It's time to tell the story of famous paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh and his stone sasquatch head. Join me for one of the weirdest cryptozoological tales ever told. ImageImage
From August to December of 1871, Marsh (3rd from left in this photo) led an expedition of Yale students to Oregon. They traveled to the area of what is now John Day Fossil Beds National Monument to look for Miocene mammal fossils. Image
Somewhere near the John Day River, Marsh found a basalt pebble with a grinning, ape-like face carved into one side. Unfortunately, the exact locality and date of discovery were not recorded. ImageImage
Marsh never described this artifact and only mentioned it once in a talk at an AAAS meeting on August 30, 1877. He briefly speculated that it was created by a lost civilization "much superior to the Indians".
In 1891, anthropologist James Terry self-published a booklet describing Marsh's artifact and two similar ape heads found in the same region of Oregon. ImageImage
Due to ape-like features of these stones, Terry hypothesized that they could have been carved by a migratory people who had seen monkeys in their homelands. Alternatively, he suggested that monkeys may have once inhabited Oregon.
The ape heads were largely overlooked for the next 90 years, until anthropologist Roderick Sprague published a paper reviewing them in 1980. He described several additional specimens that had been found in Oregon and Washington. ImageImage
Sprague noted the resemblance of the features of these heads to those commonly reported in sasquatch sightings, like the protruding brows and sagittal crests. As far as I know, he was the first to propose a cryptozoological origin for them. Image
Surprisingly, despite the connection to O.C. Marsh these artifacts have remained obscure in cryptozoology circles. I've never seen them discussed in the literature after Sprague's paper and their online presence is virtually nonexistent.
Even though I don't agree with the sasquatch explanation, the ape heads are still fascinating and I would love to see them properly restudied. Anthropologists and cryptozoologists alike should be more aware of these intriguing artifacts and their history.

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