Amazing Places

Is Sasquatch Real? Here Are Three Reasons to Say "Maybe."

We don't believe in the Loch Ness monster. Aliens are probably out there somewhere, but we don't think they've been to Earth. But there's one mythological monster that just pushes all our buttons: sasquatch. If you ask us, it's the most likely of all of the cryptids to actually exist (though that frankly isn't saying much). Here's the case for — and against — the existence of Bigfoot.

A Few Good Bigfoots

Let's not beat around the bush about this: there is for all intents and purposes no hard evidence of sasquatch. But there's plenty of circumstantial evidence and even more eyewitness accounts. Here are the three sasquatch stories that made us sit up and say, "Hmm..."

  • The Patterson-Gimlin tape. This is it. The gold standard of Bigfoot footage. We guarantee you've seen it. Though sasquatch is notoriously blurry on camera, the figure here is anything but. Sure, it could be a costume, but remember: this was shot by a couple of amateurs around the same time that "Planet of the Apes" was the pinnacle of special primate effects. To be fair, there have been a few people who have claimed to have faked the footage — but each of them claims to be the person in the monkey suit. Maybe it's the hoax that's the real fake.

  • Ancient oral traditions. Sure, modern people claim to see Bigfoot all the time — but modern people will say anything. We're intrigued by the fact that so many Native American cultures make room for a large, hairy wild man in their cosmology. When different cultures all over a continent all have their own word for a big, fuzzy guy who lives in the woods, we're inclined to think there might be something to the story.

  • The prints! How could we forget the prints? Unlike the chupacabra, the moth man, and the jackalope, sasquatches are leaving footprints behind all over the continent. More than 900 sets of footprints have been discovered over the years, and in "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science" (cover blurb by Jane Goodall!) primatologist Jeff Meldrum shows that the most plausible of these prints map onto a bell curve. That means that most of the feet are about 16 inches long, and the further a measurement is from that baseline, the less likely it is to turn up — and that's exactly what you'd expect of a diverse, biological population.

To Kill a Mocking 'Squatch

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. Sasquatch, sadly, is probably not real. The problem is, as compelling as the evidence can seem, it all adds up to nothing that you can actually get your hands on. Here's the case against Bigfoot.

  • The prints! Yeah, they belong on both lists. See, even though there have been a lot of prints found over the years, there have also been a lot of known fakers. Chief among them was the late Ray Wallace, who used big wooden feet for nearly 50 years to become the bane of good-faith Bigfoot hunters everywhere. He certainly wasn't the only faker out there, either. Let's just say that, although tracks might be abundant, they also tend to be very clean and uniform.

  • The fossil record. Some bigfoot enthusiasts point to Gigantopithicus as bigfoot's ancient ancestor, but there's just one problem. It isn't found in the Americas. And neither is any other bipedal primate. If there were a breeding population of Bigfeet out there, it would have left its mark on the fossil record, one way or another.

  • The hard evidence. At the end of the day, this is what it comes down to. Modern researchers know pretty well how to venture into the untamed woodlands and track the animals that live there. But somehow, Bigfoot tracks always seem to turn up for amateur trackers, and never for scientifically minded professionals. It's not as if they're hiding evidence, either — many of them want Bigfoot to be real. The fact that after all these years, we've found no Bigfoot DNA, no fecal matter, no nests, and no "I'm with Bigfoot" T-shirts adds up to one unavoidable conclusion: the big guy just isn't out there. It doesn't hurt to dream, though.

Want to see what a real-life primatologist with an open mind thinks about Bigfoot? Jeff Meldrum's "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science" is a must-read. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Where is Bigfoot?

Written by Reuben Westmaas December 19, 2017

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