Stories tagged Bigfoot

Jun
22
2009

The titans close on each other: Look at how much bigger they are than that house! But how do we know that's a werewolf and not just a normal giant wolf?
The titans close on each other: Look at how much bigger they are than that house! But how do we know that's a werewolf and not just a normal giant wolf?Courtesy JGordon
JK. The war has already been fought, Bigfoot totally won, you missed it, and remarkably little blood was spilled. Go figure.

A professor of the history of science at Kean University in New Jersey is arguing that Bigfoot, in fact, killed the werewolf. Not for really real, but in the collective mind of our society. However, Bigfoot had a secret weapon: Charles Darwin. (I’m assuming it was a silver-tipped Charles Darwin, at least.)

See, everybody has to be afraid of something, pretty much. And for a long time we were all, “I have to be afraid of something, huh? Well… I’m already sort of afraid of wolves, so why don’t we throw in this unnatural wolf/man mix thingy. I’ll be afraid of that.” And because we were too dumb to know about stuff like flesh eating disease and giant crocodiles and cancer, we were pretty satisfied being afraid of werewolves.

But then, says New Jersey science historian Brian Regal, then along comes ol’ Charles Darwin (and his silver tongue?), and begins to popularize evolution with On the Origin of Species. People start thinking, “Hey… wolf-man? Why did I ever think that was scary? That’s old, magicky nonsense. No, what makes sense is an ape-man. I’ll be afraid of that now.”

Science gave the supernatural a little boost of legitimacy, in a roundabout way. And at the cost of poor, dear wolf-man.

Or so says Brian Regal. Take it for what it’s worth; he’s an assistant professor, after all. I don’t trust assistant anythings. Especially not dental assistants. Regal will be presenting his theory to the British Society for the History of Science in Leicester, UK in July. He’s going to show how period artwork also reflects this werewolf to Bigfoot transition, which sounds pretty neat. So if you can make it to Leicester and into the British Society for the History of Science sometime in the next month, maybe you should check it out.

A brutal win!: Look—the wolf has pants. Case closed. Oh, right... this drawing isn't appropriate for more delicate viewers.
A brutal win!: Look—the wolf has pants. Case closed. Oh, right... this drawing isn't appropriate for more delicate viewers.Courtesy JGordon
I’m more than a little disappointed in the lack of an epic, bloody monster-on-monster battle here, though. So I’ll be drawing one for y’all just now, on the back of some paper I pulled out of my trash.

Feb
20
2009

I've spent years building this search program: Hopefully I'll have a color version someday.
I've spent years building this search program: Hopefully I'll have a color version someday.Courtesy JGordon
Here at Science Buzz, we deal in facts. Cold, hard, frosty, refreshing facts.

We scoop up questions, opinions, and casual observations in big, greasy shovels, and we boil them over the white hot heat of science, processing and reducing them until we’re left with they crystalline residue of pure fact. (And if that fact gets cut and diluted down to street grade fact once it leaves the website, well, that’s lamentable, but it’s beyond our control.)

Before we send anything out to you, the Buzzketeer, we subject it to rigorous testing. Like, hey, here’s a cool idea for a post. Is it unequivocal, objective fact? No? Then we throw it out.

That’s just the way we operate here. You deserve it.

So, hey, check this out: there might be yetis in Siberia.

Yes sir, the search is on for yetis in Siberia, in a region where yeti sightings have skyrocketed in the last few weeks. While folks in the area claim to have been seeing upright, hairy creatures for years, 10 sightings in the past few weeks have got people concerned. Concerned and excited.

Local officials have launched a yeti-finding expedition, which has so far found approximately zero yetis, but has discovered an intriguing footprint in a nearby cave. (Images of the footprint can be found at the link to Cryptomundo above).

Despite my dedication to cryptozoology and the cryptocouch, I’m not sure that departmental petty cash is going to get me to Siberia to verify anything for y’all. So I must remain here, on the cryptocouch, doing what I can with what I’ve got. And that’s not much.

Still, reports have the creatures at about six-feet-tall, with red and black fur. I ran this description through my visual yeti database (see associated image), and I can conclusively say that we’re dealing with a heretofore-undocumented variety of yeti. This might not seem like a very significant thing, but it’s important in science to understand what you aren’t dealing with. Then you can move on to what you might be dealing with. And that’s where we’re at now.

Aug
13
2008

The illustrated Bigfoot: Quit screwing around with this drawing, and look at the article!
The illustrated Bigfoot: Quit screwing around with this drawing, and look at the article!Courtesy Jean-no
Holy moly, Buzzketeers! I've barely gotten all the crumbs and stank off of the cryptocouch from yesterday, and yet I ask, no, I insist that y'all have a seat once again. Don't mind the crumbs—they're yours.

Some folks in Georgia claim to have a Bigfoot body in their darn freezer! A bold claim, my southern friends, a bold claim, but they will supposedly be flying to California on Friday to hold a press conference with "Searching for Bigfoot Inc."

Word on the street says that these folks are lining up DNA tests, and that a molecular biologist, an anthropologist, a paleontologist and assorted other scientists will be examining the body over the next few months at "an undisclosed location," and carefully documenting their findings before public release.

I'd normally recommend Loren Coleman's Cryptomundo.com for this sort of thing (he's usually the guy to turn to for reasonable responses to kind of crazy claims), but the site has been all crazy itself today. Maybe because people are so into Bigfoot. So click on the "Word on the street" link above. There might still be a goofy looking photo.

Here are some details that have been released so far:
"*The creature is seven feet seven inches tall.
*It weighs over five hundred pounds.
*The creature looks like it is part human and part ape-like.
*It is male.
*It has reddish hair and blackish-grey eyes.
*It has two arms and two legs, and five fingers on each hand and
five toes on each foot.
*The feet are flat and similar to human feet.
*Its footprint is sixteen and three-quarters inches long and five and three-quarters inches wide at the heel.
*From the palm of the hand to the tip of the middle finger, its hands are
eleven and three-quarters inches long and six and one-quarter inches wide.
*The creatures walk upright. (Several of them were sighted on the same day that the body was found.)
*The teeth are more human-like than ape-like.
*DNA tests are currently being done and the current DNA and photo evidence will be presented at the press conference on Friday, August 15th."

I'm inclined to think this is fake, but, hey, if nothing else, it's a delightfully elaborate prank, and I'm all about that.

Jul
29
2008

A yeti: preparing a powerful spell.
A yeti: preparing a powerful spell.Courtesy teotwawki
It’s time again, Buzzketeers—get on the cryptocouch. Go on and sit down. Just as you are is fine. I understand that some of you may be a little crusty and gross, and that’s fine; you were probably just planning on getting a little internet on by yourself this morning, and maybe you let your crust build up, your funk get funkier, and didn’t expect to have to set yourself down on a cryptocouch with other Buzzketeers.

Don’t sweat it. The cryptocouch is big enough for all of us, with room to spare for buffer zones, and it’s upholstered such that I can just hose it off later. And that may be necessary, if your orifices aren’t up for some serious cryptozoology this early in the day.

And now you’re on the cryptocouch, despite your reservations. How did I ever convince you to do that? Hey, it’s only to be expected—my Yeti magic is particularly strong today. Usually my Yeti magic is fueled by groundless faith, but today, oh today, my Yeti magic is burning the high-octane gas of scientific uncertainty.

Uncertainty may not sound very good to some of y’all, but when science gets up in your grill as often as it does with cryptozoology, you take what you can get. And today, instead of scientists thrusting and grinding statements like “That’s bear hair,” or “That’s a sick coyote” in our faces, it says, “hello, this is different.” That is, so-called Yeti hair collected in India has recently been identified as “inconclusive.”

Let’s slow down and use our words.

Scientists at Oxford Brookes University, lead by “ape expert” Ian Redmond, have recently spent some time examining a couple of mysterious hairs from the Garo Hills of northeast India. The hairs were collected after a local forester reported seeing the region’s Yeti/Bigfoot thinger (specifically, the “Mande Barung”) in the area three days in a row.

The hairs have been compared to samples collected by Sir Edmund Hilary, a mountaineer and explorer, who did some Yeti-searching in Nepal in the 60’s. And that’s cool, except Sir Edmund’s specimens have generally been agreed to be from a kind of antelope, something that Hilary himself was probably aware of.

The Oxford Brookes researchers, then, began examining the new hairs “fully expecting them to come from a known animal.” The hairs, each less than two inches long, however, now appear to have come from an unknown animal. The scientists say that, under a microscope, the hairs look slightly human, slightly like an orangutan, and slightly like Hilary’s samples (so, slightly like antelope hair). But they don’t look exactly like hair from a known animal, especially none that are known to live in the Garo Hills. So, even if the hairs don’t come from a Yeti (or whatever)m they may be evidence of a slightly more mundane new species. Which is pretty neat.

The next step that will be taken with the hairs is their submission to that colossal buzz-kill we call genetic testing. The hairs, which still have follicle attached, will be sent to two separate laboratories in Oxford and Cardiff for DNA analysis. Even if the results don’t identify the hairs as belonging to a specific species, they should at least show what their original owner was related to (like a primate, or, say, a type of antelope).

How about that? Powerful stuff, huh? So cast your Yeti spells while the news is still hot, because who knows what the DNA tests will bring us.

Now get off the couch. I have to sleep there, and you’re making it all grimy.

The first flying saucer was sighted 61 years ago today, inspiring a wave of bad science fiction (is there any other kind?) which continues unabated to this day. Supposedly, the craft, piloted by Bigfoot and Nessie, crashed 11 days earlier in Nevada, which is the kind of thing that happens when you mess around with the space-time continuum. Of course, there continue to be skeptics.

Jun
19
2008

The friendly gift shop Bigfoot: Know it. Know it well.
The friendly gift shop Bigfoot: Know it. Know it well.Courtesy quaziefoto
Bigfoot and his kin are everywhere these days—in the last couple months I’ve written about Australia’s bipedal cryptid, the Yowie, Borneo’s giant, questionable footprints, and the original abominable snowman, Nepal’s Yeti. But we’re not done yet.

I mean, what if you were at a party, and an attractive member of the opposite (or the same) sex started chatting you up about huge, hairy forest creatures?

Thanks to me, you’d be all: “Oh, you mean Yowie, Yeti, Bigfoot? C’mere, thing, and let’s talk.”
And he or she would be all: “Mmm, hmm. But what about the mande barung?”
And you’d be all: “¿Que?”
And that’d be it; sweet thing would be off to find a one-night-stand who’s a little better versed in cryptids of the subcontinent. Another night watching Stargate by yourself. The cryptocouch should never be a lonely place.

Well don’t sweat it. I’m here to help, and so is the BBC, with Tuesday’s hard-hitting piece on the mande barung, India’s own giant apeman.

As usual, the English say it best, so you might as well read the original piece, and check out the video there while you’re at it, but here are the basics:

Mande barung: approximately 10 feet tall, long black and grey fur, herbivorous, makes its home in the West Garo hills of north-eastern India.

The Garo hills are an area of dense, hot, hot jungle, leading some to wonder why a hairy man-beast would want to hang out there, but many locals are convinced of its existence, and sightings are frequently reported by folks who spend much time in the forest. There’s also some thought that the mande barung stories are played up a little bit to give tourists a reason to check out that hot, sticky corner of India. But we’ll pay no mind to that—anything for the pursuit of knowledge.

Because you’ll be all: Hairy biped of the West Garu hills? What do you want to know?
And they’ll be all: Show me.
Whatever that means.

Jun
16
2008

But why is there only one set?: Because, my child, I'm like 25 feet tall, and I was probably carrying you. Or maybe I don't exist, and someone faked these footprints.  ~Bigfoot
But why is there only one set?: Because, my child, I'm like 25 feet tall, and I was probably carrying you. Or maybe I don't exist, and someone faked these footprints. ~BigfootCourtesy Thiru Murugan
Weeelllll, I’d invite y’all to have a seat on the little piece of furniture I like to call the Cryptocouch, but I’m afraid that this item may not quite warrant the Cryptocouch’s soft embrace of the butt of curiosity. I mean, I personally tried it out, and it felt good, very good, but I couldn’t quite shake the idea that I was abusing the privilege that is the couch. So I’m warning you off.

There are very big foot prints on the island of Borneo. Normally I’d be pretty excited about this sort of thing, but…well, let’s take a look.

