Sasquatch vs. Werewolf, That Old Rivalry

Ozzy on any given day in the 1980s. (Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty)

If you clicked on this link hoping to vote for your favorite monster in a geeky Internet death match, then you're out of luck. As it turns out, Charles Darwin decided the outcome on this fight more than a century ago.

See, up until Darwin's theory of natural selection gained sufficient ground, belief in werewolves or other wolf/man hybrids was widespread. Look up werewolves in your favorite mythical creature tome and you'll find at least a couple dozen variants from around the world, from Anjing Ajak of Indonesia to the Zmag Ognjeni Vuk of Bosnia and Serbia.

Then Darwin came along and effectively cut any believable ties between humans and wolves. Sure, the stories continued to be a lot of fun, but science laughed at the notion. Yet Darwin also delivered a heaping helping of fresh terror into the minds of millions by providing an evolutionary link between civilized, God-fearing humans and the savage, naked apes of the wild.

Tales of Yeti, Sasquatch, skunk apes and Big Foot soon popped up around the world, usurping the werewolf's role in representing our genetic link to a brutal, uncontrollable nature. Remember, that's the real role monsters play: They embody ideas, fears and abstractions about the human condition. In fact, the word "monstrosity" originates from the term "monstrare," which meant to show or illustrate a point. Behold the ape-man, your fears of the inner beast and an evolutionary past given hulking shape.

According to a cool story on Science Daily, Brian Regal, assistant professor of the history of science at New Jersey's Kean University, plans to present his thesis on this battle later this month. Thanks to part-time vampire slayer Josh Clark for pointing this article out to me!

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About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.