the hominid
December 6, 2017 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Damn it, I'm right here. Look, I just like to go walking around the woods naked sometimes, ok? I didn't mean to scare anyone or cause all this trouble.
posted by loquacious at 11:06 PM on December 6 [9 favorites]

Whats that old saying about keeping an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out? Crypto-zoology stuff is cool to contemplate, but talking as an anthropology student... *headdesk*
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:18 PM on December 6 [4 favorites]

Needs crytozoology and pseudoscience tags.
posted by floam at 11:24 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]

Its bears. They're all bears.
posted by fshgrl at 11:43 PM on December 6 [10 favorites]

Assuming that these footprints are not fake, what are they from? Bears?
posted by thelonius at 11:44 PM on December 6

ah, bears. on non-preview.
posted by thelonius at 11:44 PM on December 6 [4 favorites]

In 1978, the University of British Columbia hosted a conference on "Sasquatch and Similar Phenomena", which was followed in 1980 by the book Manlike Monsters on Trial (Halpin & Ames, editors, UBC Press). This is a bit from an introductory piece ("Investigating the Goblin Universe") by Marjorie Halpin:
Whereas we experience the world as a "collection of things," as matter having qualities as hardness, endurance, or colour, science creates a way of penetrating matter, a way of knowing it... [S]cientific knowledge creates a definition of reality that is unavailable to common sense and ordinary experience.
She goes on to develop this notion, that there are more things dreamed of than in science, Horatio, and expresses delight at having this phenomenon to study. Other essays in the volume examine both the scientific evidence (as it was then) and "manlike monsters" in other places. It is possible to see sasquatch both as a local concept and as an example of a universal metaphor about Wildness. Sometime later in the decade (IIRC) Oregon named Bigfoot to a legislated list of endangered species. In other words, Oregon law says that wilderness is endangered. Not news, perhaps, but an example of making reality available to ordinary experience via metaphor.
posted by CCBC at 12:55 AM on December 7 [3 favorites]

Never mind reality. The issue is existence.
posted by thelonius at 1:14 AM on December 7

I mean, it is possible also to see elephants "both as a local concept and as an example of a universal metaphor about Wildness." But an elephant is also an animal. It has to eat. When it dies, it leaves a corpse, that decays and leaves a skeleton.
posted by thelonius at 1:16 AM on December 7 [8 favorites]

I'm reading all this in Leonard Nimoy's voice.
posted by Beholder at 1:18 AM on December 7 [4 favorites]

Dr. Meldrum, please accept my fi dolla amriki. how to give?
posted by mwhybark at 1:20 AM on December 7

I want to believe.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:42 AM on December 7

Remember when "The Six Million Dollar Man" jumped the Sasquatch?

Good times.
posted by chavenet at 1:46 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]

thelonius: it is possible also to see elephants "both as a local concept and as an example of a universal metaphor about Wildness."

It is one thing to use a scientifically accepted animal as a metaphor, it is something else to have a metaphoric creature perceived by non-science, that does not "leave a corpse, that decays and leaves a skeleton". Science:Myth. Okay? The question is that of two different frames of reality.
posted by CCBC at 2:24 AM on December 7

The issue that I have with "different frames of reality", or "different ways of knowing" as I've heard it expressed many times before, is that scientific reality actually matters these days. If science isn't any more valid than other ways of seeing the world, then why not write creationism into the science textbooks? Why not ban vaccines because they're icky? Why have health regulations when germs are just a made-up western conspiracy?

While myths can be useful and productive, when it comes to making decisions that affect the lives of millions, blurring the lines between myth and validated truth only serves those who wish to take advantage of us.
posted by Nutri-Matic Drinks Synthesizer at 3:49 AM on December 7 [16 favorites]

Isn't odd that the Bigfoot believers always, always describe him as male, and yet don't see any contradiction with proposing that Bigfoot is a species?
posted by medusa at 4:13 AM on December 7 [3 favorites]

No sustainable population of very large smelly hairy non-human bipeds is breeding, living, hunting, foraging, building or burrowing, and dying out in the woods somewhere in physical North America without some human coming home with solid evidence.

