In 1973 eminent anthropologist
and primatologist John Napier, then Visiting Professor of Primate Biology
at the University of London, wrote a book entitled "Bigfoot, theYeti,
and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality". Napier's book was a milestone
in the field of hominology as it represented the first published effort
of a "mainstream" scientist to analyze the phenomenon.
Many who have read the book, scientists and laymen alike, have found it
be somewhat ambiguous in its conclusions. The physical evidence of the
Patterson, Gimlin Film in particular was assailed by Napier and various
consulted colleagues who found it to point to "a hoax of some kind".
(Napier, pg 95) Upon close examination by the author, however, there are
many simple, scientifically verifiable explanations for most of the observed
"problems" with the analysis.
In the subsequent few pages the author will evaluate, in a systematic
and scientific manner, the critiques by Napier and others of the visible
anatomy of the subject in the 1967 film. At the same time I will demonstrate
why the subject does stand up to functional analysis, whereas Napier argued
that it did not. (Napier, pg 95)
The ideas contained herein are wholly mine and have not been taken from
any other materials published previously, in print, on the internet, or
elsewhere. It is the author's feeling that this effort is necessary because
so many have taken Napier's analysis as the final word on the subject.
As one of the most distinguished anthropologists of the last century many
looked to Napier for vindication of Patterson's film. What they received
instead was a vague and inconclusive work.
One of the biggest arguments that Napier and others have with the subject
in the film is the appearance of the head.
of the British Columbia Provincial Museum, who concluded quite independently
that the bodily form of Patterson's Bigfoot was male in spite of its
female appendages, also made an extremely pertinent observation. Why,
he asks, does a creature with a tall bony crest on its skull, as Patterson's
creature clearly had, have a non-protuberant abdomen? To understand
this apparent irrelevance one must appreciate the biological meaning
of the bony crest which forms such a prominent feature on the male gorilla
and orang-utan skull anatomy. The crest is an adaptive device to provide
supplementary attachment for muscles operating the jaws. Gorillas and
orangs have big massive jaws and teeth, which demand very large muscles
to operate them during chewing. Heavy jaws are necessitated by a diet
of large quantities of roughage, low-energy food which demands powerful
mastication and consequently, a pot-bellied appearance." (Napier,
pg 92 & 93)
Bebee is making an
inference using living great-apes, in particular the Gorilla and Orang-Utan.
He fails either to note or be aware of the fact that the Gorilla's diet
consists almost exclusively of leaves, pith, and stalks, whereas Orangs
are "primarily frugivorous, but bark, leaves, insects, and
meat (on rare occasions) may also be eaten." (Jurmain, Nelson, et
al. pg 129) Stalks and leaves are indeed "low-energy" foods,
but fruit contains considerably more nutritional value and is much easier
In addition, both sagittal crests and nuchal crests can
be observed in the cranial morphology of extinct hominids, most noticeably
in the robust australopithecines. "Because the major changes
(between gracile and robust australopithecines) are in the teeth,
jaws, and chewing characteristics, a different diet seems
(Relethford, pg 326) In what way was their diet different? "Their
diet is thought to have consisted of small, hard-to-chew objects, such
as seeds, nuts, and hard fruits. Such objects require heavy chewing and
large teeth." (Ibid)
To understand the relationship between heavy chewing and the sagittal
crest one must understand that its function is as an anchor point for
the temporalis muscle which has its origin on the skull and its
insertion on the coronoid process of the mandible. The nuchal crest,
on the other hand, serves only to anchor the muscles which travel down
the back of the neck and has no correlation with an animal's diet. Prominent
nuchal crests are visible in the skulls of most extant great-apes and
many extinct hominids. Both the sagittal and nuchal crests are "purely
functional; they have no phylogenetic valence at all." (Class notes,
Spring 2000) Thus the vastly larger comparative size between human and
gorilla (and sasquatch) temporalis muscles (and concomitantly the sagittal
crest) is a reflection of a diet with an abundance of small, hard food
The size of the crest visible on the head of the Patterson film subject
is not at all uncharacteristic of what one would expect to see in a female
gorilla of equivalent size (800 pounds). However, since female gorillas
do not attain this size Bebee's reference is made to adhere to known dimensions
and conditions. What is being ignored here that is absolutely pertinent
is the scientific principle of allometry. Also known as "scaling",
it is the differential proportion among various anatomical structures.
"Moreover, scaling effects must also be considered when comparing
species." (Jurmain, et. al., pg 483) Thus the statements of Napier
and others regarding the contradiction of a visible crest with the otherwise
female appearance of the film subject is not warranted when discussing
such an immense creature.
The second apparent contradiction which Bebee points out (and which Napier
gives credence to) is the lack of a visibly "protuberant abdomen."
The abdomen of the film subject is hardly what one would consider svelte.
The entire torso, as visible in several frames of the film, is extremely
deep. Once again, the inference is made that since Gorillas have a "pot-bellied" appearance and a visible crest how can the Sasquatch have one without
the other? The answer is simple. Gorillas, and all the great apes, are
habitual and obligate quadrupeds. The Sasquatch, on the other hand, is
obviously completely bipedal.
In apes, the pelvis, made up of the ossa coxae and the sacrum, is devoid
of supportive function with the iliac blades lying along the back of the
animal parallel to the vertebral column. In essence, the viscera are held
in place by the abdominal muscles in a "suspensory" fashion.
In other words, the stomach is free to hang down in great apes, whereas
in bipeds the viscera are supported in the "bowl" of the pelvis
to a great extent. Secondly, if small and/or hard food items are the dietary
component which accounts for the presence of the sagittal crest (rather
than high cellulose content plant matter) the larger intestinal tract
(and therefore the "pot-bellied" appearance) would not be necessary.
