One Bigfoot myth we can hardly bear

The iconic film footage of Sasquatch reveals the myth, if not the facts of this purported ape man of North America.

The iconic film footage of Sasquatch reveals the myth, if not the facts of this purported ape man of North America.

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

Like many of my era, I was introduced to the “myth” of Sasquatch (aka “Bigfoot”) through the motion picture “Harry and the Hendersons.” In this movie, not only was Sasquatch real, his heart was bigger than his feet, thawing the stern countenance of John Lithgow, who was a pretend jerk in a lot of movies back then. Kevin Bacon sure showed him (albeit in “Footloose,” not “Harry and the Hendersons.”)

Like Scotland’s Loch Ness monster, the Anishinabe Wendigo, or Mexico’s Chupacabra, the Sasquatch enjoys many believers, but little in the way of scientific verification. Grainy film footage from the deep woods of the Northwest inspired us to question the possibility of a giant ape man in North America, the brownish counterpart to the white Yeti of the Asian Himalayas. And even though that famous 35mm snippet was eventually proven to be a hoax, the plodding gait of this man in a furry suit remains indelibly marked on my entire generation’s imagination. “There he is, looking back, and now he’s gone.”

The Sasquatch legend inspires a whole cult of speculation. The TV show “Finding Bigfoot” maintains an active following even though every single episode fails to produce any tangible evidence of Bigfoot whatsoever. Even tent show revivals know they’ve got to keep the act moving town to town to enjoy that kind of success. Somehow, the Bigfoot faithful don’t care about the outcomes, just the continuation of the elaborate inference.

Still, the drumbeat for actual evidence is out there, and some news was made recently with a study of several hair samples from purported Yeti and Sasquatch around the globe. Scientists reviewed specimens from all the variations of the giant ape men on Earth, finding that most of the hair was from common animals, humans or not even hair at all. But there was one finding concerning samples of “Yeti hair” in the Himalayas that created a stir.

In the July 2, 2014 Forbes Magazine article, “Abominable News: Yeti Identified as Ancestral Bear” Paul Rodgers explains the findings. To be perfectly honest, Rodgers’ author photos shows him with an eye patch and a black fedora, which seemed apropos for this sort of thing. He writes:

“Two of them, however, closely matched the DNA from a polar bear fossil found on Svalbard, an island in the Russian Arctic, dating back 40,000 years to the Pleistocene period, when much of continental Asia was covered with glaciers.

“Although the Himalayan ice field did not connect with the southern-most extent of the polar ice cap, it is conceivable that an ancestor Ursus maritimus could have crossed the gap in winter.”

Did you catch that? All this time, an ancient Pleistocene bear might accounted for all the strange encounters with “giant ape men” in the woods. The fact that their bones would have been identified as those of a bear explains why no skeletal remains of Sasquatch or Yeti have ever been located.

Can you *bear* the truth? *Ursa* it too much for you? Well, don’t let it *bruin* your day.

Now, in deference to the scientific model, just because this theory was hurled around social media for a few weeks this summer doesn’t mean that Sasquatch is really a bear. But, if Sasquatch were a bear, the time you spent reading this far would become worthwhile, as opposed to the alternative: which is that this column is the print equivalent of “Finding Bigfoot,” something you and I both wouldn’t want to admit.

Still, you never know what might wander in from the woods one day. I’m sure a real life Harry, capable of emoting through soft, doughy eyes could show up to tell us that he is not, in fact, a Pleistocene bear. He’s a real, live Pleistocene boy.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This post first appeared in the Aug. 3, 2014 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.



  1. I think, for most of us, Bigfoot/Yeti/Skunk Ape,etc. has become a friendly myth. My Scandinavian ancestors passed tales down of a “snowman” that vaguely resembles Grendel from the Beowulf saga, morphed into a fireside tale to entertain grandchildren. Probably no different than the tales of “little people” my Irish Great-Great-uncle would tell in a brogue so thick you had to strain to understand…made all the worse because they came out when Stuart had a beer or two in him.

    I admit sneaking a six-pack into the rest home for him once or twice…but I digress.

    Bigfoot leaves us the option of mystery and myth; a momentary escape from oft’ drab reality. If only for that, we hang onto the mystery with a knowing wink.

    Thanks for the light hearted look.

  2. John Ramos says

    “Only you? Don’t make me laugh. Only *I* can prevent forest fires!” [STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP]

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