As Urban Legends Go, Bigfoot Gets No Respect
Mystery Casebook Fritz Schoepflin

The Daily Evergreen

Published: 10/12/2007

Halloween is approaching. Have you given any thought to what you’ll be this year?

Maybe you will paint your body and dye your hair to resemble an animal, a bloody vampire or discolored witch. Or perhaps you are a little lazier, and will just buy a superhero costume that doesn’t require any effort. Lame.

If you are male, you will most likely be wearing something that makes you look tough, and if you are female you will be wearing something that reveals as much skin as possible. For months I had planned on being a vampire hunter. I would have all the accessories that Simon Belmont, Van Helsing, Blade and even Buffy would approve of. These included a cross, garlic, holy water and weapons made of silver.

Lately I have been having second thoughts. Perhaps I should go for something scarier, uglier, funnier or darker. The scariest phenomena are the most believable. Thus, the most realistic costume would resemble a scientifically disputed monster that has been documented and has as many believers as skeptics. Cue our furry Northwest friend, the Sasquatch (also known as Bigfoot). It is regarded by some as a shape-shifting shaman with the power to pass through dimensions, by others as a robotic pet of aliens deployed on earth to gather information about humans and/or scare us.

The most plausible explanation suggests that Bigfoot is a primate (specifically, the Gigantopithecus blacki) that has eluded human detection and is struggling to survive in the quickly disappearing wilderness of the Cascades. This paints it as a giant ape with some human qualities, a living “missing link.” Enthusiasts of this hypothesis go on to liken the eyewitness accounts of people who claim to have seen Bigfoot to those of monsters on other continents. The Yeti of Nepal and Tibet (the Abominable Snowman), the Yowie of Australia and the Yeren of China all fit the parameters of the giant ape.

Many animals crossed over the Bering Land Bridge from Asia to North America before sea levels rose and turned it into the Bering Strait 6,000 years ago. Couldn’t the giant ape have been one of them?

Archaeological records suggest that the giant ape, whose excavated skeletal remains suggest a height of up to ten feet, went extinct about 1 million years ago. Bigfoot enthusiasts use the 2004 discovery of Homo floresiensis, a hobbit-like hominid whose remains were found in Indonesia, to show that science is only beginning to unearth some of nature’s most fascinating secrets.

Grover Krantz, a WSU professor of physical anthropology from 1968-1998, was the first researcher who devoted the bulk of his energy to examining the existence of Bigfoot. His research solidified the possibility of Bigfoot’s existence as a scientific endeavor rather than a collection of naive opinions of people exposed to folklore.

Unfortunately, there have been several hoaxes, notably by Ivan Marx of Spokane in the ‘60s, which have increased skepticism. Large footprints found in the forest can be interpreted in any number of ways, and eyewitness reports have been proven by several studies to be incredibly unreliable.

All in all, the evidence in support of Bigfoot is questionable. Maybe it’s not the most realistic costume. To boot, it’s been marginalized by the mascot of Seattle’s professional basketball team as a furry, goofy beast named “Squatch” that can do flips and slam dunks. But don’t worry, Bigfoot, I still respect ya.

But I have decided to go with the vampire hunter costume instead.

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