According to wildlife biologist Dr. John Bindernagel, a process of discovery has been occurring throughout North America for well over 150 years. This process of discovery validates the belief that there is an uncategorized great ape living in the wilds of North America that is commonly referred to as Sasquatch. Primate footprints that have withstood scientific scrutiny in all but a few cases have corroborated thousands of unrelated sightings. The taboo nature of the Sasquatch, however, as well as a media focus on exposed hoaxes, uninformed and unqualified statements made by sceptical scientists, and an unwillingness of the scientific community to exam existing evidence has continued to delay this discovery process to date.
“Considering the way the sasquatch has been portrayed in the mass media, it would be surprising if anyone in North America at this writing in 2010 was not skeptical regarding the proposition that the Sasquatch is a North American mammal.” – The Discovery of Sasquatch by John Bindernagel.
I’ve always been somewhat sceptical when it came to the Sasquatch. After all, despite having spent a fair amount of time outdoors, I’d never come across anything resembling large human footprints, nor had I encountered a mammal that I couldn’t easily identify even if that identification required further inquiry. I’m forced to admit, however, that I’ve never seen a wolverine, lynx, or a cougar either, but these I’ve accepted easily only because other people have. Like many others, I’ve struggled to believe in a creature that science has yet to acknowledge.
My interest in folklore, however, eventually led me towards a rabbit hole filled with excitable amateur investigators, pseudoscience and unwarranted speculation regarding the existence of Sasquatch which would also commonly be referred to as Bigfoot. Unfortunately, due to my own inability to explain unrelated personal experiences in my own life – in regards to hauntings – I felt that it wasn’t in my best interest to become a committed Sasquatch “believer” even if I wanted to. It’s been my observation that people, who believe in more than one type of unexplained phenomena, or occurrence, are seldom taken seriously. I had no intention of becoming that believer… ever. I’d made up my mind.
As I continued to research Sasquatch as a folkloric creature, however, I became aware of a small scientific community that was both convinced in the existence of Sasquatch, and committed to presenting evidence to a broader scientific body. This was, of course, when I first became aware of the work of wildlife biologist Dr. John Bindernagel. Interestingly, Dr. Bindernagel had relocated to Vancouver Island from central Canada and was now living just over an hour away from me. I was excited to learn that he was scheduled to do a book-reading and presentation in order to raise awareness on Sasquatch and to promote his most recent book, the Discovery of Sasquatch: Reconciling Culture, History, and Science in the Discovery Process. I had only been exposed to Bindernagel’s work previously through documentaries but had yet to read one of his books. I was excited! It sounded like a good time to me.
My girlfriend Elle looked at me in disbelief when I told her how we were going to be spending our Saturday off together. Thankfully, she has an adventurous spirit and admires – or at least tolerates – my geeky nature. So, we jumped into the car on an autumn road trip and arrived – just over an hour later – at the Courtney library where Dr. Bindernagel was scheduled to speak.
When we arrived, Dr. Bindernagel introduced himself to Elle and I, welcoming us warmly. I described my fascination in folklore and mythology and found him incredibly receptive. “There’s always a kernel of truth in myth and sometimes it’s a very large kernel.” He stated before briefly mentioning First Nation accounts from across the Pacific Northwest and northern Canada of an unidentified ape or wild-man. As the room filled, Dr. Bindernagel left us to greet as many of the other attendants as possible. I purchased a copy of his book and we quietly took our seats in hushed anticipation.
The topics discussed would be further elaborated in Dr. Bindernagel’s book the Discovery of the Sasquatch: Reconciling Culture, History, and Science in the Discovery Process. Dr. Bindernagel’s overall position was that the Sasquatch had already been discovered yet had continued to remain unrecognized by the scientific community at large. The argument was a compelling one.
