“…these huge creatures walk constantly upon their hind
feet, and never yet were taken alive; they watch the actions of men, and
imitate them as nearly as possible;…they build huts nearly in the shape of
those of men, but live on the outside; and when one of their children dies, the
mother carries it in her arms until it falls to pieces; one blow of their paw
will kill a man, and nothing can exceed their ferocity.”
-- Mr. & Mrs. Bowditch, in the late 1800s,
describing the Ingheena
Fig. 0. Bigfoot
statue by Oberon Zell
reports of giant, hairy, man-like creatures occur worldwide throughout much of
recorded history, the great majority of contemporary sightings come from
America’s Pacific Northwest, an unexplored wilderness extending over 125,000
square miles. In this vast territory, these creatures are commonly known as
“Bigfoot” or Sasquatch. Similar,
perhaps even identical, beings are called Kaptar
in the Russian Caucasus, Chuhuna in
northeast Siberia, Almasin Mongolia,
Kangmi in Tibet,
Yowies in Australia,
and Yeti in Nepal.
Europe they were known as Wodwoses
(Anglo-Saxon for “wood man”), or simply as “hairy wild men,” and were a popular
subject of illustration.Also called
Wudewasa, Woodhouses, or Ooser, they appear in many medieval
paintings, church carvings, and illuminated manuscripts. They are often shown wielding
large rude clubs, and sometimes they wear simple kilts of green leaves. Clearly
distinguished from apes and monkeys, they were frequently represented by
costumed actors in plays, masques, and dramas. Some researchers feel that they
might be relict Neanderthals, and
they are very likely to be the basis of legends of giant Trolls and Ogres.
Fig. 1. Hairy Wild Man: “The Fight in the
Forest” by Hans Burgkmair d.Ä.
are even legends of giant apes in the British Isles,
where they were greatly feared. The Ferla
Mohr(Gaelic, “Big Grey Man”) was an aggressive grey ape supposedly living
in mountainous areas of Scotland.
It was said to stand 20 feet tall!
Similar creatures collectively referred
to as “Giant Monkeys” have
been reported throughout the globe, probably involving several species. They
range from 4-6 feet tall, with barrel chests, thick arms, powerful legs, and
bushy tails. Smaller ones are said to resemble kangaroos. They have
fierce-looking baboon-like faces and pointy ears. Their fur may be short to
shaggy, varying from red to black. Their three-toed tracks are 12-15 inches
long, with the larger ones being thinner. American versions are often called
Fig. 2. Devil Monkeys.
Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) of the Pacific Northwest seem to average about eight feet
tall, and leave footprints about 18 inches long. The color of their hair ranges
from reddish-brown through grey to black. Males, females and infants are
reported, often in family groups. They usually
display shy, benign curiosity in contacts with humans, and they seem to be
basically nocturnal, for which they have been designated Homo nocturnus (“night man”), a name originally set aside by
Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) for just such a creature. By all accounts, they
seem to have no language, do not make or use tools, and have no mastery of
fire—the very qualities that distinguish humans from all other animals. The
designation “Bigfoot” first appeared to the public in an article in the Oct. 5,
1958 issue of the Humboldt Times by
columnist and editor Andrew Genzoli, based on enormous 16”x7” footprints
discovered at a construction site in BluffCreekValley,
in Northern California. Interestingly, this is the same area as the controversial Roger
Patterson sighting and brief film of a large and distinctly female Bigfoot
nearly a decade later, on Oct. 20, 1967.2
Fig. 3. Female Bigfoot from Patterson film.
seems pretty straightforward as a cryptid, or “hidden animal.” We have many
sightings, with consistent descriptions as to all aspects of appearance. Males,
females, and even young have been reported, as well as entire family groups.
Countless eponymous footprints have been found, cast, collected and analyzed.
Really clear ones obtained from smooth river mud show unique dermal ridges,
depth impressions consistent with expected weight distribution for such a large
bipedal hominid, and peculiarly non-human features such as a double-balled big
toe and extended talus (heel) which brings the balance of weight more to the
center of the foot. The spacing of prints indicated a reasonable walking stride
for the reported leg lengths, as does the flexion of the foot with each step.
While not without controversy, several blurry photos and some film footage have
also been taken, and these precisely match the descriptions of eyewitnesses. Hair
samples have been retrieved from branches where the creatures have passed, and
subjected for DNA analysis. This has indicated anthropoid origin, but of no
identifiable species. Feces have been examined and found to contain unknown
Canada also claims another hairy hominid like Bigfoot, but
this one is considered by the local Indians to be quite different—and far more dangerous, preying on
humans. It is called Wendigo; also Windigo, Windago,
Wiendigo, Witigo, Witiko, or Wee-Tee-Go.
