Let’s dispel a “scientific myth” here.
In 1951 the Shipton Print photo ignited the world’s curiosity. This photo, taken by expert mountain climber Eric Shipton, showed what appeared to be the legendary “Abominable Snowman” foot print. More than any nation Britain was excited. Ever since 1921 the idea that some kind of “primitive man” or “ape more like man than any other” had captured Britons’ attention. Col. C.K. Howard-Bury had innocently set the concept in motion when, as head of the 1921 Everest Reconnaissance Expedition to find a way to the summit, he stumbled across unusual tracks at the 22,000 foot level. His Sherpas declared it to be the “Metoh Kangmi” — a phrase hard to translate. When Howard-Bury sent a cable to Darjeeling mentioning it, Englishman Henry Newman was called in to translate the unknown phrase. He was an expert in Tibetan dialects. This and a msitranscription of Metoh to “Metch” made the translation even more difficult. Kang-mi was easy -- “snow-man--” but Metch was confusing. Newman opted for “abominable.”
The English press jumped on it. With its world straddling empire English language newspapers carried the news of some horrible giant manbeast to every outpost. In such a state the Kangmi remained until Shipton’s photo. This photo clearly showed what looked like a half-human and half-ape foot. It actually shocked many scientists, as it was a believable hybrid and not the fancy of giant human feet all assumed from the legend.
Britons were delighted! Many thought it proof of a missing link. If they had doubts about the print, it was wiped away when Eric Shipton made it clear about the conditions of the picture. Seldom ever referred to on this extraordinary find, Shipton did later put it in print in Menlung La.
. . .As we went down the glacier, however, the snow became less deep and the footprints more regularly shaped. At length we came to places, particularly near crevasses, where the snow covering the glacier ice was less than an inch thick. Here we found specimens of the footprints so sharply defined that they could hardly have been clearer had they been carefully made in wax. We could tell both by comparing one print against another and by the sharpness of the outline there had been no distortion by melting, and from this we inferred that the creatures (for there had evidently been two) had passed only a very few hours before. They were going down the glacier. The footprints were 12 inches long and about 6 inches wide. There was a big, rounded toe, projecting very much to the side; the middle toe was well separated from this, while three small toes were grouped close together. There were several places where the creatures had jumped over small crevasses and where we could see clearly that they had dug their toes into the snow on the other side to prevent their feet from slipping back.
Britain was even more excited when Ralph Izzard, the correspondent for the Daily Mail, who covered the 1953 Everest Expedition in its attempt to reach the summit, also updated the world on the current issue of the Yeti. In his popular 1953 book The Innocent on Everest he devoted a sideline chapter on his hurried investigation of the “Yeti” or Metoh Kangmi. His book gained popularity not for covering the failed attempt to reach Everest’s summit but for his investigation of the illusive “Abominable Snowman.”
The Daily Mail backed an enormous expedition, the 1954 Yeti Everest Expedition, putting Izzard in charge. The team was made up of several respected scientists, including zoologist Charles Stonor, Tom Stobart, Dr. Biswamoy Biswas, and Gerald Russell, who had assisted in the capture of the first live Panda. With 250 coolies in tow, the Yeti Expedition succeeded in scaring the hell out of everything on Everest for the 6 months it was in the field. Though the expedition never recovered a Yeti, it did track several trails of footprints identical to those Shipton photographed.
The Expedition did succeed, however, in dynamically captivating scientific as well as world attention. Vladimir Tschernesky went beyond others and made a cast of the foot based on the picture. In the cast, he made creases where skin ridging would be present. He then impressed his copy into snow and made an exact copy of the foot. The replica proved that the foot was aptly designed for walking on the rocky slopes of the mountains and also adapted to bipedalism. Thanks to Tschernesky, the Shipton photo footprint became the second most studied foot of the 20th century, after that of Neanderthal.
Tschernesky wrote a very influential article in the Manchester Guardian about his examination of the Shipton Print, declaring it to belong to a giant. This surprisingly and openly contradicted the Yeti Expedition’s findings. Izzard and Stonor were definite that based on Sherpa stories, the Yeti was no bigger than the size of an average boy of 14 years age. It was between 5 to 6 feet at best, covered in cinnamon hair, had a tall sagittal crest (cone-like head) with a crest of bristly hair down the middle. It yelped, howled, and chattered its teeth. It was omnivorous, and when chasing cattle was even known to go down on all fours.
