Sunday, November 10, 2013

Evolution Gone Wild: Bigfoot Believers, Chewbacca de Wookiee, and Neanderthal Percenters

by Drew Martin
I just finished reading Bigfoot Observer's Field Manual. A neighbor from the Northwest coast, aka Sasquatch territory, gave it to me after my daughter said she liked his I Believe Yeti sticker on camping vehicle. I was interested in reading it for two reasons. The first is that it falls into the realm of media that I find fascinating, which includes people obsessed with communicating with extraterrestrials. My interest has nothing to do with their findings but why they want to believe, and what is missing in their real lives.

ET and Bigfoot are a far cry from one another but the discovery of either would certainly open up the theory of evolution. George Lucas' creation of Chewbacca and the Wookie species in Star Wars satisfies multiple
I Believe groups (Bigfoot as an extraterrestrial). I wonder how much of any kind of current Bigfoot interest has to do with our renewed fascination with the bygone Neanderthals. New genetic tests will tell you what percentage of your DNA is from Neanderthals - a result of our ancestors interbreeding with archaic humans. As a former biology student I would suggest to all of these groups to study the nature we know. There is nothing more extraterrestrial than insects, microscopic lifeforms, and sea creatures; and, nothing so familiar as our ape relatives.

The second, and more compelling reason to endure Bigfoot Observer's Field Manual is that I was really interested in it as fiction. I liked the idea of it lifting magical realism off its pages. What I mean by this has to do with the idea that many things are invisible to us until someone brings them to our attention, such as the eruv wire (shown in the bottom image, strung to the lamppost), which is a physical boundary delineated or erected by certain Jewish communities to accommodate religious restrictions that limit what can be physically carried between public and private domains on the Sabbath. There is an eruv wire running around a large section of Manhattan but it is rarely noticed. What if this Manual cashed in on a belief system where someone who read it all of a sudden started seeing glimpses of Bigfoot stepping behind trees, lurking in the shadows?

One thing I have to hand to the
Manual is that it is very thorough about how to prepare for spending time in nature, with a special attention to sensitivity towards nature. I also entertained the idea about an urban fellow picking up this copy and going off into the woods to find Bigfoot, but in doing so has a real connection with nature, and a separation from the life that set him up to want to believe in something so far-fetched.

Here is the infamous 1967 Bigfoot hoax film.