Cryptozoology 101: Bigfoot vs. Bears

I love it that Jane Goodall is fascinated by Bigfoot. Lots of other people are too, of course, but her interest really captures my attention. I remember listening to an episode of Science Friday where a scientist laid out some compelling evidence for the existence of Bigfoot, and it gave me that eerie heebie-jeebie feeling as if there was one very close to me, just about to pop out of the bushes. That, combined with Jane Goodall saying “I’m sure they exist.” Jeesh!

Michigan is a big state for Bigfoot sightings via Mystery Casebook.
Michigan is a big state for Bigfoot sightings via Mystery Casebook.

Even before Finding BigfootUpper Michigan was prime Bigfoot territory, and in college we would sit in the computer lab, and procrastinate on homework by reviewing local Bigfoot sightings.

Characteristics of Bigfoot Sightings

Bigfoot sightings, of course, are most likely to occur in remote, forested locations. Other things commonly associated with the sightings were:

  • Large furry creature, generally dark fur and larger than a human
  • Creature darting into the woods away from people
  • Strange wailing or other sounds
  • Creepy feeling of being watched
  • Large tracks

Bigfoot vs. Bears

Most Bigfoot sightings are probably bears. In college, we would basically read these to see if they suggested that the person had most likely seen a black bear or if they more likely to have been drunk, high, crazy, or some combination thereof. It was a mix, but bears seemed to be a reasonable explanation for most of the sightings.

This is even better when you see video of a bear walking on its two hind legs. Check this out!

More evidence: A scientific study published in the Journal of Biogeography in 2009 looked at records of Bigfoot sightings the Northwest US and found that the locations of sightings essentially overlaps with black bear habitat. The authors conclude that many Bigfoot sightings are probably actually black bear sightings. (BTW: I love that this paper exists. Go science!)

In case you’re not sure and are wondering how to tell them apart, here you go:

By Craig Woolheater via GameTrails
By Craig Woolheater via GameTrails

It’s easy to dismiss Bigfoot, but then I think about Jane Goodall’s comments and a little bit of me wants to have her be right, just because it would be so interesting and fun.

What do you think about Bigfoot? 


6 thoughts on “Cryptozoology 101: Bigfoot vs. Bears

    1. Thanks for your comment! I’d never thought about it, but that makes perfect sense. Being an omnivore and eating a really wide range of foods would certainly help them stay in the woods and away from people for longer.

    1. That must have been exciting, Kathy! I bet there are a fair number of Bigfoot sightings (perhaps by non-residents?). I might be opening up another can of worms here, but my feeling is that cougar sightings may have replaced them– I’ve heard a handful of those from our neighbors in the last few years. Eeek! Given that there’s a chance that some of these could actually be real, I’d prefer to hear of Bigfoot sightings!


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