Abominable Snowmen, by Ivan T. Sanderson, , at sacred-texts.com
Just because I have skipped over some 60 years by the recounting of only 8 stories, is not to be taken to mean that these were the only reports current during that period. Quite to the contrary, almost every year somebody or some group of people in southern British Columbia stated that they had either run into a Sasquatch, been chased by one, shot at one, or seen its foot-tracks. Many of these accounts are from our friends, the Amerinds, and many of them are not specifically dated. They begin "Some years ago …" or "Early last year …" but fail to state which year, or how many years ago. A lot of these have become garbled because of loose reporting or because they were made to specialists in local languages, each of which has a different name for its local ABSMs. The very name, Sasquatch, now so widely disseminated and known in Canada, is actually of partially artificial construction and was first, I understand, coined by Mr. Burns in an effort to obviate some of this muddle and to draw attention to the fact that throughout a very wide area—from the Yukon to California—all the names refer to the same creature. This name is derived from the Salish Amerindian word for "wild-men of the woods" which may be transliterated as Te Smai'Etl Soqwaia'm, also written as Sami "Soq" wia'm, the form used by the Chehalis tribal group. Farther south among the Pugets, the name was Hoquiam, now the name of a flourishing small town on the Chehalis River south of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. However, many of the locals had a habit
of prefixing almost everything with a sibilant so that this name also came as S'oq'wiam. In the Cascades the name was See-ah-tik but down around Mt. Shasta it was See-oh-mah. In the Klamaths we note that it is still Oh-Mah among the Hŭppa, while the Yuroks call them Toki-mussi. On Vancouver Island, and north up the inlets of the mainland, the sound changes to something more like "Sokqueatl" or "Soss-q'atl" and it was from this that Mr. Burns derived the anglicized "Sasquatch," or "Susquotch" as Americans have usually written it.
I mentioned above that all these names refer to a single kind of creature. This is so, as far as the Amerinds are concerned; but, you may well ask as you read on, how come these creatures are stated to vary so much in appearance. On analysis, it will be noted that this variation is almost exclusively in two features—length and quality of hair and its disposal about the body, and color of skin and fur. Further analysis will also show that these differences seem to be due to age and sex. The young ones, like Jacko and the one shot by a local hunter and to be described in a moment, are said to have had light faces and yet black, shiny, straight, and apparently orderly hair all over (one imagines like that of a chimpanzee), but the adults are invariably said to have black faces and skin, and reddish-brown fur, often shaggy, and sometimes washed with white or silver-tipped. The matter of long head-hair is variable but most of the close-up sightings speak of very short head-hair, no beard, but a curiously forward, upward, and finally backward curl of longer hair all across the brow like that seen on certain Spider Monkeys (genus Ateles) . I reproduce a photograph of a sketch that I made under the direction of Mr. Ostman during our interview, that emphasizes this strange feature. (See Fig. 41.)
The growth and rearrangement of body hair with age is absolutely consistent with what is known among other mammals and notably primates and particularly apes. Further, the changes in color are exactly what we would expect and are very similar to those to be noted among gorillas and some gibbons. Baby chimpanzees often start off with faces and
Click to enlarge
MAP II. BRITISH COLUMBIA
MAP II. BRITISH COLUMBIA
hands the color of those of white men but end up with complexions as dark as Dravidians or Wolofs. Some gorillas develop a distinct gingery tinge—the "black" of mammalian hair being only melanin, and really a very dark red—and almost all of them go silvery gray with age. Some gorilla families have bright red topknots just like some human beings. Some gibbons vary in a most bewildering way in coat colors. They may be black, gray, chocolate, white, or beige to start with and throughout life, or they may change from one color to another with age. Different races of the different species do all manner of different things in this respect. It is therefore quite consistent that these large ABSMs should start off with jet black hair and light skins, and end up hoary old black-faced creatures with silver-tipped reddish fur. The females might lack the gray and might be less shaggy. There may also be family likenesses to start with.
