by Eric Penz

I know what you're thinking. You're rolling your eyes in their sockets even as you read the title and first lines of this article, wondering why in the name of science is yet another item of propaganda being disseminated to psychologically manipulate the public with respect to the well-known hoax of Sasquatch. Why, fifty years after the term Bigfoot was first coined by the press in Willow Creek, CA, is anyone still talking about Sasquatch? Why won't this hairy figment of our imaginations just go away? Everyone knows the whole thing isn't real, so let's move on already.

Moving on would be good, and we all would if not for the fact that the evidence for Sasquatch's existence simply will not oblige. Year after year, despite what you and I may think, the evidence continues to pile up, forcing us to acknowledge the ugly mess in the corner we'd all rather just ignore. Truth, as a general rule, seems to behave that way. Regardless of human opinion, it stubbornly resists being swept under the carpet until we give in and reluctantly have no choice but to accept it for what it is.

Such resistance to human will is a form of evidence in itself, I suppose. Certainly nothing you can hang the scientific method on, of course, but then there is plenty of other evidence being gathered to keep science busy if they so choose to apply themselves. In fact, some credible scientists are actually doing just that. Dr. Jeff Meldrum, Associate Professor of Anatomy and Physical Anthropology at Idaho State University, has gone so far as to gather them all into one place this June to study and compare notes. The 2006 Bigfoot Rendezvous is a three-day conference hosted by Dr. Meldrum's university to provide a structured forum from which experts in the field can present their latest findings and discuss what's new in the world of Sasquatch.

The fact that anything might be new is the reason why Sasquatch doesn't slip from our memories like a bad dream. At this year's conference, one of many such symposiums held each year across the country, new and old evidence alike will be discussed at length by experts who take the subject as serious as those that gather at cancer symposiums or AIDS conferences. And just exactly what so-called evidence could these experts be discussing?

Well, the list is long and almost demands more in-depth explanation than is possible here, but sometimes a simple laundry list can be quite compelling.

We'll start where the evidence does, three hundred years and more ago with the native peoples of the Pacific Northwest. The first Spanish explorers to sail up the coast of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia recorded accounts by the native peoples that are the first anthropologic evidence. To such history can also be added the centuries of traditions, legends, and beliefs of those very same Native Americans, much of which has been passed down to the present. There are even stone sculptures of obvious ape-like heads that were created by these cultures long before western civilization discovered the chimpanzee and gorilla, and certainly long before such western knowledge could have been passed on to them. Along with all of this are the more contemporary eyewitness accounts of non-native individuals, dating back nearly a hundred years, though occurring in greater frequency since the mid 50s. According to current sources, such as Canadian researcher John W. Green and the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, over 2,550 eyewitness encounters with Sasquatch have been recorded in recent history, with more being added each and every year.

Associated with many of these encounters, there also exist video and audio evidence. Much of this material is hotly contested, and none more so than the infamous Patterson footage of 1967 (you've seen it; everyone has. It's the black-and-white footage of a hairy, arm-swinging female ape turning its head and shoulders back to stare into the camera lens). Physical evidence has been recovered as well, such as hair samples, the regular pattern of tree branch breaking, rock stacking, bedding sites, even food left out as bait has been found eaten. The most notable evidence here, though, is that of the foot and body prints left in sand, mud, and snow. The shear volume of tracks recorded, photographed, and cast is staggering. Thousands upon thousands, with, again, more coming in every year (see a pattern here?). And a few of these prints that have been cast posses what appear to be dermal ridges (the equivalent of fingerprints, only occurring on the feet and toes). The fossil record plays a part as well. Fossils of lower jaws and teeth have been found of a primate that fits the description of a giant ape. So called, Gigantopithecus is the largest primate recognized by science and proves that giant primates did at least roam the planet at one time. Some experts have hypothesized that Gigantopithecus is the ancestor species of Sasquatch.

There is only one piece of evidence missing. A type specimen, made of flesh, bone and blood. And if the history of the past five decades is any guide, until this one piece of evidence is finally obtained Sasquatch will not go away. And even then the conversation will likely just shift to one of preserving the presumably endangered species. So you might as well get used to Sasquatch. Much like global warming, it appears he's also here to stay.

About the Author
Eric Penz is the author of Cryptid: The Lost Legacy of Lewis and Clark. Visit his Web site to learn more, Eric Penz

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