Book Review by Roderick Sprague
The Sasquatch and Other Unknown Hominoids
By Vladimir Markotic and Grover Krantz '
that should become evident, this will be an unusual review, one filled
with parenthetical footnotes, but no citations.
In a community as
small as that of the serious Sasquatch researchers, it is difficult not
to have personal and/or professional relationships with most of the other
researchers. Such is the case with many of the authors in The Sasquatch
and Other Unknown Hominoids. In addition to my above-mentioned editing
of a book with Grover Krantz, I have accepted, as co-editor of Northwest
Anthropological Research Notes (NARN), at least six articles by Krantz,
four of which dealt with Sasquatch. As to other authors, Jay Miller and
I have conducted ethnographic and archaeological research together, and
co-authored a report on that work, and two articles by Miller have been
published in NARN.
I am not now, nor
have I ever been, an active investigator of Sasquatch sightings. My original
interest came from my observation of the similarity in the various Plateau
Indian descriptions of a Sasquatch-like creature, combined later with
John Green's challenge for a reasonable place to publish scientific Sasquatch
studies, and the resulting opening of the pages of NARN to the topic.
It has never been
mentioned in print before, but when the first edition of The Scientist
Looks at the Sasquatch was published in 1977, review copies were sent
to Science, American Scientist, and American Anthropologist. None
of these journals even listed it in their "books received for review" sections. At that time, the review editor of American Anthropologist was
one of my former graduate
As just an editor
or facilitator of Sasquatch research, I have tried to keep a neutral position
and a low profile. However, Krantz blew my cover when he placed me on
the "positive" side in his review of Manlike Monsters on
Trial. My chapter in that volume was written to elicit comments and
reactions. The only reaction (negative) was from my long-time friend,
B. Robert Butler, who had loaned me
Chapter I, The Monsters
in General, begins with Jay Miller's "American Humanity and Other
Monsters: A Structuralist Analysis of Frankenstein, the Mummy, Dracula,
and the Wolfman." In my opinion, the greatest contribution of
Miller is his ability to utilize Claude Levi-Strauss, to explain how he
uses him, and to come to some logical conclusion. Concerning this conclusion,
I would suggest
Grant Keddie's contribution, entitled "On Creating Un-Humans," is a well thought-out addition to the growing literature on Northwest Coast monsters, but happily gives little support to the Sasquatch cannibal woman concept so popular among the "true believers."
Loren Coleman and Mark Hill in "From 'Atsen' to Giants in North America," continue in a highly readable but somewhat disorganized way the position taken by John Green several years ago that the stories by American Indians of large, smelly, hairy creatures are part of the American Indian natural world, and not part of their mythology as categorized by anthropologists. They admit that their "survey is not exhaustive" (p. 31), which it is not; but why not? Is this volume for popular consumption, or is it to report scientific research?
Chapter II, The Believers
and the Skeptics, is introduced with Carleton Coon's discussion of "Why
There Has to be a Sasquatch." His discussion of believers and
non-believers is long overdue. It has long been my contention that the
terms "believer" and "non-believer" as used for Sasquatch
researchers reduce the discussion to a level of religious fervor, and
are not appropriate terms in
errors of fact and interpretation when discussing work outside of Europe
are so frequent that even the Editor was compelled to point them out in
the introduction to "Sasquatch, Yeti, and Similar Beings." The article's greatest contribution to Sasquatch research is the inclusion
of many German language references unknown to North American researchers.
The position that
Grover Krantz, in "Sasquatch Believers vs. the Skeptics," fully intended to insult both the "scientific" skeptic and the true believer. If the scientific community were to read his chapter, they would be insulted, but, unfortunately, they already have all the facts and will not read it. On the other hand, the true believers will read it, be insulted, and go on their merry way ignoring Krantz's message.
It is Krantz's willingness to openly investigate the unknown that has cost him the respect of many colleagues as well as timely academic promotion. Likewise, his unwillingness to be a fanatical believer in a religious sense has alienated him from most of the non-academic investigators. Like the Man Without a Country, he is cast afloat, awaiting the day of discovery-when he will "enjoy seeing a lot of people eat crow." It is no accident that Krantz and I edited a book together. Not because we are good friends or close colleagues, which we are not, nor because we both originally believed in the existence of Sasquatch, which I did not, but because we both believed, as scientists, that the phenomenon known as Sasquatch should be studied, and such studies should be published. To call the study of Sasquatch "like the study of little green men from Mars," as one of Krantz's former university administrators once said, could be called as anti-intellectual as the Spanish Inquisition.
Chapter III, Reports, begins with Dmitri Bayanov's "Hominology in the Soviet Union." This excellent review brings the reader up-to-date on Soviet research, but, as always, he is far more trusting of his informants than are the more jaded North American investigators.
