A Synopsis of the History, Reports, and Investigation of Claims
of Unknown Hominids in and about the
Michael A. Frizzell[i]
The Enigma Project,
Sasquatch[ii] (pronounced- ‘sas-"kwäch) (derived from the Salishan language of southwestern British Columbia) : a hairy creature like a human being reported to exist in the northwestern U.S. and western Canada and said to be a primate between 6 and 15 feet (1.8 and 4.6 meters) tall -- called also Bigfoot.
Modern Era of Sasquatch
For nearly 50
years, the concept of Bigfoot[iii]
has been a part of American consciousness. By virtue of newspaper reports in
Understandably, due to the lack of substantial physical evidence (a body or body part)[v], skepticism has been leveled against this subject since it was first popularized by the media. Frustratingly, despite thorough field investigations, some of the most dramatic Bigfoot encounters often consist only of compelling anecdotal material. Additionally, in recent months, a number of accusations have been made which attempt to show that the entire Bigfoot concept was created by a clever hoaxer.[vi] With all due respect to the alleged hoaxer, he has either been a very busy fellow or hundreds of protégés have taken up his cause.
Nonetheless, in spite of the folklore status given to Bigfoot, sightings have persisted. Hundreds of gripping accounts have been recorded for many years. Close range, daylight, and even multiple witness sightings of the alleged beast continue to be reported. The argument can be made that this is impressive behavior for a non-entity that has been considered no more substantial than leprechauns or the Tooth Fairy. In defense of Bigfoot, however, I can report that my files (and those of colleagues) do not contain one sighting of fairies or leprechauns.
Though most of
the scientific community rejects the notion that Bigfoot could represent real animals,
there are a number of professional scientists who feel the subject has merit. Among
others, Jeffrey Meldrum (
numerous historical references to “wildmen” and “hairy giant” encounters, in
this country and others[vii],
many of which occurred before the 20th century[viii].
In this writing, however, the focus will predominantly be on events in and
In the early
1990s, Mark Opsasnick, a tireless Fortean[ix]
researcher, published the Bigfoot Digest[x].
The culmination of four years of intense research, this book is a detailed
record of history for Bigfoot reports in
1900 until 1944, Opsasnick unearthed forty-two
M.P. Edwards, a
Some Recent Claims and Investigations
Project (TEP) is a Maryland-based organization of technically oriented
individuals who investigate and document claims of unexplained phenomena[xiv].
Since the Project began in 1978, its members have explored a variety of
esoteric subjects. Since the State of
In 1981, while
enjoying his favorite fishing spot, Mr. Lon Strickler waded into the South
Branch of the
At this point, Mr. Strickler’s story becomes stranger still as the following excerpt reveals:
As of this
writing (Spring 2004) the specific area where Strickler had his alleged
experience (a section of the
There’s an old joke about some towns being so small
that if you sneeze while driving through, you’ll miss them entirely. The
about on the night in
question, Mr. X, Mrs. X, and Mother-in-law X[xvii]
(Mrs. X’s mother) were returning from a day-long outing in
Mr. X contacted
the author on
Subsequent interviews with two different local residents produced intriguing stories of nocturnal wails being heard and of a huge cave in the area. On Sunday, November 29, we returned to the scene. At that time we concealed an automatic recording device in a tree in the hope of corroborating the claims of strange, nocturnal sounds. The recording package monitored nighttime noises for more than a month but failed to capture anything other than recognizable sounds. During the succeeding months, a number of return trips to the area failed to produce support for any of the reported claims, although we were able to find the cave mentioned during one of the interviews. Despite a frustrating lack of evidence, the witnesses were totally sincere in what they reported and were adamant about avoiding publicity of any kind.
The commotion centered around bricklayers Jerry Workman and
Chuck Vance who began work at the Arundel Mills construction site on advice
from their union. On
At the urging of Mall officials and the police, authorities from the MD Department of Natural Resources were called upon to examine the construction site and provide an official explanation for the strange events. The DNR’s conclusion was that a black bear had wandered into the construction area and was causing all the commotion. Two of the principal witnesses found this explanation laughable[xix].
