Perhaps one of America’s most elusive and legendary cryptids, Bigfoot is generally at the top of every cryptid hunter’s bucket list of creatures to encounter and capture. Bigfoot is described as a large, hairy, muscular, bipedal ape-like creature, roughly 2–3 metres (6 ft 7 in–9 ft 10 in) covered in hair described as black, dark brown, or dark reddish.
Individuals claiming to have seen Bigfoot 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, with a strong, unpleasant smell. The enormous footprints for which it is named are claimed to be as large as 24 inches (60 cm) long and 8 inches (20 cm) wide. Some footprint casts have also contained claw marks, making it likely that they came from known animals, such as bears, which have five toes and claws. Proponents claim that Bigfoot is omnivorous and mainly nocturnal.
About one-third of all claims of Bigfoot sightings are located in the Pacific Northwest, with the remaining reports spread throughout the rest of North America. Most reports are considered mistakes or hoaxes, even by researchers who maintain that Bigfoot exists.
As Bigfoot has become better known and 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. The debate over the legitimacy of Bigfoot sightings reached a peak in the 1970s, and Bigfoot has been regarded as the first widely popularized example of pseudoscience in American culture.
Stories of a “wild man” existed among the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest long before white colonists moved in. Versions of Bigfoot ranged from harmless giants who stole fish from fishermen’s nets, to cannibalistic monsters living on mountain peaks. These stories varied from tribe to tribe, and even from family to family, which meant that Bigfoot had a lot of different names. In the 1920s, J.W. Burns compiled the local legends for a series for a Canadian newspaper, coining the term “Sasquatch” in the process.
In 1967, the “Patterson-Gimlin film” was captured. The film shows a tall, hairy “Bigfoot” walking through the forest. Believers in Big Foot note the creature’s inhuman way of walking is a major point toward the film being real. Several university based studies and professional evaluations have concluded the subject cannot possibly be a man in an ape suit due to the movement of the creature, the length and shape of its limbs and the realism of its musculature. Furthermore, even the most accomplished special effects artists and experienced costumiers working in movies at that time with the budgets and resources at their disposal had created anything that looked so real. Nevertheless, despite the evidence, others maintained that it was indeed a man in an ape suit.