During the average workday here at The Pipestone Flyer, the staff chat about all sorts of different topics. An interesting one popped up the other day.
For years I’ve chaffed of this shaggy, Rocky Mountain mystery. Previously, as editor of The Mountaineer newspaper in Rocky Mountain House, I dealt with a few requests from university people over the years who were out in the west country looking for proof of sasquatch.
Proof of a seven-foot tall primate, wearing a fur coat that would put Zsa Zsa Gabor to shame. Doesn’t sound like it would be difficult to collect evidence about this, right?
Wrong. Finding proof of this elusive example of crypto zoology has baffled X-Files fans for 50 years.
I know some of you will say, “Hey that Patterson guy shot a film of Bigfoot in northern California in 1967. That’s evidence of Sasquatch, isn’t it?”
Well, it’s evidence of a sort, sort of like a photo of a UFO floating above some buildings. It’s possible that the photo is real…but is it likely?
The Patterson film is a very shaky, out-of-focus film clip only about 1 minute in length. It should be noted the photographer, Roger Patterson, was shooting footage for a nature documentary series, and the famous Bigfoot clip was actually played in theatres as an introduction to the nature movies. The fact people were being charged money to see the film clip alone strongly suggests it was faked. In investigative journalism, that’s called “vested interest.” In fact, many people, and communities, in the Bigfoot world have a vested interest in the myth and that’s one of the best reasons around for suspecting fraud. “Follow the money” is what they taught me in journalism school.
Not to mention the number of people who’ve come forward saying they were part of the Patterson film fraud: “It’s just an actor in a gorilla suit.” Whether Patterson knew that or not is a matter of debate. He passed away in 1972 and, as far as is known, never admitted the film was a fake. As for me, I’ve watched the clip dozens of times and the gait and stride look like a person in a Halloween costume hamming it up.
But a much more logical and practical way of looking at the Bigfoot issue is the complete and utter lack of scientific evidence. First and foremost, a primate that size, up to seven feet tall and weighing at least 300 pounds, must leave remains and scat behind. This includes archeological remains going back thousands of years. If these creatures inhabited North America, they must have done so for a long time and thus leave behind evidence in the geological record. For example, scientists know the saber-toothed cat lived in North America until about 11,000 years ago because of remains found preserved in California’s La Brea tar pits. The cats, accidentally or otherwise, fell into the tar and were preserved. No trace of Bigfoot has ever been found this way. Nothing at all. Not even one.
Another serious question that Bigfoot believers (and Loch Ness believers too) can’t answer is…where is the breeding population? Primates tend to be social and live in groups…sometimes, in large groups. A long-lived, successful and healthy population of animals has to have a decent habitat and an adequate population that create new members. Too small of a population gives rise to issue like genetic similarity or leaves them vulnerable to competitors.
There’s no evidence in North America of a large, unknown community of primates living, hunting, breeding and dying in the ecosystem. None.
And footprints? Forget that. Every winter I make three-pronged prints in the snow and tell my coworkers that Big Bird was walking around an alley in Millet.
Stu Salkeld is the editor of The Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.