Women in Bigfoot Studies: Jane Goodall

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 28th, 2007

Yeti or Bigfoot or Sasquatch….I tell you that I’m sure that they exist….I’ve talked to so many Native Americans who all describe the same sounds, two who have seen them. I’ve probably got about, oh, thirty books that have come from different parts of the world, from China from, from all over the place.Dr. Jane Goodall, while being interviewed by Ira Flatow, National Public Radio’s “Science Friday,” September 27, 2002.

Jane Goodall

Of late, while talking about women in Bigfoot studies, I ventured off into writing about women in racing and mentioning briefly Jane Goodall as a woman whose entry into the man-dominated field of anthropology and primatology was made somewhat easier by her self-promotion and her photographs. Few people realize today how dynamically Jane Goodall used her sense-of-self to get what she wanted in her desire to study the great apes.

Most online quickie biographies of Jane Goodall simply say that her father was an engineer and her mother was an author.

The deeper realities are much more revealing.

Coincidentally to my recent posts about the Indy 500, Jane Goodall’s father, Mortimer Herbert Morris-Goodall was a professional race car driver. Morris-Goodall, in 1930-1931, first drove his own personal Aston Martin International, then after mid-1931, he raced Aston Martin’s seventh Le Mans racer (the LM7, painted a “sweet olive green” to identify Morris-Goodall’s British nationality).

Mortimer Morris-Goodall, as a youth, was in the military stationed in the jungles of Singapore. Jane Goodall vividly recalls a gift her father gave her when she was about a year old. She still treasures it today. It is a toy chimpanzee named Jubilee after a famous chimpanzee at the London Zoo back then.

Jane Goodall

Her mother Margaret Myfanwe Joseph, when she first met Morris-Goodall, was a secretary for the impresario Charles B. Cochran. Vanne, as she was called, was said, in those days, to have a “striking combination of fine arches and curves in the face, a warm and confident smile, high bright cheeks, and a firm jaw.” She is remembered as a “green-eyed goddess” who had a strong and supportive impact on her daughter. Her mother would read often from Kipling’s The Jungle Book when Jane was a child.

Mortimer and Vanne divorced and Jane remained with and was raised by her mother and grandmother. Vanne would assist her daughter’s dreams come true. On July 16, 1960, when Jane Goodall finally made the boat trip to Gombe to study chimpanzees, her mother was along for the trip and without medical skills, Vanne sat up a health clinic for the locals.

Jane Goodall

The rest, as they say, is history.

Author Florence Williams gives a hint of this legacy in her short review of the first biography to ever appear about Jane Goodall, published in 2006:

The British yen for adventure found a very different vessel in the young secretary who changed the science of animal behavior. In Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man (Houghton Mifflin, $35), Dale Peterson…vividly captures his subject’s idealism and derring-do. In 1957, 22-year-old Goodall lit out for Africa, and she was soon taking dictation for visionary archaeologist Louis Leakey. Before becoming his star protegée, Peterson writes, she fended off the married scientist’s sexual advances. Men everywhere fell in love with Goodall, but it was the primates in what is now Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park who earned her steadiest gaze; she would sit among the animals until, after years, they ignored her. Her discoveries that chimps ate meat and used tools “constituted a complete validation of . . . her untrained and possibly eccentric approach,” Peterson writes in this readable if worshipful portrait.Florence Williams, Outside Magazine, December 2006

Jane Goodall

In recent years, through her Jane Goodall Institute, Goodall has continued her chimpanzee and related conservation efforts.

Jane Goodall

Also, Jane Goodall, due to her remarkable visibility, continues to give Bigfoot/Sasquatch supportive statements, so much so that many in the general public consider her to be the most famous female celebrity spokesperson for the reality of unknown hairy hominoids. She still understands the role of her public presence in gaining support for her causes.

Jane Goodall John Bindernagel

Dr. Jane Goodall appears with Dr. John Bindernagel, in support of his 1998 book, North American’s Great Ape: The Sasquatch.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

13 Responses to “Women in Bigfoot Studies: Jane Goodall”

  1. Rick Noll responds:

    Dr. Jane Goodall was also good enough to allow me to interview her in Seattle as a way of introduction to each of the Willow Creek International Symposium DVDs. Her answers to questions are interspersed through out the set and meant for viewers to look at the presented question differently than maybe they have in the past. The follow up of course is with the speakers at the conference. Fascinating lady. Very strong but somehow it doesn’t seem to come from anything you can see… it is just there.

  2. DavidFullam responds:

    And she was hot too! Even today she’s still an attractive lady.

  3. MultipleEncounters responds:

    I was hoping someone would pick up on the opportunity to discuss Jane Goodall and Sasquatch in a thread of her own.

    In the previous references to Ms. Goodall and her endorsement on the cover of Jeff Meldrum’s book, I almost added one more thing, that since she had read so many books on the subject, Jane Goodall was in essence a Bigfoot researcher herself. But I did not make that leap, only because that would be her self-proclamation to make. Clearly she would be welcomed into the fold.

