“I got all of the casts in the United States,’ Thomas Morgan says, pointing to three plaster casts of giant sized foot prints that prominently hang on display in his bedroom. “So when I’d go through customs in the airport, the custom inspectors would say ‘Why do you have casts of giant feet in your bags?’ I’d explain that they belonged to Bigfoot. They’d go ‘Okay’ and let me go through.”
While some people may be skeptical of the existence of the legendary Bigfoot, more formally known as the Sasquatch, to Thomas Morgan the existence of the creature is very real. Although only sixteen years old, the Lakefield teen has become one of the rising stars in the world of cryptozoology. Via his on-line maps and web-sites he has gained the attention of experts in the field and scholars of the subject and has had him invited to sit on panels at cryptid-conventions. With a photographic mind for legendary creatures, sea monsters, rare species and unsolved mysteries throughout the world, Thomas can talk about nearly every creature imaginable, but he admits that Bigfoot is his favorite.
“I always knew about Bigfoot,” Thomas tells me. “When I was really young there was an episode of the Backyardagains that was about Bigfoot. There was another episode about a yeti, and one about an Am Fear Liath Mor, which is something like a Scottish Bigfoot, only bigger.”
“What really kicked it off was a book I read from an English cryptozoologist named Karl Shucker, who even more importantly is an actual zoologist as well, called The Unexplained,” Thomas continues. “It was the first book I ever read about these topics which were actually scientific. I got it at a Scholastic book fair. I also like other unexplained phenomena, but I try to keep it as scientific and realistic as possible. I really don’t like it when people lump Bigfoot together with other unexplained things like ghosts or UFOs.”
Earlier this year Thomas began a massive project mapping out the locations and sightings of various legendary creatures, unexplained mysteries and other oddities which has gained him over a thousand followers via twitter. Now housed on his new website, the map project pinpoints sightings of Sasquatch throughout the Americas, along with every other unknown creature possible as well as hundreds of unexplained mysteries and phenomena.
“I’m autistic, so I like to catalogue things and sort things and make large lists of things,” Thomas says of this various cryptozoologist projects. “The Sasquatch as a genus, based on its appearance, is native to Canada, the United States, Siberia and similar things in Mexico and Guatemala and into South America and Chile.”
But while most people think of the Sasquatch as being native to the North American North West, Thomas says that sightings through Canada are widespread, and they have been said to exist much closer to home than we might think. “There is Bigfoot sightings in every province of Canada except Prince Edward Island and Nunavut,” Thomas tells. “I assume it’s because there is not enough tree cover, or people to see them, in Nunavut. But if you look at population density maps of larger countries which have areas that are undeveloped and remote, there is more tree cover in Canada than there is in the Congo Jungle.”
So where in Ontario might someone run into a Sasquatch? “Mostly in Western Ontario, or the Algonquin Park area,” says Thomas. “But I’ve met people in Curve Lake who have seen Bigfoot multiple times. There are actually petroglyphs of Bigfoot in Curve Lake. It’s not called Bigfoot. Indigenous people call it Sabe.”
We are all familiar with the idea of the Sasquatch as a massive hairy figure, such as the one famously caught on film by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin in 1967, who is lovingly known as ‘Patty’ to Sasquatch enthusiasts. More animal than human, but more human than beast, just what could a Sasquatch be? “I think the fact that Bigfoot looks so human like in the fact that it has similar body proportions and stand upright has made people ask if it’s human or ape,” Thomas says. “I don’t think it’s any of those. I think it’s an unclassified primate. Besides, people are apes so that doesn’t mean anything.
“Its anatomy and behavior is very consistent to that of an ape,” Thomas continues. “The fact that it’s bipedal and it’s in North America means that it’s not very different from other apes. We already know known primates have done wood knocking, they make nests, they bluff charge, they do all sorts of stuff and Bigfoot is consistent to that.”
With his mother Wendy as his companion on his adventures, Thomas has attended a number of cryptozoology conferences and conventions, has consulted and corresponded with leading experts in the field as well as has gone ‘squatching,’ which is the act of going into the wilderness looking for Sasquatch evidence, throughout both Canada and the US. With his likeable nature, subtle sense of humor and massive body of knowledge, Thomas has become a highly respected member of the cryptozoology community himself. But despite being a notable member of the cryptozoology sub-culture, he is always impressed by the stories told by normal people not connected to the community of sightings.
