The pseudoscientific business of belief in undescribed hominids wandering the wilder places of our planet marches on like a yeti across an alpine snowfield. I found this Barry Gibb-resembling bigfoot at Pike’s Peak in Colorado last summer, and it was one of dozens of bigfoot-themed items celebrated and for sale in the gift shops. The Bigfoot Field Researcher’s Organization has five scheduled field trips in 2018, with individual registrants paying $300–$500 a pop. Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot has insulted our collective intelligence through at least 11 seasons and 89 episodes and, without a single bigfoot ever having been “found”, sponsors still pay for it to air. Bigfoot remains big business.
How to rectify that, though, with the complete lack of the hairy namesake?
Bigfoots can’t be reliably photographed, evidently, and they’re so rare that it’s unlikely to ever find a dead one – at least according to arguments from proponents. But bigfoots, yetis, and similar mythical beasts leave behind traces in the form of their footprints. Those are really easily to fabricate, however, so even better would be hairs, bits of bone, etc. from which experts could extract DNA and determine what the heck these things really are.
Photo of a footprint I found in the woods last summer that dwarfs my size 11 boot. It’s big, in some squatchy habitat, and it even shows the “mid-tarsal pressure ridge” of a flexible foot that some scientists like to say is diagnostic evidence of a real bigfoot. (And I made this print myself in < 60 seconds.)
So what happened when the best physical evidence was subjected to genetic analysis by real-deal scientists? This:
Sykes et al. 2014
Thirty-seven samples of most robust provenance from the US, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sumatra, and Russia were analyzed, and all were confirmed 100% NOT bigfoot, yeti, orang-pendek, or almasty. They were instead confirmed to have come from bears, serow, horse, cow, raccoon, tapir, sheep, porcupine, canid, human, and deer. There really is no such thing as bigfoot.
“Rather than persisting in the view that they have been ‘rejected by science’, advocates in the cryptozoology community have more work to do in order to produce convincing evidence for anomalous primates and now have the means to do so.” Sykes et al. 2014.
New this week, however, is a published study of genomic analysis of additional material from the Himalayas. Perhaps this time we can finally find proof of the yeti!
In this study, researchers analyzed 15 samples of bears from collections in the Himalayas and 9 samples of putative yeti tissue. The result? One dog and 23 bears.
Lan et al. 2017
This result from Lan et al. 2017 does not mean that there is no yeti (can’t prove a negative and all that), but it illustrates that the things that people in the Himalayas think are yetis are, in fact, bears.
So here is what we’ve learned over the past few years:
- It is decidedly, demonstrably, and objectively NOT the case that so-called mainstream science ignores cryptozoology in general and bigfoot/yeti claims in particular. These were real scientists using real science and publishing in real journals.
- The absolute best evidence that cryptozoologists had to analyze amounted to 100% not-cryptid, known animals.