan Sanderson, More "Things," 1969, Pyramid Books
There are some things I can readily accept; there are others, however, over which I boggle, or from which I retreat precipitately. I have been in full retreat from this one for nearly eight years, but I am afraid that, on the grounds of common honesty, I must now throw all caution to the proverbial winds--i.e., the storm of criticism-and give it to you straight. This whole business at first sounds so balmy as to constitute an absurdity ... but....
The possibility of there being a number of different large or as-yet-uncaught and unidentified animals existing in the seas and oceans does not faze me one bit. In fact, since we have a film of something of this nature in a fresh-water lake (see Tim Dinsdale's effort on the Loch Ness Monster) [Footnote 38--Dinsdale, Tim, The Leviathans, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1966; Loch Ness Monster, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1961] I am prepared to say that the possibility has moved up into the category of probability. I long ago accepted that it was highly probable that there were large primitive human beings clothed in fur, still existing in many parts of the world, including our own Northwest. [Footnote 39--Sanderson, Ivan T. Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, Philadelphia: Chilton Company, 1961; paperback edition, New York: Pyramid Publications, 1968.] We now have a film of such an alleged creature taken by a Mr. Roger Patterson of Yakima, Washington, that has been viewed by a group of Canadian scientists and pronounced by them to be not a fake and definitely to constitute the next stage toward accepting the existence of such creatures. But when it comes to this one... !
I will not forget the day that a man, who had collected oddities for many years, came to me in New York with samplings of his massive files, dumping on my desk a fat item on the subject of such hairy primates as reported from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and northern California. Frankly, although I had for years been collecting material on the infamous "abominable snowman", "Meh-teh', or Yeti of the Himalayas and was agreeable to accepting the reports on it from European and American mountaineers, I was just not prepared for the same or similar things right in our own back yard. But then, ten years later I went to that "back yard" and saw for myself the endless parade of foot-tracks left by such alleged creatures, and talked with hundreds of the sanest local folk who stated that they had known of these creatures since childhood and who alleged, in many cases, that they had encountered them themselves. But enough of what we do know and which some of us have accepted. This up-coming item is, I must say in all honesty, just a bit too much.
Gigantic--not just "giant"--human beings living in the sea! But first, the facts (or allegations), then some analysis, and, finally, some "history".
In 1961 I wrote a book entitled Abominable Snowmen--Legend Come to Life, which covered just about all that has been said on the matter of relic, primitive, fully-furred hominids still existing in various parts of the world from Scandinavia and the Caucasus, throughout the mountainous areas of Asia, to Siberia, then into Alaska, and south all the way down the western sides of North, Central, and South America to Tierra del Fuego, as well as all across northern Canada, and in various places in the tropics. As a result, all manner of interesting little ditties came to me in the mail. Most of them simply confirmed what I had said other people had said about these things, or added similar items, but from other areas. Among them, however, was a remarkable letter from a lady in Idaho--remarkable not only for the information it contained but also for its extraordinary cogency and the manifest demonstration that the writer was a person of not only higher education, but of rather exceptional erudition. Among other things (after denigrating herself almost to the point of near intellectual extinction) she announced that she had just published a book on the hybridization of Irises. You don't, or cannot, do that unless you know something of genetics. I would like to publish this letter in full, but space does not allow, so I must paraphrase.
The facts came from one of her sons (she was a great-grandmother) who had been an engineer in the U.S. Army during World War II. This man relates the following:
Having volunteered in 1940 for active duty, he was sent to join an engineering unit that built the Alcan Highway to Alaska. When this was completed, he was sent, with this unit, the 1081st Company, Maintenance Engineers, to the island of Kodiak for a rest period, and was then shipped with his unit to a tiny island named Shemya that lies half a mile east of Atu (and which is separated from it only by a half-mile shallow channel) that is the last of the Aleutians going towards Asia. The Japanese were still on Atu and the purpose of landing on Shemya was to turn the island into an airstrip, it being flat and low, except for a small rise at the eastern end. Enemy resistance had been expected here but, on landing, only one dead Japanese soldier was found. However, there were neat signs all around the island stating that it, and anything found on it, was the property of (of all things) the Smithsonian Institution! When these signs were erected was not known to this engineering outfit--whether they were pre-war and left by the Japanese, erected by the enemy, or by some military unit that had got there before them. This business is odd to say the least; but wait.
