The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, our Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ Canada to the CFZ global family.

Saturday 31 March 2012

Sasquatch –from the Bottom up part 2; Hot Legs

So far, all we have as “evidence” for the legs of the Sasquatch are witness testimony and some grainy images.  This makes learning about the anatomy of the legs of the beast a challenge-and doesn’t leave any theories a leg to stand on.

From images and descriptions, it would appear that like humans, the Sasquatch legs are approximately half of the total height.  Because the creature is said to run, we know it must possess at least knees and hips.  This should mean that the basic musculature of a sasquatch leg is much like that of a human.  The knees should bend only one way, and the pelvis supports forward and backward extension.  We do not have any evidence that the Sasquatch can extend its leg sideways from the body, but the lack of such evidence does not mean it cannot make that movement.

Because Sasquatch is apparently bipedal, we will limit the term “legs” to be his lower appendages only.  These would terminate in the feet, addressed earlier.  Like feet, legs assist in weight bearing and locomotion.  In some animals, they also assist in subduing prey.  This does not appear to be the case in Sasquatch, although no evidence either way is currently present.  It would appear that the Sasquatch leg would have at least one femur and one tibia, or bones that are similar to those in humans.   For our purposes we will include the thigh, knee, and ankle as part of the leg, although typically in human anatomy discussion the “leg” is only the area between the knee and the ankle.

In Sasquatch depiction, the leg is in full alignment, meaning that from the hip to the ankle, the leg forms a relatively straight line.  Additionally, the legs appear to be more muscular than the arms.  This is a distinct difference from gorillas, as their forelegs (arms) are very much stronger than their legs.  This is largely due to weight distribution.  Bipedal animals (humans) need to have the bulk of their weight distributed over only two appendages, where the apes put weight on all four.  These traits suggest that Sasquatch is primarily a ground dweller.  If he spent a large amount of time in trees his legs would show a bit of a bow, to allow for better attachment to the tree limb allowing fuller balance.  This should not be misinterpreted to mean that the Sasquatch cannot climb.  Certainly human anatomy allows for climbing and it should be assumed that Sasquatch would be capable of that as well.  Some videos do depict presumed Sasquatch in trees.
Sasquatch appears to move with what is called a “compliant gait”, meaning the knees and elbows are bent as it walks.  Unlike humans, bigfoot has little “up and down” motion in his gait, and raises his heel significantly in his stride.  His stride is considered “in line” meaning that one foot is nearly directly behind the other.  Die hard believers consider the stride evidenced in the Patterson-Gimlin film as conclusive, but a Stanford study showed that humans can in fact mimic the gait shown in the film.
Several bigfoot clips show the animal dropping to all four appendages when startled.  Like an ape, it uses its feet instead of a knee like a human would.  In films where the subject appears to jump, it is an inline stride jump rather than a broad jump.

The mathematical formula for average stride length in a human male is .415 times his height in inches. To reverse diagnose that, we can take a sasquatch stride (usually about 600 mm or 23 inches) and divide by .415.  This would make the creature in the Patterson-Gimlin film only 55 inches tall. (note that a “stride” is defined by the distance from the heel of one foot to the second occurrence of that same heel—or two full steps).  Some analysts of the film put him at 78 inches.  In the first example, this would put our Sasquatch in the relative size of Australopithecus, long thought to be either an ancestor of big foot  or the actual species.  In the second example it would put the beast in the realm of  Paranthropus, another candidate for the lineage.  In both cases, the heights are well below legendary reports of 7 and 8 foot beasts.

There may be real answers coming.  Craig Woolheater reported in 2006 that Tom Biscardi has access to a bigfoot corpse, buried on a reserve in Manitoba.  But then, on Biscardi’s website you can go “shopping for Bigfoot” and for only $35 can get a “Bigfoot Welcome Mat”.  There is also the “Erikson Project”, the work of Adrian Erikson.  Erikson waffles on whether or not he has access to actual Sasquatch remains, but says he has seen one, and “they walk like runway models”.  For now, anecdotal evidence is all we have toward solving this mystery.

American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume 28, Issue 2, pages 163–181, March 1968
Primate anatomy : an introduction,          Friderun Ankel-Simons, Elsevier Academic Press, ©2007.
Bigfoot exposed: an anthropologist examines America's enduring legend
 By David J. Daegling

Friday 23 March 2012

Sasquatch –from the Bottom up part 1; Big Feet

I’m still pretty green at this Crypto stuff—I’ve only been part time studying for about 6 years.  My “real job” is researching hauntings phenomena and Cryptozoology is sort of a side.  I’ve decided to share my learning journey here on this blog, beginning with Sasquatch.

