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Bigfoot!: The True Story of Apes in America

Bigfoot!: The True Story of Apes in America

3.9 23
by Loren Coleman

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For years, scientists and researchers have studied, speculated about, and searched for an enigmatic creature that is legendary in the annals of American folklore. Now, learn the truth about...
In this fascinating and comprehensive look at the fact, fiction, and fable of the North American "Sasquatch," award-winning author Loren


For years, scientists and researchers have studied, speculated about, and searched for an enigmatic creature that is legendary in the annals of American folklore. Now, learn the truth about...
In this fascinating and comprehensive look at the fact, fiction, and fable of the North American "Sasquatch," award-winning author Loren Coleman takes readers on a journey into America's biggest mystery — could an unrecognized "ape" be living in our midst? Drawing on over forty years of investigations, interviews, and fieldwork on these incredible beasts, Coleman explores the modern debates about these powerful, ape-like creatures, why they have remained a mystery for so long, and what we can learn about ourselves from these animals, our nearest cousins!
From reports of Bigfoot's existence found in ancient Native American traditions, to the controversial Patterson-Gimlin film of a Bigfoot in the wild, to today's Internet sites that record the sightings almost as soon as they occur, Coleman uncovers the past, explains the present, and considers the future of one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the natural world.

Editorial Reviews

Every library needs an update of its section on Bigfoot, and this will serve good high school readers and adults. All his life, Coleman has been a naturalist and is regarded as a serious contemporary researcher, so he has more credibility than most as he writes on a subject many dismiss as a hoax. When, in 1957, he watched a Japanese-made SF movie about "an unknown species of hairy, upright creature," he began a lifetime odyssey in search of the elusive beast/human called variously the Abominable Snowman, Yeti, Sasquatch, Bigfoot (a name that took hold in 1958), Windigo, and quite a number of other labels. Coleman presents evidence that includes footprints, handprints, sounds, a long history of newspaper reports, and interviews with numerous persons of varying reliability. He has firm beliefs about physical characteristics, habitat, and numbers; he believes Bigfoot to be nocturnal and intelligent. The well-written book is full of intriguing anecdotes and examples, combining folklore and research. The range of Bigfoot lore is wider and deeper than most would imagine, and Coleman has done a good job of documenting it for a popular audience. He includes a nine-page bibliography of sources and an appendix titled "Twenty Best Places to See Bigfoot." KLIATT Codes: SA;Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Pocket Books, Paraview, 278p. illus. bibliog. index., Boardman
Kirkus Reviews
Out of the Maine woods stomps cryptozoologist Coleman, a hunter of undocumented animals who has been tracking the spoor of Sasquatch for four decades. "The classic Bigfoot is a real animal living in the montane forests of the Pacific Rim," asserts the author. From Bluff Creek, California, to Fouke, Arkansas, from the Everglades to Lake Louise, the skittish, neck-challenged critters may vary somewhat according to local habitat but they are typically, in Coleman’s description, twice as big as Sylvester Stallone, grungier than Ted Kaczynski, and louder than Gilbert Gottfried, howling and crying "eeek-eeek-eeek and sooka-sooka-sooka." (They’re stinky too.) The hairy fellows have been around distressing the dogs for some time, claims the author. He notes the feral phantom’s history in relation to Native American culture, Neanderthals, and the Jolly Green Giant. Coleman dismisses the notion that hoaxers making wooden footprint impressions are responsible and considers but discounts the possibility of a UFO nexus. Though the hirsute troglodyte seems to have been spotted more frequently than post-mortem Elvis, actual physical evidence is not easily obtained. One putative carcass, now lost, was exhibited at state fairs, stock shows, and shopping malls along with antique tractors. Remains in the wild haven’t been recovered, but, hey, when was the last time you found the bones of a bear in the woods? Some hair and droppings have turned up, but DNA analysis has so far been useless. There is certainly some convincing film of a female--and that is absolutely not a zipper under her fur. Coleman discusses Hollywood’s treatment of Bigfoot, notes the animal’s sex habits, reviews many classic sightings, andcites many "experts" who seem to have published primarily in journals like Argosy and True magazine. Plausible being or just a pop culture fantasy? The author believes Bigfoot is truly out there, but skeptics won’t be convinced by this pastiche. (Illustrations)

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Paraview Pocket Books
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Read an Excerpt


My body is soaked from trogging miles through heavy underbrush, literally drenched from my own sweat and the heavy mist in the forest. The object of my quest seems just ahead, around the next bend, right after that ridge. I'm after Bigfoot, and I push on. I've sunk waist deep in the swamps of southern Illinois, frozen overnight in a tent in the Trinity-Shasta area of California, looked at the stars from the Sasquatch Provincial Park in British Columbia, interviewed witnesses from Maine to West Virginia, Florida to California.