Let us assume that we are now chronologically at the turn of the year 1920 to 1921 but still in British Columbia. As I said in the brief historical review of world-wide ABSMery, this was a most important date in that it saw the birth of the term "Abominable Snowman" and really kicked off the whole
thing. I have often wondered what would have happened if the Squamish word for these creatures in their country, instead, had happened to have been mistranslated as something equally fetching. I suppose we would then, in time, have witnessed a New York Journal American Expedition to Harrison Lakes, and Admiral Byrd flying skin-trophies to Chicago from the hamlets of the Alaskan panhandle. It is nothing more than a quirk of history and a series of harmless mistakes that has put Nepal instead of Vancouver Island on the map in this respect; though it has to be admitted that Mt. Everest has played its part.
It was about this time, moreover, that an incident is alleged to have occurred in this area that is in many ways perhaps one of the most fantastic ABSM stories ever told. It only came to light in 1957 but concerns happenings alleged to have taken place in 1924 in the mountains behind Toba Inlet, which is on the coast of British Columbia (see Map II). It came to light through a letter (written to John Green, owner of The Advance, published in Agassiz, a small town near Harrison, some 70 miles from Vancouver) by a retired prospector and lumberman of Swedish origin named Mr. Albert Ostman. This letter was a result of the publication by Mr. Green of an affidavit sworn to by a Mr. William Roe (now of Edmonton, Alberta) concerning certain experiences he had in the year 1955 on Mica Mountain on the Alberta border. (This latter statement is reproduced in full in the next chapter and concerns Mr. Roe's meeting with a female Sasquatch.) Reading this, Mr. Ostman apparently decided to break more than a quarter century of silence and relate what had happened to him. Mr. Ostman now lives at Fort Langley outside Chilliwack, and John Green, who for years has gathered information on the Sasquatches, sought him out and persuaded him to write his full story. This Mr. Ostman did—painstakingly, and in two large notebooks. John Green published this in his newspaper along with a photostat of a sworn affidavit testifying to its truth by Mr. Ostman.
I had the pleasure of meeting both gentlemen in company
with a partner of mine, Robert Christie, who was traveling with me at the time, and a Mr. and Mrs. René Dahinden. He is Swiss; his wife, Swedish, as is Mr. Ostman. As I already had Mr. Ostman's story both on paper and on tape from an interview between him and a reporter from a local radio station, I confined my questions to trying to recall his memory about certain zoological or anthropological details. I fully admit to having loaded these questions with snares and abstruse technical catches, and to having been rather rough in my approach. I know that I thereby incensed John Green and the Dahindens, who not only have a very great affection and respect for Mr. Ostman but feel that, with his still slight language difficulty, outsiders such as I tend to rattle him. I do not agree, in that Mr. Ostman has the wisdom of age as well as long experience, and a sense of humor that cannot be downed; and I don't think that he was annoyed with me then, or will be hurt if he reads this. In fact, I felt that he was twinkling at me all the time; and I fancy that, if he ever thought of me after I left, it was simply as a "very funny fellow," as he might say. This is more the case since I went away a very puzzled reporter.
This story, when read cold, sounds utterly preposterous. If one has read a great deal on ABSMs in general and on the Sasquatch in particular it also, at first, appears highly suspicious because it seems to knit together just about everything else that has ever been published on the matter. In fact, given some firsthand experience of the country, I could have written just that story myself. The world is full of good weavers of yarns and some of them, who are not professional writers of fiction, can be so damnably convincing that they have fooled not only the press but governments and even peoples, if not the whole world. Fabrications, if well enough done, consistently adhered to, and big enough lies, can, as has so often been pointed out (e.g. the case of Hitler) be utterly convincing. However, in technical matters, and most notably in the bio- logical sciences, there are subjects that just cannot be imagined or thought up by anybody, unless they have learned of them
specifically in advance and, what is much more important, their exact significance relative to a whole host of other technicalities is appreciated. Anybody can read everything that has been published on Sasquatches and yet still attribute to them some trivial biological character that really is impossible. In the case of ABSMs there are a large number of very abstruse matters of this nature that may be slipped in casually. Only one answer to these can be right, while an endless string of other answers will be wrong, and conclusively so. I put about two dozen of such, directly and unexpectedly, to Mr. Ostman and, of all those for which he had a reply, he did not miss once—not one impossible answer; not a single uncalled-for elaboration; and not one unrequested fact that did not have a possible and quite logical place in the general picture. What is more, when we got off on the sketching of the creature's head, there emerged several points that were not then in published Sasquatch literature, nor in that on any ABSM, nor even in textbooks of physical anthropology. Yet, subsequent to that interview, some of these points (such as the odd head-shape) have appeared in the last type of publication.
