Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Week in Arkansas...

I apologize for the lack of updates lately, but there is certainly a lot to share!

I just returned (and decompressed) from a week of field research in Arkansas; easily one of the most beautiful and "squatchy" places I've visited.

I'll be writing a full report outlining my week in the next few days, along with pictures, videos, and audio files related to my trip there.

The Arkansas Expedition itself was a great success! Participants came from OK, TX, AR, MO, TN, WI, CO, MS, IL, CT, AL, and GA. There is much to report, and I can't wait to share our experiences and data with the readers here.

Until then, I'll share a photograph of the scene of a significant event during the expedition:

Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What is a Sasquatch? Why, a Sasquatch, Of Course!

One of the most polarizing issues among sasquatch researchers and enthusiasts revolves around the (as yet to be decided) taxonomic designation of the species, or what sasquatches are.

Although the issue is indeed of great importance to me, I try not to invest too much emotionally into the argument. I happen to take the stance that sasquatches are simply sasquatches. If that seems a bit vague, allow me to explain...

The common version of this argument usually finds researchers battling over whether sasquatches are humans or apes. Superficially, this argument is flawed because humans actually are apes; we are in the order of Primates, and in the family of Hominidae.

For many of the people actively engaging in this debate, the argument is more of an emotional one than an intellectual one. The people who believe that sasquatches are "human" feel that the "ape" proponents are denigrating the creatures, and lowering their regard for them. The "ape" proponents themselves typically take the stance that the "human" perspective is too romantic and grandiose a notion.

Sasquatches may be the closest living relative to homo sapiens sapiens (us) on the planet. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if they were taxonomically designated in the genus homo. But, they are not us; no more than we are them.

In other words: Humans are NOT sasquatches, therefore sasquatches are NOT human.

They are sasquatches. 

I don't know any humans that look like this, do you?

A modern female sasquatch.

Likewise, I've never received any sasquatch reports that described creatures like this, either:

Modern humans.

Modern human.
Modern human.

Often times, I read the comments of researchers, skeptics, and enthusiasts, as they say things like:

"Chimpanzees have less hair on their faces than the rest of their bodies, so sasquatches probably look similar."

"Humans developed tool use and fire, so sasquatches would have, too."

"Gorillas live in large troops, so sasquatches probably do, too."

"Orangutans are fairly solitary, so sasquatches probably are, too."

...and so on and so on, etc.

While it is useful to search for correlatives in the great ape line, it is futile to judge purported sasquatch behavioral ecology solely by the ecology of other apes. Sasquatches are obviously NOT chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, or humans. Thus, we shouldn't expect sasquatch behaviors to mirror those of the aforementioned species. Each member of the great ape line has strikingly unique behaviors, morphology, and ecological adaptions. Sasquatches do as well.

Indeed, the great ape existence can be represented as a continuum; we (and the other great apes) exhibit characteristics which can be placed at various points on the continuum.

I try to perceive sasquatches as a unique and marvelous species. Their unique adaptations are a result of their unique ecological niche. I try to maintain that neutrality in order to understand their behavior in a holistic sense; not excluding data from my research just because it doesn't yet have a known correlative in the great ape canon of data.

On a purely emotional level, I think that referring to them as "human" is actually more denigrating than any other designation. In so many ways, they are far superior to us.

 They don't have to negatively manipulate their environment in order to thrive in it. 

They don't routinely destroy their own resources in order to "better" their standards of living. 

They don't appear to wage wars against their own kind in an effort to secure more valuable territories. 

They don't decimate their own species based on ideological beliefs.

If we (as a society) come to view sasquatches as another "human" species, what would keep us from exploiting them and their resources in the same manner that we exploit other peoples and their resources?

Sasquatches are unique, and should be perceived and respected as such.