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  Columnist: William B Stoecker

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Paranormal Bigfoot ?

Posted on Wednesday, 1 July, 2009 | 7 comments
Columnist: William B Stoecker

People have always believed the world to be inhabited by a variety of mysterious beings: dragons, demons, angels, elves, fairies, dwarves, gnomes, trolls, ogres, and so forth, and many of these beings were believed to be somewhat human in appearance, or nearly so. Ancient and traditional people drew no sharp distinction between the physical and spiritual realms, and perhaps their understanding of this matter was superior to our own. Elves and fairies (really different names for the same thing) were often perceived as somewhat physical, but having supernatural powers and living much of the time in a sort of parallel reality, very close to our own world. In modern times a multitude of seemingly credible witnesses have reported encounters with various kinds of "aliens," many of them, as other authors have noted, bearing a close resemblance to elves and fairies. People have also reported humanoid reptilian beings, insectoid creatures, chupacabra, giant birds, the Mothman, and so on.

One of the most common beings reported, and one that often leaves footprints, is the (usually) large ape man, appearing in several varieties, and known by many names around the world, including abominable snowman and yeti. The North American versions also have many names, including bigfoot and sasquatch. Pacific Northwest Indians mostly seemed to think these creatures were living physical animals, while a few believed them to be spirits, as did the Hopi, Lakota, and Iroquoian tribes, and they were often considered to be benevolent, despite their intimidating appearance. The Iroquoians believed in dwarves living in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, and this is where author Whitley Strieber claimed to have encountered small humanoids. The Wendigo of the Algonkian tribes seems to have been a cannibalistic shape-shifting human, more akin to werewolves than to bigfoot.

Clearly, as is the case with ufos, some reports are hoaxes, some are hallucinations, and some are misidentifications of, for example, bears or even other people seen at a distance and under poor viewing conditions. And hard proof is lacking; even video and film footage and hair samples have not sufficed. And yet the volume of reports from seemingly credible witnesses is too great to ignore: something is out there. But what? Obviously, for there to be a report there has to be a reporter, so sightings will be more common where there are more people. If all of the sightings were fraud or hallucinations most would occur in or near large cities or in national parks that are very heavily visited. If it is an unknown animal, there would be more reports in forested or wilderness areas, and, indeed, this is the case, but, as we shall see, there is more to it than that.

But first, let us consider whether or not a large, unknown animal could even exist in North America. Large animals continued to be discovered well into the twentieth century, including a kind of wild ox in Vietnam, that, no doubt, was always well known to the local farmers. They had never reported it to anyone because there seemed to be nothing unusual about it, and, no doubt, they believed everyone already knew of it. No fossils of any ape or hominid have ever been found in the Americas, but most creatures die without leaving a fossil, the formation of which requires certain specific conditions, and most fossils are never found, so it seems unlikely, but possible that a large ape or hominid migrated from Asia into North America. Some researchers have suggested the gigantopithecus, a kind of huge, overgrown gorilla-type creature, as the culprit; very little is known about this creature and no complete skeleton has ever been found. Some have suggested neanderthal man, but evidence is mounting that the neanderthals were only slightly different from us, and may actually have been fully human, a different race rather than a different species. The objection often raised to the existence of a large ape in North America is that no body or bones have ever been found. I have spent much of my life hiking in wilderness areas from Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego, and in all that time I have only seen perhaps fifteen black and grizzly bears and two (possibly three) cougars. As for bodies and bones, I will go hiking perhaps a hundred times before finding the carcass or bones of a deer; perhaps one time in fifty I will chance upon the remains of a dead squirrel or rabbit. Scavengers make short work of anything that dies, consuming even the bones and antlers.

So a highly intelligent and elusive animal, perhaps living in caves or burrows by day and mostly coming out at night, might avoid being killed or captured, although it is important to remember that no nocturnal ape has ever been known to exist. If these animals are omnivorous they could exist wherever bears do, and the Pacific Northwest, especially near the coast, could certainly support a large population.

But there is a pattern to bigfoot sightings (I always emphasize the importance of patterns), and the pattern paints a confusing and contradictory picture. I have relied on the website of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization; other researchers and organizations have published or posted very similar maps and lists of sightings. As one might expect of a large physical animal, California has (as of early June, 2009) some 411 sightings; Washington State has 464; and smaller Oregon has 211. So far, so good. These states have vast wildreness areas, rich ecosystems, and plenty of people to see what is out there and make the reports. But Alaska and British Columbia have far fewer reports, despite the immense and fairly temperate rainforests near the coast, and the presence of fairly large numbers of inhabitants and tourists, many of them hunters, fishermen, and hikers. Even stranger, New York has 93 reports, and Texas has 174. Ohio has an incredible 197, and Illinois has 82. Arkansas has 68; Georgia has 72; Florida has 163.

All of these states, especially New York, Florida, and Texas, have forests, swamps, and wilderness areas. But they are not extensive or continuous, and many of the sightings in these states are in heavily populated areas nowhere near the forests. For example, Shawnee National Forest with the Ozark and Shawnee Hills, covers 280,000 acres in southern Illinois, and Wayne National Forest and the Hocking Hills are in southern Ohio. But the sightings come from all over these states, with many in the populous northern regions. And there is another problem. It is not enough that one bigfoot live in an area; there must be a breeding population for the species to survive, with enough of a population to provide some genetic diversity and prevent inbreeding and for prospective mates to be able to find one another. While such a fairly large population might exist in the great wilderness areas of the Northwest, and possibly in places like Colorado, there simply is not enough habitat in places like Ohio to support sufficient numbers and allow them to hide and avoid death or capture at the hands of human beings.

It has been suggested that they live in some vast subterranean realm or that they are dropped off by ufos. But no miners or spelunkers have ever found the subterranean world, and why would ufos place large animals here on Earth, and how would they avoid death or capture? So while some bigfoot in the Northwest, and the Yeti and similar creatures in the Himalayas and elsewhere may possibly be living animals, we have to consider seriously the possibility that bigfoot is a paranormal entity. If the underworld is involved it would be as a portal to some alternate reality; if ufos are involved, it may be because they, too, are paranormal in nature.

William B Stoecker

Article Copyright© William B Stoecker - reproduced with permission.

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