Thursday, 28 December 2017


Undeniably, Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, or however it is named depending on the geography, culture, or reality TV show that describes it is the most elusive creature so far.  Even though so many people claim to have seen it, pictured it, or collected hairs or footprints, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that a large, unknown ape is roaming the woods or mountains of North America or the Himalayas, so far.  However, the analysis of some alleged evidence is always full of surprises and interesting debunks.

Probably the earliest film recorded of Bigfoot that reached a great popularity was the Patterson-Gimlin film. On February 14, 1967, in Northern California, Roger Patterson and Roger Gimlin, two young cowboys, caught with their camera, for a few seconds, the blurry image of an unidentified, two-meter-tall, female primate walking on two legs in front of them disappearing into the woods.

 Patterson and his friend were actually in that spot of the forest looking for some evidence of Bigfood when this extraordinary event just happened in front of their rolling camera rolling —very convenient. For fifty years, the film was the object of hundreds of studies and analysis by all kind of specialists and professionals attempts to determine its authenticity without any clear conclusion. 

Skeptics are sure to see just a man in a costume and believers a real unknown species. Surprisingly, in 1998, Bob Heironimus claimed in a broadcasted interview to be the one who was wearing the gorilla costume that day, but Gimlin, who is still alive, sware he really saw Bigfoot shown in the famous film clip and accused Heironimus of looking for fame and money. Consequently, with a witness versus witness testimony and without any solid evidence, the controversy goes on till today.

A couple of years ago, a documentary aired by Discovery Channel surprised the audience with an extraordinary hypothesis about the suspect in an unsolved multi-murder —The Dyatlov Pass incident—: it was the Yeti. This horrific crime occurred in the Ural Mountains, Russia, on February 2, 1959. The victims were nine college students who were camping during a cold night in February on the slope of a  mountain during a ski expedition. What happened next was a mystery. When the students delayed their descent, and contact was lost, on alarm was sent and a group of rescueses climbed up to the campsite. They found a bizarre scene: slashed tents with all the student's clothes and equipment inside; the students' bodies scattered around the area in different groups far away from each other, wearing only few clothes or underwear in temperatures below zero; one student with crushed ribs and fractured skull; and another with her tongue and eyes removed. According to the autopsy, all of them died from hypothermia. Someone or something attacked them and made them run for their lives in the middle of the night with no time to pick up their winter clothes and too scared to come back later for them. The documentary put emphasis on the removed tongue and terrible injuries to support the idea that only a big, very strong, abominable creature could have attacked the college students. Skeptics, on the other hand, refuted this theory claiming that something so simple and natural as an avalanche, very common at that time of the year,  could easily explain it all.  Unfortunately, an avalanche does not explain the missing tongue, so the debate and mystery continue.

The advance of science offers new tools and techniques, revealing new data and resolving old questions. This is the case of the DNA test. Many cryptozoologists and Bigfoot advocates complain scientists are not taking their investigations seriously and frequently decline to test their samples. The truth is, scientific reputations could negatively be affected in the scientific community, and also scientists' career damaged for just taking into consideration a slim possibility of the existence of Bigfoot. However, a geneticist, Bryan Sykes, from the University of Oxford, took the risk and decided to embrace the challenge. To avoid the criticisms of the scientific community,  instead of establishing a hypothesis confirming an unknown primate by testing DNA samples, he proposed the opposite: " Every hair sample collected that is claimed to belong to Bigfoot and tested, corresponds to a known mammal ". Everybody was happy. The report was published in the Proceeding of the Royal Society and concluded that all the DNA provided belonged to known species such common as bears, cows, raccoons, rabbits, porcupines, etc. except for one. Sykes's report did not disappoint those who were hopping for a surprise: two hair samples from the Himalayas matched a polar bear that became extinct 40,000 years ago. In summary, Dyke's report did not prove Bigfoot is real or does not exist, only that all the samples collected were not a match with an unknown creature; in addition, the report created a new mystery: where did that 40,000-year-old bear hair come from?

To conclude, without hard evidence, the controversy about Bigfoot will continue, and the obsessive, exhaustive search by cryptozoologists will no stop soon, bringing up unsolved mysteries, surprising hoaxes, and thousands of blurry pictures and videos populating social media while feeding people's curiosity and scriptwriters'  imagination.  

Probably was Mitch Hedberg, an American comedian, who expressed the controversy about Bigfoot better than anybody with a clever quote: "I think Bigfoot is blurry, that's the problem. It's not the photographer's fault. Bigfoot is blurry, and that's extra scary to me. There's a large, out-of-focus monster roaming the countryside. Run, he's fuzzy, get out of here."

Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Discovery Channel show: That a Yeti was responsible for the mass murder of nine Russians in 1959.

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