    I have little doubt that in a different time, Ms. Goodall may have become a renowned Sasquatch researcher herself. And maybe if chimpanzees didn’t acquire all of her attention, it might have happened.

    I do wonder one thing however. In her decades in the field of primatology working in Africa, did she ever hear first hand accounts of Sasquatch-like creatures there? Obviously she could have been a recipient of such information and there are references to African Sasquatch on the net. I just have to wonder if she was ever enticed, even though her dedication to her chimpanzee subject was her mission.

    Ms. Goodall gave me much inspiration when I was a teen as she demonstrated the intelligence of her research subjects. She enabled an international empathy towards her creatures of interest. We should all strive for the same with our own subject because Sasquatch intelligence is undoubtedly far greater.

  4. Melissa responds:

    Dr. Jane Goodall possesses something most do not have, its an inner strength that comes from knowing what you want – and going directly for it. Dr. Goodall is a woman I admire, and have most of my life, in large part for what she has accomplished. She set out specifically to do something, and that’s exactly what she did, and she did it successfully.

    Excellent article Mr. Coleman.

    While Dr. Goodall promoted herself through photographs, how many people remembered that? I’m willing to bet not many. You can promote yourself, and make the delivery of that information secondary to the person you are and the work you’re doing.

    It’s all in the delivery.

  5. Bob Michaels responds:

    A truly great lady.

  6. Ceroill responds:

    What makes her all the more remarkable, in my view is that she wasn’t a trained scientist. She was a well educated, determined amateur. If I recall correctly, when she began nobody took her seriously at all, just because of that point. It was only after several years of steady, scrupulously documented, unceasing, consistent results that this changed. Slowly she gained the respect of professional biologists and primatologists.

    At least…this is how I recall things. If I’m incorrect, please let me know.

  7. Tengu responds:

    It’s my theory that’s she’s heard something in Africa…maybe even seen something herself.

    According to Heuvelmans book in french upon the subject, there’s certainly a lot of hominid activity down there.

  8. mrbf2006 responds:

    Excellent article, Loren. Dr. Goodall is a true pioneer of studies into chimpanzees, and it would be wonderful if she were to locate a group of Sasquatches and observe them as he did the chimps. That footage would go a long way towards proving their existence. More power to you, Dr. Goodall.

  9. Arctodus responds:

    Jane Goodall truly is the woman who redifined man.

    My kudos to this awesome human force.


    Jane Goodall has stated that she’s heard stories from peoples she’s met all over the world speaking of local hominids unknown to western science with a matter of fact attitude.

  10. jkcrl1961 responds:

    jane goodall absolutely one of the top in the world. hard act to follow.spring usually brings young ones so when in the wilderness keep an eye or ear out for baby bigfoot.

  11. lamarkable responds:

    My wife is an accomplished professional who has survived political predation by males with a strong will and a quick analytical mind. She also knows how to defend herself. Alot of the comments are off topic and if they were said in a managerial setting, frankly they would considered to be evidentiary of someone who lacks the good graces and common sense to be in a responsible position. Especially any comments on “good lookin women” sounds like a rube out of his depth to me.

    Sexism and sex is a power game of political interpersonal relationships My wife is very attractive but on a professional level she makes her money the old fashioned way, she earns it.

  12. Bob K. responds:

    Good point, mrbf, and who better than Dr. Goodall? Not only would her experience in the observation of and interaction with higher primates be vital, but its been said over and over that Squatches have less fear of women than men. Would Dr. Goodall be the prime candidate to be the first western researcher to have a family group of Bigfoot become so habituated to her, that a decent film study could be made? I personally believe the ‘Squatch to be a good deal more advanced in nearly every physical and mental aspect than any gorilla, but it is an ape just the same, IMHO. I wonder if the good Dr. would be up to such a challenge this late in her life?

  13. MultipleEncounters responds:

    Women (just as men) should of course have an equal footing (pun intended 🙂 ) within the field, especially those who are earnest in their pursuits. However, just because someone is a woman, does not ‘automatically’ make her a good field researcher. The same goes for men.I believe there is something more intrinsic necessary to be a good researcher, and maybe there are more women who have this ability then men, but simply being a woman is not an automatic credential. Some women just don’t have it, just as many men don’t. Sure men and women are clearly different in many respects. A male bigfoot may view a human woman as something to admire (That would be a bigfoot being sexist in this example not me) 🙂 . Whose to say a female bigfoot does not view human men in the same way? Every species has their idiosyncrasies that must be approached differently, clearly these sasquatch are the most challenging of all. Look at how the ‘Wolf Whisperer’ is engaging and interacting with a pack of wolves, he uses their dominance techniques to take on a role as Alpha male and had to submit when a new Alpha came along during his interim leave. Part of the secret for men may be to leave the testosterone at home when it comes to bigfoot, because we would never be Alpha in their realm. I do believe part of being a good primate researcher requires empathy and understanding for the subject, an inherent ability that only handful of male but more female researchers have. Sure there are other requirements as well, such as developing a trust with your subjects, an awareness of their presence, field savvy, and knowing how NOT to ‘appear’ as a threat. But these are not women-only skills, and not every woman has them. Certainly less men may have such skills, and men will have to work harder to attain them. ‘Nurture vs nature’ should be applied to research techniques, but of course it’s not always easy for men to display this ‘nurture’ side.

