Where are the Bones?

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on March 6th, 2013

From Cliff Barackman

A logical question with a logical answer

When discussing the possibility of sasquatches being real animals with the general public, I often get the question, “If they’re real, why don’t we find their bones?”

I usually answer this question with another: “If bears and mountain lions are real, why don’t we find their bones?”

The likely answer makes a lot of sense. They hide their bones, and what’s left is recycled. Let me explain… (By saying they hide their bones, I do not mean to imply that they plan ahead and bury the corpses, though this has been hypothesized. After all, neanderthals buried their dead, and sasquatches could very well be in the same genus, homo.)

Bears, mountain lions, and sasquatches are all apex predators, meaning that they are at the top of the food chain for their habitat. Their only real predators are humans, and occasionally one can find remnants of a hunted or poached bear or cougar. Naturally dead apex predators are almost never found.

It is hypothesized that when an apex predator gets sick, as all animals do at some point in their lives, it seeks a safe place to recover. The animal would be most vulnerable when it is ill, so they probably look for places that make it feel secure, like under fallen trees, in inaccessible caves, or in the thickest brush available. (I would suspect that it also would want to be near a water source, but food would likely not be much of an issue since most animals fast when sick.)

So, by putting themselves in inaccessible areas for safety reasons, the animal effectively hid itself.

One day, instead of recovering from the illness as it did every other time it got sick, the animal dies. Within a few hours to a day or two, scavengers would find the corpse and start picking it apart, devouring the flesh and yummy soft parts. Moths would make short order of the fur. Insects would nibble away at it and lay eggs in the corpse. Bacteria and fungi would play an important role in decomposition as well. Larger scavengers like coyotes or bears would separate the limbs and make off with them, thus dispersing the bones. (If the hiding place was next to a flowing water source, this could further disperse the bones.)

The bones wouldn’t last long anyways. Rodents are by far the most common mammals in North American forests, and they eat bones for the calcium content. Bone-eating rodents include wood rats, the various mouse species, porcupines, and rabbits (although bunnies are not technically rodents, but lagomorphs).

So the bones are dispersed and recycled (or digested).

This mountain lion was reportedly only dead for a few days.

I was thinking about these dispersed bones recently, and it occurred to me that if someone was walking off trail and ran across a femur that was two or three feet long, that person probably wouldn’t consider that it could be a bigfoot bone. They would probably assume it was an elk or some other large animal’s bone. (This makes a lot of sense, because it probably would be from an elk or some other large animal.) However, it would be very unlikely that the person would save the bone and give it to an appropriate expert to identify the animal species it came from. So, it is entirely possible that bigfoot bones have been discovered and ignored.

So, how long would it take for no sign of the corpse to exist, including bones? I don’t know, but I have heard that a full-grown Asian elephant will be totally gone in as little as four months.

The rate of decomposition is explained by Casper’s Law (or Ratio): if all other factors are equal, then, when there is free access of air a body decomposes twice as fast than if immersed in water and eight times faster than if buried in earth. Any dead sasquatch (or other apex predator) would be fully exposed to the air, thus decomposing the fastest.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about animal decomposition:

“Decomposition begins at the moment of death, caused by two factors: autolysis, the breaking down of tissues by the body’s own internal chemicals and enzymes and putrefaction, the breakdown of tissues by bacteria. These processes release gases that are the chief source of the unmistakably putrid odor of decaying animal tissue. Most decomposers are bacteria or fungi. Scavengers play an important role in decomposition. If the body is accessible to insects and other animals, they are typically the next agent of decomposition. The most important insects that are typically involved in the process include the flesh-flies (Sarcophagidae) and blow-flies (Calliphoridae). The green-bottle fly seen in the summer is a blowfly. The most important animals that are typically involved in the process include larger scavengers, such as coyotes, dogs, wolves, foxes, rats, and mice. Some of these animals also remove and scatter bones. Then they digest the bones.”

In summary, we would not expect to find the bones of any naturally dead apex predators.

That being said, I did speak to an owl-hooter in Northern California who said he came across a naturally dead bear. It was poking out of a hide-hole under a pile of fallen logs. This further supports my hypothesis that animals hide themselves upon their demise.

Just because we are unlikely to find a naturally dead sasquatch, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still try. I like to poke around in the thick brush or under likely cover for just such a find. I believe under large rocks that form natural caves is another excellent choice. However, be aware that it is even more likely that you could find a live apex predator, so be careful.

~ Cliff Barackman

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.

14 Responses to “Where are the Bones?”

  1. PoeticsOfBigfoot responds:

    Well, I guess Bigfoot are really, really good at hiding out before they die, because they have even managed to avoid showing up in the fossil record.

  2. Vpanoptes responds:

    “,,,sasquatches are all apex predators.” And the empirical evidence for this is – population studies? analysis of teeth? isotope studies of bone? scat analysis? behavioral/observational data? Uh, huh ….

  3. semillama responds:

    Logical explanation of the issue. I’ve found deer and beaver bones out in the woods, but not much beyond that.

    In terms of the fossil record: if the species was never numerous to begin with, and has always been a temperate forest specialist, then the chances an individual would happen to die in a location conducive to fossilization is highly remote. If the creatures do exist, I happen to think that they do not use caves often, as the cave environment would be more likely to have fossilized remains than an open site. Of course, the lack of fossils from cave environments could also be taken as evidence it doesn’t exist as well (despite being negative evidence).

