BFRO / What's New - America and Canada / Archives / 03-29-2007 / Anthropomorphism

Topie: Anthropomorphism
November 5th, 2006 12:23 PM
vrartist Hi all,

Since this is my first response post, I'll re-introduce myself here.I am 55 and my

wife posts here as "shadowbuck". I am an artist/ and my

interests both professionally and privately are in the realm of "unexplained

mysteries." The more unsolvable the mystery the more I am interested in it. I do book

cover art, illustration, dvd authoring and more in this field. I don't state this as

an advertisement, but to inform you "where I come from" so to speak.

I am interested in this board because I am interested in bigfoot. I have had what I

would term "near encounters" with what appeared unusual enough to be classsified as

bigfoot-like encounters (more later). I am more interested in bigfoot because he/she

appears to be very "human-like" and therefore extremely fascinating ... what do they

think? How do they communicate/ What is their social structure? etc etc all the

questions you all love to ask here.

That said, i'd like to start a thread on so-called "anthropomorphism".

"Anthropomorphism" for those who may be just starting with this post, is the

attribution of human characteristics and qualities to non-human beings. I think it's important to note that

this definition does not say "attribution of human characteristics and qualities to

animals". It does say "non-human beings". This is important because some of us are

using "animal" in relation to "anthropomorphism" and if that is the case there is

more than one definition of an "animal".

The scientific definition is as follows: 1 : any of a kingdom (Animalia) of living

things including many-celled organisms and often many of the single-celled ones (as

protozoans) that typically differ from plants in having cells without cellulose

walls, in lacking chlorophyll and the capacity for photosynthesis, in requiring more

complex food materials (as proteins), in being organized to a greater degree of

complexity, and in having the capacity for spontaneous movement and rapid motor

responses to stimulation. In this definition it is CRTICALLY important to realize

that we humans are "animals" in the strictest sientific definition of the word.

The cultural definition is as follows: "one of the lower animals as distinguished

from human beings". This definition makes it very clear that when someone says one is

using "anthopomorphism" in attributing "human" charactoristics etc to bigfoot and

they are assuming bigfoot is an "animal" ... one is using the cultural definition of

an "animal" and not the strictest scientific definition of an "animal".

The scientific definition of a "human" is: a bipedal primate mammal (Homo sapiens).

While bigfoot appears to be a "bipedal primate", are they Homo Sapiens"?

One scientific definition of "Homo Sapiens" is: "Homo sapiens" is distinguished from

earlier hominin species by characteristics and habits such as bipedal stance and

gait, brain capacity averaging about 1,350 cc, high forehead, small teeth and jaw,

defined chin, construction and use of tools, and ability to use symbols.

Under this definition of "Homo Sapiens" we cannot say with any certainty that bigfoot

"is" or "is not" a Homo Sapien and therefore a human. We can only "think" "believe"

or "speculate" on whether or not bigfoot has for example ..."the ability to use

symbols". From some the sightings I've read here on the BFRO and other extensive

reading ... Grover Krantz etc etc (reading many of us would know here) it appears

that bigfoot does: 1.have a "bipedal stance and gait",(most of the time anyway) 2.

Maybe "a high forehead" ... maybe at least a high crown or peaked head. 3.small teeth

and jaw? maybe hard to tell ... anyone have any more on this? 4.Defined chin? I think

probably ... what do you think? 5. Ability to use tools? ... it appears so from some

sightings such as using a stick to dig for grubs. I personally think this criteria is

a bit "dated" as we know chimps can use a form of typewriter (a "tool"... 4. the

ability to use symbols ... well again we already know chimps can do this (the


So how does this all relate to "anthropomorphism"? ... well it's just this: if you

are saying that human traits atrributed to bigfoot are "anthropomorphic" then you are

speaking "culturally" not using the definition of a human given to us by science.

This is beacuse according to strict scientific definition we humans are "animals".

I'll close with another definition of "man" as an "animal":

MAN, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to

overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of

other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent

rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada.- Ambrose Bierce "Devil's


Regards, Jack
November 5th, 2006 01:11 PM
vrartist I thought I'd add a bit to my own post:

Disclaimer: While this post may sound like a joke, it is not, I am serious.

