Data processing expert Floe Foxon has shown that most Bigfoot sightings in the US and Canada were likely black bears walking on their hind legs, reports sciencealert.com.
American black bears usually walk on all fours, but stand up on their hind legs if they smell a stronger smell of something interesting. And from this position, they can appear oddly human-like, albeit quite hairy.
This is not the first time scientists have proposed black bears as an explanation for the Bigfoot phenomenon.
In 2005, one scientist compared projected black bear populations with reported sasquatch sightings in the northwest corner of the US. However, he concluded that a species of animal other than the American black bear is responsible for sightings of this mythical creature. But in 2009, a new study showed a high degree of overlap between black bear populations and Bigfoot sightings.
Now, Foxon has extended the previous results by expanding the scope of the study to all locations in the US and Canada where black bears and humans live near each other.
The data he used for the Bigfoot sightings came from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, which maintains a geographic database of eyewitness reports from mostly the twentieth century.
Foxon then compared this information with local data on black bear density and distribution, as well as population density. According to Foxon’s strict regression model, Bigfoot sightings are largely attributable to misidentification of black bears.
In areas with a lot of black bears and people, more people see Bigfoot, especially in the northwest. On the other hand, black bears are not as common in Texas and Florida, despite the fact that bigfoot can often be seen in these two states.
“Notably, sasquatch sightings have been reported in states with no known breeding black bear populations,” Foxon admits.
“Although this may be interpreted as evidence for the existence of an unknown hominid in North America, it is also explained by misidentification of other animals (including humans), among other possibilities.”
However, Texas and Florida are exceptions to the rule. Foxon found that for every 900 black bears in a given US state or Canadian province, one Bigfoot is expected.
In other parts of the world, bears can also trick people into seeing mythical hominins.
For example, in the mountains of Asia, it is likely that Bigfoot is actually a common Asian black bear, Himalayan brown bear, or Tibetan brown bear.
The physical evidence that has been collected about the yeti in the past, such as teeth and hair, has always belonged to another known animal, and usually a bear.
“In conclusion,” Foxon writes, “if bigfoot is there, it may be many bears.”
The study was published in bioRxiv.