Bigfoot hunting has been my passion for over forty years. I'm convinced these creatures are out there to be discovered. A dream? I grew up with dreams. I am the son of heroes, the son of a city firefighter and a mother who speaks proudly of her Cherokee legacy, the grandson of a retired farmer who worked a field of dreams as the head groundskeeper for a minor league baseball team. I wanted to become a naturalist, in the original meaning of the word, and trek around the world seeking all sorts of animals. Instead, I did one better; I became a cryptozoologist, one who searches for new animals, yet to be discovered.

When I was young, growing up in Decatur, Illinois, I found myself outdoors all the time, camping, hiking, and, yes, at baseball games. My brothers and I, as kids, explored the "hollers and hills," the local name for the wild parts near fthe edges of town and beyond. In the 1950s, those were the safe feral places farther out, past the trailers and the cemeteries, the swampy, rugged, unexplored, and forgotten lands unused by farmers and as yet undiscovered by developers. Animals used them as natural greenways to travel from place to place, unnoticed.

I explored these and gathered snakes, turtles, toads, and other animals for my summertime zoo. I would keep, observe, and then let the animals go. In preparing to be a naturalist, I wanted to handle the things I read about in the books by Roy Chapman Andrews and Raymond Ditmars. I had visions of being a zoologist, but never could I have imagined what awaited me.

I now look back on one March evening in 1960 as a critical juncture that changed my life. I was watching the broadcast on the local Decatur TV station of a science fiction movie, a Japanese picture entitled Half-Human: The Story of the Abominable Snowman (Ishiro Honda, 1957), about the search for the Abominable Snowmen in the mountains of Asia. It was fascinating, for even though I knew it was fiction, there appeared to be an underlying truth to this tale of an expedition in pursuit of an unknown species of hairy, upright creature. One does not pick their entry point into mysteries, I suppose; for me this just happened to be the one.

I went to school the next week and asked my teachers about this elusive, mysterious creature called the Abominable Snowman. They were discouraging and lacked interest. They told me that I was wasting my time on a "myth." But their words did little to put out the fire in my belly. I was one very curious young man. I began looking for everything I could read on the Abominable Snowman. I discovered a large literature on the Yeti and soon found out, through the writings of Ivan T. Sanderson in magazines in 1959 to 1961, and in a book published in 1961, about North America's version of the Abominable Snowman, the Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest and the Sasquatch of Canada.

I started writing to people all around the world who were investigating and searching for these creatures. Soon, I was corresponding with more than four hundred people, including the likes of Ivan Sanderson, John Green, Peter Byrne, Bernard Heuvelmans, and others. Then I decided to do some research, to look for old newspaper reports about Bigfoot, to interview witnesses, and to go out in the field myself and seek out these creatures.

In his book Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, Ivan T. Sanderson mentioned some cases from the U.S. Midwest and South he liked to call Little Red Men of the Woods. This is where I would start, and before I knew it, I was interviewing witnesses and tracking the beasts in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Kentucky.

My interest in Bigfoot led to some specific life decisions. For example, I picked my college and its location — Southern Illinois University in Carbondale — because folklorist John W. Allen had written of authentic sightings of these animals by a minister and farmers from the area's bottomlands. I studied anthropology, minored in zoology, to have some scientific background to pursue these Bigfoot.

Sometimes my classes would suffer because I was hitchhiking deeper into southern Illinois to look into more cases, or to farther-away places such as Mississippi, to interview more witnesses. While I was in Carbondale from 1965 to 1969, I explored the swamplands of the area, ran down reports of strange, hairy creatures thereabouts, and spent endless hours in the microfilm sections of the libraries at SIU, as well as getting materials from Indiana University on local cases. I explored places that would later become familiar in Midwestern Bigfoot lore — Murphysboro, Chittyville, and other places in Little Egypt, as that part of Illinois is called.

I sent reams of material — raw reports, transcripts of eighteenth-century articles, and modern news clippings — to my correspondents. Eventually, I became Ivan Sanderson's and John Green's "man in the East." Sanderson was so excited by what I was finding outside of the Pacific Northwest that he wrote in 1967, "Yes...Please...any reports you have...Little Red Men of the...or Giant Hairys of the suburbs. The whole bit is getting hotter and hairier by the month." John Green and John Keel, among others, mentioned me in their books, as the source of many accounts I had forwarded their way.

Finally, in 1968, Lou Farish, a correspondent in Arkansas, suggested that I begin writing articles on my own. A year later, I began writing about Bigfoot in the Midwest. Soon Ivan Sanderson introduced me to Mark A. Hall, and John Keel introduced me to Jerry Clark. The old generation was mentoring the new.

