You've seen him on shirts, hats, and bumper stickers. The legendary land mammal is usually described as being a male, but that could easily be due to the male-dominated human culture that most of us live in.
Bigfoot is well-known as a large, hairy, apelike creature who walks upright. His fur is dark and often appears long, matted, and unkempt. Many believe that he has a human level of intelligence; if that's the case, he may not have achieved the level of figuring out his hairstyle - or he simply prefers the devil-may-care look.
Many people find the idea of Sasquatch a more plausible phenomenon than some of the other fantastic claims out there because there are usually no paranormal traits associated with Bigfoot. His defining characteristics are purely physical, although it's not out of the question to believe that he has some kind of divine connection to nature when you consider the legend's mystical origins. But since he's often just portrayed as a large, reclusive, bipedal ape-man, it may seem reasonable that such a being - or beings - could exist.
The 'Squatch in Pop Culture
Sasquatch has gone through numerous iterations, some taking the horror angle where Bigfoot wants nothing more than to rip unsuspecting campers limb from limb, with a hatred for anyone who wants to learn more about him (or her, they, or whatever other pronoun a Sasquatch might use). Others have taken the comedy approach, as seen with the quintessential Bigfoot family film, Harry and the Hendersons.
Emotions vs. Evidence
Different people have different beliefs about the 'Squatch, and most who believe feel a strong personal connection to the legend. Sometimes this is due to a significant experience around a suspected sighting, like while hiking with a close friend or beloved family member. Sometimes it seems to have more to do with the emotional attachment than the event itself.
But still, there are others who are committed to collecting all the facts they can about Bigfoot - those who want to know the truth and believe not only that he's out there, but that with enough dedication, proper tools, and advanced techniques, the mystery can be uncovered.
There's a plethora of purported Sasquatch evidence: from footprints, to photographs, all the way up to capturing the tall, dark, reclusive hunk on video. But these candid shots always seem to be grainy, out of focus, and far away. This has caused plenty of raised eyebrows - are these videos really authentic? You might be wondering how hard it would be to just don a movie-quality gorilla costume and stumble around in the woods, looking furtively over your shoulder every once in a while.
Close Encounters of the Bigfoot Kind
There are some famous sightings that have become legend. The Patterson-Gimlin film, also just called "PGF," was filmed in 1967 in Northern California by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin. Both men held that the video was genuine for their entire lives. A little-known fact about the alleged encounter is that the filmed Sasquatch is believed to be female.
To Believe or Not to Believe?
It's easy to criticize those who have brought for alleged evidence of Bigfoot, but put yourself in their shoes: You're out in the woods, you see a big hairy beast. It's enough that you have the presence of mind to grab your camera and not run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. You should also bear in mind that many of the most famous pictures and videos were captured decades ago, so they obviously weren't taking 4K slow-motion videos with the latest iPhone.
But the fact that everyone and their baby has a camera-equipped smartphone these days might also give one pause. It's the same problem with the UFO phenomenon: the fact that there aren't far more pictures and videos, finally some hard-hitting evidence coming out now that everyone with a phone is a photographer or documentarian.
One possible explanation is that the rise in human population, deforestation, and the development of city infrastructures have driven the Sasquatches out of their natural habitats. It's possible that they've left their homeland moved elsewhere to avoid human contact.
Bigfoot populations may also be dwindling due to the lack of a natural habitat where they can thrive. One would assume that such large land mammals would require plenty of sustenance and room to roam around, and they could be highly territorial.
Bigfoot's Hairy Origin Story
Folklorists trace the origins of Sasquatch's story to a confluence of sources. Indigenous peoples all across North America had the story ingrained in their cultures. In medieval Europe, there was the tale of the wild man, a legendary faunlike creature.
In fact, the roots of the legendary figure can be traced all the way back to Silvanus, the Roman god of woods. Clearly, people have had the idea of a humanlike beast - or a beastlike human, depending on how you look at it - in our collective imagination all across history.
The Big Mystery is Still Afoot
Many Sasquatch cases remain unclosed since there's no way of proving them either way. So those reported sightings will forever remain a mystery, and dedicated Bigfoot seekers can only keep their own eyes open - and hikers should be prepared for a chance encounter every time they set out on the trail.