The most feared creature in Inuit and Algonkian folklore, it is described as a
lanky, 15-ft-tall “man-beast,” covered in matted fur, with glowing eyes, long
yellow canine teeth, and a hyper-extended tongue. But some eyewitnesses insist
that the creature is hairless, with a sallow, jaundiced skin. Popularized by
Algernon Blackwood’s short story, “The Wendigo” (1907), legends of this beast
date back centuries. This name is also applied to an alligator-like monster
said to inhabit Berens Lake,
Ontario, where it tears up fishing
Fig. 4. Wendigo.
with everyone carrying digital cameras these days, it seems only a matter of
time before more concrete evidence is obtained in the form of indisputable
images or—the Holy Grail of all monster-hunters—a physical specimen. Even a
corpse or skeletal remains would provide the long-awaited proof necessary for
scientific recognition. Indeed, given the history and frequency of sightings,
it seems incredible that such a creature could have eluded pursuit for so long!
But we have to keep in mind that Bigfoot’s territory is vast—hundreds of
thousands of square miles of dense and ancient Taiga forest blanketing not only
the Pacific Northwest, but most of Canada and Siberia as well. New animals are
still being discovered in much smaller habitats, such as Cambodia (the forest
ox or Kouprey, Bos sauveli), Vietnam (the Saola or Vu Quang ox, Pseudoryx nghetinhensis),the Philippines, New Guinea, and pockets of
equatorial Africa, and a reasonably intelligent hominid that didn’t want to be
found could certainly remain hidden indefinitely!
fact, large hairy hominids have been known for centuries by the native peoples
of North America’s northern states and provinces, such as California’s hairy big man, Oh-mah. The popular name Sasquatch was coined in the 1920s by
teacher J.W. Burns, who amalgamated several native Canadian words, such as the Salish
se’sxac, meaning “wild man.” This is
only one of over 150 local names for a giant hairy hominid reported by local
Indians for centuries as inhabiting the forests from Alaska
down through British Columbia.
It is even featured in native folklore and iconography, such as the Native
American masks shown in Fig. 5.
Fig. 5. Native American “Ape” masks.
of the Nootka and Salish Indians of the Pacific Northwest
tell of a massive hairy hominid covered in black bristles. Called Matlose, or “Caliban of the Nootka”
(after the monstrous character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest), it has ferocious teeth and claws like a bear. Its
terrible cry paralyzes its prey.
Haunting the folklore of the Tanaina Indians of subarctic Alaska is a giant biped they call the “HairyMan.”
Dwelling in the mountains, he is covered in long grey hair, and his eyes are
said to have no pupils. He is not aggressive to humans unless they threaten him.
monkey-like creatures are also described in the traditions of the Ojibwa and
Cree Indians of Minnesota. Called Memegwicio(“Men of the
Wilderness”), they are said to be the size of 12-year-old children, with
Canada’s Sasquatch was first seen by white men in 1811, and
since then hundreds of sightings and encounters have been reported. It is said
to stand 6-9-feet tall (sometimes as much as 12), weigh 600-900 lbs, and be covered
with shaggy black or reddish-brown hair. It has long arms, and an ape-like face
with a flat nose. Walking upright like a man, it leaves human-like footprints (that
is, with the big toe in front rather than to the side as in apes) up to 20
inches long. It also has a distinct and very foul stench, like a combination of
skunk and wet dog—a universal characteristic of large hairy hominids wherever
they are reported.
is every reason to think that Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Matlose, Wendigo, and all the
other names by which these creatures are known represent a single species,
which probably includes at least one variety of the Himalayan Yeti.The burning question
seems to be: is it human, or ape?
Fig. 6. Sasquatch family picking berries.
other Asian Anthropoids
North America has its Bigfoot, Asia is home to
the even more famous Yeti. Also known as Gin-sung, Metoh-kangmi, Nyalmo, Rakshi Bompo, Rimi, Thloh-Mung,the “Wildman
of the Himalayas,” or, famously though erroneously, the “Abominable Snowman,” this is a
snow-dwelling “man-ape” said to be living high up in
the cold, desolate Himalayan mountains of Tibet and Nepal. It is described by
eyewitnesses as 7-10 feet tall, and covered in long coarse
hair—silver-white in the snowy mountains, and orange-brown in the lower forests. As with its American cousin, the evidence is mostly
hair samples, footprints, and questionable sightings. Upon examination,
however, supposed “yeti scalps” preserved in lamaseries have turned out to be
ritual objects fabricated from the skin of the goat-like serow; and mummified
“yeti hands” were those of langur monkeys.
Fig. 7. Yeti, as drawn by Bernard Heuvelmans
to the Sherpas, there are actually four types of Yeti, distinguished by size, with teh implying a flesh-and-blood animal.
The largest (13-16 feet tall) is the Nyalmo
or Dzu-Teh (“Big Thing”),the medium-sized one (7-9 feet) is
the Rimi or Meh-Teh (“Manlike
Thing”), and the smaller (man-sized) and best-known is the Rakshi Bompo or Yeh-Teh
(“That Thing There”). Many believe that the
Yeh-Teh is simply the Nepal Gray Langur monkey (Semnopithecus schistaceus), also called the Hanuman Langur
after the Hindu Monkey-God, which are fairly common in the higher plains of the
Himalayas, and that the Dzu-Teh is really a Himalayan Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus).
Then there is the Teh-Lma(“That There Little Thing”), the least known, said to be 3-4 feet tall, covered in
reddish-grey hair, with hunched shoulders and a pointy head. Certainly an
unidentified monkey, it eats frogs and other small animals.
