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.

Sunday 29 April 2012

Bigfoot From the Bottom Up Part 6: Big Hairy Deal

Reports of the humanoid/hominid we call Sasquatch here in Canada come in from all over the world.  In the US most think of him as Bigfoot, whereas in the Far East he is known as a Yeti.  In fact, there are dozens of names associated with this big hairy best.  Here is a list:

The Wood Man
Timber Giants
Big Figure
Wild Man of the Woods
Wild Woman of the Woods
evil seeker
Sne nah, or Owl Women
Tsadjatko, or giants
Hecaitomixw, or Devil of the Forest
Tsaaloh, or, Giants
Stick Indians
The Hairy Man
Ice Giant
Mount St. Helens gorillas
Goat man

Na’in, or Brushman
Koosh Taa Kaa, or Otterman
Madukarahat, or Giant
Loo poo oi’yes
Nun Yunu Wi
The Stone Man
Nalusa Falaya
Skunk ape
Swamp ape
Orang Dalam
Devil Monkey
Honey Island Swamp Monster
Fouke Monster

Ot ne yar heh
Stonish Giants
Ge no sqwa
The Stone Giants
Ge no’sgwa
The Stone Coats
Esti Capcaki
Chiye tanka
The Big Man
Woods Devils
Yi’ dyi’ tay
Ste ye hah
Lizard man
Flint Monster
Stick Indian
No Heads
No necks
Ft. Worth Monster
Boggy Creek Monster

To be fair, some of these names are not necessarily associated with Bigfoot creatures exactly.  There is some discussion among researchers that beings like Lizard Man and Windigo are not at all like him, but rather creatures of their own kind, or even hoax and fictional creatures.

Like the many different names, the big hairy man has been described with many hair colors and varieties.  North America Bigfoot Search has developed a “trait sheet” wherein they identify hair color in bigfoot reports as “black, brown, grey, reddish and more.”  In the Far East, his hair color is generally reported as white or grey, but in North America he is usually noted to be brown, black or blonde—sometimes with some grey interspersed.    In northern Ontario, there are many reports of “Old Yellow Top”, a clearly blonde bigfoot specimen.  It would appear that like humans, these creatures come in all colors.  The same is true for skin color.  Skin is reported as everything from dark to light.

When it comes to scientific evidence, the hair sample field narrows significantly.  In the attached photo, the witness claims the hair was found 7 feet up in a tree in a rural mountainous area, probably in Pennsylvania, given her email address.  Is it from a Bigfoot?  Would DNA testing tell us?  IN 1978, John Greene’s book “Sasquatch, the Apes Among Us” details the investigation of a half dozen light colored hairs found in the 1960’s.  These were sent a laboratory in Los Angeles and it was determined that the hairs showed both animal and human characteristics. Like animal hair, they showed a variation in color and thickness from root to tip.  The scale pattern on the outside of the shaft, however, was more like human hair and there was no core in the shaft.  Animal hair has a core called the medulla in the center of each strand.

In the early 1990’s,  Dr. Grover S. Krantz published “Big Foot-Prints: A Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch.”  He explains that DNA extraction is now possible for the study, but;
"Hair samples are the commonest of what I call bodily scraps.  Some of these have been examined by hair expert and pronounced to be of an unknown animal and in a few cases even pinned down to being from a high primate.  Unfortunately for these earlier studies, the science of hair analysis is rather inexact and the competence of the investigator varies greatly…the science of hair analysis is rather inexact and the competence of the investigator varies greatly.”
Analysis is currently done in comparison to most mammal DNA, especially humans, primates, and bears.  We have been able to correctly identify what Sasquatch is not, but not what it is.  This cannot occur until we have definitive proof of where the sample came from.  In short, we need a bigfoot, dead or alive, to take samples from.  Blood and hair samples were left behind on a Native Reserve in Washington state where the witness reported seeing a Sasquatch bothering cattle.  Fences were torn down and what seemed to be a sleeping nest was built. Professor Stephen I Rosen of the University of Maryland identified the hair as that of a previously unknown primate.  The blood sample was examined by another institution and found to be primate, possibly human, but too degraded to be definitive.   The Summerlin hairs found in the same state in 1995 were found by Ohio State University to be “an unknown primate”.

The nature of the Sasquatch body hair may be as simple as Hypertrichosis, or more colorfully, 'werewolf syndrome.'   This is a genetic disorder characterised by excessive body hair on the human torso.   It tends to be relatively rare, but if these beings have a limited gene pool it would be easy to propagate.  If this is the case, then as Bobbie Short remarks in her paper What do we know about Sasquatch hair, really?  “Shave off all that hair and you have a human body looking back at you…”

In early October 2011, "yetiologists" from the USA, Canada, Sweden, Estonia and Russia went to the Kuzbass region of Russia.  There they found footprints believed to belong to a Yeti.  Stuck into at least one of these prints were hair samples.  Professors from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Idaho Universities tested the hairs and found them to be identical to some found in California, the Russian Urals, and near Leningrad.  The samples were then forwarded to the Russian Zoological Institute of the Academy of Sciences to examine and determine the genetic code.

