Sasquatch Coffee

Where are the Cryptoarcheologists and Cryptopaleontologists?

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on October 18th, 2013

Interesting topic of discussion from the SkeptiX Files:

Yeah, yeah, yeah…the hot Bigfoot news today is the report that studies of DNA samples taken in the High Himalayas indicate that a previously unknow species of brown bear might be the source of Yeti sightings. Not surprising – Big Foot sightings and bear sightings in North America seem strikingly similar. If you want to read about that, check out the news here.

But as I see more and more episodes of “Finding Bigfoot” and get wind of new “Squatching” clubs cropping up, I have a simple question to ask: where the hell are the cryptoarcheologists and cryptopaleontologists?

In the world of science it works like this: if you want to discover a new species, you have two choices: 1) find it in nature or 2) find its fossil remains. We already have cryptozoology – the search for “living” legendary creatures. So where are the researchers looking for these creatures in the fossil record? It’s pretty clear that Bigfoot is an elusive guy – finding him in the woods is a moving target. That hasn’t worked out so well. But he’s not immortal – he has to die. Even if he scatters the remains of his dead, they’re going to turn up eventually. Cryptozoologists like to famously proclaim that “no one finds bear bones in the woods.” OK. I don’t think that’s true…but even if it is, we sure as hell find bear bones in the fossil record.

And we sure as hell find the remains of gigantic primates in the fossil record, as well. In 1935 Ralph von Koenigswald turned up the first known fossils of the mega-ape Gigantopithecus in an apothecary shop. Where are the researchers scouring the riverbanks of the Pacific Northwest for washed out Bigfoot teeth or combing through museum collections for anomalistic fossils? This is an aspect of Squatchology that has always bothered me, for a rather simple reason: I don’t think Bigfooters, deep down, actually take what they’re doing seriously. This especially includes those who have actual scientific training. Two of the leading lights of cryptozoology over the past century have been men with university training in physical anthropology: Grover Krantz and Jeff Meldrum. Admittedly neither of these scholars are “fieldmen,” but their professions rest on the work of analyzing data extracted from the environment. Without “physical” remains, “physical” anthropology has no work to do. It has always struck me as irresponsible on the part of these researchers to approach the question of Bigfoot without access to the kind of evidence upon which their professional opinion would necessarily be based.

Forget about the dodgy folklore upon which Bigfootery rests and approach this question as a matter of serious scholarship. Like a police investigation, other than establishing a claim, it is a waste of time to rely on witness testimony as a source of objective cryptozoological evidence. Here’s an example of why this fails. If someone comes to the local university’s paleontology department and describes the bones of a new species of dinosaur that they have found on their property the paleontologist is not going publish a paper establishing this new species based on that information alone. The researcher is going to want to go to the site, examine the evidence for themselves, examine the remains, and perform an objective analysis. WITHOUT ACCESS to those remains there’s nothing for the researcher to do but stay in their lab – otherwise they’re merely adding to the extant body of dubious folklore by putting themselves on the record. In other words, it’s the remains that speak – not the expert. All the opinons of all the physical anthropologists in the world matter nothing, if those opinions have no foundation in evidence upon which to rest.

This is why I doubt the sincereity of so-called Bigfoot researchers – even those with professional training. They know better. They know that without physical evidence they have no work to do. Sure, Meldrum’s interest in footprints brings him a bit closer to the realm of seriousness, but without understanding the means by which that print was created, that evidence is little better than worthless.

In fact, a serious Bigfooter – as opposed to someone trying to get on TV, earn publicity for themselves, or simply having fun with their buddies in the woods, would spend their time doing what Raymond Dart, Ralph von Koenigswald, the Leakey family, Donald Johanson, and a whole host of anthropoligsts and archaeologists have done to better understand our human origins: dig for the remains. By digging, I don’t just mean in the ground. Diggers have been pulling fossils out of North America for close to two hundred years by now. A serious Bigfooter would begin their search for evidence in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History or the American Museum of Natural History. If Bigfoot were truly real, there’s a very good chance one of his teeth or digits got dug up and tossed into a bag or box at some point during a field expedition. New species are discovered every year by researchers working in old collections. This is a common practice of grad students looking for material with which to break new ground.

So if you’re looking for Bigfoot – or any cryptid, for that matter – put down the infrared camera and pick up a book on anatomy and get busy combing the museums for remains. Read old journals and catalogs of finds. Ask your local fossil club to let you tag along when they go to “Bigfoot country.” In short, if you’re serious, get serious about finding REAL physical evidence. If a great ape ever lived in North America, he had to leave some of himself behind.

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.


8 Responses to “Where are the Cryptoarcheologists and Cryptopaleontologists?”

  1. Hapa responds:

    I have to give a BIG AMEN to the above! Hits the nail on the head. Sightings will not prove sasquatch. Footprints wont, no matter how many are found. DNA is good, but is not on par with a body, major parts of a body, a live specimen, or a fossil. We need something PHYSICAL to prove Sasquatch and any other cryptid exists. if we want the laughing to stop, the snubbing to stop, if we want respect, we need to get the remains, or a live specimen. Fossils would be a good start.

    To all that are capable of doing so: any volunteers……?

  2. corrick responds:

    Thanks Craig.
    What a great post. Cuts right to the core.

  3. Tony John Plescia via Facebook responds:

    Right on, Craig. There could be some surprising evidence awaiting a diligent researcher in the dusty basements of museums and university collections.

  4. Goodfoot responds:

    If there are indeed “Bigfoot remains” in some museum somewhere, they’re NOT going to be in any area accessible to the public. Probably not to credentialed anthropologists, either. There’s a reason why they’d be kept inaccessible from nearly everybody.

    Just sayin’. And I’m not suggesting there aren’t; it’s certainly possible. But if no one’s seen ‘em, they’re locked up good and tight.