As already stated, there are a number of individuals (thousands) who have come forward claiming to have seen a Sasquatch. Many of these individuals are hunters; some are members of law enforcement, hikers, trappers and outdoor enthusiasts. Many of these sightings have been made by multiple witnesses and have been further corroborated by footprints. Most sightings were reported reluctantly for fear of ridicule. In fact, some witnesses had even refused to use the word Sasquatch or Bigfoot in the first place and would instead refer to the creature as an “ape-like man.” Many of these reports were consistent in details that have been compelling to primatologists (such as Jane Goodall amongst others!) which included chest-beating, fear odors, vocalizations, stone and stick throwing, threatening behavior, conical shaped heads, flat nostrils, arms proportionally longer than a humans, a forward slouch, sizes exceeding a humans including impossibly broad shoulders and chest, height exceeding that of a human’s, eating habits similar to primates, and many others. Most compelling was the consistency of the finer details of the reports.
In the Discovery of the Sasquatch: Reconciling Culture, History, and Science in the Discovery Process, Bindernagel approaches the subject from various perspectives throughout the book. He contemplates that theories such as all sightings being hoaxes, hallucinations, misidentifications, supernatural beings, and others do not fare well under scientific scrutiny for the bulk of reported cases leaving an unacknowledged and unexplained gap in the majority of Sasquatch reports.
Most interesting, perhaps, is the book’s scrutiny of footprint track-casts. The prints (where hoaxes have been ruled out) have often been collected from very remote areas and would not be easy to replicate. In fact, the tracks do hold up under primatologist scrutiny. Despite being human-like in appearance, there are several characteristics that are only found in primate footprint tracks and not in human tracks at all. These prints are also unique to each individual Sasquatch and show physical differences between one another, suggesting a small secretive population of unidentified apes living in the wild areas of North America.
Bindernagel’s text doesn’t stop there, however. He then explores scientific scepticism, the discovery process, previous unrecognized scientific discoveries, the hesitation of the scientific community to look at subjects labeled as “taboo,” and the prevailing attitude that the available evidence has been scrutinized by qualified scientists who were not speaking out of their depth.
“Skepticism is a term and attitude almost universally applied to questioning the existence of Sasquatch, while it is almost never applied to ‘uncritically acquired preconceived beliefs’ such as hallucinations, misidentified bears, or hoaxes as explanations for Sasquatch accounts.” [Pg. 221]
If the Sasquatch is real, many wonder, why hasn’t a specimen ever been recovered? According to Bindernagel, it’s only a matter of time. “The whole time I’ve been a wildlife biologist,” he answered during his presentation, “I’ve only ever found two bear skulls and a few deer skeletons or other remains.” Apparently, it’s a common belief that remains will be preserved and intact when left to nature but this is rarely the case. At least one poacher claimed to have killed a Sasquatch but was afraid of prosecution. Several hunters over the years have also claimed to have had the Sasquatch in their sights, but didn’t feel good about shooting the human-like creature. Hair samples have been inconclusive. It’s only a matter of time until a body is recovered.
Bindernagel’s prevailing stance is that body or no body, there’s a scientific responsibility to examine the evidence that does exist. In fact, this is the scientific approach.
“Is the claimed discovery so heretical that members of the relevant zoological and anthropological disciplines are entitled to discredit or ‘debunk’ the existence of the sasquatch without first scrutinizing the evidence or submitting it to qualified colleagues for their appraisal?” [Pg. 219]
The Discovery of the Sasquatch: Reconciling Culture, History, and Science in the Discovery Process attempts to answer that very question and also hopes to generate discussion in the process. Hardened uninformed scepticism – in any study – is only another form of whimsy. It’s a position lacking a scientific or credible approach.
The presentation was fascinating and well worth the trip. Elle enjoyed it, as well. I’m not sure if I would now qualify as a believer, or not, but Dr. Bindernagel provided an incredibly compelling argument. In person he came across as logical, sincere, and grounded. Regardless, whether you’re a believer or a sceptic, The Discovery of the Sasquatch is the type of book you won’t be able to put down once you start reading it. One thing’s for certain, you’ll never look at the subject of the Sasquatch in the same way again. In fact, the next time you’re in the woods – alone – you may very well wish that you’d never picked up the book in the first place, because if Dr. Bindernagel is right, we’re definitely not alone.
Youtube Video: “Sasquatch Taboo Subject”
Youtube Video: “Talking Sasquatch Casts”
Youtube Video: “Chimpanzee/Bigfoot Comparison”
Youtube Video: “Discovery Channel: Bigfoot Best Evidence w. Dr. Bindernagel” (includes counterarguments)