Skookum’s Dr. Swindler Dies Suddenly

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 2nd, 2008


Sadly word has just reached Cryptomundo of the death a month ago of a figure important to the investigation of the Skookum Cast.

University of Washington professor emeritus of anthropology, World War II veteran, consummate teacher, and beloved father, husband and friend of cryptozoology, Daris R. Swindler, 82, died suddenly in Spokane, Washington, on December 6, 2007, of cancer.


Though a longtime skeptic of Sasquatch, Swindler was one of the few experts willing to examine physical evidence cited in support of the unknown hominoids’ existence. Swindler’s opinion regarding Bigfoot changed after the September 22, 2000, discovery of the so-called Skookum Body Cast (an impression left in a mud pit by a purported Bigfoot said to be gathering fruit from a food trap).

Daris Swindler was present at the Discovery Channel taping of June 2002, when anthropological experts from mainstream academics and musuems examined the Skookum Cast. After making a detailed examination of the cast, Swindler concluded that no animal other than a Bigfoot could have left the impression. His opinion was in agreement with other anthropologists (such as Jeff Meldrum, shown below with the cast) who were present at the examination and taping. That session later was screened as part of the June 2003 broadcast of Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science.


Swindler (August 13, 1925 – December 6, 2007) was known foremost as an American anthropologist. Born Daris Ray Swindler in Morgantown, West Virginia, Swindler later served Naval convoy duty in World War II, working on tankers in the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Swindler went on to study anthropology at the West Virginia University and the University of Pennsylvania. He would teach human anatomy at Cornell University Medical College (now known as Weill Medical College of Cornell University) and at the University of South Carolina. In 1968, he came to the University of Washington to teach anthropology, and settled in Edmonds in 1981.


Swindler’s family said his ability to influence his students was undoubtedly his greatest achievement.

“He just really adored students,” said Swindler’s wife, Kathryn Rantala Swindler.

Up until a week before his death, Swindler was critiquing papers sent to him from students all over the world, said son Bruce Swindler.

Bruce Swindler remembers sitting in on one of his father’s lectures and being amazed at his ability to capture the audience’s attention.

“He would just stand up and intrigue everybody in the audience,” he said.


A long-time professor at the University of Washington, he was generally acknowledged as a leading primate expert, having specialized in the study of fossilized teeth. His book An Atlas of Primate Gross Anatomy is a standard work in the field. He authored other works in the field, as well, in papers and books.

Swindler taveled the world for his work, such as conducting archaeological digs in Egypt and Pakistan, and traveling to Easter Island to study early settlement patterns of the first inhabitants. Swindler consulted with medical examiners, first peoples and archaeologists; participated in digs in Egypt, China, Pakistan and Easter Island; did field work in Cyprus for Physicians for Human Rights.

After retiring from teaching, Swindler wrote three books on anthropology. In 2007, he recounted his earlier experiences during a six-month expedition to New Britain, Melanesia, in a lively book, New Britain Diary, 1954; An Anthropologist’s Journal.


Daris Swindler lectured widely on Lewis and Clark, mountain men and fur trade and consulted regarding Sasquatch, always open to evaluating physical evidence. He was a man of scientific accomplishment, yet open and approachable.

He received many honors in his life, notably the Alexander Von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award from Germany; the Washington Governor’s Writer’s Day Award; the Senior Award for the Visiting Scholar Exchange from China; election as Vice President of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists and President of the Dental Anthropology Association.

Swindler assisted police in many criminal cases, notably the searches for serial killers Gary Ridgway (a.k.a. the Green River Killer) and Ted Bundy.

Swindler loved to fish for salmon off Alki Point in West Seattle and to crab off the Dungeness Spit in Sequim. Swindler was also a talented swing dancer, according to his wife Kathryn Swindler.

Dr. Daris Swindler, an adored anthropologist and friend to many, is greatly missed by members of the cryptozoology, hominology, Sasquatch studies, and Bigfoot searching communities. We send out our deepest condolences to his wife, Kathryn, his children: Gary, Darece, Linda (Venters), Dana, Bruce, Geoffrey and Jason Swindler; his beloved grandchildren and friends worldwide. Also our thoughts go to his surviving second wife, Jean Swindler. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Carolyn Swindler.

A Memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m., Saturday January 26th, at Bethel Lutheran Church of Shoreline, Washington State, at 17418 8th Ave. NE. Remembrances may be made in the form of contributions to “The Daris R. Swindler Fellowship, University of Washington” Prof. M. Kahn, Dept. of Anthropology, Box 353100, University of Washington, Seattle, 98195.

Sources include, NewsSource, Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Chapter Two, “Strange Cast of Skookum” in Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America.

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.

11 Responses to “Skookum’s Dr. Swindler Dies Suddenly”

  1. jerrywayne responds:

    Sounds like Dr. Swindler had a wonderful, meaningful life. Condolences to his family, friends, and students.

  2. DARHOP responds:

    Sorry to hear this. Rest peacefully Dr. Swindler. My prayers go out to your family, and to all that have had the honor to know you in life. And it is an honor to know any War Veteran. I know you will be deeply missed .

  3. gavinfundyk responds:

    Men like Dr Swindler, Jeff Meldrum and others do more than just lend scientific credence to evidence. They prove that science and cryptozoology are not at odds with one another.
    If all a scientist, naturalist, etc… does is look at a picture and say, “I think…or That is…” without taking all evidence into context, they are telling the general public there can be no undiscovered animals.
    Men like Dr Swindler who are willing to examine the evidence should not be forgotten.

  4. Christoph responds:

    His way of thinking about sasquatch should be widespread among anthropologists. Sadly, it’s not.

  5. bill green responds:

    hey everyone its very sad to hear the passing of dr. swindler but he up in heavin now. he will always be remembered wonderfuly. thanks bill green

  6. Ceroill responds:

    Like so many others, he will be missed by many. My thoughts and best wishes for his family and loved ones.

  7. DWA responds:

    Christoph: one really does wonder how the sas could continue to fly below the radar with someone this prominent thinking about it the way he did.

    RIP. Science has way too few Daris Swindlers.

  8. Cryptid Hunt responds:


  9. Hawkeye responds:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to his family

  10. Billy Willard responds:

    Rest in peace Dr. Swindler. He will be greatly missed. Prayers go out to his family.

  11. Jean Pajot Forrester responds:

    As one of many artists who worked for and with Dr. Swindler at Michigan State University from 1965 to 1967, I can only say what a privilege it was to know him and be influenced by him.

    He gave me an opportunity to become what I had not even sought – a medical illustrator involved as part of his most important work, AN ATLAS OF PRIMATE GROSS ANATOMY, Baboons, Chimpanzee and Man.

    I am saddened to hear of his demise and extend my sympathies to not only his family, but to everyone who has had the privilege to know him.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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