If people want to talk about imagining Bigfoot and the effects on the real world of people imagining Bigfoot and acting as if Bigfoot was real, fine, but imagining Bigfoot does not conjure the Bigfoot species into reality.
posted by pracowity at 4:23 AM on December 7 [9 favorites]

I love me some cryptozoology, some ancient aliens, some UFO, some aquatic ape, but firmly believe that they are all for ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 4:55 AM on December 7 [6 favorites]

Bigfoot voted for Hillary 3 million times.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:35 AM on December 7 [3 favorites]

Bigfoot lives on the Flat Earth.
posted by pracowity at 5:54 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]

posted by flabdablet at 6:27 AM on December 7

I've commented previously on my scale of cryptid plausibility which I am reproducing here for clarity (if you wish to look at the methodology for this very serious scientific study please visit the aforementioned "previously" link*), but I want to make it very, extremely clear that there is NO SUCH THING AS A SASQUATCH.

Mrs. Pterodactyl's 1-6 Scale of Cryptid Plausibility:

1: Sasquatch
2: Mothman
3: Chupacabra
----------Line of Likelihood-------------
4: Yeti
5: Loch Ness Creature
6: Kraken

Anyway not to be a jerk but I really think investigating Bigfoot is a colossal waste of time. I feel like there is collection of people I know, primarily men who are really smart but grew up without a lot of educational opportunity, who believe pretty strongly in vanishingly unlikely stuff like Bigfoot because they have all this intellectual curiosity but insufficient rigor because no one ever taught them about stuff like evaluating sources, and the reason people believing in Bigfoot really bugs me is not that I hate curiosity or wonderment or silliness, all of which in fact are things I love, but that the search for Bigfoot has this dogged quality of wasted intellect, where people are misdirecting the real intelligence they have because they take this seriously. If people want to hunt for Bigfoot because it's a fun way to spend your weekend and you get plenty of healthful outdoor exercise then great! Enjoy yourselves! But if you are doing your best to conduct a scientific search and apply intellectual rigor to this thing because you are smart enough to long for knowledge but misguided enough to think that this is a good way to advance human understanding it makes me kind of sad.

*One time I was talking about this at a Metafilter meetup and saying stuff like "there probably are yetis! We don't really know what's out there in the Himalayas!" and later my husband told me that poor ChuraChura, legit Knower of Stuff, spent the entire time I was talking sitting there shaking her head and muttering "we know what's out there, there are no yetis" but is is much too kind and polite to have said anything out loud because she is an extremely nice person.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:30 AM on December 7 [13 favorites]

6: Kraken

sighting confirmed
posted by flabdablet at 6:36 AM on December 7

There are so many game cams out in the woods these days that if there were bigfeet running around, we would have plenty of close-up photos and video. It's a fun concept, I guess, but not something that is worth taking seriously other than as a metaphor.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:56 AM on December 7

I own a Bigfoot molar, so I know he's real.
posted by maxsparber at 7:01 AM on December 7

I have to share this video lecture from a genetics professor at Oxford. Cryptozoology is his hobby, and here he discusses his yeti/sasquatch research adventures. The best part is Jimmy Stewart smuggling purported yeti fingers out of India!
posted by orrnyereg at 7:08 AM on December 7

I have a good friend, also a primatologist, who had an interview for a position at a community college in rural New Mexico. She was invited for an on-campus interview, and everything looked great! But then, during her meeting with the dean, it came out that he was particularly excited about having a primatologist on campus because he was convinced that the mountains of New Mexico were the ideal habitat for Sasquatch, and he just needed someone with the expertise to conduct censuses and put out camera traps in likely habitat, and change the world.

She decided not to accept that job offer.

Mrs. Pterodactyl, I don't remember that! I'm sorry for apparently being kind of a jerk about it, though! What I do think is cool about Yeti in particular is that Gigantopithecus persisted in China, India, and Vietnam until about 100,000 years ago - they were certainly co-existing with Homo erectus, and potentially with early modern humans depending on when, exactly, they made it out of Africa - and I could totally see Yetis being derived from stories about Gigantopithecus, or from people catching glimpses of a Gigantopithecus, or from people finding skeletal material.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:10 AM on December 7 [13 favorites]

It's bears all the way down.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:14 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]

Medusa, truly hardcore Bigfoot believers take note of what looks like pendulous breasts on th Patterson film Sasquatch, and describe her as female. Assumptions of Sasquatch maleness are strictly amateur hour.
posted by edheil at 9:20 AM on December 7 [1 favorite]

I dont know why some people are so reactionary of the idea of Sasquatch. It's not that biologically paradigm-challenging for such a thing to exist. And if you think that the lack of photo and video settles it then you're not thinking clearly. This planet is still has a lot of wild areas and it's a safe bet there's undiscovered fauna in it.
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:43 AM on December 7 [1 favorite]

The planet still has many wild areas with minimal scientific documentation; however, the Pacific Northwest isn't really one of them. But OK, let's take Sasquatch seriously. Here are just a few of the questions that come to mind when I think about this critically.

