The Bigfoot is a large, probably mythical creature said to inhabit the wilderness of the US Pacific Northwest and southwestern Canada. An alternative name is Sasquatch, which is derived from a Northwest Coast Native American term.
Many claims of eyewitness sightings have been made, and both home movies and photographs said to be of Bigfoot exist, although they are of poor quality. However, most of the best-known evidence was produced by Ray Wallace from 1958 onward; he eventually admitted to a continuous prank that went wildly beyond his control. Wallace's family published many of the details following his death in 2002. Nevertheless, Bigfoot articles continue to be a staple of the television shows and tabloid newspapers that also cover UFOs, conspiracy theories and dead celebrity sightings.
Most of the areas where the Bigfoot has been reported are close to known habitats of bears, notably including the Grizzly Bear. Grizzly bears are large and furry, and occasionally stand up on their hind legs, prompting the suggestion that many of the "Bigfoot" sightings were in fact bears. Some reports, however, originate with people familiar with bears, who claim that what they saw was not a bear. At least one film (the Patterson-Gimlin film) shows something that is definitely not a bear, and this film was for a long time taken to be the strongest evidence for Bigfoot. However, it was filmed under the advice of Ray Wallace (see above), who claimed that this, too was a fake—that the filmmakers believed it to be real, but that the creature seen is a friend of Wallace's in costume.
It has been claimed that the creater of the costume seen in the Patterson-Gimlin film was none other than the special effects legend, John Chambers. Chambers was an aquaintance of Ray Wallace and Bob Gimlin at the time of the filming and was the designer of the costumes seen in many of the original Planet of the Apes films. Chambers died in 2001, never having admitted an involvement in the hoax.
Reports of large, bipedal hominid-like creatures from the remote wilderness exist from well before any of the hoaxers were born, however—including one from President Theodore Roosevelt. Unknown large primates have been reported in wilderness regions on every habitable continent except Antarctica. One of the more famous is the Yeti (or Abominable Snowman) of the Himalayas. Enthusiasts go so far as to theorize that at least some of these reports could be of present-day specimens of the giant ape Gigantopithecus.
Gigantopithicus, however, was quadrupedal like an Orangutan or Gorilla, not bipedal as Bigfoot is said to be, and the enormous mass of Gigantopithicus would have made it nearly impossible for it to adopt a bipedal gait. Nor does the fossil record provide any support for the theory: there is ample fossil evidence in North America of prehistoric species of bear, cougar, moose, and even mammoth. Yet, aside from clearly human remains, there is no evidence of a prehistoric hominid.
Some cryptozoologists have attempted to place Bigfoot into a taxonomic scientific classification as a primate. If an animal like Sasquatch ever existed in North America, a more likely candidate would be a species of Paranthropus, such as Paranthropus robustus, which would have looked very much like Sasquatch, including the crested skull and naturally bipedal gait. There is also a little known subspecies of Homo erectus known as meganthropus which actually did grow to enormous proportions, though newest remains of the hominid pre-date 1 million years.