The 1954 Yeti Expedition. Bill Edgar, Charles Stonor, Tom Stobart, Biswamoy Biswas, Gerald Russell, John Angelo Jackson.
Tschernesky disagreed based on some interesting facts he gleaned from speaking to Shipton. In the Manchester Guardian he writes:
The length of the stride of the Snowman, as the writer of this article was kindly informed by Eric Shipton, is about 2 ft. 6 in. It is thus equal to the stride of a six-foot man. The ancestors of man, such as the Neanderthal man, or the Pithecanthropus, had relatively shorter legs and a more massive body than contemporary man. This suggests that the Snowman must be a huge size, not less than 7 ft. high. E. Shipton, who saw these mysterious footprints several times, never noticed anything that could be described as the marks of the hands. This indicates that the Snowman, as probably Pithecanthropus Erectus, is a completely bipedal creature.
Both Stonor and Izzard confirmed in their books, Sherpa and Snowman and The Abominable Snowman Adventure respectively, that they had also come across tracks showing a consistent stride of 2 feet 3 inches. Regardless, both Izzard and Stonor refused to accept Tschernesky’s statement that the Sherpas had never seen a full-grown Yeti. Notwithstanding, Tschernesky was adamant. The tracks indicated it had to be a giant ape.
Tschernesky had cause to come to some of his conclusions, but habitually bipedal was a leap he alone made. But he did have a simian half-cast foot between man and ape before him. Other evidence he drew upon was that the fossilized remains of the largest ape known, classified as Gigantopithecus, were found in the hills of Northern Indian, geographically near the Himalayas. “It is to be expected, according to all that has been said, that a new form of higher anthropoid will soon be discovered. This form will be either very nearly related to the fossil Gigantopithecus, or it may be a living representative of this most extraordinary member of the primate family for such the ‘Abominable Snowman’ appears to be.”
Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans, perhaps the father of cryptozoology, actually agreed. He openly endorsed Tschernesky’s conclusion in his 1957 book, On the Track of Unknown Animals. The ape-like status of Yeti seemed incontrovertible. It also seemed it was the largest primate there was. Gigantopithecus, though controversial, seemed an obvious deduction.
Yeti indeed may be a living Gigantopithecus. It certainly has the ape characteristics and quasi-simian foot to claim to somehow be in the ape family. But the Himalayas are too remote to support a thriving global interest. Therefore Yeti faded, though it started all the 20th century’s excitement over hairy upright hominids. Yet the theory of Gigantopithecus did not fade away. It, not the Yeti, made the remarkable mythical journey across to America without needing the prehistoric Bering Land Bridge.
Amazingly, Bigfoot became Gigantopithecus. The Pacific Northwest of Canada and the United States could support enough global interest that the bizarre and contradictory amalgam that is Bigfoot could last long enough to even draw what the media alone would consider “scientific support” for Gigantopithecus as the most probable scientific theory. Despite the fact Bigfoot’s foot is human and not the Yeti foot, that Indians insisted Sasquatch were people, Bigfoot became none other than a giant ape. Amazing for the fact that the North American evidence is completely contradictory to all the evidence upon which Yeti as Gigantopithecus was built.
John Green was the first to broach the idea. This was understandable because the Yeti was the dominant concept in the 1950s and 1960’s hairy hominids, overshadowing even “Bigfoot.” When Roger Patterson wrote the first book completely devoted to Bigfoot in 1966 he entitled it “Do Abominable Snowmen of America Really Exist?” The Yeti, for all its obscurity today, was still the big thing back 40 years ago.
Based on the evidence, Green had no justification in making the connection. It is obvious by any collation of footprints, whether casts or photos, touted as Bigfoot that the Yeti print has never been found in America. The Ruby Creek Print, undeniably authentic as the Sasquatch foot, is just as much at odds with Yeti.
John Green’s suggestion, as contained in his seminal 1968 On the Track of the Sasquatch, carried little weight with science and actually in light of then-current Yeti information seems ludicrous and ill thought. However, thanks to the Bossburg fiasco in 1969-1970, a physical anthropologist from Washington State University came to visit the site. Grover Krantz examined the footprints of what was termed “Cripple Foot.” Two bulges existed on the side of the “crippled foot” that indicated to him that bones were broken within the foot. He thought this far beyond the ken of any hoaxer. This swayed him into believing that Bigfoot was actually real.
