June 1, 2006

Editorial by Kathy Strain

Will North America’s Most Elusive Mammal Become Extinct Through Scientific Neglect?
By Warren L. Cook.

Tom Bascardi has insisted that the photos and films taken by Ivan and Peggy Marx are authentic documentation of the North American Great Ape. For proof, Mr. Bascardi offers a document written by Warren L. Cook, a supposed Ph.D. Anthropologist teaching at Castleton State College, Vermont. The article, entitled The Endangered Sasquatch: Will North America’s Most Elusive Mammal Become Extinct Through Scientific Neglect?, consists of four main sections: the Endangered Sasquatch; The Bossburg Episode, the Shooting Sequence, and the Snow Sequence. It appears to have been written prior to Ivan’s death.

As a professional anthropologist myself, I was struck by Dr. Cook’s lack of basic anthropological methods employed in the article. First, references cited to support concepts were minimum at best or worse, not cited at all. One very poor attempt to support Ivan’s contention states that “In Ivan's latest pictures--that is as of this writing, for he is unfatiguing in his efforts--the mother sasquatch's visage, seen close up, resembles a female gorilla with the swollen membranes on each s
ide of its head of an aroused orangutan. The Circumstances were that, babe in arms, she was circling Ivan and Peggy's camp, late at night, crying and moaning pitifully, as if pleading for something. Ivan's obtained a photo so fine-grained as to show the details of her eyes. They noted she was just ‘skin and bones’. Just a few weeks later the same all white baby was photographed being held by a female with ample breasts--obviously young and healthy--Leading Ivan and Peggy to conclude that the mother had died.” Cook goes on to state that “Jane Goodall observed that upon the death of the old chimpanzee mother, Flo, custodianship of young Flint became the responsibility of his older siblings, Fifi and Figan, which offers a clue to what has happened.” No citation of where this information came from is offered, as per standard anthropological protocol. However, it is very suspicious. Anyone who has ever watched National Geographic would have seen the Jane Goodall special describing this event…it does not take an anthropologist to mention it, but an anthropologist should have cited the book it came from (plus probably offer deeper more professional observations).

Secondly, anthropologists are trained to present unemotional facts in their works, which successfully presented leads to a substantive conclusion. Dr. Cook’s article is filled with personal comments on how he feels about the Marx’s and the situation of Marx being called a hoaxer. For example:

“Ivan feels disoriented in the bowels of a skyscraper, and is happiest in the wilderness. He frets until back with his "sweetie", as he calls his devoted wife, Peggy, who often accompanies him in the wilds. Zealous to preserve their modest, unfettered life style, Ivan and Peggy have invested a major portion of their lives coming up with the Bigfoot photos for which he is well known--some say notorious--among hominologists.”

“In one of our most fruitful sessions together, in his Burney home, after I hearty Sunday dinner of roast bear and "Cibeque" pie a rice and prickly pear casserole from Peggy's home state of Arizona…”

“but I am or the opinion that Ivan and Peggy, while reticent in their personal lives, are steadfastly honest and it would be out of character for them to jeopardize their goal of documenting sasquatch by tainting genuine photos just to produce more.”

“He has enormous respect for the sasquatch, because of his intimate knowledge of its capabilities to elude him.”
“Ironically, Marx's having caught the species on film year after year, makes it difficult to get scientific attention focused upon his photos, as this very circumstance is seized upon by some of his perennial rivals to perpetuate the scorn heaped on his Bossburg footage. Rather, it is a measure of Ivan's ability.”

These types of comments are not considered professional by any past or current scientific standards. Dr. Cook had clearly already predetermined that Ivan was telling the truth and the article was slated in that direction.

Lastly, Dr. Cook stated “Ivan and Peggy consented to my taping an interview without foreknowledge of what would be asked. They gave straightforward answers to the most delicate of issues.” However, the questions asked and their complete answers are not given so that we,
the public, can judge them. Tough follow-up questions are clearly not asked.

In one clear instance, Dr. Cook writes about the film that the Marx’s obtained after shooting a bigfoot: “The frightened couple circled clockwise, seeking a better view around the brush pile. In the film one sees the creature holding a hand to a hip, where Ivan says he aimed one of his shots. Then it rises to its knees, hobbling away like a paraplegic. But then it gets to its feet and enters the bushes, and from moment to moment, through the brush, one perceives a limp at first, and it holds its left hand to a shoulder wound. Soon there is no visible limp, and it strides vigorously away….

Following the awesome creature for a quarter of a mile, the couple filmed it ascending a lava ridge, its long arms flapping in a very ape-like fashion. At the top it paused and turned around to look back at them menacingly. Ivan told Peggy they had better get out of there, lest it come back and attack them in revenge, and they raced back to where they had dropped their packs, and left.”

Ivan, as Dr. Cook writes, was an outstanding hunter and trapper (the Marx’s lived on bear meat). Dr. Cook also stated earlier that Ivan was sensitive and respectful of the sasquatch but then allowed a clearly wounded animal to suffer and likely die. Dr. Cook also heard Ivan say “I once heard him say that he could be the first to bag one, should he decide to,” and even though given the opportunity to do so in the above instance, he doesn’t take it.

Nothing in this article supports Ivan’s work as authentic. I am not even sure that I can conclude that a professional anthropologist wrote the assessment. In my opinion (which is acceptable in this instance as this is a blog, not a professional publication) that Krantz was correct when he stated "I suspect that what happened was that, after finding these handprints he thought he was going to bring one down or get a good movie of one, but after a while be got fed up and decided to fake it." (Science Digest, Sept. 1984, p. 94).

*Kathy Strain is currently the Forest Archaeologist
for the Stanislaus National Forest.*


  • At 9:49 AM, Blogger Steve Kulls said…

    My friends and fellow researchers up here in NY were good friends and fellow researchers with Dr. Cook.

    Unfortunately, I know personally, Dr. Cook, did believe that the Marx films were authentic, as my mentor, Bill Brann, had been present for Dr. Cook's disertation at the college about the films.

    Unfortunately, I think Dr. Cook as he got older became a bit romatic on the topic, especially when it came to Ivan Marx. Not to take away the level of enthusiasm and good work Dr. Cook had done previously or at that point in the future.

    After all Dr. Cook inspired those who inspired me.


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