Sasquatchmorphism: what do you think? Does bigfoot hang around the campfire discussing between themsleves how many traits of ours resemble bigfoot behavior? I would bet they do as we do exhibit quite a bit of bigfoot behaviors that have been obsevered in bigfoot sightings.

I myself have been known to bang sticks on trees "just for the heck of it" so to speak. On quite a few occasions I have been observed walking upright, although like bigfoot not "all the time". sometimes I drop something and crawl around looking for it. (seriously) I would bet this happens to bigfoot also.

Some human males and females when drunk or having fun at the campsite, have been known to emit loud howls and screams. I'd bet bigfoot speculates that this behavior resembles a sasquatch. (although the sasquatch may be more serious and most assuridly they do exhibit more intelligence in their howls)

We use shovels ... I'd bet bigfoot would say "hey that looks just like when we use sticks to get grubs" (in bigfoot language obviously)

... and finally, I bet there is a sasqutach somewhere that vehemently objects to the "comparison of humans to bigfoot" and calls such nonsense "Sasqautchmorphism" (in bigfoot language of course).

So, what do you think? Does bigfoot attribute sasquatch behaviors to humans in a saquatchmorphism sense? I'd bet they do.

Final disclaimer: No disrespect meant to any sasquatch or human is intended or implied in this post.

November 5th, 2006 01:44 PM
trailrider Vrartist - How do you think sasquatch are igniting these camp fires ? or is that too nuts and bolts a question for this thread
November 6th, 2006 07:24 AM
captainkillmore Nice post, I think you share a common viewpoint with many of us here. I havr been trying to decipher my whole situation here. The current local Bigfoot , clan / family / pod / whatever the nomenclature currently being used for the group, do seem to like to get my attention and spook the devil out of me. I think this might just be that I have called to them many times, they have come in answer many times , I wonder if this is just their way of interacting with me, like catching me outside just after sunset putting my dogs out and then snapping a twig or two , then when I noticably seem to be looking in direction where the sound came from , they make a sudden loud sound from another direction. This might be them saying we could have got ya, reminding me who is boss , so on. That would imply ego , the ego of the leading male probably, setting his turf and reminding me he lets me live here , I don't know , but it makes life interesting. I would think they are almost studying me as much as I am them here. The future will tell more, just have to be patient. I do wonder if , when I do move to another home here in next yr, if when I come back to investigate , if they will try the same antics on me. Will male for a great book methinks :D
November 6th, 2006 02:29 PM
Ron Slay Hi,

Vrartist, thanks for your interesting analysis and contribution to this word. You, no doubt, have read our tangential debate in another thread about who was anthropomorphizing what, and how we seemed to be applying this term based upon our varied interpretations of the word, itself, and the subject matter to which it was being applied.

Quoting you,

"I think it's important to note that this definition does not say 'attribution of human characteristics and qualities to
animals'. It does say 'non-human beings'. This is important because some of us are using 'animal' in relation to 'anthropomorphism' and if that is the case there is
more than one definition of an 'animal'."

I read the definition in wikipedia,

"Athropomorphisim is the attribution of human characteristics to non-human beings, objects, natural, or supernatural phenomena."

However, it goes on to state,

"Animals, the forces of nature, and unseen or unknown authors of chance are frequent subjects of anthropomorphosis."

This last quote does seem to be stating that "animals" are anthropomorphized. Or am I mistaken?

I fully understand that the term "animal" requires a refined definition. And, I continue to agree that humans are "animals", in the biological/zoological sense. But, if we were to take this direction more strictly, some may agree that we could render a few of our points moot.

I, personally believe that, of all "things" in this world, other than human (homo sapiens sapiens and other members of the human family), "animals" (the other fauna in this world) tend to be anthropomorphized more often (Some even anthropomorphize our fauna by talking to them.).


Many humans relate to animals in various anthropomorphic ways because they have a consciousness, we stimulate them in various ways (petting, feeding), and their responses are stimuli to humans who, in return, talk to them and try to understand their needs and feelings. I have known animals, from one to the next, to have different dispositions, and are more friendly than others.

We, as humans, tend to attribute many of the actions and characteristics of animals within the context of what humans do and are. I don't necessarily say that this is wrong in a general sense. Some humans are lonely, and with their pets as their only companions from day-to-day, anthropomorphism may become necessary.

