By Glenn Buttkus
I have always believed in the existence of Sasquatch. When I was a kid, my grandfather used to talk about an Indian legend coming out of NE Washington, near Colville and Kettle Falls, the legend of “the wood ape”. It was always portrayed as a monster, a bogeyman. In the 1950’s I paid little attention. Then the 1960’s descended upon us, and there was a plethora of Bigfoot sightings, footprints, and incidents in the news.
Sasquatch is a derivative of the Indian word “Sesquac” meaning “wild man”. It was first coined by the Coast Salish Indians on Vancouver Island, and in the interior of British Columbia. In the Indian languages clear across North America there are more than sixty different names and terms for Sasquatch. The name Bigfoot was just a media term, generated out of sightings and footprints in Northern California back in the 1950’s.
For over 400 years there have been records of sightings of a large hair-covered manlike animal in the wilderness of North America. There have been literally thousands of sightings, and 350 of them have been in Washington State. The last one was on September 10, 2004 in Ferry County. The witnesses are usually people with unimpeachable character. The huge tracks have been photographed, and plaster cast for over 70 years. Native American legends continuously refer to them as non-human
“People of the Wild”.
A lot of folks feel that Sasquatch is a fine fable, and they would like to believe in it. But where is the truth? The evidence suggests the presence of an animal, probably a primate that does exist today in very low population densities. If true, this species likely evolved alongside humans, and it became astonishingly adept at avoiding human contact through a process of natural selection. To others, this same evidence just points to a cultural phenomenon, kept alive today through a combination of misidentification of known animals, wishful thinking, and the deliberate fabrication of evidence.
Putting together all the sightings, incidents, and reports, BFRO has come up with a profile of Sasquatch. It is considered a large, hairy bipedal non-human primate that is distributed over North America. Its size, and its odd gait let people know that they are seeing a creature different from man.
Its skin color ranges from deep black or charcoal to deep brown, sunburned reddish brown, and gray. A few albinos have been seen. It is covered with hair, not fur. Being a primate, it does not molt its hair, replacing one hair at a time; thus the hair cannot be found in wooly patches. The body can have varicolored patches of hair. Most of the time the hair appears clean, glossy, and shiny, but it can be otherwise. Females tend to look cleaner than males. Males have lots of facial fur. Females do not. Long hair on their shoulders bounces “like a cape” as they run. There is long hair on the buttocks, and long hair covers the genitalia.
Then there is the odor of the beast. 15% of encounters reported a stench. Gorillas when stressed exude a gagging powerful aroma. Sasquatch heads look small for their bulk. Sagittal crests exist on adult males, probably bony, which makes them look like they are wearing a hooded sweatshirt. The size of the brain, its volume, is at least the size of a gorilla. It has deep-set eyes under a conspicuous brow ridge. Their faces are flat with prominent cheekbones. Deep brown eyes are predominant, with a red component, like a bloodshot sclera. Albino Sasquatch have blue eyes. The nose is pug-like, but human in shape. The mouth is thin-lipped, and the lips are yellowish. They have large square teeth. Their ears are usually hidden under the hair. The muscles on the back of the head flare out to the shoulders, obscuring the neck, like a weightlifter. So when they turn to see something, they have to turn their whole body, and not just their head.
Like man, each one is an individual. They have been described as everything from ape-like to looking like an old Indian.
Their trunk is carried forward in a hunched over position. They can stand upright, but mostly they don’t. Their shoulders are very wide, about 40% of their height. In a very large man this runs like about 25% of his height. The Bigfoot chest is estimated to be 60” to 75”, and many have described their stentorian breathing. The females have prominent breasts, hair-covered except for the nipples. Their arms are massively muscled and long. Their forearms are covered with longish hair, making them look a little like a forest Popeye. They have very large hands, “the size of paddles”. The fingers are short, and the thumb is closer to the wrist than ours. The hand lacks the thenar pad, that mound of muscle at the base of our thumbs, and this is a corollary of the lowest opposability found in the higher primates. They have dark fingernails, not claws.
Their legs are real big, like 20” in circumference. The calves all look huge. The foot can be up to 27” in length, with no arch, and toes that splay outward. The skin on the soles of their feet is very thick. Their height average is about 7’10”. The tallest reported was 10’ tall. Many that are seen are only 6’-7’ tall, suggesting that these are the younger ones. Their weight is estimated to be 550 to 650 pounds. They think that the largest males, at 10’ tall, with 27” feet, could run 1,000 pounds. They have wide arm swings and very long strides. When seen they are usually just walking. They seem to glide when they walk, and they do not lock their knees, so they look like they are riding a bicycle. Those wide arm swings seem like a cross-country skier with poles. There is no up and down movement of the upper body. Their step length is up to 5’ at a stride, with their feet mostly in line; very little straddle. This is something that a hoaxer cannot duplicate. They do not often run, even when shot at. And they are considered powerful swimmers as well.