Napier's own analysis of the overall image of the film subject can be
summed us with his statement: "The upper half of the body bears some
resemblance to an ape and the lower half is typically human. It is almost
impossible to conceive that such structural hybrids could exist in nature." Alas, an incorrect statement of such magnitude is hard to stomach coming
from someone of Napier's stature. The notion of "mosaic evolution"
is well established in the hominid fossil record. The robust australopithecines
in particular show hyper-robust cranial features along with an essentially
human lower-body. Even the more gracile forms of australopithecine (A.
africanus, A. afarensis, and A. anamensis) demonstrate "ape-like" cranial features (small brain, maxillary prognathism) along with
an essential "modern" pelvic girdle and associated anatomy.
This makes Napier's notion that such a "structural hybrid" could
not exist in nature scientifically unsound.
The final point of contention regarding the body is what Dr. William Montagna,
then the director of the Regional Primate Research Center in Beaverton,
Oregon, points out regarding the breasts of the film subject. Napier quotes
him as saying: "human female breasts do not bear hairs however hirsute
the rest of the body. " (Napier, pg 92) Additionally, Dimitri Bayanov
notes in his book "America's Bigfoot: Fact, Not Fiction" that:
Sasquatches were to read all of the learned criticisms of their filmed
sister, they would find it to be a staple of Sasquatch humor. And first
prize would undoubtedly go by a unanimous vote to Dr. William Montagna
for his defense of propriety in the question of Sasquatch breasts. The
question: Is it right for a female Sasquatch to grow hair on her mammary
glands? Dr. Montagna's definitive answer: No, it is not! And he has short
shrift for anyone inclined to the contrary. To wit: The crowning irony
was Patterson's touch of glamour" making his monster into a female
with large pendulous breasts. If Patterson had done his homework, he would
have known that regardless of how hirsute an animal is, its mammary glands
are always covered with such short hairs as to appear naked." (Bayanov,
Dr. Montagna's comment
holds true for many animals, in particular the great apes. However, the
extant great apes are residents of the tropical equatorial world. A quick
look at primates living in colder climes, in particular several species
of macaques and langurs, would show that lactating females have very noticeably
hirsute breasts with only the nipple devoid of hair. The North American
Sasquatch is also a denizen of much more temperate areas, and could therefore
be expected to follow the evolutionary example of the latter.
Finally, the feet of the Patterson Film subject, and their relative proportions,
are called into question. Napier refers to the analysis of his associate,
anatomist Dr. Don Grieve, when approaching the question of the gait of
the creature on the film.
stature of 6 ft. 5 in. is fine; there is no reason to exclude the Sasquatch
on these grounds. But the footprints associated with this creature are
totally at variance with its calculated height. The footprints are said
to have been between 14 in. and 15 in. in length. On the basis of the
coefficient given on p. 119 this should equate with a stature of 7 ft.
8 in.-8 ft. 3 in. The space (the step) between one footprint and the next
is given as 41 in. A creature of 6 ft. 5 in. in height should have a step
of 45 in., particularly, as is seen in the film, when striding out; in
fact in view of the exaggerated nature of the walk, the step might be
expected to be somewhat longer than the normal, say 50 in."
In the above paragraph
Dr. Napier is arguing that the feet of the film subject are too large for
its body. This is determined by generating figures using a length/width
index for the feet as well as a big-toe index. Scalar comparisons of known
examples of human feet often deviate out of expected range, however, and
little can possibly be gleaned by such a comparison except the fact that
the range of foot size in the Sasquatch reflects typical variation expected
within a species. Indeed, the greater overall surface area created by the
great dimensions of the foot would closely support the appearance of great
bulk in the film subject, and the subsequent need to provide adequate support
for the same.
Napier further muddies the issue by suggesting that the film subject is "striding-out" and, in effect, exaggerating the length of stride.
From repetitive viewing of the film it is evident that the subject, to the
contrary, is rather reserved in its stride due to the visible lack of full
lower leg extension between heel-strike and toe-off. Thus, the notion that
a greater stride length would be expected is unfounded.
In closing, it would appear that the "frame of reference" for
Napier's analysis was much too limited in its scope. In essence he was "drawing
inside the box", instead of looking outside of it for the needed answers.
This is what one would expect of a cautious, academic approach to the subject
in the early 1970s, especially from such a well-respected anthropologist
not wanting to draw undue ridicule. Unfortunately for Dr. Napier, this occurred
nonetheless. Despite the obliqueness of his conclusions on the Patterson
Film subject and other "hairy hominoids", he was harassed as a
result, as have been subsequent scientifically minded authors on the subject.
Even so, he ends his book with the inclusion of the statement: "I am
convinced that the Sasquatch exists, but whether it is all that it is cracked
up to be is another matter altogether."
As a final note I quote from a current Anthropological text:
"Not all scientists
were ready for such a theory from such an unlikely place. Hence, his
report was received with indifference, disbelief, and even caustic scorn.
He realized that more complete remains were needed. The skeptical world
would not accept the evidence of one partial immature individual, no
matter how suggestive the clues." (Jurmain, et. al., pg 277)
The person and discovery
in question were Raymond Dart and his "Taung Child", the type
specimen for Australopithecus africanus discovered in South Africa in
1924. It is included here only to demonstrate the apparent level to which
the bar had been raised in another case. With a dearth of substantive
Sasquatch evidence we too must find something more tangible than film
and footprints in order to make a solid case for the existence of our
© Author's name withheld by his personal request:
May 5, 2000
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