I think that a person who believes that their cat is bringing its prey to the house and laying it down on the doorstep, or bringing it to their feet is anthropomorphizing the cat's intentions by thinking that the cat is giving them a gift.

I also think that I am NOT anthropomorphizing some of the behaviors of Sasquatch because I happen to believe that Sasquatch IS a form of human. These behaviors appear motivated by thinking that is deeper - more complex - than the lower animals and are more attributable, in a rudimentary way, to humans. I don't believe that we can anthropomorphize something that may, already, be anthropomorphic.

In our previous discussions, we didn't touch on the many ways some humans anthropomorphize almost everything in their environment (primarily, because it wasn't germaine to the topic). Children tend to do this more often.

I remember, as a 5 year old child at the dinner table, anthropomorphizing my food (a piece of steak) as a writhing, screaming, victim about ready to meet its fate as I forklifted it to the guillotine of my mouth. This was fun to me.

Many young girls, and even some women I know, today, anthropomorphize their stuffed animals, and practically everything inanimate around them has a name, a personality, and a particular demeaner at a certain time of day.

All of these approaches are very valid and understandable.

However, when someone anthropomorphizes their values into what an animal "would be thinking, doing or being" that could place the animal's health or well-being in jeapordy, or it just becomes a misinterpretation of fact, that is the basis for issue and debate.

I am putting together something that I will contribute to the forum that could get us more focused as to what, specifically Sasquatch could be. I hope that you can participate.


November 23rd, 2006 05:09 PM
Jake Levi Interesting thread.

Jack one of the distinctive parts of what makes a particular animal to be a Human is that it belongs to the genus Homo sapiens. Anyone can anthrapromorphisize til the cows come home, but, if it doesnt otherwise make the genus Homo sapiens its not human.

It is all too easy to attribute rationale to animals that we are familiar with and in daily contact with, but thats only on our part. We can see 'human' characteristics in a dogs behavior, but the dog is still thinking as a pack canid and operating with pack dynamics, whatever we think of its actions.

Its much easier to attribute the same actions to a primate, for example a trained chimp. Yet while chimps can 'ape' human behavior in a trained routine, they can also learn behaviors that are clearly ours, yet, in the wild they have their own distinct behaviors.

I think it is very dangerous to attribute human rationales and behaviors to a creature that we havent even identified yet as to who/what it is. This could lead to dangerous and disastrous events, as well as seriously short change the BF own uniqueness.

Ron, interesting post, and I am much in agreement, but, honestly, you were one weird five year old. Apparently it wore off.

November 27th, 2006 10:56 AM
Ron Slay Jake,

I agree. I was one hell of a five year old. :D
Those eating habits wore off pretty fast, especially when I started dating! :p

Your point is well taken in that it is not an identified creature, yet.

So, how can we decide what is to be considered anthropormorphosis if we don't know what it is?

I guess that I am "jumping the gun" when I say that Sasquatch is a form of human. I really just theorize that it is, until I meet one.

It seems, though, that a majority of our members voted in one of our surveys in that direction.

But...who knows?


November 27th, 2006 01:10 PM
captainkillmore Humanlike in appearance but animalistic in actions , that is my humble point of view. ;)
November 27th, 2006 02:48 PM
Tyler H I was of the opinion that anthropomorphism should refer to the assigning of human (homo sapiens sapiens - modern, civilized man) qualities to anything that otherwise might differ from human. I think in the context of this site, it would be safe to say that we can not always assign our emotions, motivations, actions, etc to 'squatch, because that may be anthropomorphizing them more than we can prove is accurate at this point. If indeed they are human, then the mistake may be better described as ascribing qualities to them that may be relevant in our society but are not relevant or accurate in their society/paradigm.
November 27th, 2006 06:24 PM
Jake Levi I sure dont want to attribute to them 'human' characteristics/qualities as there are far too many of those I would like to see vanish from the earth.

Some traits we need to catalog to aid in studies and searches, but the rest its better if we get to know them for who/what they are.