West of the
Himalayas, ineastern Afghanistan, as well as the Shishi Kuh valley in
the Chitral region of Northern Pakistan,
dwells a shaggy hominid called Barmanu(“Big Hairy One”). Like
the American Skunk Ape, it is noted for its revolting
Although the only recognized ape outside of Africa is the
Orangutan (Pongo), a remarkable
number of other unknown apelike creatures are continually being reported
throughout Asia and Indonesia.
Although there seem to be far too many distinct species to be credible, locals
insist that they really exist, awaiting “discovery” by modern science.
Fig. 9. Almas
Most famous perhaps are the Almas, or “Mongolian Wild Men.” Also
known by the names Albasty, Abnuaaya, Abnuaaya, Almasti, they are said to dwell in the Altai
Mountains near Tien Shan in the province
of Sinkiang, Mongolia. These
“wild people” live like animals and are covered with hair, except on their
hands and faces. While this description would seem to describe some sort of
unknown ape, Dr. Myra Shakley and other cryptozoologists have suggested they
may be remnant Neanderthals—or Denisovans.
hominids or “Man-Apes” called Chuchunaa (Tungus, “outcasts”) have
been seen clothed in animal skins, leading some researchers to speculate that
they may represent a relic population of Neanderthals. Also known as Mulen, “Bandit;” or “Siberian Snowman,” they
have been described by eyewitnesses as being tall and human-like, with broad
shoulders, a protruding brow, long, matted hair and occasionally unusual fur
coloration. These are probably the same as the Almas.
Fig. 10. Chuchunaa
Further west, in the Volga region of Russia, a hairy hominid called Ova, with backward-pointing feet, is said to menace travelers by
tickling them to death! But its vulnerable spot is a hole under its left
armpit, the touching of which renders it helpless. Perhaps by the time the
stories traveled that far from either Europe or Asia,
they were beginning to get a bit strange…
Large hairy hominids are also said to inhabit the
forests and mountains of China’s
province. Called Yěrén(“wild person”), they are typically reported to be
covered in reddish-brown hair, although some white individuals have also been
sighted. Their height is estimated at 5-7 feet, although some colossal
specimens over ten feet tall have been reported. They are known by many other
names, including Yiren, Yeh Ren,
Sangui, Hsing-hsing, Fei-fei, “Chinese
Wildman,” “Wildman of
Shennongjia,” “Man-Monkey,”or Ren Xiong (“man-bear”). In a
Chinese dictionary compiled in 200 bce,
during the Chou dynasty, the Fei-fei was described as a 10-foot-tall hairy
cross between a human and an Orangutan, with an appetite for human flesh.
Some think that the Yěrén or Fei-fei may be a
surviving Gigantopithecus (see below,
under “Theories”), while others suggest it may be a relict population of
mainland Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), supposedly extinct in China
since the Pleistocene.
In the small country of Bhutan,
on the eastern side of the Himalayas, locals
describe a tall, hairy creature they call the Migyur. It stands nine
feet tall, with long arms and a nose like an ape.
In April, 2001, DNA tests done on Migyur hair samples indicated
that they belong to an unidentified creature completely unknown to science. Bryan
Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics at the Oxford Institute of Molecular
Medicine and one of the world's leading experts on DNA analysis examined the
hair. “We found some DNA in it,” he
said, “but we don't know what it is. It’s
not a human, not a bear not anything else we have so far been able to identify.
It’s a mystery and I never thought this would end in a mystery. We have never
encountered DNA that we couldn’t recognize before.”3
Japanese folklore also includes tales of a huge hairy
hominid called “MountainMan.” Said to dwell in mountain forests, he
is seldom seen, but fearful locals leave offerings to appease him.
The foul-smelling Hibagon is a smaller Japanese hominid. One was sighted in Hiwa in 1972.
Looking much like a gorilla, it was about five feet tall, with a
bristle-covered face, glaring eyes, and a snub nose. Hibagon footprints can be
as much as ten inches long and six inches wide.
Ape-Men of the Indies
The thousands of islands comprising the
East Indies are the mountain remnants of a once-great region called Sunderland,
which extended southward from present-day Indochina.
Similarly, dry land once connected all the Philippines,
and New Guinea was part of Australia. All
the low-lying areas, however, were drowned by the South China Sea when the
ocean levels rose 400 feet after the end of the last ice age, 10,500 years ago.
The conversion of highlands into islands isolated populations of people and
animals from each other, and from the rest of the world.
13. Map of Sunderland by OZ
largest islands of Indonesia
are Borneo and Sumatra, respective homes to
the two known species of Orangutan. This
name derives from the Malay and Indonesian phrase orang hutan, meaning
“person of the forest.”4 But from the
Malay Peninsula throughout the many islands of this region, apelike creatures
continue to be reported which have not yet been firmly identified by science. These
may eventually prove to be nothing more than orangutans, but it is possible
that some may yet turn out to be previously unknown primate species. Here is a
hominids of Malaysia,
said to be 6-9 feet tall, with red eyes. Males have much hair about their head,
chest, arms, and legs. They give off a powerful odor likened to monkey urine.