“When we were in Washington State, we were with Tom Sewid, a documentary filmmaker and Indigenous Sasquatch researcher who runs Wild Woman Productions, and he was wearing a shirt with their logo which is of Bigfoot,” Thomas says. “We were at an Applebee’s and the waitress saw Tom’s shirt and said ‘So you do Bigfoot stuff?’ Tom said ‘Yes we do’ and she said ‘My dad is a police officer in Montana and he saw one a few years ago.’ She was so nonchalant about it. They clearly talk about Bigfoot like it’s a rare animal. People are very casual about it in the Pacific North West.”
While I have a strong interest in Sasquatch, as do most people who grew up in the 1970’s, I’ll admit that I’ve always been a bit more knowledgeable of the Yeti, better known as the Abominable Snowman, which wanders the mountain ranger of Nepal and Tibet. Not only is Thomas knowledgeable in that subject as well, he also owns a smaller sized cast of a yeti foot print.
“A lot of cryptozoologists, like Loren Coleman, have classified the yetis, or unknown wild men, as different kinds of creatures,” Thomas tells me. “There is the meh-teh, which are quite apelike and are five and a half to six and a half feet tall. It has two big divergent toes. It’s interesting because humans have no divergent toes, and gorillas have two. I assume it evolved like that for climbing.
“But with the yeti people put a lot of different cryptids together,” he continues.” First there is the meh-teh, which means ‘snowman.’ When most people think of the yeti they think of what the Sherpas and the Nepali call the dzu-the. There are so many different names for the yeti.”
While a good portion of society scoffs the idea of the yeti or the Sasquatch, Thomas points out that many animals that we take for granted as being real were once thought to be nothing more than legends at one time as well. “Mountain gorillas were dismissed as hairy ape men from Pygmy folklore until they were formally discovered in 1902,” Thomas points out. “Komodo dragons were discovered in 1916. Pandas weren’t seen by Europeans until about a hundred years ago and the platypus was thought to be a hoax. Most recently there was a species of mouse lemur that was described really vaguely in some local indigenous lore that was discovered just a few weeks ago.”
But while new species are frequently taken off the cryptid-list, one of the reasons that we rarely hear of it is because most of the time the creatures are fairly normal in nature. “Most cryptids that are discovered aren’t really very fantastic,” Thomas admits. “Usually they are like a butterfly that is some weird color not seen before, or a salamander that is green instead of blue.”
While Thomas has a strong belief in the existence of creatures such as Sasquatch and yetis, he is quick to dismiss the existence of other fantastic creatures such as the Moth Man of West Virginia, the Jersey Devil or aliens from outer space. I ask him how he decides what is real or not, and he pulls up a cryptid authenticity index which he created himself. In judging the existence of a creature Thomas says that you should run it through the following criteria:
- Are there more than ten reliable sightings?
- Is there enough space to hide?
- Does it have any studied or physical evidence?
- Does it have any video or photo evidence?
- Is there any indigenous or ancient folklore associated with it?
- Is there any known living animal or animal resembling its fossil record in the area?
- Is there more than one social, cultural or occupational group reporting it?
- Are there more than a handful of sources with no circular reporting?
“The Moth Man only meet one of the eight criteria,” Thomas says, “But Bigfoot falls under seven.’
A brilliant young man, I could easily talk for hours with Thomas. During our visit we continued to talk about unsolved mysteries, lost films, sea monsters, taxidermy hoaxes and all types of fantastic and unusual subjects. Thomas has so much knowledge to share that one article can’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the subjects he knows about. It’d take an entire book.
But as he continues to study and share his knowledge of legendary beasts, he still hasn’t come face to face with a Sasquatch. “If I saw a Sasquatch I would be very surprised and I think my heart would sink,” says Thomas. “I think I’d cry in happiness. If I saw it in a car as it was going by there would be no chance I’d see it again, but if I just woke up and it was sitting outside my window and just chilling on a stump, I think I’d go out very cautiously and sit with it.”
Visit Thomas’ web-site and see his cryptozoology maps and projects at https://www.superbugtom.com and follow him on Twitter at @superbugtom.
PHOTO GALLERY BY SAMANTHA MOSS