Bigfoot, also commonly referred to as Sasquatch, in Canadian and American folklore, is an ape-like creature that is purported to inhabit the forests of North America.
It seems to represent the North American counterpart of the Himalayan region’s mythical monster, the Abominable Snowman, or Yeti.
Supposed evidence of the existence of Bigfoot includes a number of anecdotal visual sightings, disputed video and audio recordings, photographs, and casts of large footprints.
Thousands of people have claimed to have seen a Bigfoot which is often described as a large, muscular, bipedal ape-like creature, roughly 1.8 to 2.7 metres (6 to 9 ft), covered in hair described as black, dark brown, or dark reddish. Some descriptions have the creatures standing as tall as 3 to 4.6 metres (10 to 15 ft).
On occasion, they leave behind enormous footprints (hence the name Bigfoot), measuring roughly between 40 to 50 centimeters (16 and 20 inches).
The face of a Bigfoot is often described as human-like, with a flat nose and visible lips. Common descriptions also include broad shoulders, no visible neck, and long arms. The eyes are commonly described as dark in color and have been alleged to “glow” yellow or red at night. However, eyeshine is not present in humans or any known great ape, and so proposed explanations for observable eyeshine in the forest include perched owls, racoons, or opossums.
A pungent, foul smelling odor is sometimes associated with reports of the creatures, commonly described as similar to rotten eggs or skunk.
Alleged vocalizations such as howls, moans, grunts, whistles, and even a form of supposed language have been reported.
On the Tule River Indian Reservation in California, petroglyphs created by a group of Yokuts at a site called Painted Rock are alleged by some to depict a group of Bigfoots called “the Family”. The local tribespeople call the largest of the glyphs “Hairy Man” and they are estimated to be between 500 and 1000 years old.
Members of the Lummi tell tales about Ts’emekwes, the local version of Bigfoot. The stories are similar to each other in the general descriptions of Ts’emekwes, but details differed among various family accounts concerning the creature’s diet and activities.
The British explorer David Thompson is sometimes credited with the first discovery (1811) of a set of Sasquatch footprints, and hundreds of alleged prints have been adduced since then.
As early as 1884, the British Colonist newspaper in Victoria, BC published an account of a “gorilla type” creature captured in the area.
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, in his 1893 book, The Wilderness Hunter, writes of a story he was told by an elderly mountain man named Bauman in which a foul smelling, bipedal creature ransacked his beaver trapping camp, stalked him, and later became hostile when it fatally broke his companion’s neck in the wilderness near the Idaho-Montana border.
In the 1920s, Indian Affairs Agent J. W. Burns compiled local stories and published them in a series of Canadian newspaper articles. They were accounts told to him by the Sts’Ailes people of Chehalis and others. The Sts’Ailes and other regional tribes maintained that the creatures were real and they were offended by people telling them that the figures were legendary.
In 1958, the Humboldt Times, a local newspaper in Northern California, published a story about the discovery of giant, mysterious footprints near Bluff Creek, California, and referred to the creature that made them as “Bigfoot”, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
Interest in Bigfoot grew rapidly during the second half of the 20th century, after an article in True magazine, published in December 1959, described the 1958 discovery.
The most well-known video of an alleged Bigfoot, the Patterson-Gimlin film, was recorded on October 20, 1967, by Roger Patterson and Robert “Bob” Gimlin in an area called Bluff Creek, in Northern California. The 59.5-second-long video has become an iconic piece of Bigfoot lore, and continues to be a highly scrutinized, analyzed, and debated subject.
The name “Sasquatch” comes from the Salish Sasquits, while the Algonquin of the north-central region of the continent refer to a Witiko or Wendigo. Other nations tell of a large creature much like a man but imbued with special powers and characteristics. The Ojibway of the Northern Plains believed the Rugaru appeared in times of danger and other nations agreed that the hairy apparition was a messenger of warning, telling man to change his ways.
Cryptozoologists (those who study animals still unknown to science) hold out at least some hope that Bigfoot, hidden away in the last really undeveloped wilderness areas of North America, may yet prove to be a reality and not merely a folk legend.
American black bears, the animal most often attributed to being mistakenly identified as Bigfoot, have been observed and recorded walking upright, often as the result of an injury.
Today, the legendary beast seems to be everywhere: You will find Bigfoot looking awfully cute this year in two children’s films: The Son of Bigfoot and Smallfoot. Animal Planet aired the finale of its popular series “Finding Bigfoot,” which lasted 11 seasons despite never making good on the promise of its title. And the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization lists at least one report from every state, except Hawaii, over the past two decades.