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.
I have noticed many negative comments about this article, some are saying that
the article is disrespectful to the families and the missing and killed woman.
In the article I wanted to bring to light to the public the horrific incidents that
have been occurring in Highway 16 and other nearby highways in the BC area of
Canada. In no way was my intent to make any one upset specially the families of
these women. The connection to Bigfoot been the killer kidnapper of these woman
to me is also absurd, but when events occur that are part of a larger and
unresolved mystery, people can at times try to find answers to the possible
cause of such events in other theories. I just found very interesting the many
reports of BF sightings on or close to Highway 16 in BC Canada. The Canadian
Royal Police believe it’s the work of one or more serial killer, which I even
believe is more plausible. I want to apologize if I upset anyone and hope that
these families get the closure they need and whoever or whatever is committing
these crimes is stopped.
So many strange disappearances have occured on a stretch of highway that covers 837 miles in the province of British Columbia Canada, mostly involving women or children. Few roads on earth are more dramatically breathtaking than Canada’s Highway 16. The lonely highway stretches east-west through British Columbia, winding its way through snow peaks, bustling mill towns, and a remote and lonely wilderness that feels as if it has been lost in time. No one knows what or who exactly is to blame for the missing and dead. Canadian Mounty police in some cases believe it is the work of a serial killer, yet more than 3 decades have passed without any luck. Even a special task force has been formed and a Canadian government inquiry was opened regarding why so many women ranging in age from children to adults have either been killed or have never been found. Recently, in May of 2011, another young woman disappeared never to be seen again. A 20-year-old female vanished near what has come to be known as the Highway of Tears. The young girl was last seen at 3 a.m. on the night of May 27, 2011 at Hogsback Lake, a very popular camping and party spot. The camp site is located about 15 miles south of the young woman’s small town of Vanderhoof. A few days after the young lady went missing police found her belongings, tent, and pickup truck at the campsite, but no sign of the young woman was ever found and search parties came up empty handed after several days.
The young girls fate appears to be the latest in a more than three-decade-long period during which numerous women have been killed or gone missing near three of B.C.’s northern highways, most prominently Highway 16. Canada is a country where murder is rare (610 homicides in 2009, compared to the United States’ 13,636), so it is interesting that it would have so many murders and missing persons. While the Royal Canadian Mounted Police say the number of missing and dead totals 18, aboriginal leaders in the area say the real number is much higher, around 43.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police believe that Highway 16 is possibly the trolling ground of a serial killer (or killers). Others put the blame on truck drivers who regularly haul timber and other resources through the remote communities. According to the RCMP statistics in 2011, 10 of the 18 apparent victims lived in remote aboriginal communities and use hitchhiking as a possible means of travel.
In 2011 Chris Freimond, a spokesperson for the Canadian government-funded Missing Women Commission of Inquiry stated; “Whether it is one person or whether it is a few individuals, it is really open to speculation. “It could just be that some sick people up there realize that women hitchhiking alone are easy pickings. Towns are far apart and there are long stretches of road. Sometimes the radio fades out and there is no cell service. There are logging roads off every highway. If someone has bad intentions, you will find a victim. Someone can go off and drive for an hour and throw a body into a ravine and they would never be found.” The commission held informal hearings about the disappearances and murders that happened during the month of May of 2011.
As of June of 2012 the ongoing and in depth RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] investigation has not created any new leads on the cases of the missing and murdered woman, except for a report from April of 2011, when police distributed a sketch of an elderly man who attempted to kidnap a 20-year-old woman at a location near Highway 16, but the man was never found. The first documented case of a missing or murdered victim was of a young woman 27 years of age in 1969.
Some residents of the many communities near the so called “Highway of Tears” worry that the same may happen to other woman and have taken upon themselves to post warning signs for women to be cautious when traveling highway 16.
On Feb. 5, 2002 a local man from Vancouver name Robert Pickton was arrested and charged as the prime suspect of 27 murders which include some of the murders of this mystery. While in jail Pickton admitted that he had killed over 49 women. It is interesting that even after his capture the murders and missing women reports continued and still remain unresolved. Many hope that whoever or whatever is doing things is captured or stopped.