Today we’re looking at Bigfoot’s feet.  Most footprint casts look like this:

Most notably, each of these images appears to have five toes.  Racoons have five toes, but there would be evidence of claws in the tracks.  Bears also have five toes, but the front tracks have a short sole.  The hind track is a bit larger.  Both are wider near the toe than the above tracks.  Note too that there are no signs of claws on any of these casts.  An animal large enough to leave these prints would step deeply enough to leave signs of any claw attached.
These tracks appear most closely related to human tracks, but is that enough to classify bigfoot as humanoid?  Not just the tracks.  When we add in the probability that whatever made the tracks walks upright, this lends a better probability that this creature is structurally much like a human.

From the footprint casts we can also deduct relative weight and height.  The depth of the imprint is indicative of the weight of the creature who made it.  This is fairly easy to determine in the field.  Choose an investigator with a similar size footprint (or the largest one available) and have that person run barefoot over the same area where the cast was taken (given the same level of wetness of the soil or snow).  Measure that footprint’s depth and add the subject’s known weight into this formula:
Depth of human track/weight of human=depth of unknown/x where x equals the weight of the unknown.
More specifically, if you have a 3 inch depth on your 200 pound human (3/200) and a 4 inch depth on your unknown (4/x) you can solve for the weight as such:  3/200=4/x or 3x=1200, meaning x would be 1200/3 or 400 pounds.  This works much more accurately than analysis of the Patterson-Gimlin tracks where the tracks were compared to horse tracks.  Clearly, the weight distribution is different on a hooved animal with four weight bearing limbs than on a five toed bipedal animal.

Because of the structure of the human foot, it is easy to approximate the height of the person it belongs to.  Keep in mind that this does not allow for deformation like spinal compression or curvature, so the height is not exact.  Deducing this is to get a general idea of how large a creature would be. In humans, the length of a person's foot is approximately 15 percent of his or her height.  The formula is 15/100=foot inches/height inches.  So if a man has a 10 inch foot you can expect him to be about 67 inches tall.  15/100=10/x where x is his height becomes 1000=15x or about 67 inches.  If the cast length is 20 inches, you should expect your creature to be no more than 133 inches or about 11 feet tall. 
Using the data above, we can assume that from a track that is 20 inches long and 4 inches deep which has 5 toes without claws, our mysterious creature would be 11 feet tall and weigh about 400 pounds.  It is estimated that Gigantopithicus was about 10 feet tall, and weight 1200 pounds.  In comparison, male gorillas generally top out at about 400 pounds and 5 and a half feet tall.  It would seem then that our Sasquatch should be relatively tall and thin. Alternately, if we estimate size based on the creature’s weight  (as estimated above) rather than length of foot and our control is a “fit human male” at 6 feet, 200 pounds, then we would expect our bigfoot to be about 12 feet tall.  In either case, the bulky illustrations we see of purported Sasquatch do not fit.

Witness testimony places much more bulk on our Sasquatch—broader at the shoulders than a man, so different musculature would be present and this would vary the weight considerably.  Factoring in all three—height, weight, and bulk, it would seem appropriate to believe that a male bigfoot would be about 9 or 10 feet tall and weigh in the neighborhood of 800 pounds.

A more accurate estimate of height comes from measuring stride, but we’ll talk more about that when we work our way up to his legs.

Feet have basically two purposes—movement and weight bearing.  The Sasquatch casts show a clear ball and heel, and some casts show an arch.  The larger first toe gives clues to his ability to move.  This larger toe is stronger and we depend on it for propulsion.  In most casts, this first toe is not significantly larger than the rest which would lead us to believe that all toes on this creature assist with propulsion, making movement very fast.  Human feet have three arches, the one we most commonly refer to as “the arch” at midfoot, one along the outer edge, and a “transverse” arch that runs perpendicular to these other two.  All of these arches assist in balance, and generally the “flatter” the arch, the more contact the foot has with the ground.  In the casts above, the arches are barely noticeable.  This should mean that there is a difference in the bone and muscle structure in a Sasquatch foot.  Such flat feet would render a human in great pain and limited mobility and we’re pretty certain that is not the case with Sasquatch.  The Sasquatch is thought to have a mid-tarsal break, which unlike humans would give it enough flexibility to grab objects with its foot.  Additonally, Sasquatch has a gray pad on the sole of the foot called the Ostman pad.

Understanding the Sasquatch foot would be important in placing the creature into comparison with human evolution.  W E H Harcourt-Smith and L C Aiello write:
In the last 80 years or so there have been a number of proposed theories addressing the evolution of hominin bipedalism from the point of view of comparative anatomy. Historically, these theories can be placed into two categories. First, there are those theories based primarily on observed anatomical differences between extant hominoid taxa, and secondly there are those theories based more on fossil material. Because the vast majority of early hominin fossil remains have been found since the 1960s, theories prior to that date rested almost exclusively on the comparative anatomy of modern humans and the extant primates, particularly the great apes. They addressed the question of the probable postcranial morphology and associated locomotor repertoire that immediately preceded the appearance of hominin bipedalism. By contrast, ideas about the evolution of hominin bipedalism since the 1960s have tended to be highly influenced by fossil finds and to focus on questions of bipedal evolution within the human clade.
Sasquatch feet do not fit nicely into any evolutionary delineation.  Perhaps we are dealing with a descendent of the Red Deer Cave People or even an undetermined new hominid species.