At first contact they appear friendly, making overtures, and approaching
slowly. Then they invariably become frightened and flee into the jungle. This
is certainly the Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), called Mias-Pappan in Borneo.
Fig. 14. Female Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) going
for a stroll.
Ones—Malodorous white-skinned hairy hominids occasionally
seen and smelled in the jungles of Malaysia.
A small, red, apelike creature reported to dwell in the rainforest of the Malaysian state of Sabah,
it is considered to be related to the little frog-eating hairy-hominid known as
and the Vietnamese Nguoi-Rung.Perhaps
this is a pygmy species of orangutan.
Gogu— Small, hairy, inarticulate
cave dwellers first reported by Portuguese sailors visiting the Indonesian island of Flores in the 16th century.
Sightings continued well into the 19th century. Then, in 2003, the
sub-fossil remains of seven diminutive hominids were discovered on the tiny
island. Officially designated Homo
floresiensis (“man of Flores”),
they were immediately dubbed “Hobbits” in the popular press. Ranging in height
from 3-4 feet, they appear to have been a dwarf race of Homo erectus surviving miraculously into modern times before being
Fig. 15. Homo
floresiensis female in the forest.
Pendek— (or Sedapa, Batutut) A hairy hominid reported
to be dwelling in the millions of acres
of rain forests on the island of Sumatra. Standing 3-5 feet tall, its
brownish skin is covered with short black or brownhair, and it has a long black
mane. It has no tail, and its arms are shorter than an ape’s. It walks
mostly on the ground, and its footprints are very similar to a human’s. The
creature eats mostly fruits and small animals, and is seen fairly often by
locals, who say it has a language of sorts, although the Sumatrans
cannot understand it. This
is possibly (but not certainly) the Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii), the smaller and rarer of
the two known species of orangutans. However, some researchers have proposed
that the extinct “Hobbits” of nearby Flores are also likely candidates.
Fig. 16.Orang Pendek
Kapre— Giant hairy hominids in the folklore of the Philippine
Islands, they are said to be 7-9 feet tall and covered in long shaggy brown
hair. The Kapre lives in groves of bamboo, acacia and mango, and may be
encountered sitting under a tree smoking a big cigar-shaped pipe of tobacco. He
is usually friendly and helpful to humans, especially women and children, but
he also has a mischievous side, often leading travelers astray in the forest.
Fig. 17. Kapre
An Australian hairy hominid, similar to the Yeti or Bigfoot, is described as
6-14 feet tall, more human than ape, with broad shoulders and no neck.
Popularly known as Yowie, it is covered in longish hair ranging from black or dark
brown through shades of red and tan to almost white. Dark brown or reddish is
the most common color.It leaves footprints up to 16 inches long and 8 inches
wide. The first report from European settlers dates to 1881, but the
Aborigines had always known of them, calling them Youree. The settlers initially named them Yahoos, aftera sub-human race in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver's Travels(1727). These terms eventually combined
hairy hominids worldwide, Yowies are said to have an overpowering stench.
Smaller individuals are quite shy and are probably juveniles, whereas the
taller ones are bolder and often aggressive. In fact, there is such a
difference between individuals in behavior, size and coloration that some
researchers think they are two species—or at least very sexually dimorphic.
Some even think they may represent a relict population of Homo erectus, known to have inhabited Sunderland (now Indonesia).
18. The Bombala Yowie, reportedly seen by Charles Harper in Southeast Australia
in 1912. (Coleman, p. 256)
Maori natives on the South Island of New
Zealand tell of a large hairy hominid with bony fingers that they call Moehau,Moeroero, or Maero. These are solitary creatures, but would kidnap people
if given the chance. Those living in the mountains
are called Moeroero, while those in
the interior are called Maero. Said
to be strong and aggressive, they are described as looking “like a man covered over with hair, but smaller and with long claws; it
inhabits trees and lives on birds.” Sightings
have been reported since the 1840s.
Fig. 19. Moehau
No, this isn’t about Tarzan.
But it might be about his foster-people, the Mangani, or “Great Grey Apes.” Many have assumed these creatures to
be gorillas, but Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the Tarzan series, clearly distinguished between them, referring to
gorillas as Bolgani. Since there is
no mention of chimpanzees per se in
the Tarzan books, I had always thought that the Mangani must be chimps. But it
now seems more likely for them to have been bonobos, or even the
recently-discovered “Bili Apes” (see below).