Krantz had never seen a real Sasquatch foot. Therefore he did not know that the human feet that were Bigfoot were not traditionally a part of the Sasquatch makeup. After limiting himself to only contemporary evidence— the Cripple Foot cast and the Patterson Film— he came to the conclusion that only Gigantopithecus could explain the evidence best. With time both he and his protégé Jeffrey Meldrum would popularize it as Gigantopithecus Americanus.
Krantz’s academic position alone allowed the proffering of his Gigantopithecus theory as the logical scientific alternative to popular legends and folklore. Yet Krantz’s theory was based on nothing but fakes, legends and folklore. Accepting the crippled right foot of Cripple Foot as genuine he had no choice but to accept the uncrippled left foot as well. This foot was only an enlarged flat human foot. How then did Krantz build an “ape” out of this?
Unfortunately, Grover Krantz also accepted the Patterson Film. This film of 38 seconds (some say 39.2 or 39.7) shows a hairy gorilla-like man walking away from the camera. Its footprints, cast by the man who took the film, Roger Patterson, show that it had large human flat feet— though they are remarkably different from the Bossburg Cripple. Here, too, Krantz would not believe that an ex-rodeo rider like Patterson had the know-how to fake all that he read into the film. In 1975 Krantz declared: “I’ve checked just about every possible measurement of that film, having looked at it, oh, at least 50 times now. I don’t think there is any way that Patterson could have figured this all out.”
Now based on enlarged human feet and a film of a completely bipedal “gorilla-man” Krantz proposed a bipedal Gigantopithecus. Dr. Krantz’s criteria for authenticity appears very much to be the finding of evidence he believed could not be faked. And Grover Krantz insisted he could not be fooled. Following such a subjective standard, his armory of casts would eventually include dozens of varying feet, indicating logically that perhaps as many as 15 species existed, if all were real. Uncovering dermal ridges on the feet was enough evidence, no matter how different the feet. It was beyond hoaxers’ skill. A “higher primate” was afoot. To gaze at Krantz’s collection is to gaze at a strange contradictory world of comic feet.
Dr. John Napier, the primatologist of the Smithsonian, was right when he examined the differences between Patterson’s Bluff Creek Bigfoot feet and the Cripple Foot. He said if both were real, then it indicated more than one species was afoot.
It is sad that the work of such men as Vladimir Tchernesky and Bernard Heuvelmans is lost today to the popularity of Bigfoot S&M. Tchernesky and Heuvelmans may have been wrong, but the Shipton Print of something half-simian and half-man, plus the Sherpa descriptions of an ape-like beast, allows for their theories of a “Giant Ape.”
But from dozens of different human feet in North America there can be no justification for Gigantopithecus. However popular the Gigantopithecus theory may be for those who think by endorsing it they are thereby making their Bigfoot pursuit more erudite, Grover Krantz’s evidence was late coming in the history of Sasquatch, existing only in a contemporary window and vacuum, was contradictory, and was therefore of little value. It would have been less sensational to have leapt to justify the Indian legend that “sasquatch men” were indeed a tribe of cannibalistic giant people than to proclaim Gigantopithecus, the giant ape preserved in India by only some teeth and a jaw.
Part of the evidence that undermined Krantz’s Gigantopithecus with the actual scientific community was his own contradictory handling of his investigation. In 1971 for Bigfoot: Man of Best, the first documentary to air his conclusions on Cripple Foot after the Bossburg hype of 1969-1970, Krantz declared: “The foot was twisted and two bulges appear, callused structures on the outside edge of the foot and correspond to gaps in the bone which I’ve reconstructed here. If this was faked the person doing it had to be an absolute expert in human anatomy.”
Yet in strange contradiction, in 1975 for Mysterious Monsters, he declared: “If this had been a human foot these bulges would have been farther back. But they are shifted forward making the heel longer and the front of the foot shorter. This is exactly what is required for a foot that’s going to carry perhaps an eight hundred pound body. Now I don’t think any faker could have thought of it and figure this out and adjusted his footprint accordingly. A fake footprint is just simply an expanded, enlarged footprint, an enlarged copy of a human foot.”
