CAN WE CLASSIFY BIGFOOT AS HUMAN?
The question as to whether Bigfoot is connected more to ape, or human has been a big topic of discussion here at The Forest Fleur. For the past year, I have been diving into human evolution in order to figure out where Bigfoot fits into the mix. So many elements to this mystery contradict one another, but I don’t believe that’s a coincidence. The biggest challenge throughout my search to discover Bigfoot’s origins is going to be the begging question: what defines us as human?
It is theorized that the combination of language, tool use and social culture has given us our status on the evolutionary tree. However, I believe being human means much more. Afterall, many known apes have a form of language, tool use and social culture. These elements do not define us as a species; what does, is our unique ability to adapt the environment to suit our needs, rather than adapting our needs to suit the environment. When humans gained the ability for complex thought, we used it to manipulate nature to benefit us. A few examples of this are irrigation systems, domesticating animals, building shelters, and farming. We have evolved so much; we now have an active input in how we will evolve next. This unique ability to manipulate the environment can be viewed as an elevated adaptation, and one I believe Bigfoot may share with our species.
Bigfoot has remained elusive for thousands of years. Perhaps they are also everchanging within their own group. How would we be able to tell? The same elements that define our progression as a species may not define theirs. We must look for different evidence of progression and advanced adaptation in order to determine if they can be considered human.
However, finding evidence of Bigfoot is hard enough to come by; imagine the struggle to search for evidence of an evolving culture and their manipulation of the environment. Before I dive into this challenge out in the field, I want to understand why Bigfoot is even viewed as a human within different cultures. The term “Wild Man” is what represented this creature long before “Bigfoot” became its nickname. It can be argued that this species is attributed to man because of the locals’ lack of knowledge of apes. But what about regions with known apes? Why would they still relate this creature to humans? (CLICK READ MORE)
In places with no known apes, it is easy to understand how people may have attributed Bigfoot to humans, being that they walk on two legs. In Germanic and Slavic regions, the Wild Man is a character that has been mentioned from the early Middle Ages to the beginning of modern times. The Wild Man was often described as a powerful and hairy primitive man who traveled alone. This creature was known to live very animalistic and primitively, however, was looked upon fondly for his closeness to nature. The Wild Man was known to live in mountainous, heavily forested areas, uninhabitable to most humans.
Bush Indians are said to be hairy wild men of the tundra in Ahtna and other Alaskan Athabaskan folklore. These beings are often described as acting aggressively. Chiye-Tanka of the Sioux folklore translates to "Big Elder Brother." This creature was known to wreak havoc on anyone with bad intentions. In Salishan mythology, Seatco are large, hairy wild men of the forest. In the Athabaskan tribe, Nuhu'anh (Ahtna) or, “Wood Man” is a hairy wild man of the forest who moves silently and is rarely seen by humans. He is known to steal things and cause minor mischief.
Although it can be argued that the Wild Man name is inspired solely by Bigfoot’s bipedalism, it seems that within these regions, the creatures are compared to humans due to their vengeful intelligence and stealth. However, many researchers protest that this comparison is due to certain regions’ lack of knowledge of apes. Perhaps if Native Americans of the Americas or Europeans knew what a gorilla looked like at the time, they may have named this creature “Wild Ape.” However, I believe the reason this creature is most closely compared to man goes far beyond its upright stature. Afterall, what about the areas of the world that dohave knowledge of apes and monkeys?
In Nepal, the Yeti, or yeh-teh is a Bigfoot-like creature reported by locals. The Tibetan root of yeti is yeh-teh, meaning "small manlike animal." Nepal is a region with a vast knowledge of apes, as the local temple is home to 400+ free-ranging macaques. Although these primates are smaller than the yeti, they do have the ability to walk bipedally occasionally. Why wouldn’t the yeti be compared to them if the macaque is so abundant and often observed by the locals? Surely, if the yeti exhibited ape or monkey-like behavior and intelligence, locals might have named it “Large Macaque.” Instead, these creatures are compared to human, indicating that perhaps they have a higher intelligence and humanlike characteristics. The Yeren of China translates to “Savage Wild Man.” Although, in most reports, the creatures are said to be docile. Why would this culture give the name “Wild Man” to a hair covered, long-armed creature? Why wouldn’t this being be compared to the native Chinese Gibbon?
Many questions remain unanswered, but I have a feeling that this species is being compared to humans for more reasons than just their bipedalism. Perhaps these creatures are capable of the same complex thinking we are, which is leading us to classify them as one of our own. However, in order for Bigfoot to join us under the human umbrella, I believe they must demonstrate the ability to invent, not just adapt. These creatures must show the human capability to manipulate their surroundings to benefit their survival. Afterall, the defining feature of humans is the invention of free time by elimination of the constant need to survive. By farming, manipulating water sources, domesticating food sources, and building shelter, humans gave themselves time to become creative. That creativity is what has launched our species forward in a way no other species has…or so we think.
Perhaps Bigfoot’s humanlike qualities are represented differently from ours. Perhaps it isn’t the food sources they’ve manipulated for easier survival, but something else. Could they live underground in a complex cave system? Could they trap animals with natural resources? If Bigfoot is a human species, we will need to find evidence of their advancement in making survival easier. I am on a mission to scan the wilderness for any sign of culture, creativity, or manipulation of natural resources. This will be no easy task, as my mind has been trained to identify culture only as I know it from my own species. However, I’m up for the challenge! Join me on my search for Bigfoot’s origins!
Adamah, Benjamin. “Wild Man Or Woodwose Is a Being in the Germanic and Slavic Folk Lore.” VAMzzz Occult Blog, 22 Sept. 2019, vamzzz.com/blog/wild-man.
“Yeti - Dictionary Definition.” Vocabulary.com, vocabulary.com/dictionary/yeti.
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