Creepy Cryptids

October 9, 2009 at 4:09 am (Particle Physics) (, , , )

So, I had a couple requests for some cryptids – specifically, Bigfoot and the Beast of Bray Road.  Knowing a little something about them, I figured I’d do this one this week.  Bigfoot is one of the best known cryptids out there – an unidentified hominid that roams the wild places of North America.  But first, what’s a cryptid?

Cryptids are, put simply, critters that mainstream science doesn’t recognize as existing.  These creatures, and the field discussing them (cryptozoology) haven’t been accepted by most scientists, and there’s a great deal of debate over whether or not they even could exist.  Famous cryptids include the mountain gorilla, the okapi, the coelocanth, and the platypus – all creatures that science insisted didn’t exist despite sightings by locals in the areas they were reported from.  Eventually, somebody brought back a body, and in most cases people accepted that it really was real.

Except the platypus.  They needed a live one for that – the assumption was made that it was just stitched together body parts, despite the lack of stitching.

Now, as for Bigfoot… we all know what it is.  But, as I’ve been told that some folks haven’t heard any evidence about it that makes it seem more reasonable than Christian Science (AKA Young Earth theory, that sort of thing), I’m going to go into a bit more than that.

I tend to believe that Bigfoot is real – or, more accurately, that Sasquatch is.  I don’t agree with the folks out there who hit the lunatic fringe though, like some folks who insist that Bigfoot exist in an extra-dimensional space out of phase with our reality, but occasionally step through to snag a Faygo or something (I wish I were kidding.  Really, I do.  But I’m not.)

I can’t prove that Bigfott exists, of course – if I could, I wouldn’t be blogging about this.  All I can do is shoot down some of the most commonly cited ‘evidence’ against Bigfoot’s existence.  So, let’s go to it!

Myth #1:  The Bigfoot legend has only been around since the ’50’s – if this thing was real, why wouldn’t we have heard about it before?

Rebuttal:  Well… we have.  It wasn’t in the mainstream consciousness, but it was there.  There are stories from lumber camps about massive hairy men basically busting up the camps.  There are stories from the native Americans about them – where do you think the word Sasquatch came from?  So this myth doesn’t really fit.

Myth #2:  There can’t be a tiny little population of Bigfoots existing in Oregon forest – there wouldn’t be enough of them for a full breeding population.

Rebuttal:  This is the most common one I’ve heard.  And it’s been thoroughly, thoroughly debunked.  Bigfoot sightings might be concentrated in Oregon, but they’ve been seen all throughout North America… almost.  You see, some folks went and did an analysis of all the sightings out there, and they actually found that the sightings were concentrated in areas that have a set of common characteristics.  The Coastal north-west, northern California, parts of Oklahoma, Georgia, northern Florida… they all have reasonably similar levels of humidity and similar climates.  They’re all places that have fairly similar animal life, and all areas that lack one critical ecosystem element… a major apex predator.  In places where grizzlies are common, Bigfoot doesn’t show up.  In colder areas, Bigfoot doesn’t show up… except for a little bit in Wisconsin/Michigan.  But that I suspect is misidentified – more on that later.

Myth #3:  The footprints are all obvious fakes.

Rebuttal: If they’re all obvious fakes, I’d love to hear the explanation of why at least one forensic anthropologist – who specified in studying primate footprints – is convinced that many of the footprints he’s examined are proof of an unidentified large primate?  I’d also like to know how it is that our hoaxers have made footprints that perfectly fit a natural bellcurve in the size.  Now, it could be simple random chance.  But you’d think that they’d just tend to get bigger and bigger, as they try to one-up the footprint before, rather than having a natural curve that seems to fit… a natural breeding population.  Oops.  I’d also like to know why many experts examining the footprints can see evidence of a natural foot movement, complete with a bending foot.

Now, are some of them fake?  Undoubtedly.  Of course some of them are.  But showing that Exhibit A is false doesn’t mean that Exhibit B, C, and D aren’t still valid.

Myth #4:  Bigfoot is merely a misidentified black bear.

Rebuttal:  More on this later.

I could go on about this much, much longer – books have been written on the subject by far more knowledgeable people.  but I’m going to move on for a moment to the Beast of Bray Road.

The Beast of Bray Road is the name that was attached to a wolf-man like creature in the Michigan/Wisconsin region.  We actually had a sighting in our area a year or two back, when a man out collecting road kill carcasses for the county saw something tall and black stealing a deer carcass from the bed of his pickup, loping off into the woods carrying the carcass in its arms.  More info can be found at wikipedia here, and in several different books (I recommend the Eerie Radio episodes on the topic.)

And this brings us to one of the major issues with both Bigfoot and the Beast of Bray Road.

This isn’t a black bear.  Black bears don’t walk – they can stand and stagger, but they don’t walk, they don’t stride.  Black bears don’t jump ditches on two legs.  And yet, both Bigfoot and the Beast of Bray Road have been cited doing just those things.  Black bears don’t have shoulders – and Bigfoot does.  The Beast of Bray Road doesn’t have shoulders as much as the more bear-ish sloping of the body but, again, black bears don’t grab things in their arms and walk off with them.  They take them in their jaws and drag them away, at least for significant distances.  So few creatures are truly bipedal – which both Bigfoot and the Beast seem to be – that its being a misidentified creature we already know about seems highly unlikely, at best.

Can I prove they exist?  Nope.  But I think the proof is out there that something is there.  Something that deserves real, sincere study, rather than laughter from the same scientific establishment that doubts its own first-hand observations if they don’t agree with their own convictions.

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1 Comment

  1. H. o'Dagg said,

    Very well said. As someone who has spent a HELL of a lot of time over a good number of years in the wild I’d like to say that it’s truly surprising how easy it is for a large animal to hide. I’ve seen skilled hunters walk within six feet of a dear without seeing it only to have the dear stand up and walk away. All while they were still within thirty feet or less of it’s hiding place. The only advantage people have in the woods is very limited color vision, the trouble is we gave up a great deal of other forms of visual acuity in exchange for it. Add to that the shear amount of noise we make as we move about and any number of other things and it’s no wonder most animals know where we are and avoid us. For more on this I recommend the books by Tom “Tracker” Brown.

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