Looking for Bigfoot in North Georgia (and Elsewhere)

Via one of my local TV stations:

The Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization (GCBRO) is convinced that not only is there a Bigfoot, but there are in fact bigfeet scattered across the countryside, even as many as 30,000 creatures (a number they admit is a “wild guess”) from the Pacific Northwest and across the South from Texas to Georgia….

During our conversation, Landsdale shared some of the best places in America to spot Bigfoot, including the following:

“Monster Central”

The so-called “Monster Central,” about 1500 acres, 30 miles south of Shreveport Louisiana, is actually on Landsdale’s property, where he first laid eyes on a Bigfoot 20 years ago and where the GCBRO does many of their hunts. They’ve most recently spotted a female bigfoot along with her child, though since the GCBRO team only wants to harvest a male specimen, they didn’t pursue. Landsdale says these are sharp, corn-feeding creatures, but they can also be fearless. When the creatures allegedly started killing Landsdale’s pets, he resolved to kill one for study.

Northwest Louisiana

The Toledo Bend Reservoir, on the Sabine River between Texas and Louisiana near the city of Natchitoches, is a prime area for Bigfoot sightings, sometimes generating two reports a month. The GCBRO has seen “packs” of Bigfoot here, roaming across four or five parishes.

East Texas

Landsdale reports there is heavy activity continuing along the Sabine River through Greg, Harrison and Panola counties in Texas. Five months ago a GCBRO group saw a total of five young creatures scampering around the area in a single day.

Southeast Oklahoma

The Kiamichi Mountains are a hotbed of Bigfoot activity. A GCBRO member that owns 40 acres in the area claims to routinely get Bigfoot visits around his cabin. A word of caution: The creatures in this area are said to be especially aggressive.

Mississippi

The GCBRO says they receive anywhere from three to five reports a week from up and down the river and its tributaries in the Mississippi Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Other times, an entire month will pass without a report. Based on this and other evidence, the group has concluded that Bigfoot individuals and families of up to 10 creatures are probably hunting in geographic loops on a roughly 72 hour cycle, originating from their bedding area, moving to various hunting grounds, and back to their bedding area. As with much of the South, it’s theorized that Bigfoot prefers this area for the climate and abundance of vegetation and animals.

Arkansas

This area is best known for the Fouke Monster, aka “Southern Sasquatch,” near the town of Fouke in Miller County, Arkansas. A book and a number of films have been made, based on this legend. Fouke was the first known variety of sasquatch, with only three toes (Bigfoot species can have three, four or five toes), and are aggressive, prone to killing pigs and terrorizing people. Landsdale believes the three toed creatures may be inbreeding, making them more aggressive than their four and five-toed cousins.

Georgia

The Appalachian Mountains in the northwest part of the state, particularly near the Benton-MacKaye Trail off Highway 515, are said to get sightings four or five times a month. Though this is one of the hottest parts of Georgia, caves provide refuge from the heat and there is abundant vegetation and animals.

Washington State

The west coastal areas of Washington State have several reports of sightings, including Kitsap County, which has had quite a few sightings in 2014 alone, as well as Bumping Lake and Skooum Valley. The coast is said to be preferred by these sasquatch for the climate, as it’s never really hot or cold, and there’s plenty of available vegetation and meat. Again, the sasquatch in this region tend to be less aggressive, more likely to be loners, and stay away from people.

Northern California

Bluff Creek is famous for the hotly debated Patterson film, showing footage of “Patty” in 1967. Since then, male tracks have been found in the snow in the area. Caves provide protection from the elements between hunts, which persist all winter, as Sasquatch don’t hibernate.

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Five Prehistoric Beasts That Could Stand In for Mythical Monsters

Following up on this post about cryptids, here are some semi-random thoughts about how speculative paleontology could flesh out some of the creatures of myth and folklore. In particular, here are some possible connections that I kind of love.

1. Creodonts

OxyaenaCreodonts share a common ancestor with members of the order Carnivora. They bear a superficial similarity to large cats or enormous weasels, but are actually quite distinct. I’m thinking the claims about various large Appalachian predators known as the glawackus, the Ozark howler, and the Beast of Bladenboro might fit the bill as contemporary members of this extinct order of mammals. All three of these cryptids are described as being vaguely feline, but not quite. The glawackus, for example, is described as combining the most fearsome characteristics of a lion, a panther, and a bear. The Ozark howler is bear-sized, but seems mostly to resemble a shaggy feline creature. The Beast of Bladenboro seems to combine features of both cats and dogs.