According to my correspondent, her son stated that when the bulldozers arrived, they started leveling the whole island of small bumps and finally tackled the slight elevation at the east end. Curiously, this was said to have been composed of many layers of "muck", silt, and soil, with underlying sedimentary rock, while the lower land and the beaches were composed of a mixture of sedimentary and non-sedimentary rocks and boulders. As this eastern bump was scooped off, bones of all kinds began to come to light, first, those of whales, seals, walrus and such, but later and lower, those of extinct animals like mammoths. Finally, at a depth of about six feet, what appeared to be a graveyard of human remains was uncovered. These were wholly of crania (not whole skulls) and the long bones of the legs. Associated with them were numerous doll-like artifacts carved out of mammoth and walrus ivory, but "fossilized"--after they had been carved. There were also chipped flint instruments (no flint on the island) and other bone and stone implements of both very small and a rather large size.
The crania of the human skulls, which are categorically stated to be of modem human conformation with full foreheads (not sloping, ape-like ones with big brow-ridges) measured from 22" to 24" from base to crown. What is more, every one of them is said to have been neatly trepanned!
Now, the average person's skull measures only about 8" from front to back, and the cranium, i.e., the upper bit containing the brain box, stands only about 6" high--and we measure an average 5 feet 6 inches tall. Of course, there can be small people with very big heads, and there can be enormous people with small heads. I once crossed the Pacific on a Japanese liner with a Texan who was then alleged to be the tallest man in the world, at 9'2" in height. Of course, he wore a 10-gallon hat, so that the size of his head could not be accurately ascertained. He also wore cowboy boots, but be was indeed impressive, and had to enter the main saloon on all fours. He was also a charmer, especially to the Japanese flight attendants who did not reach his waist, and the Captain who did--just. However, the proportions of the body to the head in the case of a cranium that stands nearly two feet tall are something quite else again. Such an enormity is this that we resorted to some practical investigation by blowing up the outline of a modern-type human skull, enlarged to the measurements given, but on the conservative side of 22" high. The proportions and size of the body needed to support this item--of a humanoid form--would be something that stood about twenty feet.
Now, a large male giraffe may stand almost twenty feet, and the extinct Baluchitherium, the bulkiest land animal we know--the dinosaurs not excluded--which was related to the rhinoceroses, also stood as tall and had a gigantic and massive body. However, both these animals are supported on four legs. A humanoid of this type would presumably stand on only two, and, while its bulk would be less than that of either of these other animals, gravity would still exert an enormous pull (or push) down upon these two legs. How could the creature get about, even with enormous leg muscles? There is a limit to the tonnage in air that bone can support on the surface of this earth (in air that is) and, although bone is an amazingly strong material, it has to become progressively more massive to support weights above a certain point; and there would seem to be a point beyond which it simply cannot go, lest it become so massive that it literally bogs down the whole animal. But in water ...
The record whale ever measured was a female Blue at 113 1/2 feet; and by the new method of estimating total weight at 1 1/2 tons per foot of length, this comes out at about 170 tons. This enormity probably could, like its confreres, leap clean out of the sea, but if stranded it would die of suffocation in short order, since its sheer weight would crush the rib-cage and lungs. Buoyed up by water, however, the gravitational pull on its mass was completely nullified. The same goes for all other animals that live in water--fifty-foot squids, one-ton jellyfish, six-foot lobsters, and so on.
Now, if we must accept this report of human-like beings with crania 22" high, and thus needing a massive body some twenty feet tall to support them, what would be the most rational solution of their problem? It would be for them to live in or spend most of their time in water.
There are two aspects to this mad exercise. First, a highly esteemed scientist of the utmost probity, Professor Alister Hardy of Oxford University, England, made so bold as to publish a technical paper in 1960 on the possibility that (modern) man went through a semi-aquatic stage by gaining his food by diving for shellfish off shallow coasts. [Footnote 40--Hardy, Prof. Alister, quoted in AP verbatim report of March 6, 1960 conference of marine scientists, Brighton, England in New York Herald Tribune 7 March 1960.] A note in this paper suggested that he (man) had retained head-hair to protect his scalp from the sun. This notion at first sounds almost as balmy as our present exercise, but this scientist was neither ridiculed nor read out of court. In fact, he was taken seriously by many of his colleagues (this is something that has never ceased to amaze me). The other aspect of the suggestion that, if twenty-foot men ever did exist, they must have lived in the sea, and this leads us into other channels. We will start with the word "kelp".