This is really rather alarming and has given me many sleepless nights. Some things I just cannot bring myself to take at their face evaluation; and, frankly, Mr. Ostman's story was at first one of these. Besides, he even included some gross fallacies such as that he became poisoned through eating a broody grouse—an old wives' tale, if ever there was one. But then, I have to admit to myself now, that this fact is still believed in parts of his home country—namely, that one does get poisoned by eating birds taken sitting on eggs—and that he probably believed this; while he was in poor enough condition at the time of his adventure to be made sick by almost anything. Also, I ask myself, why tell this story? Mr. Ostman is not an uneducated country bumpkin. He is well read, speaks three languages, has traveled quite a lot, lives very much in the world, and knows quite well what ridicule is, and all about its deadly efficacy. He is retired, owns his own property, has
many friends, and does not need publicity; nor does he welcome it, though he is extremely long-suffering and most gracious in discussing his experiences with newsmen and others who call upon him. He never told his story in his youth for fear of ridicule, knowing what effects it might have. He doesn't care now: he is still sincerely puzzled; and he is eager to do anything he can to help clear up the mystery. Mr. Ostman is, in fact, sick and tired of skeptics.
After a strenuous year on a job, he decided to take a part vacation with some prospecting on the side. He chose a wild area at the head of this Toba Inlet which is the first substantial fjord north of Powell River. This is on the mainland opposite the middle of Vancouver Island. There was allegedly a lost gold mine thereabouts and he decided to take a crack at finding it. He hired an old Amerind to take him up the fjord and he says that he first heard from him on that journey of the existence of the giant hairy "Wild Men of the Woods." He had supplies for three weeks, plus rifle, sleeping bag, and other basic equipment. The local man left him alone on shore and he proceeded inland and found a good campsite.
This he fixed up very comfortably, making a thick bed of small branches on which to place his sleeping bag, and hung his supply bags well off the ground on a pole. The next morning he, nonetheless, found his things disturbed, though nothing was missing. Being a knowledgeable woodsman, he assumed that a porcupine was responsible, so the following night he loaded his rifle and placed it under his bed flap. The next morning he found, to his dismay, that his packsack still hung from the pole well off the ground but that its contents had been emptied out and some items of food taken. Strangely, his salt had not been touched. This surprised him not a little, because porcupines have an insatiable craving for salt and always go for it first. At the same time, he did not think that it was a bear because, although he admits to having been a very heavy sleeper, bears usually make a great rumpus and smash up everything. Albert Ostman did not like these events one bit, so he stayed rather closely around camp in the hopes
of catching the marauder in the act. On the third night he took special precautions; intending to stay awake all night, he did not undress but merely removed his boots and left them at the bottom of his sleeping bag, put his geological pick to hand, and took his loaded rifle into the bag with him. But he did fall asleep.
The next thing he knew he was being picked up like a puppy in a paper bag, and felt himself heaved, as he at first thought, on to a horse's back. Bemused and half awake, he tried to get at his knife to cut his way out of his sleeping bag, but he was wedged down into the bottom in a sitting position and could not reach it. Then he felt his packsack bumping against him with the hard cans within clearly discernible by their sharp impact. As far as I was able to ascertain in my interview with him, he was completely in the bag, as one might say, and its opening was being held shut above his head. How he managed to breathe in such circumstances, and for over an hour, puzzled me until he explained that he was slung over the back of something walking on two legs and that its hand was not big enough to go all around the bag-opening. I never heard Mr. Ostman say that he was scared, but he admits that he was terribly hot in there and that his cramped legs were extremely painful. Don't forget, moreover, that he hadn't a clue at that time as to what was going on or what had got him.
