12.1.14

GOING APE

Christopher Noel. Sasquatch Rising 2013: Dead Giants Tell No Tales, How DNA Breakthroughs and Backyard Visits Reveal the Greatest Story of Our Time. CreatSpace, 2013,

Thom Cantrall. Sasquatch: The Search for a New Man. CreateSpace, 2013.

Believers in Bigfoot/Sasquatch used to claim that it was a descendent of the large extinct Asian ape, Gigantopithecus, but that identification seems to be going by the wayside, with the creature now being constructed as much more human. In writings like this, it seems to take on the mantle of the noble savage, wise in the ways of the woods. Like ufology, cryptozoology is now producing its repeater witnesses and contactees. These are people who claim that Bigfoot is becoming habituated to their presence and repeatedly visits their backyards. The evidence for this is typically ambiguous: odd arrangements of twigs, the braiding of horses’ hair, personal encounters and a few blurry pictures that have the whiff of fake around them. No clear and unambiguous photographs, no road kill (such are claimed from time to time, but as one would expect the bodies all disappear). These personal tales make up the bulk of Noel’s book.
 
If claims of having Bigfoot visiting your back yard on a regular basis is extreme, much more so is the claim one woman makes, of being in telepathic contact with a female bigfoot, and in effect channelling her/it. By now it is clearly envisioned as almost a petty supernatural of the boggart variety rather than a flesh and blood creature
 
The second alleged breakthrough are the so called DNA tests conducted by Dr Melba Ketchum, who released her findings in that prestigious scientific journal Facebook, and has been the subject of much controversy among the cryptozoological community. Her claim that Bigfoot is the descent of matings between and Homo Sapiens females and unknown hominid males (on internet sources, she speculates Homo Heidelbergensis).

However any hominid sufficiently close to us to produce viable and fertile young would have lost its ape-like body hair long ago (an event which occurred in the ancestors of Homo Ergaster perhaps more than two million years ago, as they adapted to open country). Heidelbergenses were sophisticated people who made clothes, fire, spears and hunted wild game, and not at all plausible ancestors of Bigfoot. Such hybrids from 15,000 ago (very recent it would appear), would long have either died out, or become totally assimilated in the general human population, as have ‘babyface’ and Neanderthal or Denisovan hybrids; indeed we should really thing of all these groups as sub-species or even just ethnic groups within Homo Sapiens.
 
Cantrall’s book is mainly devoted to various bigfoot and sasquatch hunts by the author and others, with again no definitive results. For cryptozoology fans, perhaps the most interesting section is the talk by Bob Gimlin, who was with Roger Patterson when he took his (in)famous bigfoot movie. There are, however, no grand revelations. -- Peter Rogerson


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