This word is defined by the dictionary as: "Large kinds of seaweed; calcined ashes of same, used for the manufacture of carbonate of soda, iodine, etc., formerly used in making soap and glass". "Kelpie", on the other hand, is a Gaelic word now incorporated into the English language, but meaning originally a "Water-Spirit, usually in the form of a horse, reputed to delight in the drowning of travelers, etc." (Note the somewhat ominous "etc.".) From the former designation we derive our North American name for the vast beds of seaweed that grow in comparatively shallow waters all along our west coast from the farthest western Aleutian Islands, via Alaska, to southern California, which local citizens call simply the "kelp beds". These are very remarkable in many respects, not the least being that some of their vast fronds that float at the surface of the sea are anchored to the bottom by stalks that may be nearly half a mile long. In these kelp beds there exists a large and varied fauna; these range from specialized invertebrates that cling or buzz about in its floating fronds to the Gray Whale, several seals and sea lions, and the remarkable Sea-Otter. Most of these animals are predaceous or carnivorous, and they find a wealth of food in the kelp beds.
A race of twenty-foot-tall humans could not obtain however, even in this environment, enough animal food to maintain themselves. Lacking the cutting-teeth of the seals, or the scoop-mouths of whales, which ingest tons of small food, or grasping appendages, they just would not have been able to gain a living. If, on the other band, they were vegetarians and fed principally on the kelp itself, they could indeed have thrived and multiplied, and grown to such monumental proportions. Then there is another thing.
There is now undeniable evidence that, whatever the cause--the earth's crust is shifting; the axis wobbling, or the whole earth is going through successive cold and warm phases--the far northern latitudes around the Bering Sea, Alaska, and eastern Siberia once, and until comparatively recently, enjoyed a warm temperate climate. On Wrangel and other islands north of eastern Siberia there have been found, in addition to endless bones of mammoths and other mammals, whole flowering and fruit-bearing trees, notably of the order of the plums, up to forty-feet in length, buried shallowly in the muck around their coasts. This whole area in fact seems to have been habitable for a long time by animals evolved in warm temperate climates. Could humanoids, hominids, or even humans have developed the practice--as mooted by Professor Hardy--of gaining their living by diving in moderately warm coastal seas? Could they have continued to do so, while the general climate deteriorated, by leaning most heavily on kelp for food? The idea is admittedly most highly improbable but can we honestly say that it is impossible?
So, one has to turn to the third and last aspect of this whole preposterous business. This is to say, to the "historical".
When the lady in Idaho wrote me those four pages of most sensible material, I immediately replied, asking for further information. She replied, saying that her son positively refused to write on this matter and for several reasons: notably that an Englishman (whose name is very well known in the literary field) had annoyed him to the point of complete withdrawal by writing demanding letters of a patronizing nature that infuriated him. However, my correspondent wrote to her son on my behalf and obtained the name and number of the military outfit in which he worked in Alaska, the Yukon, on Kodiak, and on the island of Shemya. I then began a process of checking, working through the General Services Administration, National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri.
From this most estimable and competent organization, I obtained the names of four officers of this 1081st Company, including that of their senior Intelligence Officer. I began writing letters. I received most gratifying replies from two of these gentlemen, one whom confirmed that he was with the outfit on Shemya but stating that he had not heard of any anthropological or archaeological discoveries there. The other letter, from a gentleman now resident in New Jersey, stated: "I recall that as we were building a road around the south east end of Shemya Island, the bulldozers did uncover some human bones, ivory carvings, etc. There was considerable excitement over this. . . . I recall that this area was put under the control of the Base Commander and all of the findings were to be handled by this base unit." The other two retired officers to whom I wrote did not reply. Later, however, I traced down the Senior Intelligence Officer of this unit, but my letter to him was returned, stamped "Moved--No Forwarding Address".
To go back, though, I find that I should report some much less pleasant implications. First, there is this curious business of the island being clearly marked "off-limits" as being the perquisite of the Smithsonian. I do not quite understand this. But then comes a much less pleasant conundrum. it is alleged by my primary informants that the men aboard the island made a sort of hobby of collecting the artifacts found with the bones, but that they were told to turn them all in, under penalty. However, one man who had been a museum preparator, knowing something of their value and possible significance, made a small collection that he hoped to take back to the mainland. This was discovered, and the man was immediately arrested and held incommunicado. Later, when a civilian crew of engineers came to relieve the enlisted outfit, this man was allegedly shipped back to the States "in irons", as the saying goes, and was dispatched to (the military) Leavenworth.