Accounts of African
ape-men should really begin with the Ingheena—a quadrumana
(4-handed animal) reported by travelers Mr. & Mrs. Bowditch, in the late
1800s, from the vicinity of the GaboonRiver. They had not seen
it themselves, but according to the natives: “…these huge creatures walk constantly upon their hind feet, and never
yet were taken alive; they watch the actions of men, and imitate them as nearly
as possible;…they build huts nearly in the shape of those of men, but live on
the outside; and when one of their children dies, the mother carries it in her
arms until it falls to pieces; one blow of their paw will kill a man, and
nothing can exceed their ferocity.”1
Fig. 20. Gorilla
These were, of course, Lowland Gorillas
(Gorilla gorilla), considered mythical at that time, when it was
believed that all great apes were orangutans. It took
a while for gorillas and chimpanzees to become recognized by science, even though
there were many reports of them. The Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla
beringei) was acknowledged only in 1901, and
Bonobos (Pan paniscus), identified in
1928 by American anatomist Harold Coolidge from a skull in Belgium’s
Tervuren Musem, were simply called “Pygmy
Chimpanzees” until recently. Indeed, their status as a separate species from
Common Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) is
still being hotly debated in some circles. Bonobos, however, are
distinguished from other apes by walking upright, “having a matriarchal and egalitarian culture, and the prominent role
of sexual activity in their society.”5 They
are thought to be our closest relatives on the primate family tree.
On Aug. 14, 2003, the Associated Press reported on the discovery
of a possible new species of anthropoid ape in the northern part of Africa’s Republic of Congo. The “Bili Apes,” which stand up
to six feet tall and have feet nearly 14 inches long, were first documented in
2002 by primatologist Shelly Williams. According
to a National Geographic report, “The
apes nest on the ground like gorillas but have a diet and features characteristic
of chimpanzees.”6 Preliminary
genetic testing with non-nuclear DNA, however, indicates a close relationship
with a subspecies of Common Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii).5
A shaggy, black-haired, bipedal, apelike
creature was sighted by an entomologist
in Guinea, West
Africa, in Nov. of 1992. Local natives call it Fating’ho, and they claim it is neither a
chimpanzee nor a gorilla. It has not been identified by science.
Fig. 22. Bili Ape
Small furry hominids have been reported from Tanzania, East Africa,
as well as other places. They are known as Agogwe, or Kakundakri in Zimbabwe;
Sehit on the Ivory Coast. They
were first reported in the early 1900s by big game hunter Captain William
Hitchens, who encountered two of them on a lion-hunting safari in East Africa. In 1927, while traveling along the coast of Portuguese Africa, Mr. and Mrs. Cuthbert Burgoyne saw two
apparently identical creatures walking peaceably among a troop of baboons
without causing a stir. But none of these diminutive anthropoids have been seen
since, and they may now be extinct.
With grotesque features and aggressive behavior, Agogwe
are 3-4 feet tall, bipedal, long-armed, and covered with a scraggly coat of
thick, russet-colored hair over reddish-yellow skin. This description does not
match that of any known apes, and Bernard Heuvelmans suggested that they may be
Fig. 23. Australopithecus
The Canary Islands
(from Latin Insularia Canaria, “Island of the Dogs”) are an
archipelago of seven volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean off Morocco, along the northwest coast of Africa. A shaggy man-ape called Hirguan is said to dwell
on the island of La Gomera. Probably this is an
isolated population of the Barbary
Macaque (Macaca sylvanus), a large ape-like tailless monkey found
in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco, as well as (famously) on the
Rock of Gibraltar.
South American Apes
to science, indigenous apes are entirely unknown in the Western
Hemisphere. Interestingly, therefore, in Sea and Land (1887), J.W. Buel reports that: “Dr. Lund has furnished us with descriptions of the Brazilian orang
outan, which he calls the Caypore, obtained principally from the legends of the
the early 19th century, German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt
heard stories from the Orinoco about furry
humanlike creatures called Salvaje (“Wild”). These were said to build
huts, capture women, and eat human flesh. All apelike creatures reported in South America are collectively dubbed Mono Grande
creature—one of a pair—was shot, killed, and photographed in 1920 by Swiss
geologist Francois deLoys, during an expedition to the jungles of Venezuela. In
1929, Dr. George Montadon named it Ameranthropoides
loysi (“Loys’ American anthropoid”). It is commonly referred to as the
“DeLoys Ape.” Skeptics have dismissed the unique photo as nothing more than a
Spider Monkey (Simia paniscus), which, however, has an adult body length
of only 20 inches. But recently, fossilized remains have been found of a giant
prehistoric howler-spider monkey, which, if still living, could account for
24. DeLoys Ape
Even though there seem to be entirely too many species
of unknown apes to be accounted for, at least most of the above seem to
represent physical animals, and hopefully, more of them will be officially
“discovered” over time and take their places in the zoological catalogues.
But when we turn to the lower United States, reports
begin to get decidedly weird. Far from the traditional northwestern haunts of
Bigfoot or Sasquatch, sightings of somewhat similar but distinctly different
hairy hominids have proliferated during the 20th
century. To distinguish them from the others, researcher Loren Coleman coined
the term Napes—an acronym for “North American
Apes.” Invariably dubbed with colorful local names, these large primates have
been reported mostly from the forests and swamplands of the Southeastern and
Southern Bigfoot) A large hairy hominid reported in Florida, with over a
hundred sightings during the 1970s-‘80s. However, the earliest published
report is from 1942, in SuwanneeCounty, by a man who
claimed the creature rode on his running board for half a mile. Their presence is announced by a revolting
stench, like rotting cabbage. Eyewitnesses usually describe them as having
reddish-brown fur, but their color can range from black to white. Albino
specimens commonly have bald heads and nostrils the size of half dollars. They have long dangling apelike arms with clawed
fingers, and they tend to snort. Tracks
suggest that there are two species: the larger has three toes and an aggressive
disposition, while the smaller five-toed variety is shy and harmless. The
mention of red fur has led some researchers to speculate that an escaped
Orangutan (Pongo) may be the basis of the sightings. But the three-toed
footprints do present a problem with this identification.