I also found an interesting article written in the summer of 2000 about Sasquatches in British Columbia by Dr. John Bindernagel, which talked about a few of the reports of over 200 possible sightings of Bigfoots. So it is not surprising that many would try to make a connection to Bigfoot and this mystery with so many reports of Bigfoot sightings since the early 70’s in the vicinity of highway 16 and other highways in British Columbia. The Canadian Royal Mounted Police finds Bigfoot as the answers to the unsolved cases of these victims as ridiculous.
Here is a link to Dr. Bindernagel’s article 2000 from BFRO:
One thing for sure, with so many unanswered questions some people are starting to believe that something else is responsible for many of the missing or murdered girls. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing investigations, the details of events of the missing and causes of death and have not been made public. The Canadian police still believe it is the work of one or more serial killer.
Whether or not you believe in faeries
depends on what you think they are or were.
Today, if you mention fairies, people
think of a cute, diminutive creature with wings like Tinkerbell. Most people attribute that imagery to Disney.
In fact, it actually dates back to the 16th century. Shakespeare's
play, A Midsummer Night's Dream, was one of the earliest sources of that
dramatically different – and some would claim, false – representation of
That mischievous, diminutive version of
faeries has been reinforced by rhetoric based on fear. Traditionally, many people
– especially those in Celtic countries – believed that it was bad luck or
tempting fate to openly discuss the faeries.
As a result, faeries were (and still are)
described as “the little people” or “the good folk,” when people uttering those
words regarded faeries as neither little nor good.
In folklore from Europe to Asia to the
Americas, many stories describe faeries as human-sized or much larger. We could
readily categorize them with the Nephilim of the Bible, or Ireland's Tuatha De
However, erroneous descriptions of
faeries as small may have misled some researchers. One of the earliest was historian John
Francis Campbell (1821 – 1855). When he
wrote about Celtic folklore and faeries, said, “I believe there once was a
small race of people in these islands, who are remembered as fairies...”
By 2004, this concept seemed so deeply
embedded in society, when National Geographic magazine described the remains of
hobbit-sized people in Indonesia, geo-scientist Michael Bird rushed to dismiss
them as the origin of Indonesia's faerie “little people.”
That wasn't because of their size, but
their hardiness; to Bird, it seemed unlikely that such diminutive creatures
could survive harsh environmental challenges.
The fact is, many faerie-focused researchers
are confident that some – if not most – faeries were (and perhaps are)
approximately as large as humans, or larger.
There seems to be archaeological evidence for that.
A widely-reported 1938 excavation at
Ireland's Lough Gur revealed the “Giants' Graves,” generally regarded as
faeries. According to contemporary
stories, banshees across Ireland wailed when the graves were opened. The bodies inside were at least eight feet tall,
reminiscent of tales of Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhaill) and the Tuatha De
Danann. Unfortunately, the bones were
moved and their current location isn't clear.
New research at recently-discovered Irish
cairns may reveal whether the Lough Gur skeletons were anomalous.
The “in-between” nature of faeries
The origins and nature of faeries seem to
be as misunderstood as their physical stature, and these subjects have been
debated for centuries.
Among the most famous, first-person
encounters with faeries was described by the Reverend Mr. Robert Kirk in his
1691 book, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns & Fairies. There, he describes faeries as beings of a
“middle nature between Man and Angel,” referencing a concept that dates back to
Plato, and perhaps earlier.
This contrasts the views of other 17th-century
writers and philosophers. Platonist Lady Anne Conway described the “middle
nature” as Jesus Christ, connecting God and a third species described as
“Creature,” or man.
In 1705, John Beaumont wrote about Genii
or familiar spirits, “Censorinus tells us, that Genius is a God, under whose
Tuition each Man is born and lives... Genius is said to be Son of Jupiter and
the Earth, as being held to be of a middle Nature betwixt Gods and Men...”
Then, John Milton, in “Paradise Lost,”
seemed to think that the Moon was inhabited by “translated Saints, or Spirits
of a middle Nature, betwixt angelical and human Kind.
More recently, in “Shedding Light on His
Dark Material,” 21st century authors Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware
describe creatures of Plato's “middle nature” as daemons, “giving mortals
intercourse with the gods.” According to
Bruner and Ware, daemons had (or have) bodies more transparent and fragile than
ours. That doesn't entirely fit common
Is this is a spiritual debate, a
scientific challenge, or a simple matter of semantics?