Then come a number of flat statements from various sources; to wit, that a number of these skulls, or bits of them, plus other bones, some of the "dolls", and other artifacts, were collected, crated, and dispatched to the Smithsonian. I have no evidence that this was (or is) so, apart from these written statements. However, now thoroughly irked by all this, I made formal application to the Smithsonian for some clarification of all this--either a written denial of it, or some information as to just what happened to any material of this nature that was shipped to them from the Island of Shemya, circa 1945-46. I have never received a reply.
Either this whole story (and I would emphasize that it is just that, rather than a "report!", as of now) is pure hog-wash, or it is true. If the former, how come such very sensible-sounding persons have written as they have; and how is it that there is confirmation, up to a point, from ex-military personnel who were at the spot when this happened? If it is true, then where the hell are the finds? Why have they not been examined, published upon, and otherwise made public? As my original informant said in one of her letters: "Perhaps you are right in saying that these people just cannot face rewriting all their textbooks."
But the really unpleasant thing to me is being asked to accept anything so utterly bizarre as twenty-foot, semi-aquatic, marine, "modern" humans. Isn't this pushing things a bit too far: or is it? I have to await expressions from the Smithsonian if there are any, which I am afraid I have to say that I rather doubt at this juncture.
Meantime, we reconstructed the outline of the alleged Shemya crania. This was done simply by extrapolation or "blowing-up" the outline of an average modern human cranium. I then asked an old friend of mine, the anthropologist Professor George A. Agogino, currently head of the Paleo-Indian Institute, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico to come take a look at the photo. He is one of the very few professional scientists who we felt would not burst out laughing and then refuse even to listen to the story. In this we were correct.
George Agogino said nothing when he first saw this monstrosity. He regarded it for a very long time; then asked if he could go into another room and read the file undisturbed. This he did; when he rejoined us, the first thing he asked was what the shaded outline was within the last molar tooth. I had not pointed this out to him earlier as I wanted him to have the story straight and without this entirely extraneous interjection.
This sort of "inner tooth" in the drawing is an outline-tracing (actual size) taken from a photograph of the first tooth of an extinct creature, named Gigantopithecus, originally found in a Chinese apothecary store in Hong-Kong by one Dr. G. H. R. von Koenigswald [Footnote 41--Koenigswald, G. H. R. von, Meeting Prehistoric Man, New York: Harper & Bros., 1956] in 1935. (Since then quite a number of teeth and some bones of this giant anthropoid have been found in caves along with other deposits in southern China.) From the conformation of the teeth and bones it is now generally thought that this creature was a giant Pongid or ape. Reconstructions of it have been published, notably one in the Illustrated London News. [Footnote 42--"A Giant Ape of 500,000 Years Ago: New Light on the Monster Gigantopithecus of Prehistoric China", Illustrated London News, 13 April 1957.] The animal was assessed at eight to twelve feet tall by the British, ten to fifteen feet tall by the Chinese.
Reducing the outline of the cranium to fit this inner outline, we then found that we had a skull of such enormous size as to be quite beyond belief. Since this tooth exists, there can be no question about its size per se. (The alternative is that the creature it grew in had a jaw out of all proportion to the rest of its head, like a Pithecanthropine, an Australopithecine, or some lower type, or like the crazy Olduvai skull turned up by Leakey.) However, its owner can not be a vast ape because this tooth is typically hominid, and even "human" shaped!
We then tried the whole thing over again with a molar tooth of another extinct hominid named Meganthropus (thought to be a large form of Pithecanthropine) and therefore to have had a very small brain box in proportion to its jaws; but still the skull, patterned on a blowup of Pithecanthropus itself, was so enormous it would have required indeed a twelve-foot body to support it. Thus, we found ourselves going around in a circle of speculation. George Agogino was gracious enough to hear us out and comment on each of these efforts without either lapsing into ribaldry or bypassing the "logic" of the exercise. But he did admit to being greatly puzzled by one thing. This was that nobody seemed previously to have "speculated" upon the implications of the sizes of the teeth of Gigantopithecus and Meganthropus.
Just what kind and
size of skull did they grow in? Further, did the hominids develop huge
vegetarian forms that needed these enormous teeth for crushing rough fibers?
Finally, could any such forms have had truly "modem" human-type
skulls? There are no answers to these questions, and there will not be
until and unless we get substantial parts of said skulls, and of the limb
and other bones of the bodies that supported them. Meantime, the results
of this speculation throw a rather different light on the Shemya story.
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