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Sasquatch’s Sagittal Crests

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 Skull

Paranthropus sp. image courtesy of

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.”

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?

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.

14 Responses to “Sasquatch’s Sagittal Crests”

  1. Ceroill responds:

    Thanks for the very interesting article, Loren.

    This, of course, brings to mind the ideas (I won’t say even hypothesis) that many of the legends worldwide of trolls, ogres, goblins, and other non-human but somewhat human-like mythical creatures might be based on garbled memories and tales of encounters with our homonid and pongid cousins of various sizes.

  2. mystery_man responds:

    I agree that Paranthropus seems like a good candidate and a lot of solid, physical evidence seems to point to it as a possibility. If Paranthropus size was anywhere from 5.5 to 7.5 feet, then the estimated height of Patty as well as many sighting reports is well within the average size range for that species. I think some reports of Bigfoot could involve over exaggerations of size and therefore could mean that even reports of truly huge sasquatch could still in actuality be closer to the upper limits of the size range of Paranthropus. There could even be a possibility of truly gigantic individuals just as there are among humans. Along with the observations on sagittal crests here, I think Paranthropus is a valid theory.

  3. Loren Coleman responds:

    For the purposes of a scientific discussion, I see the “Patterson Bigfoot” as a type specimen from which flows my points regarding Paranthropus in this blog.

  4. fallofrain responds:

    Whatever sasquatch is, real or imaginary, I think we may agree on what it’s not…a gorilla. So, why would P-G skeptics compare the sexually dimorphic features of one animal with those of a vastly different creature?

  5. jerrywayne responds:

    Thanks Loren for the time and effort you spent on this post. However, I am surprised that my comment about sagittal crests and Bigfoot seems controversial to you. If you recall, I wrote that only the gorilla, among the great apes (inferring present day species), possessed a sagittal crest (and again, I said nothing about fossil species). Is this controversial?

    I’ll try to make my previous comments perfectly clear. Portrayals of Bigfoot seemed more Yeti like after Patterson’s film. In fact, his Bigfoot seemed more physically similiar to images of the Yeti (with sagittal crest) found in ON THE TRAIL OF UNKNOWN ANIMALS and ABOMINABLE SNOWMEN. LEGEND COME TO LIFE rather than Sasquatch sketches by Roe or Ostman, or some of his own sketches, and True Magazine illustrations of Sanderson’s Jerry Crew account. (An aside: looking at foot prints alone, the Yeti seems more apelike than Bigfoot).

    Now, I attribute this to the real possibility that Patterson worked with a modified gorilla suit (with phony, but representational sagittal crest). This is not a mere guess on my part, but according to statements by a man who claimed to wear the suit and another man who claimed he sold the suit to Patterson (if their stories are incorporated, rather than presented as contradictions).

    I can only leave it to others to decide if this is more or less plausible than the notion that Patterson filmed a surviving paranathropus.

  6. tomagi responds:

    Koko, the captive female gorilla who communicates using sign language, clearly has a sagittal crest: She appears to be quite large, and, perhaps, the crest is more a function of size than gender. The oversized chimps of Bili also have crests leading to the early interpretation that their skulls were actually those belonging to gorillas.

  7. Loren Coleman responds:

    With regard to images, descriptions, and drawings of the Sasquatch and Bigfoot heads before 1967 and after, I beg to differ, regarding the “gorilla costume head theory.”

    In Ivan T. Sanderson’s 1961 book, Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, you will find him indicating he is hearing reports of Bigfoot where writes, in “each case, a tall, very heavily built, man-shaped creature with bullet-head and bull-neck, and clothed all over in long shiny black hair, with very long arms, short legs and big hands, is said suddenly to have appeared on the bank of a river in which the party was quietly fishing.” (p. 44)

    Sanderson, in discussing the four Sasquatch seen by Albert Ostman, writing about the “young male,” notes: “He had wide jaws and a narrow, sloping forehead. The back of the head, as in all of them, apparently rose four or five inches above the brow-line, and was pointed.” (p. 59)

    As you can see from the Sanderson drawing of the Ostman Sasquatch (fig. 41 in his 1961 book) and the William Roe drawing, the Sasquatch sagittal crest is evident. Both of these sightings and their appearance in the literature, of course, predate the Patterson-Gimlin footage.

    When Patterson made his drawing of the female that Ostman had seen (below), he reflected the upturned curl of hair along the browridge that Sanderson thought was there – and the sagittal crest.

    Is there a curl of hair along the browridge in the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot?

    You may recall that in creating Willow Creek’s redwood trunk carved Bigfoot, Jim McClarin put this same curl of hair on his Bigfoot sculpture.

  8. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    Does anyone know the exact year when Roger Patterson made his Bigfoot bust (pictured in the middle)? It looks like it has a crest to me and apparently it was made in the early 60’s.

  9. mystery_man responds:

    Fallofrain has an interesting point. I also think it is a mistake to presume too much about sasquatch features based on species such as the gorilla, whose relation to sasquatch is a complete unknown. Just because gorillas may show this sort of sexual dimorphism, does not mean that it must always be the case.

    Loren has shown us here that other early hominids had sagittal crests in both sexes and this makes sense. If you consider that the main purpose of these crests is to increase the surface area for jaw muscles to attach and thereby increase biting power, why should it only be males that would develop this feature? Why couldn’t females be privy to the advantages of a strong bite too? If evolutionary circumstances required strong chewing power from them, there is no reason that I can see why females of the species should not develop this adaptation. It seems to be a survival trait that would not necessarily be favored by one sex over the other.

  10. red_pill_junkie responds:

    I’m somewhat confused here on the matter of alleged height of paranthropus robustus.

