Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Monday, December 27, 2010

MICHAEL NEWTON: True Giants—True Story?

We’ve all heard stories of Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, Yowie—pick your moniker of preference. By any name, it’s said to be a hulking, hairy biped of six to nine feet tall, leaving trails of humanoid footprints fourteen to sixteen inches long. But what if there was something even bigger lurking in the wilderness? Let’s say a creature resembling Bigfoot but towering twelve to twenty feet tall, with feet twenty to thirty inches long.

It would, to say the least, be startling.

In fact, for generations there have been reports of truly massive “Bigfeet” seen in North America and all around the world. Coupled with claims of Sasquatch popping in and out of UFOs, they have embarrassed authors who treat cryptozoology as a serious discipline, but simply ignoring the hairy Goliaths hasn’t made them go away. Neither has the incessant ridicule heaped upon seemingly sober witnesses by sceptics and professional debunkers.

Now, at last, veteran cryptozoologists Mark Hall and Loren Coleman have tackled the problem head on, in their new book True Giants: Is Gigantopithecus Still Alive? Their answer to that question is a qualified affirmative.

Hall coined the term 'true giants' back in 1992, thirty-odd years after Ivan Sanderson proposed the prehistoric ape Gigantopithecus as a Bigfoot-Yeti candidate—or “neo-giant”—within a list of four proposed unknown hominid species worldwide. Sanderson, however, chose to skirt the issue of bipedal monsters twice the normal size ascribed to Sasquatch. Myra Shackley followed Sanderson’s lead two decades later in her book Wildman: Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma (1983; American title, Still Living?), while paleoanthropologists Russell Ciochon, John Olsen and Jamie Janes considered Bigfoot tangentially in their 1990 work Other Origins: The Search for the Giant Ape in Human Prehistory. Grover Krantz endorsed an evolved and altered species of Gigantopithecus as Bigfoot in 1992, naming it G. canadensis.

While most students of cryptozoology recognise “Giganto” as a favourite Bigfoot/Yeti candidate, many may be unaware that German anatomist-anthropologist Franz Weidenreich (1873-1948) renamed the creature Giganthropus, treating it as a primitive ancestor of Homo sapiens. Weidenreich’s view did not prevail against Edward Cope’s rule that population lineages tend to increase in size over evolutionary time, but dissenters persist—including authors Hall and Coleman, along with Australian cryptozoologist Rex Gilroy.

Whether or not readers of True Giants finally agree with their premise, Hall and Coleman rate kudos for collecting all the available evidence on “true giants” and reviewing it even-handedly. The final product is a handsome volume, featuring cover art by Alika Lindbergh (former wife of Bernard Heuvelmans) and twenty-three black-and-white illustrations, with all material fully sourced. Overall, True Giants is a valuable addition to the literature of Sasquatchery and natural mysteries.

1 comment:

Dale Drinnon said...

I would be one of the ones that prefer to merge the categories of Neo-Giants and True Giants: as far as my information goes, True Giant reports happen within the range of regular Giant sightings but in exceptionally large size-estimates. There are several ways to account for the outsized reports, although there is a certain apparent consistancy to them. In one example, workers checking up on the reported Pitt Lake Giant noted certain optical effects in the area of the sighting which threw the perspective off, and they noticed that they overestimated the size of common objects when tring to assess them in the same area. As another problem, the reports of four-toed tracks are most usually due to having indistinct and poorly-preserved tracks to work with-not only at the large end of the scale, for you also have four-toed tracks reported as only six to eight inches long.

So I wouls agree with the identification of the reports as Gigantopithecus and I would even allow that individuals in the Neo-giant category could be outsized enough to occur at the lower end of the given size range. But there would never be hairy bipeds twenty-five feet tall, as alleged: that makes them nearly the size of an elephant, tipped up on the hind legs. And that is what the reports STATE, but they must surely be mistaken. More likely that is the result of a certain type of mirage common in the mountains.