Dr. W. Henner Fahrenbach has the only extensive collection of hairs presumptive for Sasquatch in the USA.  His collection is animal, human, and non-human primate samples accumulated over time.  These samples are from 3 to 15 inches in length, and most are under 90 microns in diameter. Uncontaminated hair samples presumed to be Sasquatch hairs can still be sent to Dr. Fahrenbach to be analyzed at the  Laboratory of Microscopy, 6835 E. Las Animas Trail, Gold Canyon, Arizona  85118.

It would seem that we are a mere hairs bredth away from deciphering the Sasquatch genetic code.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Sasquatch from the Bottom Up Part 5: Bear Arms?

We’ve sort of climbed Sasquatch like a tree, which brings usnicely to his “upper limbs”. Today we look at Sasquatch Arms—the real ones, not the Urban Dictionary definition of awoman who doesn’t shave!

Like all Bigfoot researchers, I habitually go back to the PGfilm for photographic evidence. I’velost track of how many times I’ve viewed this film, especially famous frame 352. Each time I watch it I have a different opinion. One of the things I’m set on though is the upper appendages (arms)shown in that footage.

Real or hoax, the subject in PGF has interesting arms. Firstobservation is usually the length of the arm. It appears to hang to the knee, but when you consider that the subjectis stooped, more likely the real length is about halfway down the thigh.


Arboreal primates have significantly longer arms whencompared to the torso. The mean ratio ofarm length to leg length for the common chimpanzee is 97.8. Humans average alower ratio at approximately 71.8. Thisratio is calculated compared to leg length and does not include the hand. A.afarensis (Lucy) is intermediate between modern humans and chimpanzees at 84.69. Bears, because they are not primarily bipedal,have a ratio of almost 100%. In the famous frame, the legs are 24 units long (the size of the unit is unknown, but the same is used for all measurements) and the arm is 10 units, giving our animal only a 42% ratio. In humans, the“wingspan” is just about the same as the person’s height. Her wingspan is estimated to be 35units. If we estimate each unit at twoinches, her height would be 70 inches or about 5.8. This is consistent with other proportions inthis specimen.

In the PGF, our Sasquatch swings her arms freely, like in ahuman economic gait. Keeping the armssteady increases the effort of walking by 12%, , which suggests that holdingthe arms down requires more exertion that letting them swing. Forcing the armsto swing out of sync increases the effort of walking even more. Arm swing isthought to help provide balance and to keep the body from spinning. Thus we can see great similarity in arm swingbetween humans and Sasquatch. Great apesand lesser apes do not generally swing their arms when they are upright. Bears are not primarily bipedal and do notswing their arms while walking.

As an interesting aside, Bob Heironimus, the man who claimsto have been “in the suit” in PGF has a 35 inch arm length. Hrmmm.

Added for reference for Andrew May (see comments)

Friday 13 April 2012

Sasquatch from the Bottom Up Part 4: Junk in the Trunk

One of the things that make humans and Bigfoot unique, is the ability to maintain an upright position.  Bipedalism is the ability to be mobile on the back two appendages;   in our case, legs.  What I am researching this week is what makes it possible for us to be bipedal and how we got that way.  This is an important piece of background information when attempting to understand what Sasquatch could be, especially if he is to be considered humanoid.

An animal moves in a bipedal manner is known as a biped, which means "two feet" (from the Latin bi for "two" and ped for "foot"). This type of movement includes everything from walking to hopping, so long as it is done on two legs.

There are not a lot of modern animals whose normal walking movement is bipedal.  In mammals, this movement has evolved several times. In the Triassic period some of the ancestors of crocodiles developed bipedalism, including dinosaurs and eventually birds.  Some species use bipedalism for short bits of time.  Some lizards move bipedally when running, usually to escape from threats. Bears and Great Apes often become bipedal to reach food or see over obstacles.  Several animals rear up on hind legs to have sex or while fighting. Humans, however, are most always bipedal when moving, after the first year or two at least.  When moving, bipedal animals typically have upright torsos and often use their tail for balance.

