Before the white man conquered the American Northwest, tales of Bigfoot had been told among the natives for thousands of years. Bigfoot is just the fancy name that a local Californian newspaper nicknamed the cryptid in 1958.
In 1856, American geologist and ethnologist George Gibbs wrote about “another race of beings” who roamed the forest and known to Native Americans as the Tsiatko. These creatures, he wrote, are supposed to infest the earth. Although most tribes believe in these peculiar giants, each tribe describes them in a different way.
“By some, the Tsiatko are described as of gigantic size, their feet eighteen inches long, and shaped like a bear’s. They wore no clothes, but the body is covered with hair like that of a dog, only not so thick. They are said to live in the mountains, in holes underground, and to smell badly. They come down chiefly in the fishing season, at which time the Indians are excessively afraid of them. They are visible only at night, at which time they approach the houses, steal salmon, carry off young girls and smother children,” Gibbs recorded.
The physical attributes given to the beast may just sound like a legend until one compares the thousands of Bigfoot sightings and the descriptions provided in the eyewitness accounts. Indeed, this is not enough proof that Sasquatch is real, but there is no doubt that the similarities between the ancient legends and recent sightings are astounding and can’t be ignored.
Let’s focus exclusively on the smell.
Canadian retired journalist and Bigfoot researcher John Green says that only about 10% of Sasquatch sightings are connected with a strong smell. It is this distinctive stench that separates Bigfoot from the other cryptids. Now, the question is, why the smell? Why does this happen when a sighting occurs?
The answer could be as simple as a defense mechanism. Similarly to the skunk, mountain gorillas are now known for emitting an intense odor. Anthropologist Dian Fossey recorded this fact in 1993. When frightened, she said, “the hair on each male’s headcrest stood erect and an overpowering fear odor permeated the air“.
In 1997, Dr. W. Fahrenbach, a retired biologist from the Oregon Primate Center, referred to George Schaller description of the gorilla’s hormonal release: “a mix of sweat, manure, charred wood and burning rubber”. This odor, he explained, emanates from the axillary organ, which is located in the armpit.
What seems clear is that in most of the sightings where the witness reports the smell, the animal had already noticed the intruder thus releasing the odor in order to defuse the situation. This could possibly explain why some people never notice any smells during a Bigfoot or Skunk Ape encounter. Most of the odorless Sasquatch sightings consist of a human observing the creature without the primate’s knowledge. In addition, according to the gorilla theory, only the males possess the specific glands, so any female specimen sighting would likely result in an odorless encounter.
Another possibility is that they are only able to “spray” the air a few times before the glands stop producing the chemical. The skunk, for instance, is known to use its stinky defensive weapon for five or six uses prior to depletion. Additionally, it requires the animal another ten days just to produce another supply.
To reiterate, while this is not enough evidence to prove that the legends and the sightings are real, it is possible that by applying simple natural findings to alleged Sasquatch encounters, it could help people understand one of the factors most skeptics tend to mock or laugh about: that terrible Bigfoot stench.