Book Review

Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch

By Dr. Grover S. Krantz
Johnson Books, Boulder, Colorado, 1992. 300 pp. $14.95

In this book, Grover S. Krantz, a professor of physical anthropology at Washington State University in Pullman, recounts the history of scientific Sasquatch investigations. Krantz is undoubtedly the leading academic authority on the topic, and this book emphasizes events occurring since 1965, when he became personally involved in the investigation. Krantz ultimately concludes that the North American Sasquatch is an unknown species of primate, and may be a surviving member of the genus Gigantopithecus, thought to have become extinct in the Middle Pleistocene.

As indicated by the title of the book, Krantz writes extensively about the Sasquatch footprint and track record in two chapters, which form the major portion of the book. Discussions of foot anatomy and gait are presented in a clear fashion. Gait analysis continues in a separate chapter, dealing with the 1967 Patterson film. Interested readers can easily understand this information with no background in biomechanics or locomotion. Photographs of casts supplemented by many line-drawings help to convey this information. Krantz thus continues in the tradition of John Napier's Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality (1972), because he also clearly imparts detailed biological information without overwhelming readers with arcane nomenclature or concepts. Krantz conducts a detailed, well-illustrated analysis of the Patterson film, and concludes that it is legitimate on the basis that body size and movements correspond with each other, and cannot be duplicated by a human. He tentatively suggests that the film subject might have large, partly inflated laryngeal air sacs on the chest, but ultimately concludes that these structures are breasts on a female individual.

Casts of the Cripple Foot prints form the basis for Krantz's now well-known reconstruction of Sasquatch foot anatomy, in which the talus bone and body weight is shifted forward, in comparison to the human condition. There is an extensive section on dermataglyphics, which Krantz initially thought would ignite universal interest in the footprint evidence. He discusses hoaxing and personal experiments with fake feet. He has two secret traits (never revealed — and not revealed now) by which he distinguishes real tracks from fakes.

Four handprints and a knuckle and thumb imprint are also discussed. Krantz believes that the absence of a thenar pad in these prints show a thumb with no rotational flexibility or strength in Sasquatch individuals. He also interprets these prints as showing fat pads on the hands and fingers. If fat pads indicate weight-bearing extremities, and if, as reported, the Sasquatch is bipedal, it seems strange that fat pads would develop on the hands. Krantz presents inconclusive evidence from fecal samples, as well as instances of hearing involving dubious skin and blood samples, and outrageous ongoing hoaxing with clumps of fake, synthetic hair (identified as Dynel fiber). A few isolated hairs may be authentic. Krantz reports that Jerold Lowenstein, a molecular biologist at the University of California in San Francisco, finds that the protein structure of these hairs has its closest matches among humans and the African great apes. He tracks down reports of enormous jaws and bones that typically either seem to disappear, or are later revealed to be those of normal humans. He notes how common misperception of size can be. He also discusses behavioral evidence, such as object-throwing, sound recordings, smells, tree damage, and resting sites or nests. Krantz mentions American Indian folklore, as well as several carved stones representing heads. Photographs of two of these heads, one an unknown and one a bighorn sheep are shown in Fig. 62. These come from sites along the Columbia River, but they apparently do not come from primary context sites; the context is disturbed, and the dating is therefore unknown.

In chapter six, Krantz concludes from these various lines of evidence that there is a large bipedal, non-human primate in western North America. He is dubious about reports from other areas of North America, and less impressed by the quality of similar reports from other continents. In the next chapter, he argues that the Sasquatch is a surviving fossil primate species, Gigantopithecus blacki, recognized from jaws and teeth dating to the Middle Pleistocene of Asia. Two remarkable chapters follow, highly autobiographical, that profile the seasoned and novice Sasquatch hunters and the scientists, and their various sub-categories. Through his extensive personal experiences with Sasquatch researchers, Krantz performs some impressive behavioral analysis relating to what motivates these individuals.

In the next chapter on future prospects, Krantz finally concludes (p. 254) that "... the only evidence that will ever be accepted is a body, or a large part of one" before scientists are compelled to take notice. Three appendices end the book. These are reprints of some of his previous publications; the first of these is a reprint of Krantz's 1987 paper on the skull of Gigantopithecus blacki published in Cryptozoology, Vol. 6: 24-39.

In summary, this book is a good synthesis of scientific evidence for the Sasquatch from western North America, and includes detailed information from Krantz's own investigations. It contains many line- drawings and clear photographs of casts set against a grided background for scale, and is handsomely produced and reasonably priced. Krantz, however, reveals some of the emotional pitfalls that he has experienced as a result of his investigations, and thus ends the work on a minor key, with some regrets showing.

Department of Anthropology, Douglas College
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901, U.S.A.

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