25. Skunk Ape
resembling Bigfoot, but smaller and more human-looking in build. They are smelly
social creatures who live in forests and mountains of the frozen north. Sturdy,
muscular creatures with large eyes and big bellies, they are nocturnal and
omnivorous. They come in several colors:
some have light-colored manes, such as Old
Yellow Top; others have patches of light-colored fur surrounded by darker
fur; and some appear to be nearly albino.
hairy hominid sighted in Ohio
several times over the past century, was named “Old Yellow Top” for its mane of
yellow hair. Otherwise mostly black, it is said to be about seven feet tall. It
was seen in 1906, 1923, 1946, and 1970, when it nearly caused a bus to crash. An
apparently identical creature had also been reported in the mining district
around Cobalt, Ontario, Canada,
since September 1906. Its large body was covered with long dark hair, but the
fur on its head was light yellow. It too was named “Yellow Top.”
26. Marked Hominid
HoneyIslandSwamp Monster—A seven-foot-tall Bigfoot-like
creature reported for centuries to be dwelling in theHoneyIslandSwamp, near New
Covered with dingy grey hair, its weight has been estimated by witnesses as
400-500 lbs. But most memorable are its sickly yellow eyes, set far apart, and
its horrific stench of death. Indians called this creature the Letiche, “a carnivorous,
aquatic-humanoid,” which they believed was once an abandoned child who was
raised by alligators. Cajuns call the beast the Loup Carou, similar to Loup
Garou, a term for “werewolf.” It has been blamed for numerous human and
livestock deaths which have plagued the area for decades.
Fig. 27. HoneyIslandSwamp Monster
Devil Monkeys— Strange baboon-like creatures with powerful kangaroo-like legs
have been reported throughout the American Midwest and as far north as Alaska.
One was even sighted in downtown Chicago!
They seem to be extremely aggressive, attacking people and even moving cars.
Some researchers have speculated that they may be a remnant species of an
ancient family of primates called Tarsiids
Momo—(short for “Missouri Monster”) A large,
stinky, hairy hominid reported from the backwoods of Missouri. It has so much fur that you cannot see its face”
Fig. 28. Momo (-Alien Animals,
Mud Monster— A shrieking, seven-foot-tall,
white-haired, apelike monster reported on May 25, 1972, by over 200 witnesses
around Murphysboro, central Illinois.
Myakka Ape—A hairy hominid reported to be dwelling in the swamps around Sarasota, Florida.
It is described as a chimp- or
29. Young orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus)
Booger—A large apelike creature sighted in the
area around Clanton, Alabama, in the fall of 1960. It made cries
“like a woman screaming,” and left big footprints in the sand along a creek.
El Campo Ape Man— In 2004, residents of El Campo in Matagorda County, Texas,
reported bizarre encounters with what one eyewitness described as a 5-foot
tall, greyish animal that looked like a large monkey.
Fouke Monster—A large hairy Man-Ape reportedly
stalking the backwoods and creeks of MillerCounty in Arkansas. It has been known to attack and kill animals. One three-toed footprint that was cast in
plaster measured 13.5 inches. In
Oct. 2003, witnesses throughout northwest Arkansas
reported sighting a large apelike creature, which they compared to Florida’s Skunk Ape.
30. Fouke Monster
Eyes— A huge hairy hominid
reported since 1959 near the Charles Mill Reservoir outside of Mansfield, Ohio,
from which has also been reported a bizarre, armless, amphibious humanoid known
as the Mill Lake Monster. Orange Eyes
is estimated to be 11 feet tall, and weigh 1,000 lbs. The most recent reported
encounter with this creature was in June of 1991.
There is also a Mexican version of the North American Bigfoot,
called el Hombre Oso(“Bearman”). It has been sighted in wilderness
areas across the land, from the western desert
of Chihuahua to Veracruz
on the GulfCoast. The term is also used for really
31. El Hombre Oso
Man, or Myth?
When I first met Peter Byrne in 1978 at his Bigfoot Research center in the Oregon
Dalles, I inquired about his theory regarding the zoological classification of these
creatures. His response has remained a guide to me over the four decades since,
though I have not always followed it myself! “Theories,” said Peter, “are
a true researcher’s worst enemy. When you have a theory, you will only see
evidence that supports your theory, and you’ll miss or ignore evidence that
doesn’t. So I try not to hold a theory; I just seek to follow the evidence.”