The complete report on the Arundel Mills Incident can be found at the following link:
This investigation was a unique opportunity. In fear of professional reprisal, it is quite rare for law enforcement personnel to come forward with sightings of this nature.
A comprehensive report on the Bass River Forest Encounter can be found at the following link: http://www.research.umbc.edu/~frizzell/BRSFreport.html
Recurrent Characteristics Found in Incident Reports
threads that repeatedly tie
1) The anthropomorphic shape of the alleged animals
The creatures witnesses describe consistently have a human-like form.
2) Erect stature and bipedal locomotion for prolonged periods
The creatures that witnesses report, whether standing, walking, or running, are typically described as being upright and supported by two legs.
3) Mammalian hair cover
The alleged animals are invariably reported as being covered with dense brown, black, gray, or white hair or fur.
4) Bigfoot footprints are typically similar to human footprints
Of the numerous castings that have been made of foot impressions at widespread Bigfoot encounter sites, most appear to be very large but five-toed and human-like in form (see Figure 1).
5) Stereoscopic placement of the eyes
In many encounters the stereoscopic position of the animal’s eyes are obvious particularly in cases where the eyes are described as “glowing” or reflecting light in a conspicuous way.
6) Very powerful physique
Though some reports mention smaller, thinner creatures (juveniles?), most witnesses describe animals with broad shoulders, barrel chests, and powerful musculatures.
Figure1- Casting of impressions
allegedly found along
My colleagues and I feel that this problem should be pursued in the hope that some future encounter event will present the evidence required for thorough scientific scrutiny. Since we are technologists, of one form or another, we feel that advances in low light level cameras, thermal imagers, remotely controlled aerial reconnaissance devices, and sensitive audio recording equipment may narrow the gap of our understanding of this mystery. Additionally, more attention should be paid to compiling case study data to determine what trends, patterns, and contrasts might exist there.
Whether Bigfoot is an unknown animal, some prehistoric leftover branch of man’s family tree, or some kind of phantasm, it represents an unexplained phenomenon. The fact remains that people are seeing something unusual and reporting it. And they are all basically reporting the same thing. Bigfoot sightings persist. They have a long history that is global in scope. They continue year after year largely without scientific acknowledgement. What might we discover if more serious scientific attention were given to this subject?
author is research director and co-founder of The Enigma Project, a
[iii] Also known by such colloquial terms as Skunk Ape, Hairy Wildman, Okee, etc.
John. Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us,
[v] Some forms of trace evidence have been recovered such as hair, feces, and dermal ridges in plasters casts. Analyses of these items are often inconclusive ( http://www.bfro.net/REF/THEORIES/WHF/dnatests.htm )
[vi] Within the last year, the family of eccentric, west coast businessman, the late Ray Wallace, made announcements to the press that Mr. Wallace single-handedly created Bigfoot in the late 1950s with the clever use of giant, carved, wooden feet. Allegedly, Mr. Wallace used these carvings to create all the footprint impressions that caused the initial “Bigfoot” media attention in the Pacific North West. Additionally, the Wallace family asserts that, in later years, both Ray Wallace and his wife donned gorilla suits to make “bigfoot movies” for the purpose of perpetuating the idea of the creature’s existence.
[vii] Bayanov, Dmitri. In The Footsteps Of The Russian Snowman,
[viii] Green, John. Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us, pp. 18-48.
[ix] Pertaining to an individual or group who researches unexplained phenomena in the context of the philosophy of Charles Fort.
[x] Opsasnick, Mark. The Bigfoot Digest: A
[xi] Opsasnick. Bigfoot Digest, page 6, case number 43.
[xii] Ibid. Page 6, case number 45.
[xiii] Ibid. Page 11, case number 91.
[xv] Beginning in late May of 1973 and continuing until
mid-July of the same year, a number of residents in the
[xvi] This information is from Enigma Project (TEP) correspondence with Lon Strickler.
[xvii] Names withheld at the request of the witnesses.
Barnhardt, Laura. “Policeman, workers track roaming, 12-foot Creature.”
[xix] Both Workman and Vance explained that they were avid hunters and had seen bears in the wild on several occasions. They were emphatic that the animal they saw on the construction site was not a bear.
© 2004 M. A. Frizzell, All Rights Reserved