Look back a hundred years on the common perceptions of the Gorilla, and compare that to the reality. Instead of a ravening monster if it is given a chance it is a real gentle giant. Discovery Channel this weekend had a couple very interesting programs on the Gorilla. One fortunately/unfortunately about a rescue center that is raising infants whose mothers were killed for bushmeat. Fortunate that the rescue center is, unfortunate that it is needed.
November 27th, 2006 06:53 PM
tghansen Something else on the gorilla. have any of you seen the story of cocoa (sp) ?
very interesting, also an indicator of the possible intellect of bf. im not sure if im spelling her name right but cocoa the female gorilla should come up on search engines. she "speaks" in sign language....complete sentences. simple sentences but she gets her point across. there is a documentary on her not sure of the name.
November 27th, 2006 08:01 PM
ddandrie There is a great ape trust in DES MOINES Iowa. Living there is a Bonobo named Panbanisha. Acording to newspaper articles she has pulled the fire alarm twice in the last couple months . The last time she did it, lead scientist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh found her sitting next to it with a smile on her face. According to the article bobnobos are one of the most humanlike of the great apes, and have sophisticated language skills. Savage-Rumbaugh said she explained the danger of such mischief and Panbanisha promised not to do it again. Trust officials said they will cover the alarms to prevent a third prank from Panbanisha.
November 27th, 2006 08:18 PM
CKnaub tjhansen, Koko is the spelling(I believe) She has her own specially made computer with images on it to convey thoughts and can communicate using it beside the sighn language. She has been involved in this study since a baby and there is another gorilla named Michael. She has had cats as pets but Michael prefers dogs. Koko and Michael will even call each other names when they are mad at each other. It is fascinating stuff to read.

I too find it interesting because it shows such a level of intelligence and emotion that we don't normally attribute to animals. We can debate whether BF is animal or human but in the meantime I think we can learn from the apes as to what degree of thinking and expressing their feelings they are capable of. It is my belief that BF is no doubt of a much higher intellect and I'd like to think that gorilla behaviour is at least a guide, of sorts, as to some possible interpretation of BF behaviour and capabilities. (a starting point or the low end of a scale?)
November 27th, 2006 08:33 PM
tghansen Thanks Cknuab. i was close, but no banana :) I would be amazed if they weren't
fairly high on the intellegence chart. i hope you get the chance to see the documentary on Koko, truely amazing to watch her using sign language to converse with the people.

Also vey interesting about the Bonobos ddandrie.
November 28th, 2006 10:24 AM
captainkillmore Isn't it true also that the scientists working with Coco wont release her back into the wild for fear she might teach others sign language? I think I read this somewhere once not sure. Not fear of chimp or ape takeover but fear they would end up changing their interactive ways and might become lazier or more violent in some ways?
November 28th, 2006 10:51 AM
Jake Levi No, not true. Koko was born in captivity and doesnt have a clue how to live in the wild, nor can she interact with wild Gorillas. Putting her into the wild now would be as cruel as what pe-a does in turning domestic raised fur animals loose, they all die from not knowing how to survive in the wild. Koko is also an endangered species, no transfer is possible without horrendous paperwork. It'd never get approved. The paperwork is why the Siberian Tiger may become extinct in zoos as well as in the wild as the paperwork to transfer a Siberian from one zoo to another is such that most zoos found it simpler to neuter their Sibes then let them reproduce.

Koko is fascinating, it is she who taught Michael sign language. She had a kitten that died and told her researcher(Patterson, no relation) it was dead. And explained what she meant.

She uses AmSign as a language and converses lucidly in it including 3rd party references which many skeptics insist is the test of using language. Ex " The man in the 2nd row and the 3rd from the left is someone that I know." I think this is a silly test, my dog can do it. Just doesnt use words.

November 28th, 2006 02:43 PM
Ron Slay OK, I promise. at least, not to


Koko, Panbanisha, Michael, and Washaw

if you agree not to


Garfield, Heathcliff, Odie, and Otto. ;) :) :p :D


November 29th, 2006 05:50 PM
Jake Levi you forgot sloopy.

doing the red baron.
November 30th, 2006 12:26 PM
Ron Slay Alright, Jake....

I will see your Snoppy with a Tige (less Buster)


SSSSuffering SSSuccotash...

I will up you with a

SSSylvester P. PPPussycat!!!

:D :D :D


December 1st, 2006 07:04 AM
Jake Levi

Pogo & friends. :D
December 1st, 2006 08:28 AM
Ron Slay Sandy (less Annie). :D :D
December 1st, 2006 11:00 AM
Jake Levi I'll see your Sandy,

and raise you Gus Gus and menage from Cindyrella,

and raise the ante with the Lion King & court. :cool: