Eastern Bigfoot: Are Neanderthals Alive Today?

To the extent that there is a standard cryptozoological narrative about Sasquatch, it is the hypothesis that Bigfoots are “living fossils,” a relic population of Gigantopithecus, an otherwise-believed-extinct hominid that fits the classic Sasquatch description. But could there be a different explanation, in particular for more limited, unique sighting clusters such as characterize the Eastern Bigfoot? Could these potential populations in fact reflect a relic of a more advanced species? Are Neanderthals alive today, responsible for Bigfoot sightings in Eastern North America and elsewhere?

There is extensive literature on the unique attributes of Eastern Bigfoot.  Noted cryptozoology enthusiast Loren Coleman has dubbed an eastern subspecies the “Marked Hominid.”  And, there are persistent reports on Eastern Bigfoot-like creatures that are more ape-like than hominoid.

But there are also stories of human-like populations in Northeastern North America that fit neatly into neither description.  Rather, they are reported to wear simple clothing and act more humanlike than the classic Bigfoot. 

While these accounts to not fit neatly with the marked hominid hypothesis, neither are they entirely inconsistent. First, there are reports of marked hominids themselves wearing simple clothes and using simple tools. Second, it is easy to see how human-like wilderness dwellers, wearing simple clothing, could be mistaken for marked hominids – for example, the telltale “markings” could easily be headgear. Similarly, the eastern bigfoot’s alleged aggression fits into the human-like theory in multiple respects. Witnesses subject to aggressive behavior are less likely to remember the details of crude clothing or tools. In addition, the simple fact of aggressive behavior seems inconsistent with the “gentle giant” reputation of conventional Sasquatch – and more consistent, frankly, with human tendencies. 

There are also stories that depart entirely from the “marked hominid” framework and specifically refer to wilderness-dwelling human-eque creatures. In other words, humanoids, not hominids.

What is more, native traditions incorporate a multitude of forest-dwelling figures – and researchers have frequently speculated that these traditions stem from actual cryptids such as Sasquatch or its regional variants. But one set of these stories is particularly interesting when it comes to speculation about clothes-wearing, tool-using wilderness-based populations. These are the traditions of animal-headed human figures – such as human-type forms with deer skulls and antlers. Such imagery, for example, appear in certain eastern North American “windigo” traditions.

Some have speculated that this imagery could have been inspired by the presence of remnant hunter-gatherer populations in these regions – populations that featured animal headwear as either practical or ceremonial headgear.

These fragmented hints suggest that it is theoretically possible that a small population of human-like hunter-gatherers survives in eastern North America – a population that is distinct from the more conventional hominid Bigfoot or Sasquatch.

There are similar reports in Northern Asia. The Chuchunaa – also spelled Tjutjuna, and also known as the "Siberian Snowman" – are described as pre-modern human-like beings found in the remote reaches of Siberia.  Classic Bigfoot-related literature has speculated that they represent a remnant Neanderthal population.

So, are there Neanderthals alive today? While the suggestions that there may be are tantalizing, the evidence comes nowhere close to establishing that there are indeed Neanderthals still alive in the forests of the northern hemisphere. Still, the evidence that something undocumented by science is dwelling in the world’s northern forests is very intriguing, and certainly merits further inquiry.

Are There Apes in North America?

Everyone knows that the only North American apes are in zoos, right? That the only wild apes are in Africa and southern Asia. That maybe – maybe – North America is home to a population of upright “ape men,” hominids that we know as Bigfoot or Sasquatch. But a population of apes in North America – that is, “normal” apes?

Surprisingly, some cryptozoologists believe that North America does host a population of indigenous wild apes.

The most prominent proponent of the “North American Ape” theory is Loren Coleman. He has dubbed this cryptid the “nape,” a shortened version of “North American Ape.” 

Coleman hypothesizes that these so-called Napes populate the river valleys of the southeastern United States and the southern Midwest. His history with these creatures is longstanding, as he made one of the original casts of a possible Nape in Southern Illinois in the 1960s. The cast is clearly distinct from the traditional Bigfoot print, most notably in its protruding thumb.  The thumb is so notable, in fact, that it has been dismissed as a tell-tale sign that the print was hoaxed. But this begs the question: Coleman’s whole point was that the print had a discernible, human-like thumb.

Of course, there have been several sightings of apes in the wilderness of “Nape territory” through the years: Howard Dreeson’s Oklahoma “chimpanzee” in the late 1960s; the Broward County, Florida chimpanzee animals of 1971; and North Carolina’s “Knobby” in 1979, just to name a few. In fact, on several occasions, sightings have recurred in particular areas over a discrete period of time. 
A wild population of North American apes may explain a substantial portion of the Bigfoot sightings in the Eastern United States – especially the sightings in which witnesses catch a quick glimpse of something apelike.  It could also explain many of the Bigfoot vocalizations in the Southeast and lower Midwest.

One classic Bigfoot-associated cryptid that dovetails quite nicely with the Nape hypothesis is Florida’s legendary Skunk Ape, which, as its name suggests, has long been considered more ape-like than the classic hominid-form Sasquatch.  The Myakka Ape photographs from around the turn of the twenty-first century are some of the most provocative evidence of such a creature.  Likewise, Florida has been reputed to host a population of chimpanzees – which, if true, may in fact constitute a population of some other, native species.   

Some or all of these may stem from released exotic pets, escaped specimen from labs or roadside zoos, or other non-native sources. 

But there is also the provocative possibility of a native species. As Coleman explains in his book, “Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America,” he believes that they may be dryopethcine, a believed-extinct ape that had lived in temperate and subtropical environments.

Could there be an undiscovered species of North American apes? The evidence is far from conclusive – especially given the unfortunate reality of mistreated and released great apes. But it is a tantalizing possibility nonetheless.  As long as amateur sleuths ply the wilderness in search of undiscovered creatures, Napes deserve a place alongside better-known cryptids – whether or not they are actually creeping underneath the dense forest canopies of Southeastern swamps and river valleys.