Did Bigfoot Really Exist? How Gigantopithecus Became Extinct | Science | Smithsonian
The best look yet at supposed Yeti samples also offers valuable Bigfoot of the Himalayas Vet Mark Evans explores the Himalayas – the birthplace of the Yeti. . How DNA from snow helps scientists track elusive animals. Meet the Yeti hunters. If a minute Channel 4 documentary isn't the place to explore this exciting new frontier of knowledge, I don't know. The Yeti or Abominable Snowman, has featured in the folklore of Nepal and A photo of Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman Credit: Bettmann.
The features of the dentition—large, flat molars, thick dental enamel, a deep, massive jaw—indicate Gigantopithecus probably ate tough, fibrous plants similar to Paranthropus. Based on the types of phyoliths the researchers found stuck to the teeth, they concluded Gigantopithecus had a mixed diet of fruits and seeds from the fig family Moraceae and some kind of grasses, probably bamboo.
The same thing could have happened to Gigantopithecus. Zhao LingXia of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues analyzed carbon isotopes in a sample of Gigantopithecus teeth. Plants have different forms of carbon based on their type of photosynthesis; this carbon footprint is then recorded in the teeth of animals that eat plants.
The team determined Gigantopithecus—and the animals living alongside it, such as deer, horses and bears—ate only C3 plants, evidence the ape lived in a forested environment. This work also supports the proposed bamboo diet, as bamboo is a C3 plant.
So what happened to this Pleistocene Yeti? Other factors could have exacerbated this crisis. Some Bigfoot hunters say Gigantopithecus is alive and well, hiding out in the forests of the Pacific Northwest.
And this is what she said. Soundbite of interview Ms. Well now you will be amazed when I tell you that I'm sure that they exist. Did you always have this belief that they're, that they existed? Well, I'm a romantic so I always wanted that. And there you have it. I mean I was shocked as anybody sitting here in this room… Dr. And she does endorse on the cover of your book.
And, you know, she revealed a couple of levels of engagement in this subject. As she mentioned, she's a romantic. Without question the topic has that side to it because, you know, the prospect of an unknown persisting into this century right here in our own back yard - I mean it does appeal to those who hope that they're still our frontiers of exploration and so forth.
But she did go on and comment the reasons for that conviction. And it was because she had talked with many people who had had experiences. She was - some of those were Native Americans who shared their traditional knowledge and their own contemporary experiences with these creatures according to their experiences.
And so, I mean that's where the science begins to enter in, I think, is where we get beyond just the stories or the romance of the subject and pose that simple biological question, is there a species of primate behind the legends of Sasquatch.
Talking with Jeff Meldrum, author of Sasquatch: Jeff, you are the footprint expert. Would you say that's where the most convincing evidence is for you?
And it's by far the most ubiquitous, somewhat concrete evidence, you know, setting the anecdotes aside for a moment. It's something that we can replicate, we can put calipers on, we can investigate from a functional morphological aspect to see what might explain the various features that are within those footprints. So yes, that's where my - I mean my academic career has been built on a study of the way primates move and how we as humans have evolved our particular adaptation for walking on two legs.
And so, I think I'm in a position to speak on the footprints from an informed stance and say something worthwhile about them.
What about that famous film that we've seen of Sasquatch in the black and white grainy film? You know, why do you not think it's somebody dressed up in an ape suit? Well, actually it was a piece of color film. The renditions that have been put out of late are enhanced where the color channels have been split in order to sort of filter out the less focused wavelength of light, the emotion that didn't catch a sharp image, sharply focused image.
But yes, I mean, it's been almost 40 years now. It'll be 40 years next year. And still that piece of footage for those who take the time to really look at it objectively still holds our attention.
You know, it's easy to say, Oh, it looks like a man in a fur suit until you see a man in a fur suit. And then the comparison really pales on, especially on these newer, clearer images from the film. You can see muscle movements. You can see the shoulder blade slide under the skin.
You can see tendons attaching to joints and so forth. The clarity is really much better than most people have acknowledged in the past. And there are still people who are analyzing the film? In fact just a few weeks ago I returned from a trip to Stanford University where as part of a production for the Discovery Channel we were working with a motion and gate analysis lab there on campus to give the film one more fresh look, and particularly from this newer enhanced version.