In 1974, I constructed a cross-country trek, from Illinois to California, via a southwestern route, stopping at various locales that had histories of Bigfoot reports, from the Ozarks to the Sierras. I lived in California for parts of two years, working closely with George Haas and Jim McClarin, and meeting and discussing Bigfoot with many others, including René Dahinden, Archie Buckley, and John Green. When I decided to move back East for my long-delayed entry into graduate school, I once again used my journey as a way to see parts of the Bigfoot story, on-site, staying not in motels or RVs but in a sleeping bag, under the stars or, on rainy nights, in a tent. From the mid-1970s, from my base in New England, I continued to crisscross the country seeking Bigfoot and Bigfoot reports.

I have written much, consulted on documentaries about Bigfoot, and done more than that boy in Illinois could ever have dreamed. By the turn of the twenty-first century, I had been on treks, hikes, expeditions, and explorations in forty-eight states. I have canoed the backwaters of the Everglades, Okefenokee Swamp, Hockomock Lake, Honey Island Swamp, Caddo Lake, and dozens of other Bigfoot locations throughout the land. I have explored the most likely habitats of these creatures. I have climbed peaks from Yosemite to Fort Mountain, from the Trinities to Mt. Blue, looking for signs of Bigfoot. I have interviewed hundreds of Bigfoot witnesses. Four decades later, I'm convinced that ordinary people are having extraordinary but real encounters with these creatures, these hairy giants. This is what I now know about them.

Coast to Coast

The classic Bigfoot is a real animal living in the montane forests of the Pacific Rim, specifically the United States of America's and Canada's Pacific Northwest wilderness areas up through southern Alaska. There probably exists a much rarer Eastern subspecies or regional race of primates with distinctive behavioral and physical characteristics. The American Bigfoot, also known historically as Sasquatch in western Canada, has affinities to giant, hairy, apelike hominoids reported from the western mountains of Central and South America, as well as the forested areas of China, Tibet, and Indochina, although this volume will focus only on the North American variety.

It has been estimated that the population of Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest is between two thousand and four thousand individuals, with the greatest concentrations around Bluff Creek, California, and with other random spots such as the Skookum Meadows region of Washington State getting routine visitations. I tend to think the number may be smaller, only 1500 Bigfoot.

Witnesses have reported seeing Bigfoot in groups, including females and juveniles, demonstrating that breeding groups do exist. Detailed descriptions of the young of the Bigfoot are rare, but we do find some records of encounters at the edge of forested areas abutting new human habitats.

In general, the upright Bigfoot ranges in height from six to nine feet at maturity, with the conditions of available light, temporal length of the encounter, and the hair covering of the animals causing an often exaggerated estimate of greater stature. Their hair-covered, stocky bodies have enormous barrel torsos, with well-developed buttocks in both genders, penises seen on males, and large breasts clearly visible on older females. The breasts are often reported to be hair-covered except for the nipple area. Their heads are relatively small and peaked with no visible neck or forehead, with a heavy brow-ridge that sports a continuous up-curled fringe of hair. Both genders exhibit a sagittal crest, the peaked ridge found in fossil hominoids and modern great apes, which runs from the front to the back of the top of the skull where the muscles of the jaws are attached. Their jaws project forward markedly. Canine teeth that are noticeable enough to be called fangs are only rarely reported in males. The skin seen on the faces of the young is generally light-colored, while that of older individuals tends to be dark. Their eyes are small, round, and dark.

The hair of Bigfoot is reported to be relatively short and shaggy with no difference in length between body and head hair. In the young, the hair is usually dark, moves into shades of red and brown with age, and finally, at extreme maturity, evidences some silver, as in male mountain gorillas ("silverbacks"). Among the eastern North American subgroup of Bigfoot, piebald, or "two-tone," coloring has been reported.

Evidence of these animals, as their name implies, is often in the form of large tracks found in mud, sand, and snow. The Bigfoot foot has an hourglass outline and measures 4 to 9 inches in width by 11 3/4 to 20 inches in length. Unlike in the human foot, halfway down the Bigfoot foot is a "split-ball" or double-ball arrangement that is unique for these primates. Each foot has five toes, all aligned together, with some individual variation in number of toes either showing in the prints left behind or actually existing. Four-toed prints are rare but not unknown.

Bigfoot do not wear clothes of any kind and never display weapons or tools. They seem to nest in caves or beds made in the open and in trees. They appear to be vegetarian, though they have been seen to take small rodents and fish on occasion. Bigfoot are highly vocal, making high-pitched whistles, animal-like screams, howls, and such sounds as eeek-eeek-eeek and sooka-sooka-sooka.

Bigfoot are nocturnal, with sightings also at dawn and dusk. They are retiring, alert, and clever, generally avoiding humans, though firsthand encounters and native folklore plus a few modern reports indicate they have been known to kidnap humans. Bigfoot are intelligent. They appear to have a heightened sense of smell and avoid metal objects such as guns, cameras, and human dwellings in general. The Eastern variety has routine negative interactions with dogs, and an intriguing curiosity about such domestic animals as horses and cows. Sightings are scarcer than generally acknowledged, and close encounters in which good details are reported are extremely rare.

Undiscovered in North America?

Could a bunch of large, hairy, near-human ape-men, or hirsute giants, be living unfound in America? A parallel story, from just fifty years ago, suggests that this is a very real possibility.

The largest land animal in Canada, the wood bison, had been disappearing from all over North America for centuries when the last animals were officially declared extinct in 1940. Then in 1957, a wonderful discovery occurred. During a regular air patrol, federal wildlife officers flying over a remote part of the Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta, spotted a small, isolated herd of two hundred wood bison. They had gone completely unnoticed for decades — and had kept physically and genetically separate from their cousins the plains bison, so familiar to Americans as the buffalo. The wood bison were found about one hundred miles from a new road being built from Alberta to the arctic circle and within fifty miles of a mission station that had existed for a hundred years. Inspection of these animals showed that they were indeed the last remaining pure wood bison (Bison athabascae), an enormous Ice Age species not known to exist in a pure strain anywhere else in the world.

The rediscovery of a hidden group of wood bison in a remote valley in Canada is as remarkable as the discovery of the coelacanth, the mountain gorilla, and the giant panda. I don't believe those who insist that North America has no new secrets. One day Bigfoot will be officially recognized as a living creature.

I hope to see that day soon. In the meantime, the sightings continue, the number of Bigfoot seekers keeps growing, and the search is still afoot.

Copyright © 2003 by Loren Coleman

Meet the Author

Loren Coleman, M.S.W., has researched the Copycat Effect for more than two decades. Coleman has been an adjunct professor at various universities in New England since 1980 and a senior researcher with the Muskie School for Public Policy. He is currently the primary consultant for the State of Maine's Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative. The author, coauthor, or editor of more than twenty books, including the critically acclaimed work Suicide Clusters, lives in Portland, Maine.

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Bigfoot!: The True Story of Apes in America 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i was hiking i saw a big dark hairy figure. I quickly snap a photo but unfourtuently it's blurry. He's real and he's out there
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
must read amazing details,YOU WILL BELIVE!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it good vbook so far
Guest More than 1 year ago
Publisher Comments: Bigfoot -- the name used for any large, hairy biped reported in every state of the United States and every Canadian province -- has long baffled casual tourists and experienced scientists. Now readers can examine the evidence for this elusive creature and take a journey into the realm of crytozoology, or hidden animals, with the #1 author in the field of Bigfoot study, Loren Coleman. Readers will travel with Coleman during his forty-year study as he investigates, interviews, and conducts fieldwork on these incredible beasts. From ancient Native traditions to today's Internet databases that record the sightings almost as soon as they occur, they will learn how these creatures can exist in our midst, when there have been sightings, and what kind of controversies have been spurred. As Bigfoot hunting continues its rise in popularity, Coleman's work is a seminal piece. With Coleman's signature knack for including readers in every aspect of his trek into the unknown, Bigfoot! Combines science, the love of the outdoors, and topics made popular by The X-Files.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you liked this book,go to:animalplanet/findingbigfoot
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a Bigfooter. I want to join the BFRO
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book so true get sample
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maura baudouin More than 1 year ago
An interesting read, but at 11 years old it's far from up to date on recent events. Why so expensive B&N?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The subject is of interest, but unfortunately, it reads like a glued-together collection on newspaper articles. I would have bought it had it been easier to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was well organized and gave full details answering any questions in great detail. It appeared very authoritative and well researched. Most of all, of course, was the fact that it was extremely readable, hard to put down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a useful book for anyone with an interest in the Bigfoot phenomenon. Mr. Coleman has a fine prose style that makes any book he writes a pleasure to read. I read my first Bigfoot book when I was eight years old (it was 'Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life' by Ivan Sanderson) and I have read most of the literature on the subject written in the intervening forty-odd years. Mr. Coleman's book is particulary strong in documenting recent developments in the Bigfoot field.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting and prolific read. After reading the 'Making of Bigfoot' by Long, I seeked out other views, first starting with 'Strange Highways' then on to another Coleman brother's book 'Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America' neither Coleman disappointed me! For the price of a steak dinner you can fill your mind rather than your belly. Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nothing to hang your hat on
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Twelve dollors? Tiny wings and temple run put together don't cost that much! Don't get it waste of money.