How did a viable great ape population make it to North America? Did they cross the Bering Strait with humans when human populations migrated to North America from Asia? How did they survive the ice age? What were they eating? Other than modern humans, great apes generally can't tolerate life outside tropical rainforests; they typically rely on eating large amounts of fruit or even larger amounts of foliage. How have they coped with massive amounts of climate change in North America? How did they cope with shifts in land use? Why is there no fossil evidence of Sasquatch evolution in Europe, Asia, and North America? Why is there no archaeological evidence of Sasquatch populations in North America?
posted by ChuraChura at 9:56 AM on December 7 [9 favorites]

There are definitely Nessies though
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:59 AM on December 7

I've studied wild primates. If you're looking for it systematically, you can find skeletal material. You can find feces. You can find traces of food. You can find sleeping sites and nests. You hear vocalizations. You find fur, sometimes. You find foot and knuckle-walking prints. There's really nothing at all to suggest that there is a large-bodied ape wandering around the Pacific Northwest.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:00 AM on December 7 [6 favorites]

Mrs. Pterodactyl's 1-6 Scale of Cryptid Plausibility:

One word: CRISPR

None of those silly cryptobeasties exist, but we have the technology!
posted by sammyo at 10:25 AM on December 7

Habeas ossae?
posted by ocschwar at 10:39 AM on December 7

There are so many game cams out in the woods these days that if there were bigfeet running around, we would have plenty of close-up photos and video.

Well, I can see those things a mile away. I mean, I'm not a deer or something. Whoever is putting those cameras out there also don't seem to like my sketch and prop comedy routine very much.

The planet still has many wild areas with minimal scientific documentation; however, the Pacific Northwest isn't really one of them.

Oh, I wouldn't go that far. The Olympic Forest and the Hoh in particular is so dense and so overgrown in many places that humans simply can't walk or get into the area. There are likely places back there that haven't seen a white/European foot, ever.

The local First Nations lore actually talks about Sasquatch - which is likely where a lot of the first lore about and Western interest in Sasquatch came from originally.

I met a dude about my age that grew up on the Hoh reservation who shared that they take the Sasquatch thing pretty seriously, that they used to have some form of a civilization up there. I don't think he was pulling my leg. For all I could tell he believed what he was saying, and seemed hesitant to be even talking about it. Like, he ended it with a warning, basically warning me to avoid parts of the upper Hoh and the deeper canyons of the Olympics entirely.

I'm not saying I believe him in the slightest, but he was very earnest and serious about the lore and dire warning.

Also, note that this conversation didn't start with Sasquatch. It was started by me talking about wanting to walk/transect the entire length of the Hoh all the way to the headwaters and/or going modern primitive for an extended period of time. I was asking him about foraging.

His response was "Yeah, you really don't want to do that." and I had to draw out why he thought that way. We only got around to the Sasquatch topic after I'd pestered him about my camping and survival skills, or if his tribe and reservation was that aggressive about visitors.

No, it basically came down to "Dude, that's where the Sasquatches live and they'll fuck you up if you find them." and it took forever for me to draw it out of him. When I told him I wanted to hike the entire length of the Hoh and get really far off the beaten path out there he reacted viscerally like I told him I wanted to blow my own face off right there in front of him.

For whatever little that's worth, that's not a normal reaction from someone who grew up on that river, in what is arguably one of the calmest, most peaceful and safest natural places on the planet.

And it left me a little unsettled and questioning things.

There's really nothing at all to suggest that there is a large-bodied ape wandering around the Pacific Northwest.

You guys really have no idea how badly I'm being tempted right now to go walk outside into the woods, strip down to my stupid natural fursuit and video myself Sasquatchin' around in the moss. Thankfully it's nearly freezing cold out there, so no. Lucky you.
posted by loquacious at 10:40 AM on December 7 [1 favorite]

Mrs. Pterodactyl, I'm so sorry to say this, but Loch Ness is only about 10,000 years old, and before that was frozen under glaciers for about 20,000 years. Additionally, if I recall correctly, at no point has it ever been connected to the ocean. Tragic, I know, but its existence is (sadly) impossible.