He says that he was carried up hill and down dale, when he was dragged along the ground, and that his carrier even jog-trotted over level places. This is some going for anything carrying a man of Ostman's size plus a knapsack full of supplies and other equipment. But, this is by no means the strangest part of the proceedings; yet it is still at least possible. Another aspect seems quite impossible; namely, that Ostman estimates—and sticks to it—that this trip in the bag took three hours. In an interview with a commentator from a radio station (a tape of which I have), but made, of course, a quarter of a century later, he says thirty miles. Personally, I fail to see how he survived such an ordeal, stuffed up in a bag, but that is not so much the point: what is are the time, the distances
and the speed of travel implied. These are not easy things to estimate at the best of times, and they are among the first to become exaggerated in the mind with the passage of time. I wish that Mr. Ostman had not tried to give any estimates at such a late date since it causes the eyebrows of all who read or hear his story to go up sharply.
Anyhow, at the end of what must have been an ordeal, however brief it really was, he was dumped unceremoniously on the ground. He heard some voices gibbering but not using true speech as far as he could ascertain. He apparently got his head out of the bag for air and then tried to crawl out, but his legs had rather naturally gone numb and it was some time before he could emerge and rescue his boots. It was still dark and starting to rain. He then tells, in various characteristic ways, what happened when it began to dawn and he could see the outlines of four large creatures on two legs around him. I don't know if his native Swedish wit got the better of him, but he says that when he could stand up he asked the somewhat banal question: "What do you chaps want with me?" I find this most refreshing.
He found that his captors consisted of two big ones (a pair), and two youngsters, also a male and a female. He stresses that the two latter seemed thoroughly scared of him, and that the "Old Woman," as he rather delightfully called the elder female, seemed very peeved with her mate for dragging such an object home; but, he then goes on to say—and this I find very interesting, if odd—that the "Old Man" kept gesticulating, and telling the others all about it. In other words, their gibbering was speech. All of them were hairy and without clothing; and Ostman estimates the "Old Man" to have been between seven and eight feet tall. When the sun was fully up, they all left him.
He says that he found himself in a ten-acre bowl high in the mountains, its edges so steep as to be unscalable, and with only one outlet—a V-shaped cut with walls about twenty feet high and about eight feet wide at the bottom. It is not quite clear why, at this point, he did not try to make a break for
this gap, but this was possibly because of his still wobbly legs. Later on, he made several attempts, both frontally at speed and by subtlety, but the "Old Man" kept a weather eye on him and invariably cut off his approach, making "pushing" motions with his hands, and a sound that Ostman invariably describes as something like "sooka-sooka." However, when he first arrived, he moved over to the opposite side of the bowl and set up camp under two small trees. I find the inventory that he says he took of his possessions most interesting. Prunes, macaroni, his full box of rifle cartridges, and his matches were missing; so was his pick. Otherwise, all was intact. He had an emergency waterproof box of matches in his pocket but says that there was no dry wood in the valley, which seems to have been open and grassy with a few scattered junipers. All his cooking utensils had also been left, but he opened a coffee-can and went to look for water.
I will now complete the story as best I can from the various versions that I have heard, though I would stress that Mr. Ostman is remarkably consistent however many times he tells his story. Each interviewer, however, manages to ask a new question and elicit from him some scraps of information that the teller had not thought of or mentioned before. As I don't know the sequence in which the various versions were recorded, I have no way of differentiating between inconsistencies and mere additions. It would seem that Ostman made his first attempt to get out on the second day but was driven back by the "Old Man." The young male kept coming closer to him and he finally rolled his empty snuff box to him. The Sasquatch grabbed it, showed it to his sister, and then took it to his father. Somehow, Ostman got it back, because he used it later. During the next five days nothing much seems to have occurred except that the young male gave Ostman some grass with sweet roots to eat and got some snuff in return, which he chewed. The "Old Man" then also developed a liking for snuff; and this finally did the trick.
