Bigfoot has many names across the globe; in North America it is called Bigfoot, in the Himalayas it is known as the Yeti or the Abdominal Snowman, and in Australia, it is called the Yowie Man.[2]  Stories of this giant ape-man creature have endured for centuries. But is it legend or is it real?

Rendering of YetiCredit: Photo courtesy of Edwin Duesiester

What is Bigfoot?  

Bigfoot is described as a massive hairy ape-man creature, usually six to ten feet in height and weighing 500-800 pounds.  Bigfoot in North America and Australia are described as having dark brown hair while in the Himalayas, the hair is white.  People who claim to have seen the creature say it has large eyes with a protruding brow ridge and a low-set forehead.   The top of the head is generally described as similar to a gorilla. 

Alleged footprints of the creature have measured as large as eight inches wide and 24 inches long.  The casts of the alleged footprints most often have five toes, but some have up to six or as few as two.  Some of the casts include claw marks purported to be of Bigfoot.  Witnesses who claim encounters with the creature state it exudes a strong unpleasant odor.  Some believers in the reality of Bigfoot claim it is a nocturnal omnivorous creature.

How the Creature Got its Name 

Throughout history tales circulated about wild men to explain certain events or to maintain order through fear.  As early as 1847 stories about wild men living in mountains and carrying off people to eat were reported.   The race of wild men was reported by Paul Kane as Native Americans told of the fierce race of wild men living on the peaks of Mount St. Helens.  In 1840 Reverend Elkanah Walker recorded tales of giants living among Native Americans in Spokane, Washington.[1]

Local legends had their own names for the creature, but most seemed to be some version of “wild man” or “hairy man.”  In 1920 J.W. Burns wrote a series of articles for a Canadian newspaper about the legends.  At the time, Burns used the term Sasquatch to describe a single creature reflective of all the creatures of the stories.  The articles popularized the name and the legend across Western Canada and then into the United States.

A photograph in 1951 taken by Eric Shipton introduced the story of the Yeti as Shipton claimed the photograph was the footprint of a Yeti.  In 1958 Gerald Crew, a bulldozer operator, saw a set of large tracks around a road-construction site in Bluff Creek in Del Norte County, California.  He asked his friend, Bob Titmus to cast the footprints in plaster and the story was published in the Humboldt Times.  The locals called the creature that made the tracks “Big Foot.”  The story was picked up by the Associated Press and gained international attention.[1]

Alleged Bigfoot Sightings 

The original tracks found by Shipton were claimed to be created by a local logger, Ray Wallace. The wife of the editor of the Humboldt Press claims her husband was in on the hoax.  Regardless, Bigfoot hunters began to search the area for sightings of the creature around the Bluff Creek area.  About one-third of the reported sightings are in the Pacific Northwest, but sightings have been claimed in other areas of the United States as well.

Prominent sightings include the 1958 claim by Crew, two separate incidents in 1924 in British Columbia which people claim to have been taken and harassed by a giant ape-like Sasquatch, and a claim in 1941 by Jeanie Chapman in British Columbia in which she and her children escaped a Sasquatch invading their home.[1]

Two notable claims have been captured on film.  The first was in 1967 when Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin claimed to have filmed Bigfoot at Bluff Creek.  Years later, an acquaintance of Patterson’s claimed he wore an ape costume in the film.  The second claim was made by Rick Jacobs in 2007. He claimed to have filmed Bigfoot by attaching an automatically triggered camera to a tree in the Allegheny National Forest.  The Pennsylvania Game Commission stated it was likely a bear with mange.[1]


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Is Bigfoot Real or Simply a Legend?   

Whether or not Bigfoot is real is a contentious question.  Proponents claim evidence and site fossils and theories of pre-historic relatives of Bigfoot. Scientists generally attribute alleged sightings to misidentification of known animals or hoaxes.  Cryptozoologists typically explain the creature as an unknown species of the ape family.  Explanations among believers are varied as well with some believing the creature is some sort of alien form.  Most proponents of the existence of Bigfoot theorize the primate is an offspring of an Asian ape that came over to North America during the Ice Age.

Most scientists argue there is a lack of evidence for the existence of such a creature.  Hair samples of alleged creatures have turned out to be the hair from elk or bears or other known wild animals.  Footprints have often been revealed to be hoaxes and doubts have been cast on the films of the alleged creatures.

Yet, believers in Bigfoot continue to search for the creature and the rise of forensics are adding to support of their claims. This has helped bring others into the fold of believers.  In Conroe, Texas, Investigator Jimmy Chilcutt of the Police Department specializes in finger and footprints.  Jeff Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University in Pocatello keeps casts of alleged Bigfoot prints and has made over 150 of them available to Chilcutt for analysis.[2]   After analyzing a footprint found in Walla Walla, Washington in 1987, Chilcutt is onboard in the belief of the existence of Bigfoot.  He explained the characteristics of the print were different from a human print or any primate he knew.[2]  Even Jane Goodall, the reknowned chimpanzee researcher does not dismiss the existence of a large undiscovered primate such as the Yeti or Sasquatch.[2]

Bigfoot CarvingCredit: Photo courtesy of user Pinecone87

Is Bigfoot, Yeti, Sasquatch or whatever name people choose to call it, real?  The debate will surely continue for years until undisputable proof of the existence of Bigfoot is brought forth.  Until then, believers will continue to believe and scientists will continue to be skeptical. Watch the Patterson Gimlin Analysis below and decide—real Bigfoot or man in an ape suit?


The copyright of the article Is Bigfoot Real? is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

Patterson Gimlin Bigfoot Film- Bill Munns Analysis