As a kid, I was both fascinated and terrified by most cryptids. Much like ghosts and UFOs, the arrival of persistent, ubiquitous cameras has really laid most these to rest the past ten years. Case in point: the very newly invented—late 90s—chupacabra, which is most likely based off the creature from the movie Species. It's alleged the woman who first reported it had just seen the movie, and was convinced its events were actually occurring on Puerto Rico, yet if it actually existed, you'd think there'd be a few more pics by now.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:48 AM on December 7

wanting to walk/transect the entire length of the Hoh all the way to the headwaters

I get those same earnest and serious warnings about walking past the bus station after dark from well- meaning relatives.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:25 PM on December 7

The Pacific Northwest is far from wilderness. It's probably more likely that a wormhole periodically opens up and someone catches a glimpse of an alien species than a population of giant apes lives there in secret.

Or, y'know its all bears, like the DNA says. Remember people routinely mistake large house cats for mountain lions and weirdly shaped trees for bears. People are terrible at this.
posted by fshgrl at 1:44 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]

Well I believe in bigfoot...

I love jokes like that. Like Mitch Hedburg's Yoplait "Please try again" joke.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:48 PM on December 7

I dont know why some people are so reactionary of the idea of Sasquatch. . . And if you think that the lack of photo and video settles it then you're not thinking clearly. . . it's a safe bet there's undiscovered fauna . . .

In case you were actually wondering why people get so reactionary, I think it may be because bigfoot skepticism is so frequently met with statements along the lines of "oh, you're not thinking clearly, the world is much bigger than your closed mind can handle, it's the silly to think we've discovered everything out there." Yeah, of course there is undiscovered fauna out there, but how plausible is it that there's a species of megafauna existing in numbers large enough to sustain a population without leaving a single iota of verifiable evidence despite decades of concerted efforts to find them? Not very.
posted by skewed at 2:09 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]

I, for one, enjoy Bigfoot's webcomic.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:20 PM on December 7

When my kids were young, I worried if they could see porn on the computer. So, I typed "men," and lo and behold there they were, lots of them without clothes. I was like, "Oh." So I then typed in "hairy men," and I assure you,sasquatch exists.
posted by Oyéah at 2:43 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]

First, there is no evidence for the existence of sasquatch, bigfoot(-feet?), yeti, skunk bears, or any other creature of this type. The films are hoaxes; the footprints are mostly animal prints in snow that have partly melted and refrozen, though some are (admitted) hoaxes; the physical specimens -- hair, fur, scat -- that have been subjected to DNA analysis turn out to be from known species.
Second, these mythic creatures exist world-wide. Everywhere.
So, these creatures do not exist as things, objects that can be measured scientifically. But they do exist as phenomena. If human beings everywhere believe in these critters, then they have meaning to people. This does not mean that sasquatches are "real" but the need for them is -- as demonstrated by folks in this thread desperately wanting proof of their material existence.
Phenomena are worthy of study, no matter their objective reality.
posted by CCBC at 3:18 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]

I know there's no sasquatches hiding in the woods, just like there's no sidhe dancing inside Fairy Mounds or cold blooded ichthyosaurs swimming around Scottish lochs. But it's so much fun to pretend what if.

What if there are magnificent, mysterious creatures out there that are immune to our chainsaws and chemicals and voracious mouths? What if it turns out that nature is stronger than humanity? Then we wouldn't be so guilty of spoiling it all. We'd only be guilty of spoiling that which is within reach, but there'd still be mysteries and wildness out there just over the horizon, beyond the edge of the clearing, waiting to be found.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:02 PM on December 7

I mean, the issue, from a scientific perspective, is not that people want to tell stories about a symbolic representation of wildness. That's great. We call that "fantasy." It is not a main tenet of science that fantasy novels be banned. Many scientists greatly enjoy F/SF and H fiction, I'm quite certain.

Saying that science is being bad for dismissing claims about sasquatch because of the fun metaphor is missing the point badly enough that it becomes disingenuous. No one cares if you want to tell a story about monsters and wilderness. But claiming as real a thing which is clearly not real is a lie, and please stop doing it because it just riles people up over nothing.

