The Many Faces Of Bigfoot

    October 5, 2011 at 6:00 am

    Cryptozoology is the study of creatures that have not yet been proven to exist by science, like the Loch Ness Monster, for example. For decades now, America has been fascinated by one mythical creature in particular: Bigfoot.  While many may think of Bigfoot as an American phenomenon, the notion of a giant antisocial ape-man is prevalent in many societies across the world.  In fact, sightings of Bigfoot-like creatures have been reported on every continent in the world except for Antarctica.  Submitted for your perusal, here are the many faces of Bigfoot:


    North America

    patterson grimlin bigfootThis is the big one. Bigfoot is the most widely known cryptid in the U.S., and arguably the world. In the classic sense, Bigfoot is confined to the northwest region of the United States, and the west coast of Canada (where he is called Sasquatch.) Bigfoot legends began with the native tribes of the Pacific Northwest. In one of these legends, for example, parents would tell tales of a race of giant wild brutes called kwi-kwiyai that would seek out and eat naughty children (much more effective than our modern behave-or-i’ll-put-you-in-timeout approach.) Although details and names would vary in these legends, the creature kept the common trait of being a very tall, hairy wildman that lived in remote mountains. White settlers began to record these legends beginning in the 1840’s, and locals started photographing footprints in the 1950’s (which is where the creature gained its modern name.) In 1964, the famous Patterson-Gimlin footage (pictured above) was shot in northern California. The now iconic 53-second film kick started the Bigfoot craze in America. It has also created decades of controversy. Hordes of experts and scientists have examined the film. Some say it is a fake, others say it is inconclusive, and some believe it is authentic. Today, there are hundreds of Bigfoot sightings every year throughout the country. Every single state in the union has at least one sighting…except Hawaii (Bigfoot can’t swim, duh! How would he have even get there in the first place?)



    yowieNot even the remote continent/country of Australia is exempt from ape-man myths. Down under, mythical ape-men are called Yowies. These beasts were a part of Aboriginal folklore before the British started dumping convicts on their native land. When Europeans arrived, they referred to the creatures as Yahoos (in reference to the fictional race of primitive proto-humans from Gulliver’s Travels.) The native aboriginal term for these cryptids is Youree, which was eventually anglicized into the contemporary ‘Yowie.’ As Europeans began to colonize remote parts of the continent, there were numerous run-ins with these fabled beasts, the earliest going back to 1790. According to reports, a Yowie can grow to about ten feet tall (taller than most American Bigfoot sightings) and tend to have very dark fur. Some Yowie enthusiast groups posit that Yowies are actually a relict population of Australopithecus that have been hiding out in the wilderness for a few millennium. The Yowie is actually only the second most popular cryptid in Australia, the first being the viscious man-eating cousin of the koala known as the Drop Bear. Unfortunately, after pouring over volumes of sighting reports, I haven’t found a single account of a Yowie boxing a kangaroo. Not One!

    Skunk Ape


    skunk apeA place as balmy, desperate, and dingy as Florida needs a suitable folk hero. Thank God for Skunk Ape. Skunk Ape is Florida’s answer to Bigfoot. Skunk Ape grows to about seven feet tall, and is covered in reddish-brown fur that has become matted and filthy due to the fact that Skunk Ape lives in the swamps. In fact, its dirty coat is exactly why Skunk Ape is called Skunk Ape. Allegedly, you cans smell one of these things half a mile away. The range of the Skunk Ape covers much of the southeast U.S., but sightings are especially common in Florida. Due to the high volume of reported sightings, an entire industry has spawned around the smelly biped. Numerous research outlets routinely go on expeditions to find Ol’ Stinky. Back in 2008, one such outing actually made national news. A group of Skunk Ape hunters captured images of what they purported to be a Skunk Ape, along with audio evidence, and even a tuft of hair! The media went wild over the prospect of such hard evidence. Soon however, it was proven that the hair was from a opossum, and the images were definitely of a gorilla costume. Despite constant debunking, Skunk Ape enthusiasts still routinely take to the swamps to search for the elusive creature.  Although, to be fair, it is reasonable to assume these people would be hanging out in the swamp no matter what.  Because…you know.  It’s Florida.