They are primarily a nocturnal creature. Perhaps they see well in the dark, with larger eyes, larger pupils, and more rods in their retina. They can walk with ease in total darkness, but they have been seen out foraging during the day too. Often they are spotted just after daylight. They have heightened senses. They stand very still in the forest and listen. But several times they did not detect a human sitting still in full view. With those thick soles on their feet they can travel through blackberry bushes, devil’s clubs, and over sharp rocks without a problem.
In terms of their diet, they are considered an Omnivore, with a substantial Carnivore component. They have been observed catching ground squirrels, and even preying on deer or bear. They can be scavengers too. They eat a lot of road kill. They have snatched kill from hunters. They only eat garbage as a last resort. They only kill livestock infrequently. Some Sasquatch look very well fed, others are skinny.
It is postulated that Bigfoot infants are small, like human babies; but they become fleet of foot quickly. They stay with the mother until puberty, at about age 10. They measure about 6’ tall at that point. Offspring seem to be spaced at about 5 years apart, based on records of group footprints. Mating has been observed between May-June. Most births occur between February-May, suggesting less than a year for gestation. On two occasions females have been seen carrying dead infants. Older grayish Sasquatch probably live to be about 35 years old, so that is three generations per century. Old ones have thin hair, snaggle teeth, open sores, and deeply wrinkled skin. When one dies, it is suspected, various carnivores eat the corpse. Possibly, they themselves are cannibalistic. Rodents eat the bones, and moths consume the hair. The residue of the corpse would fall prey to the acidic environment of the forest. There would be no remnants left that would be visible under the seasonal leaf and needle fall.
They sleep mostly in temporary shelters, padded with available vegetation, like bear grass, leaves, ferns, and moss. Sometimes partial roves are fashioned from broken boughs. Once discovered, a nest is abandoned. The Sasquatch is solitary and constantly on the move. Caves and permanent shelters are only used rarely.
Their upper body strength is legendary. They seem to like to exercise this strength, throwing basketball sized rocks in long arcs to ward off intruders. They have been known to lift up the corners of mobile homes and RV’s, cars and trailers. They can lift and throw full fifty-gallon drums, which would weight 450 pounds, or large rocks that would weigh 200-300 pounds. They twist the trunks of small trees, possibly marking the way, or their territory.
Mostly they travel in silence. They can make patterned repetitive knocking sounds with rocks or pieces of wood. This can be used for long distance communication, or for deterrence. They are capable, however of a complex collection of sounds, starting with whistling [like the Yeti], up through moans, howls, and chilling screams that can rise up from a deep growl. Sometimes, though rarely, they have been heard producing a melodic sound, a collection of complex vocalizations; like a primitive language; soft tones like a woman talking off in the distance. They even make giggling, laughing, and crying sounds.
Mostly they are solitary creatures, but sometimes they can be seen in a group, foraging. The young ones play, and often can be seen, while the adults stay hidden. Males seem to be sighted more often. They move around more. They have a natural curiosity. They will investigate a lighted window at night, or noisy animals in a barn. They will not tear open a backpack, like a bear would. They seem orderly and systematic in stone stacking. They are often polite. If food is deposited for them, they have a tendency to return the favor with a gift; a dog skull, a little pile of stones, fresh evergreen shoots, a small freshly killed squirrel, live kittens, or a turtle. Are these shared food or gifts?
They react calmly to women and children. They try and avoid men. When startled they will leave leisurely, sometimes while even being shot at. There is absolutely no documentation over the last 100 years of a Sasquatch doing deliberate harm to a human being. They tolerate children and small animals. They, like gorillas, have a special distaste for aggressive dogs. They have been seen slapping a 75-pound dog, knocking him 40’, and they have killed them, swinging them against trees. Perhaps this is a reaction based on centuries of conflict with wolves and coyotes. While hiking, if you were to happen onto a Sasquatch, one should not stare at it. Sit down, and groom a companion, or eat food. Sometimes, out of curiosity, they will tarry.
They do not seem to use tools. Sometimes they use sticks or rocks, but rarely. When they die it is mostly from parasites within them secondary to their eating habits and the manner of food. They could die of wounds, or dental disorders, or even gunshots. One does not find remains of dead bear that have died of natural causes either. There are 700,000 bear in North America. There are probably only a few thousand Sasquatch. In America, the highest concentration of Sasquatch population is in Washington, Oregon, and California in the Cascades, which morphs into the Sierra Madre. Most sightings are just chance encounters of single individuals. They are seen most often right at dawn. They are not seen at all during the dead of winter. They may hibernate. A Bigfoot would have to forage over hundreds of miles to sustain its food needs.