On the seventh day, as far as I can make out, the boy and the "Old Man" came right up to Ostman and squatted down
watching him take a pinch of snuff. Ostman held out the box to him (the "Old Man") who, instead of taking a pinch in imitation, grabbed the box and emptied its whole contents into his mouth and swallowed it. In a few minutes his eyes began to roll, he let out a screech, and grabbed a can half full of cold coffee and coffee-grounds, which he drank. This made him worse; and, after rolling about some more, he charged off to the spring. Ostman gathered up his possessions and made a dash for the opening in the cliff. The "Old Lady" tried to intercept him and was very close on his heels, but he fired a shot at the rock above her head and she fled back again. Ostman found himself in a canyon running south, down which he made record time, as he put it. Then, he climbed a ridge and saw Mount Baker way off to the side, so that he knew which way to go to hit the coast. He was not followed.
He rested for two hours on the ridge, then started down again. That night he camped near heavy timber and shot a grouse sitting on eggs; he roasted and ate the bird. The next morning he was very groggy and stomachically upset, which he attributed to eating the grouse, since it was his belief that a broody bird was poisonous. Finally, he heard a motor running and made for it, coming out at an advance logging operation. The foreman, seeing that he was just about at the end of his tether, took him in and fed him and let him rest up for a couple of days. Ostman then made his way down to a camp on the Salmon Arm Branch of the Sechelt Inlet, where he got a boat back to Vancouver.
This is Mr. Ostman's story and you may make what you will of it. As I have said, there are some curious discrepancies in it but not even these are impossibilities, with the exception of the times and the distances as mentioned above. The grouse, broody or not, could quite well have upset his stomach. Mr. Ostman seems to be a straightforward and honest man. But, it is the facts that he gave me about the ABSMs themselves that go farther than anything else to convince me of the validity of the whole thing—unless, of course, as I have also said above, he read all of these elsewhere.
His descriptions of the creatures are considerably detailed. What is more, the sexual and age differences he describes are very reasonable, and do not in any way insult such variations as found among men or other primates. Of the adult male, he says that he was about eight feet tall, barrel-chested, with powerful shoulders and a very pronounced and large "hump" on his back, causing his head to be carried somewhat forward. This is exactly in accord with the posture of some sub-hominids as deducted from the angle at which the condyles are set to the back of the skull. The biceps were said to be enormous but to taper to the inside of the elbow; the forearm to be disproportionately (to a human) long but well proportioned. The hands were wide but the palm long and curved permanently into "a kind of a scoop"; the fingers short, and the nails flat, broad, and "shaped like chisels." Mr. Ostman mentioned to me quite casually that they were copper-colored. This is most significant, as we shall see later (Chapter 14) . He estimated the neck to be about thirty inches around. The whole body was covered in hair, somewhat longer on the head; shorter but thicker in other parts. It covered his ears. Only the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, which had pronounced pads, were naked and a dirty dark gray in color. The "top" (i.e. bridge) of the nose and eyelids alone were naked. The big male's canine teeth were longer than the others but not sufficiently so to be called tusks.
The adult female he described as being over seven feet tall and weighing between 500 and 600 pounds. He said that she could have been anywhere between forty and seventy years old, using humans as a criterion; but, she was apparently very ugly, with an enormously wide pelvis that caused her to walk like a goose. She had long, large, and pendent breasts.
The young male spent the most time near Ostman and was thus most closely observed. Ostman says that he could have been anywhere from eleven to eighteen years of age, but was already seven feet tall and weighed about 300 pounds. His chest would have measured between fifty and fifty-five inches around and his waist some twenty-six to thirty-eight inches:
and don't forget that Mr. Ostman was a lumberman and better at estimating the girth of things (like trees) than the average person. He had wide jaws and a narrow, sloping forehead. The back of his head, as in all of them, apparently rose some four or five inches above the brow-line, and was pointed. Mr. Ostman went to great pains to explain this, and to get the shape just right, as shown in the sketch that I made under his direction (see Fig. 41) The head-hair was about six inches long; that on the body shorter but much thicker in some areas.