Marie-Jeanne Koffmann's paper has the long title of "Brief Ecological Description of the Caucasus Relict Hominoid (Almasti) Based on Oral Reports by Local Inhabitants and on Field Investigations." This report should leave skeptic and believer alike asking, if the Almasti are that well known and available, where are the specimens (or at least the pictures, which we all clearly realize will not satisfy the skeptics)? I, for one, remain a skeptic concerning this paper.
John Green, with "The
Search in China for Unknown Hominoids," has done all of us a
service by bringing the Chinese reports up-to-date. (The References Cited
are correct, but some over-zealous copy editor added commas between the
surnames and the given names of all of the Chinese authors in the volume's
Bibliography.) I wish I could share the stated optimism about the offical
position in China toward Wildman studies. In 1984, at a small banquet
in Beijing hosted by the
Bayanov's second contribution,
entitled "The Case for the Australian Hominoids," is
largely direct quotes from Graham Joyner's 1977 work on the Australian
Yahoo or Yowie, plus some more recent reports. He closes with some free-thought-wanderings
on remotely related cases. Truly interested researchers would do well
to obtain Joyner's original volume. Bayanov takes the positive point of
view, as opposed to Biedermann and Krantz, proposing that more cases on
Krantz's summary paper, "Research on Unknown Hominoids in North America," is
one of the highlights of the entire volume. In this well written section,
his points are logically argued, and they would be difficult to refute.
His point that the ecological zone of the Sasquatch is utilized by man
less today than it has been for thousands of years can be verified by
any U.S. Forest Serice archaeologist, who would state that the most remote
areas are filled with prehistoric and historic human refuse. (I myself
would suggest that the Great Depression was probably the high point in
the utilization of the Sasquatch ecological zone by man.) This section
is really the summation of all of Krantz's major points on Sasquatch from
his well delivered and highly popular public speaking
The last of the regional
reports, Loren Coleman's "The Occurrence of Wild Apes in North
America," makes two major contributions. First, his References
Cited section is virtually all new material to the western North American
Sasquatch researcher. Secondly, he has collected all of the southeastern
United States data and proposed an hypothesis for why the footprints look
different, and why the reported heights of such creatures are less than
those reported for the Sasquatch. The introduction of Dryopithecus into
the New World without any fossil continuum is a weak point in an otherwise
well developed argument.
Archie Buckley writes in "Report on Sasquatch Field Findings" with a folksy style that is completely out of place in this volume. His often illegible photographs do little to support his arbitrary conclusions, which seem based on personal opinion rather than logical and scientific reasoning.
While the deletion of Buckley's section would not have affected the value of the volume, the deletion of James R. Butler's "The Theoretical Importance of Higher Sensory Perceptions in the Sasquatch Phenomenon" would have helped it considerably. Such speculative nonsense does not help the cause of serious research on the Sasquatch or other unknown hominoids.
Chapter V, The Patterson-Gimlin Film, has only two sections. The first section is the second part of the Bayanov, Bourtsev, and Dahinden report entitled "Analysis of the Patterson-Gimlin Film: Why We Find it Authentic." It is by far the best and most thorough discussion of this classic film. What would be appreciated now would be a response from the strangely silent primatologist, William Montagna. With time, proponents seem to be building a psychological profile of those anthropologists and zoologists who are quick to condemn Sasquatch evidence and research-as well as evidence in other areas of cryptozoology. A discussion of this profile, and what it reveals about such individuals, would make an interesting article in itself.
a long-time supporter of Australopithecus robustus as the fossil representative
of Sasquatch, writes on the relationship of the Patterson-Gimlin film
to this discussion in his "The Crested Australopithecus robustus
and the Patterson-Gimlin Film." His argument is generally well
reasoned, but at times becomes convoluted. The central theme centers on
the presence of a sagittal crest on females, while tending to ignore the
severe problems detailed
Chapter VI, Europe
of Old, also contains only two sections. The volume Editor, Vladimir Markotic,
presents "The Great Greek God Pan -- An Early Hominid?" and
pursues the Pan-as-relict-form theme much further than anyone ever has
before. This work represents one of the really new pieces of research
in Sasquatch studies found in this volume. It is suggested that Pan is,
in reality, not a
Little can be said
about the stories collected by Zvonko Lovrencevic under the title "Creatures
from the Bilogora in Northern Croatia," except to hope that more
such folklore will be collected. Again, as with the growing body of such
information from all over the world, we can take two opposing positions:
1 ) such stories are worldwide, and thus support the existence of hominoid
Chapter VII, The Problems
of Origins, again has only two sections, and one suffers by comparison
to the other. In "Possible Ancestry of Sasquatch and Its Eurasian
Kin," Charles A. Reed gives what is by far the best overall logical
analysis of all possibilities, including New World evolution, which Reed
discounts. The number of times he adds parenthetically after Sasquatch,
"if they exist," gives the impression that he "doth protest
too much." In spite of a long list of things we do not know about
Gigantopithecus, Reed considers this the most likely candidate for the
fossil ancestor of Sasqualch, but, unlike other researchers, he considers
Gigantopithecus bilaspurensis, for a number of reasons, as more likely
than G. blacki. The previous arguments by Strasenburgh, reiterated in
this volume, for Australopithecus robustus as the Sasquatch ancestor,
are refuted by Reed. The Soviet view of Neanderthal's taxonomic position,
and the abundant evidence against such a position, is mentioned, but unfortunately
is simply referred to as "too numerous to list here" (p. 285).