Grover Krantz maintained his arguments for the rest of his life. They can be found in his 1992 book BIG-Footprints completely unscathed by the 20 years that elapsed since he formulated them after Bossburg. In his much anticipated book, Krantz sadly reveals the truth of his often-underrated statement that he merely studied Bigfoot “on the side.” In BIG-Footprints his mistakes confirm he is little aware of much else than what he examined in his own lab. As only one example, concerning the Yeti Shipton print, the most famous foot of the 20th century, he writes: “Ivan Sanderson made much of this photo, along with native reports, to build a picture of some kind of ape that was only partially bipedal. Until another photograph or cast of that particular foot design turns up, I see no point in taking it seriously.”
Despite the popular image of Dr. Krantz as the reigning scientific expert on the subject, a handle endorsed by his
successor, Krantz was being quite truthful when he lamented this title and said truthfully he only did this sporadically. True, Krantz’s statements about his own contributions often contradicted. But with the evidence at hand, we can believe his underrated statement that this was merely something he did now and again.
Indians never said “Sasquatch men” walk on all fours. The Sherpas alone claim this for the Yeti. American hoaxers didn’t know that Sasquatch and Yeti were not alike. That was an early misconception. Krantz and Meldrum have been handed “knuckle prints,” reinforcing for them that Bigfoot is Gigantopithecus despite both accepting the Patterson Film which shows a human figure which could never go down on all fours.
One must temper their criticism of Grover Krantz in light of such truthful statements, for a faux media image as a dedicated investigator has been presented. This is something he was not responsible for, and the frequent errors he makes in case recitals and evidence seem worthy of greater criticism only when seen in this light.
It is in light of infrequent and haphazard interest that one can better understand Grover Krantz’s paucity of information on the entire Bigfoot/Sasquatch subject.
BIG-Footprints was also noteworthy for containing Krantz 20 year old arguments and presentation defending Cripple Foot and the Patterson Bigfoot’s hermaphrodite qualities. In 1975 Robert Guenette, the director of the grandaddy documentary Mysterious Monsters, rigged an impromptu debate by inter-cutting between Krantz and none other than Dr. Geoffrey Bourne, director of the prestigious Yerkes Primate Center in Atlanta, Georgia, always giving Krantz the last word.
Bourne noted how the Bigfoot in Patterson’s film had a sagittal crest, a sign of male gorillas, but also had breasts, the sign, obviously, of females. Krantz replied: “The crest, the sagittal crest on the top of the head has been claimed as a male characteristic in the Patterson Film. Well, yes, it is a characteristic of adult male gorillas and orangutans; but it is not a male characteristic, it is a size characteristic. Beyond a certain size the jaw muscles must find attachment on a special crest. And it happens that only male gorillas and orangutans get that big. If there were a female primate of the 500 pound body size it would have to be so big that it would have a crest as well. So it’s not a male characteristic.”
Overlooking the defunct Lamarckian concepts, the problem with Krantz’s reply is that he refuses to accept eyewitness accounts even when from very reliable witnesses. In 1955 William Roe described seeing a female over 6 feet tall, certainly bigger than any male gorilla, and said the head was rounded. Indians never described a pointed head, and even Napier noted that Sasquatch has no stories about him going down on all fours or having a conical head. In an 1886 Happy Camp, California, sighting the “wild man of the woods” was said to have a rounded bulldog head. There is no question: neither the male nor female Sasquatch have a sagittal crest.
Unconvincingly, Krantz tried to dispute the sex of the Bigfoot. “In Patterson’s film the creature has a bulge here which seems to be a two part bulge but it is not really very clear. This might not actually be breasts. These could be out-pouchings of the trachea which occurs on many large apes called laryngeal air sacks.” An actual laryngeal air sac can be seen in the picture right, extending from the neck of an orang. Nothing extends from the neck of the Bigfoot in Patterson’s film.
Dr. Krantz built a scull of a Gigantopithecus, the not-so laudable or believable tendency of all anthropology to materialize sketchy hypotheses. The skull could hardly be the head on the Bigfoot in Patterson’s film. Furthermore, the face in the Patterson Film could also hardly support the actual jaw of Gigantopithecus from India. What ultimately is Gigantopithecus Americanus? Human feet? Male head, female breasts. Is this ultimately Gigantopithecus?
