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What is Sasquatch?

By S. Scolari
Updated May 17, 2024
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Sasquatch is the Native American word for large, hairy, apelike creatures that supposedly roam the woods of the Pacific Northwest and Canada. There have been hundreds of Sasquatch (or Bigfoot, as they are also known) sightings since the mid-nineteenth century. The majority of them have occurred in the Pacific Northwest, although sightings have been reported throughout the United States and Canada.

The existence of Sasquatch is controversial because much of the evidence is inconclusive. Some people--including scientists--regard Sasquatch as real beings. Others claim they are a hoax. While some of the evidence seems to point to a real creature, human pranksters cannot be ruled out.

The name Sasquatch is used interchangeably to denote one of the creatures or the entire species. Common beliefs hold that they are an unknown type of super-primate. Most sightings are believed to have been of males. Females and young are thought to exist but to be few in number.

No Sasquatch has ever been captured and no complete skeletons have been found. They are said to have originated in China, where skeletal jawbones have been tagged "gigantopithicus," or giant gorilla. Sasquatch is believed to have migrated over the land bridge of the Bering Sea into North America at the same time as the forebears of American Indians. Sasquatch-type images have appeared in Native American cave art and some of their lore describes them as an enemy.

Sasquatch is reportedly 7-10 feet (2 to 3 meters) tall and weighs about 500 pounds (225 kilograms). Footprint measurements of 14-17 inches (35 to 43 cm) long have been taken. The footprints reveal no arch.

Some descriptions make Sasquatch sound like a gorilla: swift, agile, long arms, short legs, barrel chest and a fluid, rolling gait. There are reports of bipedal ape-like creatures keeping pace with moving cars. The speed, gait, and length of the stride reinforce the belief that Sasquatch is a higher primate.

Sasquatch are said to be primarily herbivorous (plant-eating), living on vegetation, fruits, nuts, berries, and grubs, although fish is reportedly a favorite meal. They are said to be intelligent but are not believed to use fire or tools of any kind.

Phenomenal strength has been ascribed to the creatures but despite their size, strength, and fearsome appearance, Sasquatch are not aggressive. Notoriously elusive, they are said to move only at night, preferring the cover of darkness.

A key item in the Sasquatch controversy is the film shot by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin, who were filming their habitat from horseback in northern California in 1967. Approximately one minute in length, the footage shows a large apelike creature walking away. Although the film is shaky at first and the resolution is not particularly high, the footage becomes clearer toward the end, with the creature entirely visible.

Scientists have repeatedly analyzed this film, frame by frame. It shows no sign of a zipper (indicating a costume), and it also reveals muscle movement, which a costume would not allow. Some argue that this film proves the creature's existence; others claim that its poor resolution proves nothing.

Sasquatch has been examined from many angles. In addition to film studies and physics projections, recordings of vocalizations purportedly made by the creature have been analyzed for pitch and vocal tract length by using signal processing. Although the answers were not definitive, results seemed to indicate that the sounds were animal in origin. It was concluded the tapes themselves were not hoaxes but the possibility of human vocalization on them was not ruled out.

For every theory claiming that Sasquatch is real, another one calls them a hoax.

One famous hoax was revealed upon the death of notorious prankster and former construction company owner Ray L. Wallace in 2002. According to his sons, Wallace created the Sasquatch myth in 1958. At that time, Wallace owned a construction company that was building logging roads around Humboldt, California. Concerned about vandals targeting his vehicles, he asked a friend to carve 16-inch wooden feet that he strapped on. Then he walked around the construction site. After being covered by local media, the story took on a life of its own. Afraid of getting in trouble, Wallace kept quiet.

Another famous hoax theory was put forth by film director John Landis. According to him, the famous footage of Patterson/Gimli was just a man in an ape suit made by a costumer on the movie, " Planet of the Apes." Both Patterson and Gimlin denied the allegation.

World-famous primatologist Jane Goodall has described the enigma of Sasquatch as one of the world's great unsolved mysteries and has called for studies to definitively prove their existence.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon973833 — On Oct 14, 2014

Refute this: If someone believes in God, then you have to also believe in his antithesis, Lucifer. Suggesting that, belief in demons, ghosts and angels is quite possible as well. Having said that, why is Sasquatch so hard to believe in?

By anon296195 — On Oct 10, 2012

A creature that's 7-10 ft tall has never existed; it's just modern fantasy. Yesterday we believed in dragons, goblins and flying witches. Today we replace them with sasquatches, aliens and UFOs.

By anon241276 — On Jan 18, 2012

Bigfoot is real!

By CarrotIsland — On Jan 11, 2011

I’m not sure I believe in any of those “creatures”. For years, we have heard of Big Foot, the Abominable Snowman, and the Loch Ness monster. To me, it’s just kind of hard to accept since no proof has ever been found to confirm that they are real.

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