reported primate features of the animal include (1) prominent, square shoulders, (2) a flat face lacking a prominent snout, and (3) long digits terminating in nails rather than claws. Humanlike features include habitually bipedal locomotion, and feet with a prominent heel and a hallux wich is normally adducted. Especially apelike anatomical features include (1) arms which are disproportionately long compared with humans, (2) a short, thick neck, (3) large outward-facing nostrils, (4) prominent brow ridges, and (5) a recessive chin and forehead. The sasquatch foot is the best understood part of the animal on the basis of hundreds of track photographs and casts. Anatomical details of the sasquatch foot are illustrated and discussed. The hypothesis that the sasquatch is North America's great ape is raised as a logical explanation for evidence and reports collected in many parts of the continent over the past 150 years. It is suggested that unfamiliarity with details of great ape anatomy, ecology and behavior on the part of North American wildlife biologists may have contributed to widespread misunderstanding or premature dismissal of sasquatch reports by wildlife professionals in the past, and continues to do so.
Although the conference organizers ultimately rejected the paper, they did so only after corresponding with me regarding the availability of DNA evidence for the sasquatch. Colleague Henner Fahrenbach of Beaverton, OR confirmed that the results of his attempts to have DNA analysis performed on purported sasquatch hair collected in the field were "inconclusive." It was on the basis of these findings that the paper was declined and organizers decided to restrict the conference to papers on the five known taxa of apes (that is, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gibbons.)
I nevertheless attended the conference and was able to discuss the sasquatch as a possible great ape with zoo keepers, and primate researchers.
In 1999 I was contracted to summarize my book in a 2000 word article for Beautiful British Columbia magazine, a geographical/travel magazine with a worldwide circulation of some 190,000 subscribers.
The article--entitled Sasquatches in our Woods-was published in Beautiful British Columbia magazine, Volume 42. No. 2, Summer, 2000. pp 28-33. The credibility of the subject was enhanced with a sasquatch painting by internationally-acclaimed wildlife artist Robert Bateman as the lead illustration.
I recently heard from Bryan McGill, editor of Beautiful British Columbia magazine that the article won an award in the essay category for the 21st Annual International Regional Magazine Association (IRMA) Awards. The award was for "a story that speculates on or interprets a particular theme or subject that pertains to the region, and that clearly presents the magazine's or writer's viewpoint to the reader…."
The award is somewhat ironic in that I do not consider the sasquatch in British Columbia to be a regional issue at all, but was constrained to use only BC material in the article because of the regional nature of Beautiful BC magazine. (See page entitled Sasquatch Distribution in North America.)
Despite these small successes in having the sasquatch recognized a s valid subject of scientific research, the resistance of the "scientific community" to consider the sasquatch worthy of serious discussion or examination remains an area of concern for me. I have increasingly come to realize just how conservative science is and, as a result avoid certain subjects. Anyone who had read widely in the area entitled philosophy of science will read about how scientists persisted in resisting previous discoveries, sometimes for hundreds of years.
Part of this resistance can be explained by the problem of "prematurity" in scientific discovery. According to Guenther Stent, a discovery is defined as premature "if its implications cannot be connected by a series of simple, logical steps to canonical, or generally accepted, knowledge." (Stent, Guenther "Prematurity and uniqueness in Scientific Discovery," Scientific American. 227 (1972) 84-93). The existence in North America of an upright great ape fits Stent's description of prematurity in at least two ways. (1) None of the known great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, or orangutans) are habitually bipedal. (2) Great apes are known only from Africa and Asia and there is no precedent for an apelike animal in North America (ie we don't have any other apes or even monkeys here).
This last point was brought home forcibly to me when a newspaper journalist sought out the opinion of Professor Lisa Gould, a primatologist at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC. regarding my book. "Speaking from an evolutionary point of view, Gould says, "There's no way a huge ape can be in North America…" The reviewer observed that "The primatologist sees the sasquatch in the same light as the Yeti, or wild man, of Nepal and Tibet, part of human mythology." (Judith Isabella, Victoria Times Colonist, January 10, 1999, p 11 in Islander section) Professor Gould may be right in her "no way" statement, "from an evolutionary point of view." The idea that the current "evolutionary point of view" might be incorrect appears not to enter her thinking.
But beyond all the commonly-stated reasons given for the sasquatch not to be here (not enough food, no precedents, evolutionary point of view, etc) there are the unthinkable implications of what this could mean in the larger picture. I use those words advisedly because of what I hear from fundamental Christians and others who are uncomfortable with our obvious anatomical similarities to non-human primates.
Noted anatomist and paleoanthropologist Alan Walker addressed this recently when writing about his paleoanthropological discoveries. He wrote that "…surprises about the identity or attributes of our … ancestors may be deeply unsettling and unwelcome. Even professionals, if they are not vigilant, are liable to fall into the trap of refusing to evaluate the evidence objectively…." (The Wisdom of The Bones, p 50.)
The idea that there is a possibility of an upright great ape existing, especially here in North America, is indeed "unwelcome" to many of us. This was recently brought home to me when, attempting to engage the attention of a colleague who is a zoology professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, I sent him a review copy of my book. When I next saw him his response was predictable: "but John, if this thing exists, it would be the zoological discovery of the century, and…and..." He left the thought hanging, but the implication was that "and that is impossible." His head-shaking incredulence was overwhelming and helped me understand just how unthinkable the sasquatch as a real animal is for mainstream zoologists in the university atmosphere.
His reaction helped me understand just how risky it would be for someone like him or his university colleagues to publicly show a serious interest in the subject of the sasquatch. It also helped me realize that for someone like him this was an unnecessary risk, with little to gain and much to lose. For this reason, we will one day acknowledge university academics like Professor Grover Krantz, recently retired from the Western Washington University, and Dr. Jeff Meldrum at Idaho State University.
In my case, I acknowledge the courage of conference organizers who not only accepted papers on the sasquatch at professional conferences, but in one case elevated the submitted paper to a plenary session. Similarly the courage of the editor of the International Journal of Primatology must be recognized for his inclusion of a review of my book in that journal. It may be difficult for those outside of the scientific "establishment" to recognize the significance of such small incremental steps.
In this regard it may also be worth documenting a conference presentation proposal which was rejected, and why it was declined. The sasquatch paper had been proposed for presentation at a national conference. The reasons given by the conference chair for rejection concluded with the comment : "Until there is "hard" evidence of their existence the issue will remain tabloid material and not part of the scientific community."
The reference to "tabloid material" is noteworthy. I now recognize the public perception of the sasquatch as a subject of ridicule and humor is a significant factor in our society's continued resistance to this subject as one worthy of serious study. That professional biologists are unable to discount the inclusion of a wildlife subject in the tabloid media is unfortunate, to say the least. It may speak to their preconceptions and unwillingness to engage the subject of the sasquatch that they would allow themselves to be influenced by a form of the print media which they would otherwise ignore.