A brilliant anatomist, Solly Lord Zuckerman, was right when he said that there really is no science in the search for man’s fossil ancestors. It starts at physics and ends in the field of “presumed biological science” where, declares the noble lord, “the ardent believer is sometimes able to believe several contradictory things at
the same time.”
A blow-up of famous frame 352. This is now Gigantopithecus, this face with the long European nose, hair over its eyes, with a part on the right?
Dr. Meldrum quotes Dr. Krantz in his Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science regarding
the lone jaw Krantz had to work with. Krantz declared that the bodies of the mandibles “diverge toward the rear in a remarkable manner. This divergence is so extreme that it would make sense only if the base of the neck was positioned so far forward as to require this spread in order for it to fit between the jaw’s rear extensions. Such a neck orientation would have to be vertical, and thus indicates a fully upright posture . . .”
Krantz’s idea of Gigantopithecus. Does it match in anyway the figure in Patterson’s film? That face, opposite, with the European nose, does not have the muzzle of Gigantopithecus.
Just one paragraph previous, however, Meldrum noted far more to the point of the proverbial bomb on the topic using the work of Russell Ciochon, who wrote Other Origins: The Search for the Giant Apes in Human Prehistory. “Without the skeleton of the torso and limbs, the postcranial skeleton, or the base of the skull, which reveals how the skull was poised on the spine, researchers are very limited in what can be inferred about how Gigantopithecus stood or walked”— a fairly scientific approach that really negates Krantz’s theoretical leaps over a jaw.
Original sin is lack of knowledge of the real Sasquatch foot. The rest is denial that the human enlarged footprints are fakes. This alone has made Gigantopithecus into a bipedal higher primate.
This is the “scientific world” of Bigfoot. It is a ghastly contradictory mess that survives because most scientists refuse to touch such chimeras as Krantz built and Meldrum contemplates. Only in the world of “proletarian Bigfoot investigators,” as Meldrum tastelessly would call them, could his and Krantz’s science of nonsense stand out as the most probable scientific theory.
Stephen Jay Gould would remind his readers that anthropology is such that “experts” find what they are looking for regardless if it is present. “Information always reaches us through the strong filters of culture, hope, and expectation.” In using the notorious hoax of Piltdown Man for an example, he says of Sir Arthur Keith’s examination of it: “ ‘His forehead was like that of an orang, devoid of a supraorbital torus; in its modeling his frontal bone presented many points of resemblance to that of the orang of Borneo and Sumatra’. . . Careful examination of the jaw also revealed a set of remarkably human features for such an apish jaw (beyond the forged wear of the teeth). Sir Arthur Keith repeatedly emphasized, for example, that the teeth were inserted into the jaw in a human, rather than a simian, fashion.”
Ironically, in this pursuit of Bigfoot we were taken further from this truth by the scientists than by the folklorists. Sir Arthur Keith spent much of his life studying the puny remains of Piltdown Man. Before he died he was able to see the entire hoax exploded by chemical analysis in 1953. Nothing more than a modern human skull cap and an orang’s jaw with a patina to make it look ancient was this the great missing link. Keith was the victim of his own limited standard. He declared: “The only kind of being whose existence is testified to by scores of witnesses, and which never reaches the dissecting table, belongs to the world of spirits.” In similar attitude, Dr. Grover Krantz continued over half his life creating Sasquatch from a few plaster casts of enlarged human feet and a 38 second strip of film while ignoring all witness testimony, contemporary and historical data that contradicted it. This kind of Bigfootery was nothing but a sideshow to anthropology and Krantz’s evidence didn’t draw many to consider it and explode it long before it would warp Sasquatchery.
Of Krantz’s approach we can say the same thing that Dr. Heuvelmans said of Keith’s: “Before he died in 1955 Sir Arthur Keith had an opportunity to see the folly of trusting too much to ‘concrete and unmistakable evidence.’ Had he taken more notice of the circumstantial evidence he would have realized sooner, as many other anthropologists had done, that the Piltdown Man was morphologically and chronologically inconsistent.”
Nothing better can be said for Gigantopithecus Americanus. It is based on enlarged human feet casts which chronologically do not turn up in history until 1958 Bluff Creek. They are chronologically and morphologically inconsistent. As a result Gigantopithecus, this the great scientific proposal for Bigfoot is no more than the Piltdown Man in the search for Sasquatch.