Keeping this wise admonition in mind,
here are several theories that have been proposed and passionately advocated over
the years—specifically regarding the large hairy hominid commonly referred to
Unfortunately, there have been many
hoaxes associated with Bigfoot, which have muddied the investigations, and
diminished credibility of the phenomenon among establishment scientists. These
hoaxes have included men dressing up in gorilla suits to be filmed and
photographed in wilderness settings; as well as bogus footprints created with
oversized wooden foot-shoes and even
replicas of genuine plaster footprint casts. One gruesomely determined hoaxer
apparently went so far as to stretch the flayed skin of a butchered gorilla
foot over a carved wooden mold! Several oft-cited photos and sightings have
been confessed to be hoaxes by people who claim to have participated in the
deception, while other witnesses just as fervently continue to maintain their
authenticity. The frequency of revealed hoaxes, however, has certainly
necessitated the critical examination of all evidence, which is to the good.
In this regard we must certainly include
the numerous artificial Bigfoot mummies and stuffed carcasses that have toured
in carnival sideshows since the original “Minnesota Iceman” examined by
Sanderson and Heuvelmans in 1968. Such gaffs,
as they are called by showmen, are a thriving artform created by ingenious
taxidermists who are rather proud of their work, and pleased that so many are
skeptics insist that sightings must be of known apes, such as orangutans,
gorillas, or chimpanzees—no doubt escapees from a zoo, circus, or animal park.
And to give them credit, some of the American reports—such as the Myakka
Skunk Apeand the El Campo Ape Man—may,
in fact, be so attributable, especially in the swampy regions of Florida
through Louisiana. Certainly known apes would seem to account for most of the
creatures sighted in Asia, Indonesia,
Bigfoot researcher Grover Krantz (1931-2002)
was the major proponent of the theory that the North American Bigfoot—and
probably the Himalayan Nyalmo or Dzu-Teh Yeti as well—represents a relic
population of the presumed extinct Ice-Age anthropoid called Gigantopithecus, which is believed to
have lived from5 million to as
recently as 100 thousand years ago.Only
a few teeth and mandibles of this prodigious primate have been recovered, mostly
from caves in Southeast Asia. These bear
similarities to both humans and apes, but unfortunately, they provide little
information as to the proportions and stance of the living animal. Nonetheless,
projecting proportionally, paleontologists estimate that an adult Gigantopithecus
would have stood over ten feet tall, and weighed 1,200 lbs. It may have
resembled a modern gorilla or orangutan, and many scientists think it was
probably quadrupedal. But Kranz has pointed out that the very few jawbone
remains found are U-shaped and widen towards the rear, providing space for the
windpipe within the jaw, and allowing the skull to sit squarely upon a
fully-erect spine like humans, rather than projecting in front of it, like
Fig. 32. Gigantopithecus blacki
I first began studying the Bigfoot phenomenon upon moving to the Pacific
Northwest in the mid-‘70s, I was struck by the similarity of Bigfoot photos,
descriptions, and drawings to reconstructions of a large Pleistocene proto-human
called Paranthropus robustus (also
robustus or Australopithecus boisei). Dwelling in South Africa between 2-1.2
million years ago, this hominid was nearly twice the size of the little Australopithecus africanus that is
believed to have been our own ancestor. Its general proportions are quite
unlike either humans or apes regarding the length of limbs, particularly the
massive pelvic structure. Another significant feature is the prominent sagittal
crest atop the skulls of both Paranthropus
The single feature of Bigfoot that we
have been able to study extensively is its eponymous footprint. And one aspect
of those prints cannot be overlooked even to the most casual observer: the forward
position of the big toe is not that of an ape, but of a human. There are enough
significant differences between these prints and ours that their species cannot
be Homo sapiens. But they could be Paranthropus (“the other man”).
Fig. 33. Paranthropus robustus
In 1971, crypto-anthropologist Gordon
Strasenburgh first proposed the scientific name Paranthropus eldurelli for the Bigfoot of the Pacific
northwest. Today, this identification is gaining increasing
credence among serious investigators, and it is the one I too find most
We are so used to thinking of humans as
the only species of our genus, Homo,
that we tend to overlook the fact that it was not always so. Just as there are
several species of each of the great apes, early hominids also exhibited species
diversity. Perhaps some of our presumed-extinct cousins still survive undiscovered
out there in the vast northern forests…
Since Darwin, just about every discovery of a
primitive hominid has been hailed in the popular press as a “missing link”
between modern humans and our anthropoid ancestors. It has seemed only too
obvious to draw the same conclusion regarding sightings of hairy hominids, and
many have done so, assuming these creatures to be survivals of our proto-human
progenitors. Given the distinctly humanoid appearance of their footprints, this
is not an unreasonable conclusion, nor a far stretch from the Paranthropus hypothesis. It is an
especially credible proposition for African hominids, presumed to be still
surviving in their (and our) original homeland, along with several other
species of known and unknown apes, most of which have been discovered only in
the last century.
Australopithecus(“southern ape”) was proposed by Bernard Heuvelmans as a likely contender
for the identity of several of the smaller varieties of “ape men,” especially
the 3-4-foot tall African Agogwe. Discovered by Raymond Dart in 1924, several
species lived in Africa during the Pliocene
era, 4-2.4 million years ago. The famous “Lucy” was a representative of the
older A. afarensis. She and the later A. africanus were slenderly
built, or gracile, and are believed
to have been the direct ancestors of modern humans.