The young female was very shy; she did not approach Ostman closely but kept peeking at him from behind the bushes. He could not estimate her age, but remarks that she was without any visible breast development and was, in fact, quite flat-chested. Like her mother, she had a very pronounced up-curled bang across her brow-ridges. This was continuous from temple to temple. Curiously, no amount of questioning would prompt Mr. Ostman to elaborate any further on this individual, which may in part be psychological since it seems to be his conviction that he had been kidnaped as a potential suitor for her, and I think he has a sort of subconscious and rather touching modesty about her shyness. Mr. Ostman maintains a delightful old-world delicacy about the proprieties and neatly turned aside some purely biological questions with such noncommittal phrases as "I wouldn't know about that." But he did tell us of a few most interesting observations on the behavior of the group.
First and foremost was this gibbering in which they indulged. As his story progresses, it becomes quite clear that he assumed in the end that they were actually communicating intelligently, since they made a variety of noises befitting special situations and seemed to discuss the objects they carried one to the other. There was also the delightful expression "ook" that the young male made on one occasion. Then, almost equally significant, was the fact that the old female and the young male went regularly to gather vegetable foods; the former going out of the gap and returning with armsful of
branches, including fresh spruce and hemlock tips, grasses, and ferns. These, he told me, she washed and stacked up. She also brought quantities of a certain kind of "ground nut" of a kind that Mr. Ostman had often seen in abundance on Vancouver Island. (Shades of Mike King!) Inquiry elicited the fact that this is a root-nodule of a herbaceous plant related to the Hemlock of Europe (not the tree called by that name in this continent), one form of which grows such nutlike growths that are edible and, in fact, delicious. The young male used also to go every day and return with bundles of a kind of grass with a "sweet root."
Mr. Ostman stressed the incredible climbing ability of the male youngster and remarked on the form of his and his father's feet as having an enormous big toe. At one point he states that, in order to get a purchase in climbing, all he would need would be to find a resting place for this toe alone.
One of Mr. Ostman's observations is very peculiar, and is one which can be taken either as evidence that the whole thing is a wild fabrication or as glowing testimony to the recorder's veracity and powers of observation. It brings up some very fundamental matters with regard to the history of culture among early hominids—if it proves to be true, that is. This was that, according to Mr. Ostman, the four creatures slept and lived for the most part under a rock-ledge like the rock-shelters known to have been favored by many Stone Age men. In this, which was some ten feet deep and thirty feet wide, he says that they had regular beds of branches, moss, and dry grass, and that they had coverlets of woven strips of bark, forming great flattened bags, and stuffed with dry grasses and moss. However, I could not elicit from Mr. Ostman any facts as to whether he visited the shelter and examined these objects or, if not, how he knew so much about their construction and composition. This worried, and still worries, me.
Should such items have existed, combined with the primitive speech, the collection of food and its washing, we are faced with a pretty problem. Are we to suppose that, prior to
the use of bone and horn tools (such as the little very primitive Australopithecines of South Africa are now thought to have used) and the discovery and control of fire, hominids (man or otherwise) went through a prior period of food-gathering but still knew weaving? This would seem not to be unreasonable or illogical, though even crude weaving calls for considerable dexterity. Be it noted at the same time that Orangs, Chimps, and Gorillas tie true knots when making their sleeping platforms on occasion, while some Gorillas do so regularly. Weaving in its most primitive form, moreover, is little further advanced than excessive knot-tying; besides, some birds do the most incredibly accurate jobs of weaving, even with different colored wools, on a piece of small-mesh wire. Also, animals, and particularly the primates, definitely do communicate. (I may say that even I can speak fairly good Rhesus!)
Thus, there is nothing really outrageous about Mr. Ostman's statements about these creatures nor about the whole concept of some of the Sasquatches (Neo-Giants, as we shall eventually come to call them) being food-collectors, with a primitive speech but lacking fire, clothes, and tools. And, it is even more interesting to note that Mr. Ostman states clearly that he never saw them bring to their camp, or eat, any animal food. The most primitive sub-sub-hominids were probably, like their close congeners (the apes), fruit- and leaf-eaters. Only when some of them were forced out onto the savannahs, scrublands, and deserts did they have to take up animal-hunting and become partially or wholly carnivorous, as, apparently, did the Australopithecines of South Africa. If the Great Apes, still living today, have continued to be pure vegetarians, there is no reason why some of the most primitive Hominids could not also have so continued to be. This gives us a somewhat new concept of our own background and of the possibilities for ABSMs.