    I truly admire Jane Goodall and the late Dian Fossey for their work. They documented how such methods of research should occur. Goodall didn’t begin her studies with a PhD either, so like any major discovery, we should not necessarily think we must rely on some scientist with credentials in this field to make the ultimate discovery. (Besides, bigfoot was already discovered by Native Americans long ago!) This does not mean everyone can be an automatic scientist either. There are professional techniques and protocols that must be developed and adhered to, and most lay-persons do not have this ability. It will take a special person to bridge the gap between species in this field.

    I suspect that Dr. Goodall has reached a stage in her life where she has recognized that a new breed of researcher (male and female) are appropriate to carry the torch and make their own history in the field of sasquatch research. If she felt otherwise, she would have invested her time here long ago. Obviously she is very intrigued by the existence of such creatures, and rightfully so. She has probably even gone out on a few private expeditions to experience their presence.

    In respect to her mentor Louis Leakey, and the subtitle of the book referenced above “The Woman Who Redefined Man’, I’d like to envision a couple of different meanings to that. I realize it appropriately refers to when she documented chimpanzees fabricating and using tools, and Louis Leakey stated: “Now we must define tool, redefine man, or accept chimpanzees as humans.” This is only a faint memory to me, but luckily it is on Jane Goodall’s website. (Yeah, I cheated on that one, but I remembered it after I read it. 😉 ) The point I am getting to is, this dilemma of redefining man, may once again become a factor when sasquatch is once and for all classified and better understood. Based on my personal experiences, they aren’t some mere giant ape. Sasquatch’s place in the evolutionary tree will likely rock this world in ways we can not presently imagine. Leakey’s statement may be more profound at this time in the future then anyone could ever imagine. Sasquatch has human traits but they also have their wild ape-like traits, so this is all still up in the air. If as I believe from my personal observations, sasquatch turns out to be something in between, or something with early human origins, yeah, we may well be redefining what humans are. It is unfortunate that the cliche in the field do not allow those who have theorized in this area to have their say before being criticized, but that’s the way all great discoveries tend to go. The establishment generally rejects the challenger to the status quo comfort zone, and yet time and time again, outlandish new ideas end up being substantiated. Mainstream science at the time did not believe that chimps were capable of fabricating tools and look how that turned out. One thing we humans must remember that I will often repeat, we have more hairs on our bodies then chimpanzees do. (Well, except for those who do the hot wax thing anyhow). The hairs are very tiny but they are there.

    Our sasquatch subject may have a far higher intellect then we can imagine, clearly they have been outsmarting us at every turn. But they may fear us because more often then not, because the ‘yahoos’ of our species fire upon them first. And since/if they don’t have the same speech capabilities we have, then they would only experience frustration through any attempts at befriending us, especially when we react in fear or confrontation at first glance. There has been decades/centuries of aggressive conditioning that has taken place with both our species towards one another. We are afraid of them. They are afraid of us. We shoot at them. They can do whatever they please with us in their environment. Today there is a wide bridge that must be gapped between our two species and it won’t come easy.

    Also look at the response some researchers have received when they stated bf was of human origin. This field is not very tolerant and really does not allow an airing of claims before passing judgement. Some of the forums really are immature in this respect. Even the subject of ESP, which may be so natural to animals, and a field that our own government has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in, is met with sheer closed-mindedness by many within this field. Any researcher worth their weight has experienced the hair raise on the back of their neck feeling like you were being watched. That my friends is ESP in its rawest form. I suspect even Jane Goodall has recognized similar traits present in her subjects. I did not see it, but apparently there is an ‘Animal Planet’ episode that demonstrates Jane Goodall is aware of telepathy existing in animals. Why is it so difficult for so many here? In fact, there was a successful experiment elsewhere where the reactions of monkeys across a water body were monitored in response to a stimulus with some distant members. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name or details of it, but maybe someone here can post it. When everyone stops thinking of ESP as something with strictly a paranormal stigma, and objectively looks at it as with any scientific pursuit, just as many universities have done, then the bigfoot field will mature one step forward. It may be sasquatch has one significant advantage over us, and until we recognize these attributes shared by many species in the animal kingdom, we’ll continue being two steps back. But that is for another thread. However Jane Goodall is one scientist who has an open mind, and I would hope that everyone else would be a little more tolerant in this respect. I will always be open minded in this area as well.

    Oh, the other ‘Redefining Man’ part, I meant other ‘guys’ like myself, who watched Goodall and Fossey on TV as youngsters, and wanted to grow up and do something similarly as important as they did. Those who were affected in this way and who instilled within themselves ’empathy’ for other living things, may ultimately be the ones who make history in this field. The legacy left here is available to either male or female as far as that goes. Ms. Goodall and the Late Ms. Fossey gave something to us all.

    David Rodriguez
    Springfield, Oregon

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