Fig. 34. Australopithecus afarensis
Unfortunately, the last sighting of an
Agogwe was in 1927, and if they did exist at that time, they may no more. Under
present conditions of warfare and poaching, gorillas and chimps are severely
endangered, and facing extinction as well. “When
the bough (on the Tree of Life) breaks, the Cradle (of Life) must fall.”
The first fossils of Pithecanthropus erectus
(“erect ape man”) were discovered in Java,
1891 by the Dutch anatomist Eugène Dubois. Popularly known as “Java Man,” a
second specimen was located on the same island in 1936. At the time, these were
the oldest hominid remains yet found, and many referred to them as the “missing
link” between humans and apes predicted by Darwin’s theory of evolution, which they were
cited to validate.
Fig. 35. Homo erectus
Subsequent discoveries of the same
creatures in East Africa during the 1950s and
‘70s have led to a reclassification, and Pithecanthropus
has now been absorbed into the broader species of Homo erectus (erect man).
They became the first hominids to leave Africa around 2 million years ago, when
lowered sea levels of the Pleistocene era permitted extended migrations along
the exposed continental shelf around Arabia, India, and into Sunderland (now Indonesia). They
also appear to have been the first to master fire. Various sightings of mystery
hominids throughout Indonesia
have been evidenced as possible survivals.
sapiens Neanderthalensus is now believed to have been of the same species
as us—sapiens—but of a different
subspecies. Inhabiting Europe from 130,000-24,000 years ago, they had 99.5% the
same genes as we have, and some of their genetic heritage survives among modern
humans. Famous for enduring much of the Ice Age through their invention of
clothing made from tanned hides stitched together using sinews and bone needles,
Neanderthals used to be depicted as hulking, hairy, brutish figures—the
archetypical “caveman” of popular conception. More recent discoveries have mitigated
that image, as it was learned that the first specimens discovered suffered from
severe arthritis and rickets owing to chronic vitamin D deficiency.
Fig. 36. Neanderthal
Dr. Myra Shackley, a world expert on
Neanderthals, has proposed that the Almas of Mongolia and the Chuchunaa of
Siberia may represent relic populations of Neanderthals, surviving into the 20th
century. In her 1983 book, Still Living?
Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma, she also provides an analysis
of the medieval European Wildmen, or Woodwoses,
tracing them back to the Satyrs, Fauns, and Silvestres
of Classical lore. But she concludes disappointingly that these are entirely
creatures of myth, and do not represent relict survivals—an assumption that
seems unwarranted to me.9
In 2003, the sub-fossil remains of seven
diminutive hominids were discovered on the tiny Indonesian island of Flores.
Officially designated Homo
floresiensis (“man of Flores”),
they were immediately dubbed “Hobbits” by the media, due to the current
popularity of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the
Rings movies. Only 3-4 feet tall, with skulls the size of a grapefruit, they
appear to have been an island-dwarfed race of Homo erectus. Stone tools associated with the remains indicate a
presence of these little people from 18,000 to as recently as 12,000 years ago—well
into the range of modern humans in the area. It is believed that they and other
unique animals on the island were exterminated by a volcanic eruption about
12,000 years ago. However, Portuguese sailors visiting Flores
in the 16th century heard native descriptions of small, hairy, inarticulate
cave dwellers they called Ebu Gogo. Sightings of these creatures continued into the 19th
century. And some researchers have proposed that Sumatra’s Orang
Pendek may also be surviving modern Flores men.10
Fig. 37. Homo floresiensis
Also known as the Chuman, or Manpanzee,
this is a hypothetical chimpanzee/human hybrid. Chimpanzees and humans are very
closely related, having in common 95% of DNA sequence, and 99% of coding DNA
sequences.11 Numerous claims have
been put forth over the years for experimental or feral hybrids, most famously
in the case of an individual named “Oliver.” But when the candidates were
subjected to DNA tests, no such hybrid specimen has ever been confirmed. Oliver
turned out to be pure chimp, albeit with very little hair.
Fig. 38. Oliver
This may seem like an absurd notion to introduce, but
it cannot be ignored. Particularly in the American South and Midwest,
many sightings of large hairy hominids include aspects of Fortean weirdness.
Some of these creatures seem to have no facial features; others have long claws
rather than fingers. Some leave three-toed tracks. And quite a few appear
incomplete, as if they are holographic projections, and part of them is out of
the picture. Such sightings are often accompanied by reports of UFO activity in
the vicinity. There is really no way to integrate these sorts of anomalies into
any coherent theory of biological evolution and natural history, and I deem it
wise to not even try. Reports of this nature, I submit, can only be relegated
to investigators’ “X-files.”
Monster Movies: Hairy
Snow Creature (1954) and The
Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas (1957) both featured the legendary Yeti,
which also made a brief cameo appearance in The
7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964). Quest for
Fire (1981) pitted Homo erectus
against Neanderthals.Harry and the Hendersons (1987) was a
family film of an endearing Bigfoot, which was turned into a TV sitcom of 72
episodes over 3 seasons. Wendigo
(2001) was a brooding horror film of the Canadian legend. Abominable (2006) featured the Yeti, and Tenacious D in the Pick of
Destiny (2006) included a Sasquatch.