    The Amazon Jungle

    mapinguariThis thing is especially terrifying. The Mapinguari (meaning “roaring animal”) is a fixture in Amazonian mythology. Described as a mixture between a great ape and a large sloth, the Mapinguari grows to about 15 feet tall, has one eye, backwards feet, and a second mouth located on its stomach. I’ll give you a second to picture that…creepy, right? According to native legends, the Mapinguari used to be a man, but was cursed when he committed certain moral crimes (which vary, depending on which story you listen to.) So now this poor tortured soul has to roam the Amazon jungle looking like a mutilated Fozzy Bear. There are real accounts of one of these creatures wreaking havoc on people, however. In 1937, a Mapinguari marched right out of the jungle and started killing hundreds of cattle in a tiny village in Brazil. This event attracted national media attention throughout the country and remains the best known Mapinguari encounter on record.  Although no one could photograph it, there were plenty of Mapinguari tracks, and of course hundreds of eviscerated cows. Some people believe the Mapinguari might be a surviving line of giant sloths thought to be extinct from the last ice age. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the Mapinguari’s thick fur makes it impervious to bullets, and it also has a penchant for ripping off and eating human heads. So yeah, let’s keep our fingers crossed about that whole giant sloth theory.


    The Himalayas

    yetiThe yeti is a common staple of Himalayan folklore. Also known as The Abominable Snowman, the yeti has been the focus of strange sightings for centuries. Yeti sightings are among the most prolific and well documented sightings in the field of cryptozoology. Reputable explorers such as Sir Edmund Hillary have reported seeing Yeti footprints in the deep snow since the 1800’s. Sherpas report seeing the beast itself regularly, and yeti sightings on remote Himalayan mountain tops continue to this day. Often times the Yeti are described as aggressive if approached, but in one instance, a Yeti actually saved a French explorer from sliding into a chasm, and then nursed him back to health (allegedly)! A common fashion accessory among some Sherpas are yeti scalps, which they carry around as tokens of good luck. However, these things have been largely debunked as just normal animal hides. Because there is NO WAY one dude could just kill a yeti and scalp it. I mean, these things are huge. In addition to tracks and numerous sightings, the Himalayas are honeycombed with many elaborate cave systems, which a group of scientists examined in the late 1950’s.  According to their finds, some of these caves had discarded food scraps, and large tracks leading into them. Yeti tracks + yeti houses = undeniable proof…unless of course the tracks belonged to regular animals that were just warped in the sun, and the caves were inhabited by bears or some other large predator. But, nah, it’s got to be yetis, right?


    United States

    windigoCannibalism does funny things to a man. Like transforming them into a giant hulking ape that hungers for more human flesh and also shape shifts. At least that is what Indian tribes in the northern U.S. think happened with the Windigo. Essentially, a person that indulges in cannibalism is transformed into wild-ape form, but also has the ability to occasionally shape shift back into human form. And get this; Windigos can also possess normal people through their dreams. WHAT? DREAM-EATING BIGFOOTS! These creatures have all the features of a Bigfoot, but they appear emaciated and frostbitten. And much like the Skunk Ape, they give off a horrible stench (often attributed to the fact that they eat so many dead people.) Okay, so they probably don’t exist, but the Windigo legend is an interesting window into the way early cultures viewed cannibalism. In societies where the Windigo legend was prevalent, cannibalism was strictly taboo. Think of Windigos as pre-columbian vampires with a man-ape twist.



    yetiMeet Russia’s Bigfoot: Chuchunaa. Chuchunaa are usually sighted in Siberia, and they are the only mythical man-ape to be seen wearing clothing. These beasts are often sighted wearing deer pelts around their naughty bits. In addition to this, they allegedly have a larger vocal range than any other Bigfoot-type creatures. These surprisingly human-like traits lead some to speculate that Chuchunaa are closely related to Neanderthals, which would make Chuchunaa kind of like a Siberean Encino Man. And much like Encino Man, the Chuchunaa is not shy. There are numerous reports of the creature interacting with humans. In one famous report that is reminiscent of Stripes, a Soviet border checkpoint was put on alarm after a Chuchunaa ran through their instillation. It even tried to climb the roof of the base, until it was frightened back into the forest. This incident was widely reported by the Associated Press. Pretty ballsy, Chuchunaa. You came pretty close to a deadly cold war incident.  As cities and towns across Siberia grow, Chuchunaa sightings have become more frequent.  This leaves me with one question; who the hell is moving to Siberia?


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