  5. alan borky responds:

    Craig I’ve always assumed researchers’ve been doing this all along and whenever anything’s been found the No Humans [and by inference hominids] Before Clovis guillotine’s immediately come down on their careers.

    Evidence for this’s surely in the widespread ridicule heaped upon the claims throughout the Nineteenth Century American press of finds of giants.

    Ditto anomalous footprints etc in strata so ancient this’s considered all the proof needed they can’t be real.

    If I’m mistaken though this guy Vidocq’s surely onto something and if there really are Bigfoot out there then maybe at least once some Nineteenth or even early Twentieth Century archaeologist/researcher somewhere must’ve held a fossilized example of one of their bones in his or her hand and deciding it couldn’t possibly be what it looked like especially since it’d nuke their careers chucked it to the back of a drawer labelled unknown.

    I certainly agree with Vidocq’s implication there’s a certain timidity or even faintheartedness in the general crypto field which amounts almost to an apology for even daring to exist almost to the point at times “If we keep real quiet and don’t make too much of a fuss and basically repudiate our own take on the evidence will you real scientists guys some day just maybe possibly think of lettin’ us pretend we’re real scientists too?”

  6. FrankGHaymes responds:

    “A serious Bigfooter would begin their search for evidence in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History or the American Museum of Natural History. If Bigfoot were truly real, there‚Äôs a very good chance one of his teeth or digits got dug up and tossed into a bag or box at some point during a field expedition. New species are discovered every year by researchers working in old collections. This is a common practice of grad students looking for material with which to break new ground.”

    I think that this would be a good way for someone who could not get out in the bush to help look for Bigfoot. Go to you local museum and see what it takes to look through their collections. Maybe volunteer to help at the museum. Who knows what you will find?

  7. MattPriceTime responds:

    While the text makes a good argument, it also seems to skate around the fact that this science is no less perfect than in field work. The fossil records has not and no doubt never will be perfect. If it was we wouldn’t be discovering new species that fill in gaps of creature evolution. Not every creature that dies is going to end up preserved to be found in the future by chance digging. And especially given your creature may not have ever existed, that seems like just crazy enough of a risk.

    Now sometimes bones do get misidentified and locked up in vaults, but depending on who or what group you are dealing with, some of those places would be harder than others. But again if said creature is similar to something else, there’s a decent chance as to why it was misidentified in the first place. Again assuming we found something, which is not always a slam dunk.

    Also finding a moving target in the wild is hard, but finding remains is still hard as well. I live in a suburb right next to a major road with lots of woods going down the sides. There’s a mass of wildlife in there, that i see alive not often and dead even less. I think it’s a good idea to search in both directions, but one is not that much better than the other.

    Now i’ve argued here in the past, that people just trying to take pictures or look for cryptids isn’t going to convince the scientific community, where capturing or finding remains would be the better ways to prove something exists.

    However i stress that humans aren’t as smart as we like to think we are. If said creatures do exist and they can hide, they are going to be smart enough to avoid direct contact with humans with the fancy technology. Humans love invading and destroying other creature’s habitats, if these mysterious beasts are out there, they are keeping themselves partially hidden for a reason.

    Another comment i call bias on is the truth about eye-witnesses. Now while there needs to always be some skepticism because of how the human brain works in forming memories, the writer of this article really wants to just throw anything not teeth and bones under the rug, and i find that ridiculous. If we ignored anything that was a claim, then we’d be a lot farther behind then we are now. If people make claims they should be cataloged and assessed. Just the same as done in law enforcement, business and yes science. Sometimes we find things that were misidentified earlier on in any field, but that’s only because we took what people said down to compare. Just discounting all that is a step backwards.

    Also it’s a good time to bring up the old, “the scientist in the lab doesn’t know as much as the man in the field on the beast, but the man in the field doesn’t know as much as the scientist in the lab to explain the beast” As in the person who lives there might know far more about what’s there than someone only looking at what physical proof or lack there of it. But the man might not be as educated of the scientist to be able to correctly identify it. Such examples of the gorilla and the panda that were long reported as real (but with superstition attached), while science scoffed it turned out there was a real animal behind the sightings. And the scientist didn’t know enough to believe the sighting, but the man didn’t know enough to correctly identify what it was seeing.

    So if we limit ourselves to “evidence of value” such as teeth and bones, we are only supposed to believe x exists when we have one alive or in a fossil? So all the stories validated over the years from eye witnesses and historical records all meant nothing? Because if all that before we found the teeth and bones were irrelevant clearly the fact it lead us somewhere is to be ignored? Yeah right.

    I’ll end this by saying i typed a very long response in response to a bigfoot lead that i myself don’t feel 100% convinced is real, but it really irks me as someone who loves exploring and discovery that in this case someone can slight one angle of a field and not even defend who flimsy his own is?

  8. DWA responds:

    I may be echoing MattPriceTime but what the heck.

    I know one skeptic who just basically circ-files the entire encounter literature as folklore…yet searches streambeds for hominoid teeth whenever he gets spare time. Not sure I know too many needle-in-haystack searches I think funnier.

    Not saying that this isn’t a potentially productive avenue. It may be…to anyone who has that kind of time. But given that there’s no particular place indicated to start this looking, well, good luck and start your retirement early if you really intend to do this.

    The encounters, however, give us places to look, as do footprint finds, i.e., where they are happening. This is how Patterson got a movie of one; and if you think that’s a guy in a suit, you’d think …well, can’t exactly predict what you’d think.

    NAWAC is getting plenty of contact, and considers it a matter of time before a body is in hand. Where are they setting up shop? In a place with a special concentration of reports.

    The notion that anecdotes mean nothing is strange indeed. All science begins with observations.



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