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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Abominable Snowman Known in various localities by names such as Yeti, Bigfoot, Meh-Teh, and Sasquatch, this unsubstantiated creature is said to be seven to ten feet tall, with feet twice the size of a human's, and with a noticeably disagreeable aroma. It has been reported in Tibet, Nepal, China, Siberia, Canada, and the U.S. Northwest.
      In 1832, a report from the U.K. representative in Nepal described a hirsute creature who reportedly had attacked his servants. The natives called the beast “rakshas,” which means “demon.” This appears to be the first report of the Snowman made by a Westerner.
      An impressive report was made by mountaineers who crossed a Himalayan glacier in 1951 and photographed giant footprints measuring thirteen by eighteen inches. However, tracks left in snow tend to enlarge when exposed to direct sun, and this may well explain many of the accounts of Snowman tracks, since smaller tracks of native animals tend to spread under warmth.
      Other tracks found in Canada and the United States are the admitted results of hoaxers, even though the “experts” called in have sometimes validated the artifacts as genuine tracks of an unknown species. A short piece of movie film made in 1967 by Roger Patterson at Bluff Creek, California, appears to show a female Bigfoot casually walking away from the camera. The film has been hotly contested over the years and is the best of all the evidence ever offered.
      It is possible that Patterson himself was hoaxed; the figure he saw and filmed might have been a person in costume. In the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, most viewers were not aware that the apes shown were actors in costume holding real baby chimpanzees. The 1989 film Gorillas in the Mist used actors in costumes that were totally convincing. The Patterson figure is nowhere nearly as good as those representations, though we cannot expect that a genuine Bigfoot must move like an ape, and it may very well move like a human dressed in an uncomfortable costume.
      While the existence of such a creature is not at all impossible, two elements speak against it: First, there would need to be a very considerable number of them available to maintain the gene pool and to thus ensure survival of the species; it is difficult to imagine that a population of such a large animal could so successfully avoid detection. Second, the fact remains that to date, not one bit of material evidence (hair, skin, bones, droppings) of this creature has ever been produced, though a chimpanzee scalp was once offered and is still occasionally brought up by devotees of this fascinating legend.



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