In the realm of faerie studies, we can
certainly trace a long history of beliefs in “middle” beings, like those
described as the “gods and not-gods” of Ireland. They're described as both visible and
invisible, with speculation that they live in a world between ours and the
spirit world, or even between the surface and deep interior of Earth.
One of the most consistent beliefs about
faeries is that they thrive in the “in-betweens,” or in an elusive world that's
neither here nor there. Perhaps this
references their “middle nature.”
Generous, benign, or malicious?
The daemon concept may be closely linked
with faeries. However, those who focus on the malicious nature of faeries are
more likely to connect them with demons.
For many people, faeries aren't cute;
they aren't funny; and they should not be crossed or even roused.
By contrast, the media give us
Tinkerbell, the leprechaun of Lucky Charms cereal, and other faerie
stereotypes. They're happy,
slightly-mischievous, cartoon characters.
Of course no one thinks they're real.
That seems to be what people want: Faeries that aren't dangerous, and fairy
tales far removed from the gruesome roots explored by the Brothers Grimm.
More rarely, we see accurate
portrayals. The 1998 mini-series, Merlin,
described several Arthurian characters as faeries, including Queen Mab and her
sister, the Lady of the Lake. In some
faerie traditions, the fae world is energized by our belief in the faeries. That concept was well-portrayed in the TV
show, and – for some researchers – very purely and literally parallels with the
“observer” concept of quantum studies.
Among the most intriguing and
best-researched faerie presentations was in the Torchwood TV series' 2006
episode, Small Worlds. Those faeries
more closely resembled the terrifying creatures of ancient lore, far removed
from Shakespeare's mischievous Robin Goodfellow.
Is the word “faeries” -- like “ghosts” --
a term related to phenomena and stereotypes more than a single species or
If we look at faeries from a
cross-cultural viewpoint, we see similarities across each category of faeries,
whether we're discussing trooping faeries, water spirits, banshees, or
companions of the Green Man.
In fact, one of the most compelling
arguments favoring the physical reality of faeries is the startlingly similar
descriptions across primitive cultures separated by broad geographical
For example, female water spirits in
Micronesia, nicknamed “porpoise girls,” resemble several Celtic counterparts,
including the Selkies. Likewise, kelpies
have similarities with Bishop Fishes of the Baltic Sea. Hindu Apsaras bear
similarities to Greece's Naiads and some Melusine of France. Tales from Ireland to New Zealand to the
Americas describe a deceitful faerie in a cap (often red), sometimes garbed in
feathers that help him to breathe when he travels beneath the water.
However, many faerie similarities can be
attributed to global archetypes or contagion of folklore. That's why it's important to examine more modern
faerie sightings, and archaeological evidence.
We're far from having a clear answer to
the questions raised by faerie history and folklore. In many cases, people may be applying the
concept of faeries to phenomena better explained by other causes.
Until we know more about the various
events, locations and creatures loosely categorized as “fae,” we probably can't
prove their existence. In most cases –
like other paranormal phenomena – the end result seems real, but the cause is
far from simple or easily proved.
Perhaps faeries are best described by
Torchwood's Jack Harkness: “... they're
part of us—part of our world. Yet we know nothing about them. So we pretend to
know what they look like. We see them as happy. We pretend they have tiny
little wings and are bathed in moonlight.
“Think dangerous. Think something you can
only half-see. Like a glimpse, like something out of the corner of your eye.
With a touch of myth, a touch of the spirit world, a touch of reality, all
Austin, C. “Old Ways Return Again in Place Names of the Celtic
World.” Grand Valley State University. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2012.
Beaumont, John. An historical, physiological and theological
treatise of spirits: apparitions, witchcrafts, and other magical practices.
Containing an account of the genii ... With a refutation of Dr. Bekker’s World
bewitch’d; and other authors. London: D. Browne, 1705. ECCO: Eighteenth
Century Collection Online. Web. 15 June 2012.
Briggs, Katharine M. The Vanishing People: Fairy Lore and Legends.
New York: Pantheon, 1978. Print.
Bruner, Kurt, and Jim Ware. Shedding Light on His Dark Materials:
Exploring Hidden Spiritual Themes in Philip Pullman’s Popular Series. Carol
Stream: Tyndale House, 2007. Print.
Bucklin, Brad M. “Faeries - A Hidden People?” Brad Bucklin.
N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2012.