This species is deviant from Homo sapiens by anatomy, forehead crest, feet, hands, musculature, body posture and gait, behavior nocturnal, lack of compelling use of tools, lack of apparent language, lack of cultural traits, and sociology. The paleontological affiliation, or identity with Gigantopithecus, as championed by the late Grover Krantz, has many aspects to recommend it. Gigantopithecus Black was a great Asian creature, probably an ape, of the Miocene Epoch; about 24 million to 5 million years ago. Anthropologists have only found a handful of bones to substantiate Giganto’s existence. Possibly, descending from Giganto, the Sasquatch has co-existed alongside humans for hundreds of thousands of years. There is a theory that man hunted Giganto into extinction. Perhaps Sasquatch has a genetic memory and aversion of man the hunter. Maybe, in the shadows, Bigfoot migrated across that land bridge with Asian primitive man. Gigantopithecus was thought to be 9’ tall, and weight 1,000 pounds. Sound familiar? They were the largest “documented” primates to ever walk the earth. At some point there would have been millions of Giganto skeletons extant. Today we have only found a few bones. The entire world’s collection of Giganto bones would fit in a small suitcase. So, again, most animal bones are reabsorbed into the biomass. The process of fossilization is rare.
Some scientists today are endeavoring to prove that Sasquatch, this hulking creature of legend, is not myth. Jane Goodall called for a legitimate study to determine whether the greatest apes that ever lived are still with us, that they persist in the world’s moist mountain regions. Stone age creatures are still with us; some reptilian, some insects, and mammal hybrids. So why not Sasquatch? Goodall stated that the existence of hominids of this sort is a very real possibility. Mythical giant ape-like creatures lurk in the traditions of nearly every Native American linguistic group, from central Asia to the central Rockies.
Not long ago a group of BFRO ( Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization ) enthusiasts and amateurs camped out for two days in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, near Skookum ridge, out on Skookum meadow. They put out food deposits that were mostly fruit. They basted some of the food with pheromones. They blasted out pre-recorded Sasquatch calls on loud speakers at night trying to attract the animal. On the second night they recorded and heard a powerful reply to their broadcast. They collected from one spot where a Sasquatch had lain down to reach across for some fruit, some hair, footprints, and scat. Not wanting to just walk up to the food, this animal lay on its side, and reached across. They were able to fill this imprint with 400 pounds of plaster. So in that Skookum meadow, a giant biped sat down in the mud. The cast clearly shows a hairy forearm the size of a small ham, an enormous hairy thigh, and outsized buttock, and a thick Achilles tendon and thick heel—all from a creature that is not supposed to exist.
When we look at the Bigfoot/Sasquatch phenomenon, there are several theories to explain the sightings.
1. Fear manifestations
2. Misidentification of bears
4. The Collective Memory Hypothesis
5. The Sasquatch/Giganto connection.
What is interesting to me is that the patterns of eyewitnesses are not demographic; rather they are geographic. These are not certain types of people. They are just all kinds of people who venture into certain areas.
In addition to the sightings around Mt. Adams there have been numerous sightings on the Olympic peninsula, in and around the Olympic National Park in Grays Harbor County. Loggers, farmers, and tourists have all seen Sasquatch over there. Interestingly, my wife and I spend a lot of time out there on the coast as well, but that is a narrative for another time.
I spend time recruiting friends to run those forest service roads in both areas around midnight with me, creeping down them, having large flashlights, no weapons, and high hopes. So far we have not had the encounter I seek, but I have an intuition about my Sesquac; he waits for me on one of those lonely roads, on one of those late nights. I have seen a UFO up close. My house is haunted and my whole family have seen our “guests”. I was fated to both believe in Sasquatch and to see one in person. But like playing the state lotto, and having a good feeling about winning one of these years, it is difficult to calculate the odds of my success.
* * *
Glenn's bio: Born in Seattle on June 14, 1944, on Flag Day; numerologists seem to love these numbers. Lived like a gypsy child, moving around a lot, growing up with three stepfathers. I was the kid who sat on a bluff above Puget Sound staring out at the islands in the stream and dreaming of buying one some day, when I was a wealthy actor or writer or both. Whenever I want a chuckle I go back and look at some of my earliest poetry, as a teen ager in the 50’s. It seemed to improve during Viet Nam, and my time in the service. I did become a professional actor for a decade, quitting in 1977, and going back to school to be a Special Education teacher, working with the blind. So for most of my vocational career I worked with adult legally blind veterans, a very rewarding job. But I never lost my love of movies, and never stopped writing poetry. I did stop writing novels. Two of them gather dust on a shelf in my basement. I remain unpublished but not unappreciated thanks to blogging and Facebook.