Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 23rd, 2007
I know I’ve gone over some of this before, but all this talk about the Patterson-Gimlim footage for the 40th anniversary seems to be stirring up a need to revisit it. It seems rather unbelievable to me that I’m hearing again that only “male gorillas have sagittal crests” and this is being used as a reason to discount the Patterson Bigfoot footage. Paranthropus, my fossil candidate choice for Bigfoot, had sagittal crests in both genders.
Paranthropus sp. image courtesy of skullsunlimited.com
I take the stance that Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Oh-Mah, whatever you wish to call the classic Neo-Giants of the Pacific Northwest, do exist, and are reportedly upright, hairy, 6 feet to 8.5 feet tall hominoids.
You’ve heard a lot about Gigantopithecus, but what of the other major fossil choice, Paranthropus, I say?
The general scientific agreement is that Gigantopithecus specimens were in the range of about 10 feet tall in fully grown adults. Some of the scholars most linked to Gigantopithecus even have interpretations that assume Gigantopithecus was not bipedal.
Other than mandibles and over a thousand teeth, no other bones of Gigantopithecus have been found. Despite this, the late Grover Krantz and others have constantly said that Gigantopithecus is the best fossil candidate for Sasquatch. But one major fossil candidate is often overlooked by the Krantz camp: Paranthropus.
This other favored fossil affinity for Bigfoot was proposed in 1971 by Gordon Strasenburgh, who wrote of his theory in scientific journals, self-published booklets, and through correspondence with colleagues. Strasenburgh thought Bigfoot would be found to be related to Paranthropus robustus and suggested that the name Paranthropus eldurrelli be used for the Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest.
Paranthropus is a fossil hominid genus initially assigned by Robert Broom to a robust form of australopithecine found at Kromdraai and Swartkrans in South Africa. One of the most famous Paranthropus species is boisei, discovered by Mary Leakey in 1959 at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. It is known for its massive jaw muscles and huge back teeth the size of quarters that inspired the nickname “Nutcracker Man.”
The evidence gathered to date suggests the Neo-Giants could very well be Paranthropus. In Sasquatch, as in primates that have large jaws and well-developed chewing muscles (e.g., gorillas and baboons), the skull’s parietal bones appears to continue upward at the midline to form a sagittal crest. The early hominid fossil evidence shows that Paranthropus of both genders exhibited a sagittal crest–a feature that provides a very strong link to the male and female unknown hairy Neo-Giants seen today.
In Southeast Asia, during the 1940s, paleoanthropologists Franz Weidenreich and Ralph von Koenigswald found evidence, generally ignored by anthropologists, that Gigantopithecus (the very strong and enormous anthropoid ape), Meganthropus palaeojavanicus (the great man of ancient Java, known today as Paranthropus), and two different species or subspecies of Homo erectus (namely the so-called Java apeman and the Peking man), all lived at the same time.
Then in 1996, Carl C. Swisher III of the Berkeley Geochronology Center found new data indicating that Homo erectus had indeed lived in Java at the same time as Homo sapiens, the modern human. Using new techniques to date fossils found at Solo River, Java, Swisher’s team concluded that the supposedly very much older species known as Homo erectus had actually lived in Java as recently as 53,000 to 27,000 years ago. This was earth-shaking news to anthropologists who had assumed a much older date for Homo erectus.
Also in 1996, researchers lead by Russell Ciochon and Vu The Long discussed the apparent co-occurrence of Homo erectus and Gigantopithecus blacki in Tham Khuyen Cave, Vietnam. This giant ape was contemporaneous with archaic humans throughout its range from six million to 300,000 years ago. That is quite a long and successful span of coexistence, and Gigantopithecus must have been a formidable “neighbor”–a true giant on the landscape of the world with the little near-humans and humans – and now we know very small Homo floresiensis too – like so many troublesome distant cousins breeding furiously and taking up living space.
So this is what we know. Apes, near-humans, humans, and little near-humans lived at the same time, probably just as they continue to today (even though anthropology does not acknowledge as much yet).
And gorillas and various other great apes, and such fossil species as Paranthropus show sagittal crests in females as well as males. Krantz’s reconstruction of Gigantopithecus with a sagittal crest is only logical based on the massive mandibles that have been discovered, which demonstrates evidence of heavy chewing probably taking place. Also Krantz, no doubt, added them too because he considered the Sasquatch his living model. But, of course, we don’t really know if Gigantopithecus had sagittal crests. We do, however, clearly know that Paranthropus did have the crests, as we have fossils with them on the top of their skulls.
Among various problems I have with Gigantopithecus, therefore, is the very large size of this ape, which would have put them at the extreme end of any Bigfoot heights recorded in sightings (closer to Mark Hall’s True Giants). Most people studying these Bigfoot would consider valid only more reasonable heights. Paranthropus, at between 5.5 and 7.5 feet, with known sagittal crests, I sense, is a more plausible fossil candidate for the classic PNW Bigfoot, the Neo-Giants. The case is straightforward for me. It seems unfortunate that people have spent a lot of time studying the few bones of Gigantopithecus as the “celebrity big fossil ape,” when more attention might be usefully devoted examining Paranthropus.
For those interested in the question of Paranthropus, I recommend an article:
Clarke, Ronald J. “The Genus Paranthropus: What’s in a Name?” in W. E. Meikle, F. C. Howell, and N. G. Jablonski (eds) Contemporary Issues in Human Evolution (San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences, 1996) Memoir 21, pages 93-104.
Clarke talks about the use of the name Paranthropus and the generic separation it denotes as having “well-known and long-standing support.” Indeed, he writes that “the name Paranthropus has been alive and well and supported by zoologically sound credentials. It is certainly welcome news that more human anatomists and physical anthropologists are coming to the belated realization that Paranthropus merits generic distinction, but it is to the zoologist John Robinson that credit must be given for not only recognizing this from the outset, but also for his many clear explanations of why this was so.”
Paranthropus is a unique, intriguing-looking primate which fills the bill for what the Pacific Northwest Sasquatch has been and is. The African Paranthropus has been associated, in past theories, to the Asian Meganthropus, which appears to be linked to the American Sasquatch.
Meganthropus fossils have exhibited a sagittal crest (although some others call them sagittal keels). I
ndeed, a couple examples in southeastern Asia were found with double sagittal crests.
The only person who has written about and come forth saying that Meganthropus reached Australia and has been found with large tools is Rex Gilroy. His claims are unverified by paleoanthropologists, most cryptozoologists, and are not taken to be supportable. Most hominologists interested in the Meganthropus question do not consider Gilroy’s evidence for Meganthropus tool use as valid either.
Critiques against Meganthropus attack the size estimates of these hominoids. Perhaps these hominids were larger than we think?
Meganthropus are assigned to Paranthropus by some mainstream anthropologists, although others assign Meganthropus to Homo erectus. In the 1940s, Meganthropus was called the “Great Man of Ancient Java” and said to reach heights of 8 feet and 3 inches (Source: Giant by P. J. Lee, London: Yoseloff, 1970, page 30). Franz Weidenreich found the Asian Meganthropus mandibles massive, and frequently called it the “Java Giant.” ( Apes, Giants, and Men, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946.)
Meganthropus africanus was later assigned to Paranthropus robustus. Meganthropus africanus is not been verified as Australopithecus afarensis, however.
Parathropus, through Asia into the Americas, remains a valid candidate for Sasquatch.
So could we, at least, put to rest this business that the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot can’t be real because it is a female with a sagittal crest?