“Fairy.” TARDIS Index File. Wikia.com, n.d. Web. 15 June
Hutton, Sarah, and Edward N. Zalta. “Lady Anne Conway.” The
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition). N.p., 29 Aug.
2008. Web. 15 June 2012. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/conway/>.
Kirk, Robert. The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns &
Fairies. London: David Nutt, in the Strand, 1893. Sacred Texts. Web.
15 June 2012. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/sce/index.htm>.
Maclean, Diane. “Do You Believe in Fairies?” UFO Digest (now at
Wayback Machine). N.p., Feb. 2011. Web. 15 June 2012.
Mayell, Hillary. “Hobbit-Like Human Ancestor Found in Asia.” National
Geographic 27 Oct. 2004: n. pag. National Geographic. Web. 15 June
Milton, John, and Raymond De St. Maur. Milton’s Paradise lost;
or, The fall of man: with historical, philosophical, critical, and explanatory
notes, from ... Raymond de St. Maur. New York City: Steel, 2009. Google
Book Search. Web. 15 June 2012.
“Torchwood Quotes: Small Worlds.” Planet Claire Quotes. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 15 June 2012. <http://www.planetclaire.org/quotes/torchwood/series-one/small-worlds.php>.
Yeats, Peter Alderson. W. B. Yeats and the Tribes of Danu.
Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe Limited, 1987. Print.
Fiona Broome is an author, researcher and paranormal consultant. Fiona’s research and her contributions to over 15 books are always based in documented facts, history and science. Online, she’s respected as the founder of Hollow Hill, one of the Internet’s oldest and largest websites about ghosts and haunted places. Ms. Broome has attracted attention for her groundbreaking studies of paranormal patterns. Using history and geography as a base, Fiona is able to predict anomalies such as hauntings and UFO reports. Fiona has taught Ghost Photography since the 1990s and is one of the world’s top paragenealogists. Fiona is the author of over a dozen books, with many more scheduled through 2012. She has also written for many magazines, including publications as diverse as Fate,Herbal Quarterly, MIT’s Tech Talk, and Romantic Times. Read more at www.fionabroome.com.
News sources in BC reported late last month (May 2012) that scientists are baffled by a creature shaped like the bat symbol.
This ocean oddity was filmed offshore near Victoria Island and was posted on YouTube.com last September. The video was done by NEPTUNE Canada , which is the world's first regional-scale underwater ocean observatory, plugged directly into the internet The region crosses the Juan de Fuca plate and gathers live data from a broad spectrum of instruments. Data is transmitted via fibre optics to the University of Victoria which provides free internet access to everyone. It's supporters and partners list is quite impressive, and the science very sound.
But what of this creature?
Some have suggested this is a rare shot of mating Giant Pacific Octopuses. It is possible (this image is redoctopuses mating). The camera angle would have to be unusual and generally, octopuses don't travel much as they mate.
Last March, photographers in Victoria caught a red octopus capturing and dragging down a seagull. Deep in the water, this could look similar, but there are two problems with this theory. First, generally octopuses don't go as deep as the batman image was shot (over 2000 meters deep). Second, the likelihood of a captured prey retaining its shape after a submersion that far is unlikely.
With hard work and a bit of luck, this mysterious image will be resolved. Perhaps a new creature will be identified, or an old one will prove to be the source. Deep in the sea, there are a lot of possibilities.
In the video below, a section is zoomed and slowed and we can clearly see that it casts a shadow, so it is not some trick of photography. It has translucent webbing or fins as well. It moves voluntarily, so it is unlikely floating trash or a carcass. But what is it? And could it have any connection to the mysterious feet that have washed up over the years?
NEPTUNE also has lots of cool stuff like a live underwater camera feed and sounds recorded in the Pacific. If no other good comes of this remarkable discovery, it has promoted the NEPTUNE project and website so that we can all be part of the science and learning. Who knows, maybe a caddy will even swim past the myriad of cameras!
Thank you to Guest Blogger Sue St. Clair for this entry!
No, this is not an article about an "incredibly crass looking individual
who prides themselves on dressing metrosexually," as defined by the Urban
Dictionary. It's about a mostly forgotten creature who was reported to have
been sighted off the shore of Lake Ontario more than century ago.