(Mind you, some skeptics insist that it's super important to debunk bigfoot over and over, which I don't think it needs to be a particular top priority because while various flavors of magical thinking tend to be correlated, it's a lot more urgent from a pragmatic perspective to deal with homeopathy, acupuncture, antivax, "scientific" racism/race realism, and on and on and on the list goes of absurd unscientific beliefs with real and imminent harm to individuals and societies. Debunking sasquatch can be dealt with during the mandatory five-minute Skeptic Break Times, if at all.)
posted by Scattercat at 7:14 PM on December 7 [5 favorites]

Scattercat: Saying that science is being bad for dismissing claims about sasquatch

That is not at all what I'm saying. Sorry that I can't be more clear.
posted by CCBC at 9:29 PM on December 7

In fairness, there is decent enough evidence that acupuncture works that even the NHS will pay for it. We just have no idea how it works. I've tried it a few times and it does do something. And I HATE needles so I don't enjoy it, per se. I might just be feeling relief that is's over.
posted by fshgrl at 10:15 PM on December 7

fshgirl, in repeated studies, acupuncture is shown to work about as well as massage, and sham acupuncture with random stabs in the back with needles works no better than "real" acupuncture. It is a placebo, NHS be damned.
posted by floam at 10:54 PM on December 7

Massage works great for me too though. Much better than pain medication or muscle relaxers. So there's that.
posted by fshgrl at 11:42 PM on December 7

It is a placebo, NHS be damned.

Placebos work. That's kind of the point of them.
posted by flabdablet at 12:41 AM on December 8

For 18 years, I've been able to see the Hockomock Swamp out my window. Despite my telepathically broadcasting an open invitation to tea any time I venture in via canoe, I have yet to meet Bigfoot. An enormous hawk did fly out of my tree in that direction as I was writing this, though, so maybe it's bringing word of my desire for friendship to the timid creature(s). One musn't lose hope.

"More often than any other creature, bigfoot is apparently a common view in Hockomock Swamp. “In 1970, reports of a big-foot like, 7-foot tall hairy monster and its footprints instigated both the Bridgewater and Massachusetts State Police canine unit to conduct a search for a bear. However, neither man nor bear was ever found. In 1978, paranormal researcher Joseph M. DeAndrade claims to have observed another such creature as it slowly walked into the brush of the Hockomock Swamp, about 200 yards from his location.” (Paranormal-Encyclopedia) Sightings of this tall man-like hairy creature are frequently reported throughout the triangle. It’s said that these creatures have usually been calm, but in the 1970’s, it was also said that “bigfoot” went nuts and madly killed many pigs ("
posted by ruetheday at 4:48 AM on December 8

Bigfoot stole my sixpack.
posted by BlueNorther at 7:44 AM on December 8

As a kid, I was both fascinated and terrified by most cryptids. Much like ghosts and UFOs, the arrival of persistent, ubiquitous cameras has really laid most these to rest the past ten years.

I do not believe in cryptids or UFOs, but I also do not believe the ubiquity of cameras prooves anything about anything. I can’t take a clear picture of a squirrel that’s five feet away from me in broad daylight with my iPhone 6 camera. If everyone was carrying around low light cameras with zooming lenses and well designed auto-focus, that’d be one thing, but the smart phone camera is only useful for selfies, group photos or people who are all posing for the photograph, and taking pictures of stationary nonliving objects while you’re sightseeing. I would bet a thousand dollars you couldn’t take a convincing photograph of a Bigfoot with a phone camera under almost any circumstance.
posted by Caduceus at 10:49 AM on December 8

If only there were a large hairy mammal that lives in North America and and is sometimes known to walk on its hind legs. It's not like all that Sasquatch hair turned out to be bear hair, right?
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:11 AM on December 11 [1 favorite]

I've met Mr. Meldrum. My high school anatomy teacher arranged for us to visit the body lab at ISU, and the price for that arrangement was that all her anatomy classes got to sit through Meldrum's lecture about Sasquatch. I can tell you we all had a lot of fun with that. My teacher's poker face is legendary, however; it's been about 10 years and I still couldn't tell you if she believed it or not.
posted by cobain_angel at 9:23 AM on December 12

Dr. Meldrum's degree is from one of the best biological anthropology programs in the country (SUNY Stony Brook); Bigfoot aside he certainly earned his doctorate and does some neat research on gait and locomotion in human evolution.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:42 AM on December 12

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