Most mammals are quadropedal.  In the some mammals that are bipedal, namely kangaroos and wallabies, the motion is by hopping rather than one foot at a time (alternating gait). Few bipedal mammals other than primates walk with an alternating gait.  There are many hypotheses on how, when and why bipedalism evolved in humans. Bipedal specializations are found in Australopithecus fossils from 4.2-3.9 million years ago.  Possible reasons for the evolution of human bipedalism include freeing the hands for tool use and carrying, differences in gender in food gathering and child bearing, changes in climate and to a habitat that favored a more elevated eye-position, and to reduce the amount of skin exposed to the tropical sun.
C. Owen Lovejoy theorizes that the evolution of bipedalism was linked to monogamy.  This model is supported by the change in size of the male canine teeth in early hominids suggests that there were reductions in male to male fighting.  Additionally, modern humans show traits like permanent prominence in female breast that argues against the idea that recent humans are the start of monogamous relationships.  According to Richard Dawkins in his book "The Ancestor's Tale", chimps and bonobos are descended from Australopithecus gracile type species while gorillas are descended from Paranthropus. These apes may have once been bipedal, but then lost this ability when they were forced back into an arboreal habitat.  The aquatic ape hypothesis, promoted for several decades by Elaine Morgan, proposed that swimming, diving and aquatic food sources exerted a strong influence on many aspects of human evolution, including bipedalism.

It isn’t just the legs that are crucial to walking upright.  Trunk stabilizing muscles have to be well developed.  Weak lower back muscles will prevent an upright stance, so we must assume that Sasquatch has significant musculature in that region.  Likewise the abdominal muscles must be strong enough to counterbalance the back.  From the perspective remaining upright, the trunk and leg muscles are far more important than upper body strength and development.  It would be safe to assume that Sasquatch is not going to have a very small pelvis and thin legs.  This is something that is remarkable when comparing sightings to those of an ape.  An ape pelvis is significantly smaller (in proportion to the trunk) than that of a human because in an ape it does not need to support an upright stance.  We believe Sasquatch to be mammal and bipedal and therefore probably primate.  The big question, however, is which kind of primate?

Ninety six percent of DNA base pair sequences of humans and chimpanzees are the same.  Most of the 4% difference is in duplicated non-gene segments.  The genes that differ, mostly control speech, smelling, hearing, digesting proteins, and susceptibility to certain diseases.  The genome for chimpanzees has now been completed as well, showing their evolution and separation from the overall primate soup at roughly 12 to 16 million years ago versus the human version arrival just two or three million years ago.  If we discard the traditional thinking that Bigfoot is either ape or human, or a mix thereof, we then consider the possibility of a separate genome diversion within the period of ten to 14 million years ago.  This would give them their own distinct evolutionary path relative to their environmental needs, perhaps causing the development of bipedal motion with other things like speech or brain size.  It is also possible that their own evolution pattern means they would indeed have innate ability to sense the presence and intention of humans who enter their environment—what we perceive as “ESP”.  Some regions of the human genome more closely resemble the orangutan than the chimpanzee.  At the time humans split off from a common ancestor with chimps, both species had the same ancestral orangutan DNA. Chimps lost some orangutan DNA that humans retained.  This makes the “third species” hypothesis even more intriguing.

Most internal organs between great apes and humans are pretty similar.  Both have a simple stomach, small intestine, small cecum terminating in an appendix, and a hindgut (the large intestine, rectum, and anal canal). The differences are in the proportions.  In great apes the large intestine is the majority of gut volume where in humans it is the small intestine.  This is likely due to change in available food.  As humans evolved, their foods became more specialized and prepared.  Unless Sasquatch can grow and cook his own food, we should expect him to have a more prominent large intestine.  Bears, on the other hand, have quite a small digestive tract, even compared to other herbivores. 

While we have no “proof” of what the Bigfoot diet encompasses, it is generally accepted that he is omnivorous.  Because similar reports of these creatures come from all over the world, it is likely that he is a creature who eats basically whatever is available.  Some researchers report that bigfoot is known to eat fish and small deer, but no good evidence of that has surfaced.  Without genetically proven scat samples it is impossible to suggest any direction on diet.  First we must prove there IS Bigfoot, then we’ll worry about how to feed him.

Sasquatch must have a heart, all animals do.  Likely it is nearly the same as our own, given that non-human primate hearts have been known to function in humans awaiting transplant.  Enzymes and other chemical considerations cause eventual rejection of baboon hearts in humans, but structurally the two species are similar enough to be considered probable as the norm for our Bigfoot as well.
Chemical differences (hormones, enzymes, antibodies, etc) in the lungs of Sasquatch would be nearly the only difference in lung capacity and efficiency if compared to humans.  One factor, the diaphragm, and its purpose and function may be of more importance to investigate.  Since Bigfoot is bipedal, it is likely that the diaphragm is developed differently than that of an ape.  Physiological changes in muscle size and placement is greatly dependent on posture.

Again, without a body or scat samples, much of what we propose to know about Sasquatch cannot be proven (or disproven).  Certainly though, we should be preparing for the day when we DO have those samples so that we know the facts for comparison.

“The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution”, by Richard Dawkins
“The Transplantation and Replacement of Thoracic Organs: The Present Status”,  By David K. C. Cooper, Leslie W. Miller, and G. Alexander Patterson

Saturday 7 April 2012