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The Cryptids of British Columbia

[NOTE: This article is far from complete, but I've decided to put it up on the main page anyways. Don't expect any modifications for quite some time]

As my home province, I have taken quite an interest in the cryptofauna of BC. After much research, I've realised that British Columbia is a haven for unknown animals. Not only is much of it's wilderness still remote and undisturbed, but it has an ideal climate for the lush growths of vegetation which in turn support a rich and diverse fauna. With such an amzing biodiversity, the question arises; can we have really catalogued and studied everything out there? From the numerous sightings of all sorts of unclassified animals, the answer is obviously no, we have not catalogued everything, and even what we do know to exist hasn't been studied fully. We just recently discovered that the wolves of our coast represent a new subspecies (or perhaps species) of wolf, and there are still large areas of land that have not been explored. There are valleys and lakes here in BC which we don't even know exist. In the northern interior there is a native tribe who has never come in to contact with westerners, our knowledge of this tribe coming fom other native bands. Warren Scott, an eccentric propecter, discovered a "lost valley" near Pitt Lake in the 60's. It's called a "lost" valley because no one can find it again! With places like this, it's no wonder that BC has been said to harbour the biggest diversity of cryptids for any other landmass it's size. We have countless lake monsters, sea serpents, unclassified seals, strange birds, and of course unidentified primates. I've even read somewhere that ground sloths are thought to still exist here! I only read that in one place, though, and since it was only a passing reference that I may have interpreted wrongly, I won't go in to it here. But all the othes deserve our full attention, and will be discussed here.

Undoubtedly the most famous of our cryptids is the sasquatch. I highly doubt that anyone in North America can say that they've never heard of "bigfoot". The biggest problem is, however, that these creatures are almost always associated with newspaper tabloids, especially the National Enquirer. This is very unfortunate, as everyone who has ever read things about the sasquatch in such a tabloid will probably never take the subject seriously again. But there is no doubt that a real creature is behind the myths; just because it has been lied about in a tabloid, doesn't mean that the real thing doesn't exist. By that logic, I could say that because Bill Clinton lied about Monica Lewinski, she doesn't exist. Of course that isn't the case, but it's the same logic which people use when they say that the sasquatch doesn't exist because it was talked about in a tabloid. See my point?

But disregarding all the skeptical outlooks, we have to think about the flaws of such a creature existing. What would it eat? How does it avoid getting shot or hit with a car? How do they survive the winter? These questions all have logial answers. Firstly, what do bears eat? All kinds of food, and you'd expect a large human-like primate to have a similarily omnivorous diet. but bears hibernate through the winter, whereas primates would not. But there are plenty of other large animals which don't hibernate in the winter, the elk being a prime example, and they usually survive fine. And sasquatches may even migrate during the winter anyways. But then there is the gunshot problem... if you saw something which you knew was this valuable, wouldn't you shoot it if you had the chance? You might think you would, but according to several people who claim to have watched a sasquatch through the sight of their rifle, it's just as hard to shoot one of them as it is to shoot one of us. These creatures are almost human; if you wouldn't shoot a human, you wouldn't shoot a sasquatch either.

As for being hit with a car, well, let's just think about this for a second. A large amount of BC sasquatch sightings involve the creature crossing or walking alongside a road. They seem to have little fear of traffic. It seems as if one should've been hit by now. But, if there have been so many crossing-the-road sightings, wouldn't you expect one of THEM to end in a collision? If you saw a nine foot tall, one thousand pound humanoid crossing the road, would you just smash in to it? I so, you're an idiot. Most sane people would slow down, or swerve out of the way. But there is one record of a sasquatch being hit by a car... the sasquatch came out with a limp, which it apparently retained for the rest of it's life. The car had it's entire front side smashed up as if it had struck a telephone pole. I doubt we'll be finding any sasquatch roadkill any time soon.

But just what could these things be? That is the biggest question here. There are various schools of thought on this subject. You have to keep in mind, however, that the same creature does not live all across North America. To think that there is only one homin behind the millions of continent-wide sightings is naive. The creature seen in the Patterson/Gimlin film is not the only bigfoot in our woods. In the east, there are several other seperate creatures, all of them very different from the Pacific Northwest sasquatch, and the creatures from the north (such as the Alaskan wildman and the toonijuk) are what Ivan Sanderson dubbed "true giants". However, BC's sasquatch is the same kind of animal we see in the Patterson film, so you don't to radically alter any of your views for this one.

So, on to the big question; what the hell is this thing? The view favoured by Grover Krantz and John Green is that the sasquatch is a surviving population of Gigantopithecus blackii, a giant orangutan-like ape from China which allegedly died out long ago. there are two problems with this. Firstly is that Gigantopithecus is only known from a handful of molars and a couple jaw fragments. How can we know anything about the ape from that little amount of evidence? We certainly can't speculate about it's hieght or weight or anything, as many researchers have done. The second problem is that Gigantopithecus, the name roughly meaning "big ape", may not have even been an ape at all. Ivan Sanderson, who studied the few jaw fragments, came tot he conclution that the bones belonge to a hominoid, not an ape, and that Gigantopithecus should be renamed Gigantanthropus. If that's the case, Giganto may be a relevant candidate afterall, as the sasquatch is definitely not an ape, but a closer relative of humans.

The view favoured by most other researchers, including Peter Byrne and the, unfortunately, late René Dehinden, is that sasquatches are hominoids. But there is division in that respect too. Some researchers, think that the sasquatch is a modern species of Paranthropus. But the name Paranthropus is under debate anyways. Way back in history, there was a division of the human family. One line took of to become the hominids (genus Homo), the group to which we belong, but the other line became the Australopithecines. Originally, there was thought to be 4 species, Australopithecus africanus, A. afaerensis, A. robustus, and A. boesi. After time that number was increased to 7. But, A. robustus and A. boesis were quite different from the other Australopithecines, enough to merit two sub-groupings; the "gracile" Australopithecines, and the "robust" Australopithecines. The robust Australopithecines are different enough from the graciles that most researchers think they should merit their own genus, Paranthropus. And other researchers think that Meganthropus, the gigantic 20 foot tall humanoid from Java and Australia, shoul be classed as another species of Paranthropus, which would mean that Paranthropus did migrate out of Africa. I personally do not think the sasquatch is a paranthropine, but until we have a specimen (preferably alive) we can never know.

Other reseachers think that the sasquatch is a new subspecies of Homo erectus, dubbed Homo erectus giganticus. I highly doubt that, as there are more cons than pros to that theory. It' more likely that the sasquatch is a population of Homo hiedelbergensis, a species similar toboth eretus and neanderthalensis, but much larger. In fact, H. hiedelbergensis is the largest member of our genus that is known to have existed. Most remarkably, the jawbone of hiedelbergensis is a perfect match to the jaw of the Pattersonsubject; you could litteraly drop one into place.

Another theory is that they are Homo gardarensis, a gigantic neanderthal-like species discovered on Greenland, but it is much more likely that the true giants, especially the toonijuk, are this species.

Our second most famous cryptid is the Ogopogo of Lake Okanagan. As with most lake monsters, the misconception exists that ogopogo is some form of prehistoric reptile, a long-necked throw back in time, a land-locked plesiosaur. Nothing is farther fro m the truth. Ogopogo is what has been dubbed a "mega-serpent", and enormous serpentine creature which remains unclassified by science. There are many theories as the what it is, but once you read them I assure you that your view of this creature will undoubtedly change.