All of this suggests some member of the order Creodonta. Perhaps they would be of the family Oxyaenidae, cat-like beasts that walked on flat feet like a bear. They had a short, broad skull, deep jaws, and teeth designed for crushing rather than shearing. 

A further possible creodont is the water panther of Algonquian legend. This creature might be a member of genus Patriofelis, which was about the same size as a panther and thought to be a good swimmer but a poor runner.

2. Short-faced Bears

Wikimedia user: Dantheman9758 / GFDL

Wikimedia user: Dantheman9758 / GFDL

This Pleistocene predator, Arctodus simus, was possibly the largest carnivorous land mammal that ever lived in North America. These enormous predators might give us a template for the “man-eater,” “naked bear,” or “stiff-legged bear” of many Native American mythologies. This creature was apparently a gigantic, stiff-legged and hairless beast as big as an elephant.

Some even speculate that legends of the man-eater represent the dim memory of mammoths and mastodons that once roamed North America. But there are a number of arguments against this theory. First, the creature is described as being a gigantic bear—a creature that Native Americans would have known quite well. Second, as the name might suggest, the man-eater is a carnivore, while mammoths and mastodons were herbivores. Finally, man-eaters are never mentioned as having a trunk.

3. Gigantopithecus

GigantopithecusThis one is actually fairly commonplace. Among those who believe creatures like the yeti or sasquatch are real, many assert that they are, in fact, gigantopithecines.  Gigantopithecus blacki was the largest primate that ever lived, reaching almost ten feet in height if it stood upright. Paleontologists are actually fairly certain this enormous creature walked on all fours like a gorilla, but a minority view holds that they were bipedal.

Members of genus Gigantopithecus are pongines, meaning they are close relatives of the orangutan. Darren Naish follows this same reasoning in the Cryptozoologicon, explaining that the yeti or sasquatch is a bipedal pongine, “convergently similar to hominins in some ways but different with respect to the details of anatomy, gait and behaviour.” In most legends, sasquatch (by whatever name) are incapable of human speech and communicate, rather, by means of whistles, grunts, and gestures.

Depending on what you imagine as far as a sasquatch’s intelligence or behavior, one might also suggest it is more closely related to humans. Several Native American legends have a bigfoot-like creature that is described as an ogre, perhaps an over-large descendant of Paranthropus boisei or something similar. In some legends, sasquatch are able to mate with human women. This would not be genetically possible by either of these theories, however, barring some sort of magical intervention.

4. Elasmotheres

ElasmotheriumMembers of the genus Elasmotherium are close relatives of the rhinoceros, as evidenced by the prominent horn of keratin protruding from their forehead. They are also fairly closely related to horses and tapirs as members of the order Perissodactyla. A conjectural “pygmy” elasmothere might be a Clydesdale-sized creature adapted for fast running on open grassland. With longer legs than rhinos, they would have a galloping, horse-like gait.

Of course, I am describing a unicorn—or at least something very similar to the unicorns first described by Ctesias and Pliny in ancient times. Such creatures would have hooved toes, four on their forelegs and three on their hindlegs, precisely as some medieval sources describe. Behaviorally, they might well be every bit as irascible as their rhinoceros cousins, also in keeping with the earliest strands of unicorn-lore. 

5. Prehistoric Giraffids

SivatheriumGiraffids are a family of even-toed ungulates. Today they are represented solely by giraffes and okapis. In prehistoric times, however, they were much more diverse. I suspect one or another genus of prehistoric giraffids might make a fine template by which to understand the qilin or “Chinese unicorn“—which isn’t properly a unicorn at all as it is usually depicted with two horns. Perhaps something like Shansitherium fuguensis would fit the bill.

Giraffids are ruminants closely related to cattle and deer. Their horns, called ossicones, are covered in skin. Like the ossicones of giraffes, those of the qilin are reported to be blunt rather than sharp, which has been taken as an indication of the animal’s peaceful nature. A tesselated coat pattern like a giraffe’s might give the impression that the creature has scales on its back. Like the okapi (and unlike giraffes), the qilin is apparently a solidary creature.

In Asian art, qilin show great variety in physical appearance. All qilin have a deer-like body and cloven hooves. Japanese, Korean, and the earliest Chinese depictions agree that the qilin bears at least a superficial resemblance to a deer.