Thanks to the extraordinary beautiful weather we have had through the month of
March, the hubby, and I recently found ourselves strolling along the western
beaches of Lake Ontario towards Ontario Place. The now closed for renovations
Ontario Place was originally built in 1969 (opened in '71) and served as a
waterfront entertainment center for the city of Toronto for the last 40+ years.
Prior to its construction the area was mostly underdeveloped, and definitely
not an attractive place to for a family to visit.
As we walked along the shoreline and considered how once again it may be in for
a dramatic change due to the Ontario government's plans to completely redevelop
the area I recalled a crypto sighting I had read about quite a long time ago
that had occurred roughly in this very spot.
On August 22, 1882 The Daily Mail ran a story entitled "A Marine
Monster" and described an encounter that had been reported the day before
of a "sea serpent" in lake Ontario in the vicinity of the Garrison
Common, "which some of the Markers saw at the Ranges."
The weather at the time is described as cool, when the workmen who had been
"engaged at the targets," state they saw an approx. 50 ft long sea
serpent. Here is what they reported:
" Between 8 and 9 o'clock while placing the targets in position on No. 1
range, a boy rushed up saying there was a something floating near the shore.
Some of the men were curious enough to leave their work, and hasten down to the
shore. There sure enough was a large blue-ish grey mass floating lazily near
shore. It had every appearance of being asleep, as its body yielded to every
ripple. Part was submerged, but the upper portion of the head floated just
above the water. The part which was visible was covered with short stiff
bristles in front, which increased in length towards the sides, and extended
for a distance of about 10 feet on each side. The back or at least the portion
of it that was seen above the water was lighter coloured than the head."
The sighting, which was witnessed by several people lasted upwards of 3
minutes, when suddenly it raised its head out of the water, swished its tail
and rapidly swam due south in the direction of a steamer. The witnesses
went on to describe the creature's head as resembling an "eel with the
exception of long trailing hair or whiskers, and small dark eyes."
They also go on to state they heard it give a short sharp bark.
"A line of foam marked its progress out into the lake for about 1/2 of a
mile when, turning sharp around, it dashed towards the Exhibition wharf, and
again out into the lake where they soon lost sight of it."
Here is a sketch of the Queen's Wharf in Toronto circa 1896 looking westward
toward where Metrosaurus was reportedly seen. Illustration from Robertson's
Landmarks of Toronto, vol. 2, Toronto: J. Ross Robertson, 1896.
To make this story even odder in the same year a report was made of another
"sea serpent" seen in a creek near Hoggs Hollow. One wonders did
Metrosaurus or perhaps one of its kin make its way up the Don River?! Seems
very unlikely, but one never knows. There have been reports of a lake creature
in Lake Scugog, which is a small man-made lake about an hour and half north east
of the City of Toronto. If a creature could feasibly make its way from Lake
Ontario to Hoggs Hollow, perhaps the same could be true of Lake Scugog as well?
How such a creature could accomplish such a thing without being witnessed doing
so I have no idea.
The Daily Mail (Toronto) August 22 1882
Haunted Toronto John Robert Colombo Hounslow Press 1996
Sue Demeter-St. Clair is a psychical researcher living in Toronto, Ontario
Canada. She is a co-founder of Paranormal Studies Investigations and Canada and
enjoys reading about and researching stories and reports of fantastical
My apologies for the lengthy absence. I’ve had some health issues. Here is the final segment of this series.
So much research (mine included) is based in the assumption
that Bigfoot is immediately related to primates. Until we have some sort of evidence to the
contrary, because of the reported behavior and physical description it would
seem logical to continue that path. In
light of that, this last entry on researching Bigfoot From the Bottom Up
discusses the Bigfoot brain.
The brain is the center of the nervous system. This is the
structure of all mammals. In primates,
the similarities are many. The brain controls
all bodily functions and in some magical way also provides “thought” and
“behavior”. How the brain produces these
is not understood, but science is quickly getting a handle on how mechanisms in
the brain alter both. Putting aside the
brain function for ordinary activities such as walking, breathing, and
basically physically existing, we’re going to look at the comparisons between
human and other primate brains with a goal of perhaps better identifying what
sort of brain our Sasquatch may have.