On archaeological evidence alone, I am in total agreement with Reed on
the status of Neanderthal, but it would have been useful to have all of
the evidence referenced in this landmark volume. Perhaps it is because
he expresses his position so clearly, and it is a position I tend to agree
with, that I find Reed's selection to be one of the most valuable in a
The final section by Krantz, entitled "The Origins of Sasquatch," illustrates one of the annoying traits of this volume: the lack of communication between authors prior to publication. Krantz lists the possible fossil ancestors of Sasquatch, including his own favorite, Gigantopithecus blacki. Yet, in the previous chapter by Reed, G. bilaspurensis is suggested as more likely, a point to which Krantz does not even allude. Krantz's discussion of Neanderthal seems to hang in space, as if he needed to express publicly his view that Neanderthal was less than human. The Clan of the Cave Bear may be good fiction, but is it good anthropology? This selection is not up to Krantz's usual level of writing; he should have stopped with his other two excellent selections. It is almost as if he is hedging his bets prior to his more recent pronouncement, in NARN, that Gigantopithecus blacki is indeed Sasquatch.
The compilation of all of the References Cited into one complete Bibliography is a real service to the serious researcher, and should be emulated by more multi-authored works. A bibliography of recent sources not found elsewhere in this volume, or the UBC Press Manlike Monsters volume, has been added under the strangely inaccurate title of "Some Recent Bibliographies." This is a highly useful tool, and a needed update for the serious Sasquatch researcher.
The several References
Cited sections, however, suffer from editorial inconsistency. For example,
Krantz 1972a is presented in four different ways on pages 184, 200, 247,
and 317. The problem with Chinese names has already been mentioned. Most
of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin references would be impossible
to find without the aid of a documents librarian unless one
Editorial inconsistency is apparent also in the text. Some authors repeat the same reference each time in a series, others use the anthropologically shunned ibid., and one author used "same." Superscript numbers were used both for true footnotes and for endnotes. Typographical errors are not flagrant, but common enough to indicate that the page proof needed one more reading. Franz Boas suffered on pages 24 and 40. Singular data were utilized on the lower half of pages 129 and 244.
Other errors obvious even to this very poor speller are found on pages 73, 80, 160, 189, and 329. The missing apostrophe in Hudson's Bay Company on p. 34 and the lack of the conditional "were" on p. 293 are the kinds of errors that make the difference between a good editorial job and an excellent editorialjob. The "black area" on page 146 varies from pure white to dark grey on my copy. I have a very strong personal aversion to the use of the utterly redundant "see" when reference is made to a figure. (If the writer did not want the reader to see the map or illustration, then why even mention it or include it?)
The (table of) Contents is not an accurate rendering of many section titles, or, in some cases, even the full names of the authors. Future referencing of an single author's work would have been easier if the "chapters" had been called "sections," or at least parts and each author's contribution to a chapter. The separation of figures into "figures," "plates," and "maps" is an archaic and confusing practice that has been discouraged by the better presses for many years.
The Glossary by Krantz is a useful addition for the professional and amateur alike. It has been done with an obvious effort to give fair and unbiased definitions. The only bias to show up is in the interlocking definitions of Gigantopithecus and Sasquatch. Likewide, the Notes on the Contributors is a useful addition, especially in a field where anyone can, and often does, claim expertise. However, there are some obvious omissions of pertinent information --for example, Jay Miller's academic degrees.
All of these minor objections aside, The Sasquatch and Other Unknown Hominoids is certainly more of a major contribution to the study of Sasquatch than the 1980 UBC Press volume Manlike Monsters on Trial. The work under review was originally seen by some as a "spite" volume, directed against the UBC Press volume. Happily, it took a positive approach, and it has become an important work on its own merits. It is unfortunate that it did not receive just a little more detailed editing, judicious pruning, a more attractive cover, and the publicity of a larger press. Of course, the reasonable price is related to the lack of some of these factors.
If there is just one
volume that will bring the interested layman up-to-date on Sasquatch,
it is this book. If the serious researcher is attempting to maintain a
good library on Sasquatch, or Old World unknown hominoids, then this volume
is an absolute necessity. Markotic, Krantz, and their colleagues are to
be congratulated on bringing together so much detailed information and
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