This brings up several questions that, if it were possible, ought to be discussed concurrently with any straight reportage on the ABSMs themselves. The details of a report on any such
alleged creature cannot be evaluated properly without prior knowledge or exposition of certain aspects, on the one hand, of vegatology and, on the other, of palaeanthropology, both physical and cultural. Our whole outlook on the last of these fields has undergone a complete revolution in the past two decades. The old idea was that sub-Hominids had bent knees, a stooped gait, ape-like faces and teeth and tiny brains, and no "culture" at all, in that they had no speech, no fire, no tools. Then, it was also previously believed, sub-Men came along that stood more upright and were bigger-brained and less apelike about the muzzle. These creatures were assumed to have invented tools by bashing at things with stones, which often cracked, giving them cutting edges. The usual idea was that they were hunters and lived in caves, and progressed steadily toward Man, though taking an inordinately long time about it. Finally, some of them developed such big brains and pushed-in faces that they became true Men.
Meantime, their tools got better and better, finer made, and more diversified. Also, the great growth in certain parts of their brains made cogent speech possible. Then, the theory went, they somehow got on to fire and its uses as opposed to its dangers, developed "society," developed the art of pottery, and finally realized that from tiny seeds tall grasses grow, so that they gave up hunting and settled down to agriculture. And, in time, came the wheel, writing, money, and all the other improvements that inevitably contributed to their downfall. Be that as it may, the development of Hominid mentality, as opposed to mere brain capacity and structure, was not much considered, being assumed simply to have advanced along with his gray matter, since, it was then believed, you could not be expected to assess the psychology of any extinct creature and especially one with a brain no bigger than an ape's.
The first real break through this massive theoretical structure was really made by a rather dubious antiquarian named . Mr. Dawson, who foisted upon science not only the now infamous Piltdown cranium, teeth, and mandible, but also a
fraudulent tool that he himself appears to have made from a semi-fossilized bone of some elephantine. Piltdown Man never did look quite right but was fully accepted by physical anthropologists as a very early and primitive man-thing but with a very large brain. Thus, his grotesque tool was also accepted. Then, there was also some suspicion that tools had been found in the same strata in which Dr. DuBois found his genuine "Apeman" in Java, but the matter was rather hurriedly suppressed. Acceptance of tools along with sub-Humans finally came with the diggings in north China that produced Pekin Man. This was rather a rude shock, but did not grossly disturb the neat historical sequence then believed in. It simply meant moving tool-making back some way. The real shocker came with Dr. Raymond Dart's discovery of enormous quantities of bone and tooth tools most obviously and carefully worked, which had to have been made by none other than the little Australopithecines that were at first classed as Apes, and only grudgingly accepted as most primitive sub-Men after the discovery that they walked erect. Worse still, there was a strong plea made for acceptance of the fact that they used fire as well. It then was decided (by most, but not all, anthropologists) that the Hominids went through what is called an odontokeratic tool-making phase before they came to use stones.
This picture has now been considerably muddied by Dr. Leakey's discoveries of early Chellean Man in East Africa, an appalling-looking chap with positively immense brow ridges, but who made splendid hand-axes of stone. Nevertheless, it is only now slowly dawning on anthropologists that the first tools were more probably sticks, and otherwise wooden; for the earliest Hominids were definitely vegetarians and forest dwellers. The bone-tooth toolmakers were carnivorous. The use of wood implies pulling twigs and branches from trees and the discovery of the many uses of strips of bark. From this to primitive weaving is but a step. Thus, it is quite probable that the earliest Hominids were vegetable gatherers, using sticks and possibly the crudest weaving, and that they so
equipped themselves long before they got around to breaking stones, using fire, or even developing a true language. It is therefore most interesting to note, as our story continues, that the only tools ever reported in use by ABSMs have been sticks.