Next up-“If you don't have a leg to stand on, you can't put your foot down.” ~Robert Altman

Monday 19 March 2012

Myth, Legend, or Cryptozoology?

There is a fine line between myth and legend.  Traditional dictionary sources draw that line at “supernatural” or “paranormal” but those words themselves are gray areas.

The Free Dictionary ( defines Myth as “A traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people, as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs, or ideals of society.”  By this definition, most sea and lake “monsters” would be considered myth, as they are generally fundamentally the same and are ancient in origin.  But the same source gives this definition for legend:  An unverified story handed down from earlier times, especially one popularly believed to be historical.  Lake monsters would fit that definition as well.  The one thing both definitions have in common is that the stories (reports) are “unverified”.

Just what constitutes verification?  Certainly the Sasquatch fits both legend and myth definitions, but since footprints and various other bits of “evidence” are present, does that make them verified?  It would seem that the presence of footprints verifies that something indeed walked in a particular location.  How do we assign the print to Sasquatch?  What is it about that print that points to a legendary or mythological being rather than a verifiable, biological creature?  Which brings up another big question; must an entity be biological to be “real”?

Such is the nature of the study of Cryptozoology.  Many legendary and mythological creatures have been verified to exist biologically.  The Coelacanth, the Komodo Dragon, and the Giant Squid were ancient legends—believed by many to be actually myths—and have now be substantiated by tangible evidence.
George M. Eberhart has written of the difficulties of categorizing “mystery animals”.   He gives us ten types of mystery animals that would be defined as cryptozoological.

1.     Distribution anomalies [known animals reported outside their normal  range, e.g. the anomalous big cats of the U.K.];
2.     Undescribed, unusual, or outsized variations of known species [e.g. the giant anacondas reported from Amazonia or the spotted lions of East Africa];
3.     Survivals of recently extinct species [e.g. Ivory Billed Woodpecker presumed extinct ca. 1960, or the Steller's Sea Cow presumed extinct ca. 1770, both of which are occasionally claimed to have survived to the present];
4.     Survivals of species known only from the fossil record into modern times [e.g. the mokele-mbembe of central Africa, sometimes described as a living dinosaur];
5.     Lingerlings, or survivals of species known from the fossil record much later into historical times than currently thought [e.g. the woolly mammoth, presumed extinct ca. 12,000 BCE but occasionally purported surviving into later eras];
6.     Animals not known from the fossil record but related to known species [e.g. the Andean wolf or the striped manta-ray reported by William Beebe in the 1930s];
7.     Animals not known from the fossil record nor related to any known species [e.g. North America's Bigfoot or most sea serpents];
8.     Mythical animals with a zoological basis [e.g. the Griffin, partly inspired by dinosaur fossils of Central Asia];
9.     Seemingly paranormal or supernatural entities with some animal-like characteristics [e.g. Mothman, Black Dogs or some fairies from folklore];
10.     Known hoaxes or probable misidentifications [e.g. the Jackalope, an antlered rabbit created as a hoax or prank, but possibly inspired by rabbits infected with Shope papilloma virus, which causes antler-like tumors].

Eberhart also gives us a good list of exclusions for classification—or more simply, things that probably are NOT cryptozoological.

1.     Insignificance. "Cryptids must be big, weird, dangerous or significant to humans in some way."
2.     Lack of controversy. "Someone needs to observe a mystery animal and someone else needs to discredit the sighting. Cryptozoologists function as interventionists between witnesses and skeptical scientists."
3.     Erratics. "The out-of-place alligator […] that turns up in an odd spot, undoubtedly through human agency, is not a zoological mystery […] [I]f someone discovers a new species of alligator that lives only in sewers, that is a different matter."
4.     Bizarre humans [e.g. zombies]
5.     Angels or demons […] "the paranormal or supernatural is admitted only if it has an animal shape (a werewolf sighting, which might involve a real dog or wolf, or a mystery canid)."
6.     Aliens "[unless such extraterrestrials] arrived a long time ago and thus classify as residents."

Mr. Eberhart is a bibliographer and librarian for CUFOS (Center for UFO Studies). He completed a degree in journalism at the Ohio State University, then came to the University of Chicago for a Masters in Library Science.. He is employed by the American Library Association headquarters in Chicago as editor for the trade journal American Libraries. He belonged to a natural history book club, and in 1959,  read On the Track of Unknown Animals by Bernard Heuvelmans.  Eberhart’s book “Mysterious Creatures: a Guide to Cryptozoology” can be previewed on Google Books and purchased from Amazon for about $190.00.

To some, it may seem a matter of semantics.  If cryptozoology is to progress out of the label of “fringe science”, however, these definitions and criteria have to be made and widely accepted by serious researchers.  It isn’t enough to go on a “bigfoot hunt” and call oneself a cryptozoologist.