The human brain has the same general structure as the brains
of others, but is larger than it should be compared to body size. Larger primates have brains that are sized
basically like their body—larger apes having larger brains, smaller monkeys
having smaller brains. The adult human
brain weighs on average about 3 lbs. (1.5 kg) with a volume of about 1130-1260 cubic centimetres. Neanderthals, now extinct so far as we know,
had larger brains at adulthood than present-day humans. In the course of
evolution of the Homininae, the human brain has grown in volume from about 600
cc in Homo habilis to about 1500 cc in Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. Then over the past 28,000 years the brain has
been shrinking. For comparison, Homo erectus, a relative of
humans, had a brain size of 1,100 cc. However, the little Homo floresiensis, often
called "hobbits", had a brain size about a third of that of their
ancestor H. erectus even though they are known to have used fire, hunted, and
made stone tools as well. The section of the brain called the cerebellum, a
pair of bun-like mounds at the base of the brain, plays an important role in
coordinated muscle movement. Consistently across all mammals this is about 13
percent by volume, regardless of total brain size.
Species that eat fruit tend to have larger brains than
species that dine mainly on leaves. Although leaf-eating howler monkeys are
closely related to fruit-eating spider monkeys, the latter possess much larger
brains. Leaves are easily found but fruit resources are less available.
Successful harvesting of fruit requires animals to remember where fruit-bearing
trees are located and anticipate when they will be in season. Larger brains may
have helped fruit eaters deal with environmental variation and patterning. Because of this, it is important to
understand the diet of the Sasquatch with an eye toward anticipating the size,
and therefore functionality, of his brain.
A large brain requires greater energy use. Our brains at rest use about 25% of our
energy but the brains of other primates use only about 9 percent. The larger brain also uses a greater amount
of the basic brain “building blocks” like fatty acids and DHA. Physiologist
Loren Cordain suggests that our
ancestors overcame the issue of increased energy use by the brain by getting
rid of a roughly equal amount of intestinal tissue. Humans have less intestinal
tissue than great apes, which require more in order to extract nutrients from a
poorer diet. Our ancient ancestors likely fed on richer foods (animal fat and
bone marrow) and the essential fatty acids.
Although the first primates had great availability of AA and
DHA in thier diet, it was necessary for evolution to give larger brains more
time to develop. Slower development meant longer gestation, slower childhood
growth, and a later sexual maturity.
These longer development times allowed our hominid ancestors more time
to accumulate those essential brain nutritives. Humans have taken advantage of this and are the slowest primates to
mature. We are also the most carnivorous
primate. Our hominid ancestors would have needed a varied diet of freshwater
fish and shellfish; the liver, brain, and muscle of large game; as well as wild
nuts, roots, tubers, and vegetation.
The progressive enlargement of the hominid brain has
resulted in a three hundred percent increase in endocranial volume. By charting
the expansion of the brain from one species of human ancestor to the next, scientists may be able to show changes in the
shape and size of neocortex structures as they appeared over the course of time.
These can then be compared with the activity of a modern human brain. Scientists study MRIs (magnetic resonance
imaging) of shapes in bone structure of skulls of these human precursors in
hopes of understanding when certain intellectual capabilities developed during
Using this technique, changes within the brains of
Australopithecines, human ancestors that lived one to three and a half million
years ago, have been documented.
Australopithecus africanus had features in its frontal lobes that had
evolved beyond the great apes and along the road to humans. The cerebral cortex
of this species was unlike that of any living primate. This part of the frontal
lobe is important for focusing on and completing tasks, and for highly abstract
thinking and planning.
Brain size by itself doesn’t explain why we are intelligent.
The brain of a horse is more than six times bigger than that of a rhesus monkey.
But if the two animals were the same size, the monkey brain would be 20 times
larger. And let’s face it, horses aren’t exactly genius material. Primate evolution has shown dramatic
expansion of the neocortex (the outer shell of the brain). The percentage of
neocortex in humans is, for example, four times the percentage in size of the
neocortex of a shrew.
Neocortex varies widely across species. Fish, reptiles,
birds, and amphibians, all precursors to mammals, lack a neocortex entirely. One particular feature of the neocortex makes
it ideal for supporting flexible behavior.
Science considers this plasticity to be the hallmark of intelligence. The ability of the brain to change in
response to stimulation occurs in this part of the brain.
