The Yeti Researcher, a quarterly journal dedicated to the study of cryptic hominids such as Big Foot and Sasquatch, is a serio-comic riff on academic and amateur scientist journals, by the odd, literate and mostly unclassifiable magazine of the arts called McSweeney's.
The Magazine for the Society for Cryptic Hominid Investigation
The August 2005 issue of Yeti Researcher
, the Magazine of the Society for Cryptic Hominid Investigation (volume 24, number 8), is, quite honestly, a journal I've spent more time reading this quarter than any other. Which is a strange thing for me to admit, because the Yeti Researcher
is a figment of the imaginations of the editors of McSweeney's
, that strange literary performance art of a creative arts magazine. The Yeti Researcher
came as part of Issue 17
, which was not an issue per se but a stack of mail all directed to Sgt. Maria Vasquez... but that's neither here nor there.
After a Letters and News section, the first article in Yeti Researcher
is "Flores Man
and Sumatra's Orang pendek
: New evidence," written by Joshuah Bearman. The author cites several paleoanthropologists including Michael Morwood, Christopher Stringer
and Peter Brown, on the way to building an argument that the recent hominid find at Flores called 'the hobbit' is support for the presence of a long-rumored 'Jungle Yeti' of Sumatra. This article, like the others in the issue, is a mixture of reality and fantasy, although... I'm not sure where the fantasy begins, since the reality of the search for sasquatch is unfamiliar to me.
Big Foot Taxonomy and a Luckless Band of Adventurers
Other articles include one on the Ragman of Palmdale, a suburban sasquatch in southern California; a forum on the taxonomic place of the various big foot species, including a side bar on Gigantopithecus citing Russell Ciochon. There's an opinion piece on the 'Kill Controversy'--whether one should kill or attempt to communicate with sasquatch. A historical article discusses American president Teddy Roosevelt's fixation with the Wendigo tales. A catalog of yeti legends from Chinese history is provided in 'A Brief Bestiary of Chinese Hill Monsters'. 'The Tengpoche Fragment' details the final days of a luckless band of college boy adventurers. There is also a book review of world class mountain climber Reinhold Messner
's new book My Quest for the Yeti
; and a do-it-yourself article describes how to record forest sounds for under $100.
Advertisements sprinkled appropriately throughout the journal include snowshoes, binoculars and high-powered rifles, as well as a drawing to win oil rights and a notice about the upcoming (fictional) American Hominology Association meetings.
We're talking serious fun here. Well, for paleo geeks, anyway.
McSweeney's and Paleoanthropology
The journal Yeti Researcher is peculiar, and curious, and odd; I don't think those words are necessarily synonyms and they all seem necessary to try to summarize such a tasty extended joke for academic and amateur researchers of hominids. The rest of Issue 17 of McSweeney's includes letters and postcards for Ms. Vasquez, which I admit I haven't read through yet, but look to be further information on who she is and what her interests are.
If you've never seen McSweeney's, the arts magazine is always a literary adventure, strange and interesting, curious and funny but one of those things you simply can't put down or put away from your mind. Thank god it's only quarterly.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy