The first photographed tracks left by what is believed by some to be a Yeti, taken in 1951 by British explorer Eric Earle Shipton in the Himalayas.REX FEATURES/AP IMAGES

For decades, a dedicated group of men and women have vowed to drag into the light their mysterious quarry, Bigfoot, a mysterious beast that has inspired books, movies and research. This story is excerpted from Newsweek Special Edition's Bigfoot, The Science, Sightings and Search for America's Elusive Legend.

In the annals of mankind's common history, stories of a large apelike humanoid consistently crop up, some more believable than others. Here's a breakdown of the monikers used to label creatures people have described seeing for centuries.

The term "Sasquatch" has become the most universally respected name for the enigmatic primate/person hybrid. Derived from the Halkomelem dialectal word "Sésquac," meaning "wild man," the word was first used by the Coast Salish peoples. These indigenous peoples inhabited the Fraser Valley in the Pacific Northwest and parts of Vancouver Island, British Columbia—two regions that have yielded more recorded Sasquatch sightings than anywhere else.

Perhaps the most common shorthand for Sasquatch, the term "Bigfoot" first came about in 1958. Gerald Crew, a Bluff Creek local in Del Norte County, California, was featured in the Humboldt Times for the cast he made of large footprints found near his bulldozer. Fellow Bluff Creek locals began referring to the mysterious maker of the tracks as "Big Foot," which Humboldt Times editor Andrew Genzoli decided to stylize as "Bigfoot." The term has earned considerable recognition since then, particularly in its use by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, one of the most widely respected groups of Bigfooters.

Though commonly associated with Sasquatch, the Yeti is an entirely different entity. This creature's origin can be traced back to pre-Buddhist Eastern civilizations, particularly in the Himalayan Mountain region. Unlike the Sasquatch, who is most frequently spotted in warm or mild climates, the Yeti is believed to be an Arctic creature that is usually described as resembling a bear more than an ape. Some early indigenous people of the Himalayas would worship what became known as the Yeti, calling it the "Glacier Being."

Abominable Snowman
The term "Abominable Snowman" was first coined in 1921 by Henry Newman, a contributor to the Indian English-language newspaper The Statesman. Newman interviewed participants in the British Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition who encountered large footprints that their guides declared were left by what they called "Metoh-Kangmi." While "kangmi" does translate to "snowman," "metoh" actually translates to "man-bear." In writing his piece, Newman mistranslated the term to "filthy," which he then swapped out for "abominable." One and the same with the Yeti, the Abominable Snowman is generally regarded as an illusory being of the far-Eastern Hemisphere and not interchangeable with Sasquatch.

This article is excerpted from a NewsweekSpecial Edition, Bigfoot: The Science, Sightings and Search for America's Elusive Legend.

Jason Merritt, Getty Images