All mammals are born with more connections between neurons
than they will ever use. As we explore and learn, even as babies, we stimulate
these neurons. The ones that are
stimulated grow stronger and the ones that are not are eventually lost. This is what learning is all about. Primates have an longer period of development
into adulthood and during this time wiring of their big neocortex is
established through learning. If we
assume Bigfoot is a primate, then he would have a large neocortex, and the
greater ability to learn. Behaviors
reported by witnesses support the idea that this species, whether human or
other primate, does have a great capacity to learn. The imprint for the Skookum Meadow cast was
made when investigators located a probable Sasquatch area, set a fruit trap in
mud, and attracted a purported living Sasquatch. Demonstrating a typical Sasquatch
aversion to leaving tracks, the subject lay across the mud to reach the fruit. The
implication is that he was smarter than an ape (avoiding making footprints) but
not as smart as a human (leaving a big body imprint). Random vocalizing in the vicinity
of tape recorders but avoiding video cameras implies they have some sort of
understanding of what these machines do, beyond simply that they are foreign to
As mammal brains are shaped by interactions, different parts
of the neocortex become specialized to perform different functions. The more
important the function, the larger the area of neocortex devoted to it. Bats
that rely on echolocation have an expansive portion of the neocortex devoted to
hearing, for example. Significant areas of the human neocortex are devoted to
the face and lips, reflecting the importance of communication through spoken
language and facial expression. Once in
the possession of a Sasquatch skull, MRI testing of the bone impressions where
the neocortex was present will show what amount of neocortex was committed to
these functions and we will be better able to know if they do in fact have
speech communication, and even possibly writing.
Primates have sensory maps in their neocortecies. These maps correspond to visual and touch
input. A great deal of the brain of
primates, sometimes as much as 50 percent, is devoted to visual
processing. If a human is born blind,
however, parts of the visual cortex may
be developed to support hearing instead.
In the visual cortex there are many little maps that correspond to
things like color, shape, and movement.
That Bigfoot is able to subsist on virtually any terrain in the world
and to evade detection most of the time is a good indicator that he has a
highly developed neocortex, especially where vision is concerned. This does not, however, rule out his being an ape. Apes have a greater area devoted to visual
mapping. Solid visual mapping is
necessary to facilitate eye-hand coordination, to locate food, and to be
social. In humans, and in apes, good
vision is used to measure emotional expressions and assessing whether friend or
The frontal neocortex is involved in mental manipulation of
information. It may also be involved in the use of visual information to plan
and execute fine motor movements. During EEG studies on monkeys, when the
animal performs an action like reaching
out and grasping an object with its fingers, neurons in a certain part of the
frontal neocortex fire. These same
neurons fire when the monkey simply observes another monkey, or even a human,
performing the same action. Neurophysiologist Giacomo Rizzolatti dubbed them “mirror
cells” and suggests they may play a role in imitative behavior and learning.
Primatologist Jane Goodall reported that juvenile
chimpanzees at Gombe National Park (Tanzania) watch their mothers break off branches
and poke them into holes, looking for termites. The young chimps then make attempts to copy their mothers. Ergo, “monkey see, monkey do.”
The same area where mirror cells are found in the monkeys
neocortex is called Brocas area in humans and is involved in speech production.
People with brain damage in this area have a very difficult time speaking. Imaging
studies have shown that this area is also activate when people make or observe
hand gestures. It is suggested that observing and repeating gestures may have
been a precursor to gesture-based communication, which eventually evolves into
vocal language, at least in humans. Not
surprisingly, all types of Sasquatch are reported worldwide to be very vocal, far
beyond the screams, chattering and roars of apes. They are reported to moo,
whistle, cry and imitate human speech.
They also make other noises, presumably to communicate, like wood
pounding and rock pounding. We also know that Neanderthals had the brain
structures associated with speech but that their mouth and jaw construction was
not suitable for what we think of as speaking.
Most speculative, is the notion that mirror cells are precursors
of the ability to take the mental perspective of others. The ability of primates to show empathy, for
example, and to anticipate what someone would do next would involve these
mirror cell functions This also gives
the ability to deceive or manipulate. Perhaps the Saskquatch ability to elude
researchers (and a few hunters) is because of a well-developed set of mirror
cells. Yet Darwin first suggested more than a century ago that the evolution of
intelligence is linked with living in social groups. Does this imply that Sasquatch, given what
seems to be intelligence, lives in a social group as well?
