Saturday, October 6, 2012
A Possible Origin of Sasquatch
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by David Batdorf, a Sasquatch enthusiast that is interested in taking an anthropological, bird's-eye-view of the phenomenon and an advocate for species protection. Basically, he's a Bigfoot nerd.
In my last two posts, Sasquatch: Human vs Ape and The Ambiguous Gigantopithecus, I discussed my opinions, as to the likely origins of Sasquatch. I'd like to discuss the topic further utilizing what is known about protohuman migrations, periodic glaciation and the appearance of land bridges.
I will attempt to build a hypothetical model of the potential origin of the Sasquatch, identify which common ancestor we most likely share, offer suggestions for how they got to North America and when that migration could have occurred.
NOTE: I will focus on the Bering Land Bridge. However, I would like to point out that, similarly, the Sumatran Land Bridge is affected by the same rise and retreat of the oceans, offering access to the islands and in some cases, Australia...
The difference between; "Ice Ages" and "Periods of Glaciation"
Most people refer to the most recent peak of extreme glaciation, as the last "Ice Age". The last glacial maximum or peak, in which, the first modern humans crossed the Bering land bridge, or Beringia, occurred 10,000 - 14,000 years ago. The Current Ice Age, also known as, Pleistocene Glaciation, Quaternary Glaciation or simply, "The Ice Age", has actually been underway for 2.58 million years. During this ice age, there have been several glacial periods and interglacial periods. Glacial peaks, known as a "glacial maximums", occur within glacial periods. Periods of glaciation, their peaks and interglacial periods are calculated by measuring the C02 levels in sediments and rocks, then inferring the amount of ice present and temperature changes.
Glaciers, being comprised of compacted snow, are usually formed on high mountains that collect precipitating clouds against their peaks. They slowly and powerfully flow like rivers to lower elevations, shaping the land as they go. It is this inland entrapment of water, that at times of extreme glaciation is over a mile thick, that leads to decreased sea levels and thus, the emergence of land bridges.
At our most recent glacial maximum, the Beringia land bridge was likely one thousand miles, from North to South, or roughly the distance from Seattle to San Francisco, spanned between Alaska and Siberia and not covered in ice, as many would imagine. It was a lush forest environment, much like the Alaskan and Canadian coastline and interior of today. To many of those who inhabited the region, Beringia would have been a seemingly endless, bountiful refuge as the glaciers encroached from the mountains on either side.
Narrowing the Timeline
Glacial maximums and the extremes to which glaciation occurred have been measured, dated and named, within the last Ice Age. The periods of glaciation, from the most recent to oldest with glacial peaks extreme enough to open the land bridge are: Wisconsin or Wurm; Illinois or Riss; Kansasian or Mindel; and Nebraska or Guns. Prior to Nebraska, at about 1 million years ago, there were no glacial maximums that exceed our current level of ice, today and would likely have left Beringia underwater.
Within each these named periods are multiple glacial peaks or maximums. The third peak of the Wisconsin period is where modern people from Siberia came to America 10,000-14,000 years ago. It spans the shift from the Pleistocene to the Holocene Epoch and is still in recession.
NOTE: Pleistocene Mammalian Gigantism has long been a theory of why Sasquatch is so large. In my hypothetical model, if Sasquatch shares common ancestry with us at an overall maximum of 4.75 million years ago and a first potential crossing at 1 million years ago, this gives Sasquatch 3.75 million years of evolution to adapt to a life in the Northern coniferous forest. More than enough time to do so, if only a fraction of that time. Many of those years could have been spent reacting to pressures of other mammals becoming giants and may have followed suit as a predatory or a defense mechanism. [this is a perfectly acceptable model for Gigantopithecus which fails to apply to the other candidates. Gigantopithecus has been around that long but the others haven't-DD]
Sasquatch, Out of Africa?!
One reason that the Sasquatch' progenitors may have been on the move is due to the Miocene to Pliocene shift that occurred 5.3 million years ago, which began the deforestation and drying out of Africa. This major environmental change began prior to our specialized bipedal adaptations and is thought to have been the catalyst for the end of our progenitor’s arboreal lifestyle, by forcing us into the growing grassland. By the beginning of our Quanternary Glacial period and Pleistocene Epoch, 2.58 million years ago, human progenitors were upright, but still very different from our more modern variants.
There is much evidence that the exodus from Africa may have happened much earlier than was thought, 30-40 years ago. Homo erectus, was one of the first, longest lived and the second-most widespread of our Genus (second, only to our own subspecies of H. sapiens). They were also the first candidate for the widespread, but not complete global population, for a number of reasons. They are found at 1.8 million years ago and survived, at least, to 500,000 years ago. Some say as little as 65,000 - 35,000 years ago.
The author of this article pegs Homo erectus as the most likely candidate for Bigfoot and other "Abominable Snowmen" casres. This is a popular theory and has indeed been a popular theory all along. However there is one problem that this does not address: there is often a difficult line to draw in classification between H. erectus and H. heidelbergensis. ALL of the LATER "H. erectus" fossils might conceivably be H. heidelbergensis insted (that's right, including Pekin Man: Solo man is a probable heidelbergensis and Pekin Man is very similar to the Solo fossils-BOTH sets are much later than H. heidelbergensis had taken over other parts of the Earth, and BOTH are much different than the earlier "Java man." And of course the same exact reasons for excluding Neanderthals and Heidelbergers as candidates could be applied with equal force to exclude erectus as a candidate as well. Homo erectus looks best as an AVERAGE candidate that covers all of the others because you can take more advanced, more manlike reports and average them out with less advanced, less manlike reports to have an overall model that resemvbles erectus, theoreticalluy fit to cover both extremes. However my reading of the evidence is that we do not have an easy situation with a variable median type, we actually do have a situation with highly polarized extremes of more apelike and more humanlike types boion and frustratingly all called by the same names.
And so while the author of this article does have his points, My own reading of the evidence is that his points have not carried the argument and have not shown any decisive advantage for accepting this alternative theory. Furthermore, when the theorist insists on saying we are looking for an erectus type, that immediately invalidates all of the fossil and subfossil finds which agree more with the Heidelberger and Neanderthal types, which consists of quite a few individual specimens over a very large span of time and over large sections of the world, specimens ranging anywhere from Postglacial generally up to very recent indeed. One more example of an "Early man" type skull of geologically recent date from Africa was just published at the Frontiers of Anthropology blog. So, you will excuse me if I continue to believe that such remains constitute much better proof than anything which has been put forth by the opposing theorists.
Best Wishes, Dale D.