Posted by: Ticktock | May 6, 2009

Monsters, Myths, and Legends: Bigfoot!

BIGFOOT (Yeti)

Perhaps one of the best known myths, the Bigfoot has been described as a giant hairy ape that walks upright like a man and lives in the forests or mountains.

SKEPTIC’S LESSON

Animals like Bigfoot are highly unlikely to exist because anything that big would require a large breeding population to perpetuate the species, and if there were large breeding populations, we wouldn’t see isolated sightings in disparate areas of the globe.

Several indigenous populations had legends of giant wild men. These legends seem like a universal way for hunter gatherers to humanize their fears, such as we do today with ghosts and aliens. Bigfoot fits into the context of their arboreal reality.sasquatchmed.jpg

Bigfoot believers have not been able to produce one body, one hair, or one legitimate photograph. The only evidence we have are singular examples of footprints that are easy to hoax, and a costume frozen in a block of ice.

A likely explanation for Bigfoot and Yeti sightings are bears with the ability to walk upright. It should be no surprise that these types of bear are found in the pacific northwest and the Himalayas, places where people have claimed to have seen apelike humanoids.

Sir Edmund Hilary reported seeing large “yeti” footprints, but later was careful to dismiss the yeti as improbable. Any giant footprints that he saw were likely normal footprints that had melted. The original “bigfoot” prints found by Ray Wallace, were made by using large sandals imprinted with carved feet on the bottom. Ray Wallace repeatedly faked evidence because he was a bit of a prankster, and he wanted to scare away kids who had been vandalizing his construction area. His son revealed the hoax after Ray’s death.

File:Smalfut.jpgThe Bigfoot video by Patterson-Grimlin is considered high quality evidence for Bigfoot, which is a shame because it seems obvious, given the available evidence, that it’s a man in an ape costume. This film came out at a time when home video cameras were becoming more ubiquitous. The public would have been extremely gullible to any evidence captured on video. The damning evidence that this video was a hoax is that it was made by someone producing a Bigfoot documentary. It’s unlikely that someone deliberately looking for a previously unknown creature would happen to find it himself. The Patterson-Grimlin video was made one year before Planet of the Apes, and the costume designer for that movie has been strongly implicated in the hoax.

CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

Sightings of Bigfoot occurred in a Neanderthal aware culture. Hominid fossils were being discovered left and right, and people were trying to understand what it would mean to have apelike ancestors. It’s not a far jump to imagine these fossilized ancestors as extant hominid cousins. We personify and fear the things we don’t completely understand.

The sightings of Bigfoot started at a time when our cities were widening into suburbs, our forested areas were being chopped down and replaced with shopping malls. We were also exploring mountains and terrain that were previously unexplored, such as the Himalayas. This interaction between modern society and the wilderness left us imagining a race of wild men holding dominion over the woods.

TRUE ANIMALS

Gigantopithecus – an extinct hominid that looked a lot like the description of Bigfoot, except that it wasn’t bipedal very much. It was 2-3 times heavier than a gorilla.

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b7/Gigantopithecus.jpg/450px-Gigantopithecus.jpg

Yeti Crab – kiwa hirsuta – A Pacific crustacean with silky blond setae fur. It was discovered only four years ago. It’s hairy pincers contain filamentous bacteria, which are thought to detoxify poisonous minerals emitted from deep sea vents. Another possible use for the fir may be to navigate in the dark; the crab is thought to be blind.


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Responses

  1. Before you end up sticking your foot in your mouth,you might want to contact and interview one of our local ghost busters/cryptozoology researchers from Ohio Center for Paranormal Research at http://www.ocfpr.com/ Since I work with electronics used in environment monitoring I was thinking I could give you a hand when questioning them about the equipment used, but no. I checked out their website and it seems everything they use you can find at your local Walmart. Although, you might want to ask them about the custom built LCD Shutter Glasses, which they claim will give you vision similar to cats. Cats as we all know, can see ghosts.

  2. One statement in this post I would take exception to is the idea that the famous Bigfoot video is “obviously a man in an ape costume.” While I’m not going to sit here and say there’s a population of great apes eating twigs and berries in the Pacific Northwest, and while it’s certainly possible that it’s a man in a costume, there are still several relatively significant problems with just dismissing the evidence out of hand as an obvious forgery. Specifically, if it’s a costume it’s one hell of a good one, with a lot of attention paid to detail, and the apparent gait of the subject has remained a pesky problem for dismissing the video in just that way.

    Again, I’m not saying that it’s a giant ape. I’m just saying we should be careful not to dismiss things out of hand too quickly.

    • I fixed the statement, so that it’s more carefully worded. You’re right that it’s a costume good enough to fool people for decades, but the quality of the video given the distance of the “bigfoot” from the camera, makes it hard to notice anything but a striding upright mass of fur.


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