Primates are predominantly social animals. Although many live
solitarily, most all monkey and apes live in social groups. Survival in social
groups invokes its own selection pressures, requiring the evolution of social
problem solving skills and other adaptations. Anatomically this means that the prefrontal
and temporal cortices have been implicated in social interactions, so the
degree of development of these areas in different species might reflect
different levels of sociality. Studying
that oft wished for Bigfoot Skull would again give us an idea of how much of
the general area is devoted to these functions and give us an idea of whether
or not the Sasquatch is a primarily social animal. The cerebral cortex is involved in many complex
functions in both humans and other primates, including memory, attentiveness,
thought processes and language.
The Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis is an group of speculations,),
about the unique complexity of primate social interactions. It proposes that
increased coordination between social actions reflects a flexible feeding
strategy involving the manipulation of tool use and the ability to use other
individuals as tools, manipulating the social environment in order to meet
preconceived goals. Descriptions
generally fall into three subcategories: (1) transmission of novel behaviors ;
(2) deception; and (3) alliance formation. Alliance formation implies that
primates have a knowledge of rank relations beyond knowing who is above or
below them. Additionally, all three may
involve altruistic interactions like objects being exchanged. Social alliance formation and maintenance
requires an animal to analyze a significant amount of information, including the
relations between individuals involved as well as their relations to other
individuals. Evidence of nested levels
of alliances within a population of bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia
suggests that because, like primates, they have relatively large brains, there
may be a relationship between brain size and social complexity. However,
primates, more than non-primates, choose their allies based on competitive ability,
not necessarily on kin relations as other mammals appear to do.
In another interesting primate brain study, Drs. Clutton-Brock
and Harvey found that brain size correlated with home range size in the
cercopithecines (a subfamily of the Old World monkeys, that includes in its 71
species the baboons, the macaques and the vervet monkeys) and that monogamous
species have significantly smaller brains than polygamous ones. Home range
varies with troop size, and monogamous species have smaller troops than polygamous
ones. Does this suggest that Sasquatch, because they appear to be in small
troop sizes, are monogamous creatures?
Results suggest that the factors controlling primate
neocortical expansion are not uniform across the order and vary in their
strength according to the nature of the animal's environment. It may be this
factor that makes the bigfoot so difficult to label. Perhaps because of the widely varied environments
these creatures have been reported to inhabit, each group evolves a bit
Differences between humans and other primates aren’t as
black and white as once was thought. Intelligence appears more a matter of
degree, developing gradually throughout the primate lineage rather than
sprouting magically when humans first arrived on the scene. Many of the
features of our brain that support higher cognitive functions, such as language
and mathematics, or at least their precursors, may well be present in ape and
monkey brains, and in the brains of long-extinct ancestors like the Australopithecus.
The study of the evolution of primate intelligence is still
in its infancy. Not enough is known about the functioning and interconnections
of areas within the brains of various species to allow for accurate measures of
the differences. Additionally, techniques
used for probing the human brain (e.g. fast-NMR, PET) may not work on animals. There is also no reason to expect that brain
evolution has proceeded regularly without reorganization. An
understanding of the functioning of the brains of different species is
essential for making accurate comparisons. The studies have not been done, and
may not get done for a long time, so we have to choose assume regularity in
brain evolution. Researchers have, however, uncovered trends that are accurate
on a gross level.
Understanding the relationship between the brain and the
mind is a challenge. It is difficult to imagine how thoughts and emotions could
be implemented by physical entities (neurons and synapses). This difficulty was expressed by Gottfried
Leibniz in an analogy known as Leibniz's Mill:
One is obliged to admit that perception and what depends
upon it is inexplicable on mechanical principles, that is, by figures and
motions. In imagining that there is a machine whose construction would enable
it to think, to sense, and to have perception, one could conceive it enlarged
while retaining the same proportions, so that one could enter into it, just
like into a windmill. Supposing this, one should, when visiting within it, find
only parts pushing one another, and never anything by which to explain a
— Leibniz, Monadology
The human brain is also susceptible to degenerative
disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's
disease. We also have a whole host of
psychiatric conditions. Could Sasquatch
suffer these as well? If this is the case, then the study of how the animals
think expands exponentially. Certainly physical
deformities of various kinds exist in all animal species, and mental deformities
and diseases are numerous in humans, so it would follow that whether human or
ape, Sasquatch may be crazier than those of us who believe in him