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Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, is an alleged ape-like creature purportedly inhabiting forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Bigfoot is usually described as a large, hairy, bipedal humanoid. Many believers in its existence contend that the same or similar creatures are found around the world under different regional names,

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most prominently the Yeti of the Himalayas. The scientific community considers Bigfoot to be a combination of folklore, misidentification, and hoaxes, rather than a real creature. In general, mainstream scientific consensus does not support the posited existence of megafauna cryptids such as Bigfoot, because of the improbably large numbers necessary to maintain a breeding population and because climate and food supply issues would make such purported creatures' survival in reported habitats unlikely. Despite these facts, Bigfoot is one of the more famous examples of cryptids within the pseudoscience of cryptozoology.


Bigfoot is described in reports as a large ape-like creature, ranging between 6?10 feet (1.8?3.0 m) tall, weighing in excess of 500 pounds (230 kg), and covered in dark brown or dark reddish hair. Alleged witnesses have described large eyes, a pronounced brow ridge, and a large, low-set forehead; the top of the head has been described as rounded and crested, similar to the sagittal crest of the male gorilla. Bigfoot is commonly reported to have a strong, unpleasant smell by those who have claimed to have encountered it. The enormous footprints for which it is named have been as large as 24 inches (61 cm) long and 8 inches (20 cm) wide. While most casts have five toes?like all known apes?some casts of alleged Bigfoot tracks have had numbers ranging from two to six. Some have also contained claw marks, making it likely that a portion came from known animals such as bears, which have four toes and claws. Proponents have also claimed that Bigfoot is omnivorous and mainly nocturnal.


History
Before 1958

Bigfoot descends, more or less, from wildmen stories of the indigenous population of the Pacific Northwest. Its origins are difficult to discern as the legends existed prior to a single name for the creature. The legends differed in their details both regionally and between families in the same community. Similar stories of wildmen are found on every continent except Antarctica. Ecologist Robert Michael Pyle argues that most cultures have human-like giants in their folk history: "We have this need for some larger-than-life creature."
Members of the Lummi tell tales about Ts'emekwes, the local version of Bigfoot. The stories are similar to each other in terms of the general descriptions of Ts'emekwes, but details about the creature's diet and activities differed between the stories of different families.


Some regional versions contained more nefarious creatures. The stiyaha or kwi-kwiyai were a nocturnal race that children were told not to say the names of lest the monsters hear and come to carry off a person?sometimes to be killed. In 1847, Paul Kane reported stories by the native people about skoocooms: a race of cannibalistic wild men living on the peak of Mount St. Helens. The skoocooms appear to have been regarded as supernatural, rather than natural.


Less menacing versions such as the one recorded by Reverend Elkanah Walker exist. In 1840, Walker, a Protestant missionary, recorded stories of giants among the Native Americans living in Spokane, Washington. The Indians claimed that these giants lived on and around the peaks of nearby mountains and stole salmon from the fishermen's nets.


The local legends were combined together by J. W. Burns in a series of Canadian newspaper articles in the 1920s. Each language had its own name for the local version. Many names meant something along the lines of "wild man" or "hairy man" although other names described common actions it was said to perform (e.g. eating clams). Burns coined the term Sasquatch, which is from the Halkomelem๏ฟฝ and used it in his articles to describe a hypothetical single type of creature reflected in these various stories. Burns's articles popularized both the legend and its new name, making it well known in western Canada before it gained popularity in the United States.


After 1958
While the legends that form the basis of Bigfoot had been around for decades, if not centuries, and had been unified by Burns, it was not until the 1950s that Bigfoot truly came to fame. In 1951, Eric Shipton photographed what he described as a Yeti footprint. The photograph was published shortly thereafter and gained wide attention.
The notoriety of ape-men grew over the decade, culminating in 1958 when large footprints were found in Humboldt County, California by bulldozer operator Gerold Crew. Sets of large tracks appeared multiple times around a road-construction site in Bluff Creek. After not being taken seriously about what he was seeing, Crew brought in his friend, Bob Titmus, to cast the prints in plaster. The story was published in the Humboldt Times along with a photo of Crew holding one of the casts. The article's author, Andrew Genzoli, titled the piece "Bigfoot", after the 16 inches (41 cm) footprints. Sasquatch received a new name and gained international attention when the story was picked up by the Associated Press. Following the death of Ray Wallace, a logger who was at the site during the time the footprints appeared, his family attributed the creation of the footprints to him. The wife of the editor of the original piece in the Humboldt Times has stated that her husband was in on the hoax with Wallace.


The year 1958 was a watershed not just for the Bigfoot story itself but also for the culture that surrounds it. The first Bigfoot hunters began following the discovery of footprints at Bluff Creek. Tom Slick, who had previously funded searches for Yeti in the Himalayas earlier in the decade, organized searches for Bigfoot in the area around Bluff Creek.
Distribution of reported Bigfoot sightings in the North America.
As Bigfoot has become more well known, becoming a phenomenon in popular culture, sightings have spread throughout North America. In addition to the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes region and the Southeastern United States have had many reports of Bigfoot sightings. Several television shows have recently concerned Bigfoot: the Monster Quest series, which has had shows on Bigfoot multiple times, and Destination Truth, which has had shows on Bigfoot and similar legends.

 

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