And we even brought in an actor who we coached in order to simulate the posture that was exhibited by the subject. He was able to do that after considerable coaching pretty closely approximate the posture of the body, the angles of the joints. But what fell short was the obvious difference that he wasn't seven feet tall.
He wasn't three feet across. Jeff, I've got to - I'm going to have you hang on. We'll be right back more with Jeff Meldrum and Sasquatch.
Secret of the Abominable Snowman revealed after scientists analyse 'Yeti' DNA
We're talking with Jeff Meldrum, author of Sasquatch: Jeff, when I interrupted you, you were talking about the film of - famous film and why you think it's not a hoax. Well, I guess the final word would simply be that from my perspective again, just considering the film from the ankles down is an extremely compelling bit of evidence.
One of the real weak points of any costume is the feet. And we saw that when this same actor donned a quite expensive Hollywood costume but the feet looked like something off of Bozo the Clown and could never have accounted for the footprints that were associated with that film side or the clear dynamic that's evident in the film itself of the feet of the subject as it walks across the sandbar.
You know, when we had Jane Goodall on, she mentioned that there were tufts of fur that might have DNA, active DNA still in them that could be compared. Did you come across any of those? Well we have - we've worked on hair. Henner Fahrenbach, who is a microscopist in Oregon, has sort of taken the lead on that front and samples have been sent to him.
We have over 15 samples that defy identification. Attempts have been made to extract DNA but unsuccessfully sequenced. So we're still - and that's in part, for a variety of reasons, which we don't have time to go into all the details - but we're still in want of a good sample of tissue from which DNA could be extracted.
Let's go to the phones. I'm sorry, go ahead. Well, I was going to say even if we did have DNA it poses kind of an interesting question though because as I'm sure you're aware, humans and chimpanzees, for example, share remarkable similarity of DNA in their sequence. If this animal is also great ape and closer to the life of humans it will take a very good bit of sequence, a good sample, to yield sufficient information to discriminate between human and non-human DNA.
Let's go to Mitch in Pocatello, Idaho. Well I'm in Dr. I'm a graduate student and have actually taken the time to read his latest book. And I have a question for Dr. Of all the evidences that you produce, which do you think are the closest to being able to be published in a peer-reviewed journal?
Well, I already have published one article that deals with the footprint evidence, placing it in a much broader anthropological context. The Sasquatch foot seems to be distinguished in its retention of a flexibility of the midfoot phmuch more similar to a great ape foot in that regard.
And that very interesting feature has some intriguing parallels to aspects of the very earliest prominent bipeds. And in fact, provides for me a very interesting juxtaposition of sort of two independent, potentially independent evolutions of bipedalism from a similar starting point that have - that express very similar characteristics in parallel. Are you an outcast? Are you considered to be like a cold fusion researcher on some other, you know, some other part of the campus? It kind of depends on who you ask, I guess, but not nearly to the extent that that article unfortunately portrayed.
I have to say that the situation was grossly exaggerated. It did include - the article did include very supportive statements and clarification by the dean of arts and sciences. And I think that represents the administration's attitude and the attitude of many of my colleagues who expressed their support.
I mean, the expressions of support and encouragement have been really quite overwhelming since that article aired.
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- 'Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science'
But there are - there is with out doubt some resistance. I mean obviously this is not perceived by some as a legitimate scientific endeavor. It's perceived as some sort of fringe or pseudo science. And, you know, I'd have to take the position that I am in disagreement with that, that those individuals have not really considered the evidence, nor the manner in which I'm pursuing the question. Well, so what would it take then to prove to people the existence of Sasquatch?
Did Bigfoot Really Exist? How Gigantopithecus Became Extinct
Well, obviously, the convention in zoology is for the establishment or the recognition of a new species to be based on a type specimen, and I've never suggested - you know, I don't use the word I believe in the existence of Bigfoot. To me, that connotes a conviction in the absence of proof or evidence, at least. I simply say that the evidence is there, there's no refuting that.
What does the evidence tell us, where does it lead us, and is there something behind this persistence of this phenomenon in western North America?
'Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science' : NPR
Sounds just like what Sherlock Holmes would say. Well, that's a complimentary comparison. When you've eliminated all the obvious, he would say. You know, what's staring you in the face. Why do you think that's so - you know, relatively so few sightings are around. If it were to survive so many years, so many generations, there would have to be enough of that creature to reproduce, would there not? And this is kind of a misconception.