About a week ago, some folks discovered two exceptionally large footprints near a ceremonial enclosure (an interesting thing to do with their medicine man, and a local malady, but I’m not getting into it here) not for from their village. With mysterious big footprints, often we’re looking at something in the neighborhood of 16 inches. These footprints, however, are 47 inches long. Pretty impressive, but, um…I think someone might have been overdoing things.

The link above, under “16 inches” will have a neat formula you can check out, but I’m not into that, so we’re going to do a foot size to height conversion JGordon style. I’m six feet tall (72 inches), and my feet are…let’s see. My cubicle has been provided with a plastic six-inch ruler, which we all know is useless—I literally can not think of a single item in this world that is six inches or smaller. Except maybe a baby’s brain. Or a broken six-inch ruler. Fortunately, I’m practically swimming in standard 8.5” x 11” sheets of paper.

Shoes off, my foot is almost exactly as long as the sheet of paper I’m standing on—11 inches. So, 11 / 72 = .153. That’s my ratio of foot size to height, and I’m going to say it applies to all other humans, hominids, and hominoids (I’m pretty much the perfect specimen). A creature with a foot 47 inches long, then, should be 308 inches tall, or 25 feet, 8 inches. That’s pretty tall, even for Bigfoot, which are rarely reported to be very much taller than 10 feet. Borneo may be the world’s third largest island (“may be”? Heck, I’m just going to say it is), but it would be tricky for a bunch of 26 foot tall anythings to hide out for very long there. Unless they’re magical, and that’d be straying a little far from Science Buzz territory.

The other issue here is weight. If you take a look at the photographs of the “footprints,” which can be found here, you’ll see they aren’t very deep. The villagers do report that the ground at the sight is very hard, but you’d think something that tall would weigh enough to make a substantial impression. Again, let’s use the quick and no doubt totally accurate JGordon to Bigfoot conversion, but this time let’s to height to weight. I’m about 150 pounds for 72 inches. That means that a slender Bigfoot, at 308 inches, would have to weigh about 642 pounds. This conversion is probably a little shakier than the foot size to height formula, but, still, I’m guessing a 26-foot tall creature would be pretty darn heavy.

Plus, the photos seem to indicate that the monster is flatfooted, and you wouldn’t want to be walking around without nice arch supports if you were that heavy. Yet these are bare footprints. The evidence against is adding up.

So we’re left with real big footprint-like things, and, unfortunately, not real Bigfoot print, like, things. Oh, words.

It’s kind of a let down, I know. But don’t loose hope—crazy crap is happening all the time, and Science Buzz is just waiting for it.

Oct
20
2007

Big Feet: They come in all shapes and sizes.  (Photo courtesy of Rakka on flickr.com)
Big Feet: They come in all shapes and sizes. (Photo courtesy of Rakka on flickr.com)
This spring I read “The Beast of Bray Road,” a book detailing Wisconsin’s history of werewolf encounters (which have become particularly dense recently).

Ever since, I have been more than a little jealous towards the Wisconsinites. This is a new and uncomfortable feeling for me. Why should they get werewolves and dogmen while, just next door, we have to make due with albino squirrels and Paul Bunyan? They shouldn’t. And we won’t.

Last week, the Duluth News Tribune printed a story on Minnesota’s homegrown Bigfoot. A few local Bigfoot enthusiasts/trackers are interviewed in the article (which is also here, in case you don’t feel like registering at the other site). They offer the following information:

-There are 300, 400, or maybe 500 Bigfoot living in Minnesota.
-Bigfoot are very fast.
-In their haste, they sometimes leave footprints (which are big), and are sometimes seen (there have been 20 documented sightings in the last 2 years).
-They communicate by leaving “piles of branches and stick figures,” and by “knocking on trees.” I do the same.
-Bigfoot have cone-shaped heads, and backwards-facing palms

The article also links Minnesota Bigfoot to Native American tradition, referring to a being called “bugwayjinini,” meaning “wild man.” The bugwayjinini was thought to be a benevolent creature, meant to guide and care for humans. Also, its sightings were often interpreted as a warning of a coming disaster or sickness. So, you know, keep that in mind. If you ever spot one.