    Some websites claim p.r. was no more than 4ft. tall (the sites that link paranthropus with astralopithecus), while others talk about a height of 8 ft., but those are the sites which link Paranthropus with Meganthropus.

    A little help please? 🙁

  11. sschaper responds:

    Skull shape appears to be fairly plastic in humans and related creatures, depending on size, diet, growth hormone, etc. If a pituitary giant is not treated to remove the tumor in the pituitary gland, the face and cheek bones in particular will grow substantially, creating a non-sapiens appearing skull.

    Size can range from over 8 feet down to 3 feet for Sapiens.

    Why might this not be true for anthropoid apes?

    The Bili chimps are a good example. Large size leading to sagital crests even though they are genetically chimps.

  12. DWA responds:


    What you said.

    (I love giving my fingers an occasional rest.)

    I want to know what the critter is, but first if it exists. Once we’re over that hump, Paranthropus seems as likely a possibility as any.

  13. jerrywayne responds:

    When explaining criptid events, a wide range of interpretations should be put forward as possible explanations. With the Patterson event, our host Loren surmises Paranthropus is a good candidate to explain the event. I suggest a possible explanation that falls to the other end of the event’s spectrum: it may very well represent a hoax.

    In so doing, my point was to try to explain or understand why Patterson created the image he did. I did not suggest that sagittal crests on Patterson’s Bigfoot precluded its reality. Rather, I was trying to ascertain WHY his creature had sagittal crests, if it was fake. How did he come up with THAT image?

    While Sasquatch/Bigfoot images prior to Patterson possessed what could be interpreted as sagittal crests, I think one could just as well make the case that some images possessed a “cave man’ sloping head or monkey shape head.
    (I am working on memory here: the image in Sanderson’s book referred to by Loren above, I remember as looking more gibbon like, than great ape like.)

    The 1950’s were the peak years of interest in the Yeti, or “abominable snowman”. This may be significant in relation to beliefs and conceptions concerning Bigfoot. When Sanderson and later Patterson first wrote about Sasquatch/Bigfoot, and in numerous other articles, there were always references to “America’s Abominable Snowman”.
    (Nowadays, one is likely to find references to the Yeti as a “Bigfoot like” animal or cryptid).

    Popular conceptions of the Yeti during the 50’s and 60’s represented the cryptid sometimes as a gorilla-like bipedal ape (or, at least, more gorilla-like than the other giant ape, the orangutan.) I think that Patterson was probably very interested in the Yeti story and it added to his enthusiasm for the legend of the Sasquatch. And it may have influenced his conception of Bigfoot.

    I don’t think some of Patterson’s Bigfoot drawings show sagittal crests (this may be an eye of the beholder thing). Others do but look decidedly Yeti like (as popularly conceived).

    Why did Patterson go with the Yeti like look for his manufactured Bigfoot? One answer :he used a modified gorilla suit that possessed a phony sagittal crest. It probably never occurred to him that some folks would find fault with this representation of Bigfoot for the very reason of the crest (the criticism: his animal was an unlikely admixture of human and gorilla traits).

    I do not put this view forward with the same certainty that Loren apparently enjoys with his Paranthropus hypothesis. I only offer it as something to think about.

  14. jerrywayne responds:

    I went to Border’s and perused a new edition of Sanderson’s ABOMINABLE SNOWMEN. The book brought back memories of my youth when I owned a grey-backed copy of the first edition.

    Those who suggest Patterson’s film is a hoax usually point to the illustrations in his self-published book on the sasquatch, issued before his film, to show he had the imagination to create a sasquatch for a film. I think it would be profitable to look at how sasquatch/bigfoot was presented prior to his film to see if he used such images for inspiration.

    Doubters of Patterson’s film point out that it appears to be based on the Roe account and scenario. However, the Roe creature, as drawn by his daughter, does not have a sagittal crest. Patterson’s sasquatch does have a sagittal crest and I have argued that he used a modified gorilla suit with sagittal crest and he found this acceptable because the yeti was popularly conceived as similarly gorilla like and the sasquatch was “America’s Abominable Snowman”.

    Now if we look at Sanderson’s illustrations of “snowman” and sasquatch, pictures that Patterson must have been familiar with as a bigfoot enthusiast, we see an artist’s conception of a “snowman” that resembles Patterson’s bigfoot in heft and conical head. The Ostman bigfoot drawing is unlike the creature in Patterson’s film: its head is more bulbous than conical. I have mentioned this in another post.

    Now, let’s look at an artist’s conception of Roe’s account (found in Sanderson’s book, as well as in a previous post by Atomic, and was the artwork illustrating Sanderson’s True Magazine piece on the Roe sighting).

    In this picture, we find a striding sasquatch, but one not exactly a match for Roe’s daughter’s picture. It’s head is more rounded and not as flat as in Roe’s daughter’s picture. But what really caught my attention was the creature’s upper back in the Sanderson article picture It was heavily muscled, even rippling.

    I rechecked Roe’s account and looked again at his daughter’s drawing. The heavily muscled upper back does not exist in Roe’s account or in his daughter’s reproduction of his sasquatch. It appears, then, that the artist’s conception which accompanied Sanderson’s original article, took liberties with the sasquatch image as supplied by Roe’s account. The artist added a heavily muscled upper back based on his imagination.

    This is significant, I think, because Patterson’s bigfoot, while following the Roe scenario, actually possesses a heavily muscled upper back similar to an artist’s illustration of Roe’s account. In short, he slipped up by copying an artist’s rendering. The rippled upper back exists, as far as I know, only in an artist’s imaginative drawing and in Patterson’s reconstruction. A coincidence?

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