'Bigfoot' reports in US and Canada were probably black bears

We all may have misunderstood it for years.
Nergis Firtina
A Bigfoot depiction.
A Bigfoot depiction.

Chris Wilson/iStock 

Often described as a large, muscular, and bipedal ape-like creature, Sasquatch, commonly known as "Bigfoot," is one of the prominent characters of popular culture.

To establish the reality of Bigfoot, several dubious articles have been put forth, including anecdotal reports of sightings and supposed video and audio recordings, pictures, and casts of giant footprints. But still, it's not clear whether Bigfoot exists or not.

According to research by data scientist Floe Foxon, most Bigfoot reports in North America were likely black bears moving slowly on their hind legs, as per ScienceAlert.

It could be bears

Also mentioned in ScienceAlert's report, Ursus americanus, or American black bears, typically move around on all fours. However, they will occasionally stand up to gain a better perspective or a stronger sniff of something intriguing. They can look uncannily human from this angle but somewhat hairy.

'Bigfoot' reports in US and Canada were probably black bears
Sasquatch sighting.

Foxon has now expanded on previous findings by extending the analysis to all locations in the United States and Canada where black bears and humans coexist.

The Bigfoot sightings data Foxon used came from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, which maintains a geographical database of eyewitness reports mostly from the twentieth century onward. Foxon then matched this information to local statistics on human population densities, black bear distribution, and densities. Misidentified black bears largely explain Bigfoot sightings, claims Foxon.

"Notably, sasquatch sightings have been reported in states with no known breeding black bear populations," Foxon says. "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."

Yeti was found before

It's possible that the Yeti in Asia's mountains is simply a snow-covered Asian black bear, Himalayan brown bear, or Tibetan brown bear. The teeth and hair used as physical proof of the Yeti in the past have always been identified as belonging to another known animal, generally bears, reported Science Alert.

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Foxon's study was published in bioRxiv on January 29.

Study abstract:

It has been suggested that the American black bear (Ursus americanus) may be responsible for a significant number of purported sightings of an alleged unknown species of hominid in North America. Previous analyses have identified the correlation between 'sasquatch' or 'bigfoot' sightings and black bear populations in the Pacific Northwest using ecological niche models and simple models of expected animal sightings. The present study expands the analysis to the entire US and Canada by regressing sasquatch sightings on bear populations in each state/province while adjusting for the human population and land area in a generalized linear model. Sasquatch sightings were statistically significantly associated with bear populations such that, on average, one 'sighting' is expected for every few hundred bears. Based on statistical considerations, it is likely that many supposed sasquatch are really misidentified known forms. If bigfoot is there, it may be many bears.

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