  4. Redrose999 responds:

    Since only 4 percent of the fossil record is known, I suspect we know very little of our planet’s early species. Fossilization takes very specific conditions to happen, and current Bigfoot habitat really hasn’t been explored for fossils.

  5. GlassManX responds:

    Perhaps cannibals? They could eat the bones as a sign of respect. They do something similar in india, eating the ashes of the dead.

  6. David responds:

    If you want to see the bones, check out Jim Vierra’s documentary. MANY giant skeletons have been recovered. But they have been scooped up by the Smithsonian. Many newspaper clippings clearly spelling out the finds and locations. Facts, facts…look and ye shall find. Don’t expect the media to bring it to you…

  7. Jim OR responds:

    Yes, “where are the bones?”, “there isn’t enough food in the forests to sustain a creature as big as Sasquatch” – good ones for sure but my favorite whipsaw is this: “with so many people out there walking around with camera phones and video cams how come nobody gets a good photo or video?” but whenever anybody does get a pic or vid (and this is especially galling on the Patt-Gimlin film) they say: “oh sure you just happen to be out in the woods with a video or camera at the exact moment Bigfoot shows up!” lol! Pick a side! One or the other please! Heads you win, tails I lose.

    I enjoy watching you on TV Cliff – keep searching.

  8. Averagefoot responds:

    Look at how common deer are in North America. I’ve been camping and hiking my whole life and I’ve found deer bones once. If there are only a couple hundred or thousand sasquatch spread out across the whole continent that are incredibly elusive then it’s not hard for me to imagine that their bones have never been found. There is also the possibility, maybe even the probability, that bones have been found but the person that came upon them didn’t know what they were.

  9. William responds:

    I believe that bigfoot exists but these arguments that few bones are found are ridiculous as well. I have been a life long hunter and in my younger days was out nearly the entire small game and deer hunting seasons. I also hunted groundhogs in the summer so I was out in the woods or farmland year round. I can attest that I found lots and lots of bones of all kinds of critters. Deer, foxes, groundhogs, squirrels racoons, various birds including pheasants and quail.

    So to claim that the finding of bones is rare is baloney. However, in the case of a giant hairy human, I would think that they do not want their remains found. So who knows what they do to prevent it. Perhaps they go to the most remote place they can find and expire, or cover themselves with rocks or practice some form of burial. This is a big unknown I agree.

  10. lancemoody responds:

    The logic that allows this…

    “I have only found deer bones once so it makes sense that no one on earth has ever found Bigfoot bones ever.”

    …demonstrates some of the fine thinking that keeps Squatchers at forefront of science and not not a topic of laughter.


  11. DWA responds:

    This is an example of what Ploughboy might call a collateral issue. It’s no more interesting “why we don’t have bones” than “why no one has shot one” or “why nobody ever sees them.”

    (Fossils are irrelevant. The latest scientific estimate is that we have fossils for only 5% of extinct primates.)

    Not only are most remains cleaned up toot sweet, but people have found very anomalous bones that for various reasons all attributable to our being human haven’t gotten to scientific referees for classification.

    (Then there’s the Minaret Skull, likely not the only such case.)

    It’s a useless cag in the face of a large body of consistent evidence on which it is long past time for the scientific mainstream to get engaged.

  12. Averagefoot responds:

    lancemoody, you are taking my words and twisting them to suit your own agenda. That is not at all the point I was trying to make, nor even suggest. I’ve seen plenty of remains of common animals. Common, being the point. Sasquatch, if it exists, is most likely incredibly rare, obviously elusive, and thought to be quite intelligent. So I assume these are the reasons that no bones have been discovered, as far as anyone knows.

  13. lancemoody responds:

    Hi Averagefoot,

    I wasn’t just picking on your comments. I was referring to the basic and oft-repeated mantra of Bigfoot believers who say, “I’ve never found any bear bones, either therefore OMG Bigfoot!” or some variation of this.

    As you see, Barackman, of Finding Bigfoot (which does more to push Cryptozoology to the fringe than any hoaxer will ever do), does exactly that above. The problem is that people DO find the bones of bears and other predators–hunters and others have come on Bigfoot forums and podcasts to confirm this over and over.

    So the whole argument is false and unhelpful. Just because YOU haven’t found bear bones does not mean that you can extrapolate that same experience to 5+ billion other people.

    You mention how Bigfoot is rare. Hmm…that does not seem to be the claim made by enthusiasts. No, the claim is that Bigfeet are found from Florida to Washington State (and, even more dubiously, most everywhere else in the world, too!). This is the most obvious sign that Bigfoot is just a cultural myth.

    A breeding population that would sustain itself over such a large area would have to be enormous. This is what breaks (at least for me) any chance that Bigfoot is a real creature.

    That Bigfooters have to make special pleadings for their creature (he’s mystically elusive, etc.); that EVERY type of Bigfoot evidence is lousy; that many of those in the forefront of the “field” are, at best, silly hucksters; AND that the basic hypothesis (of continental coverage) collapses under its own grandiose weight is what Bigfooters ought to be addressing.

    But they rarely do. Instead much time is spent repeating false and worthless arguments like Barackman does above.

    I realize that skeptical discussion is seen as suspect by believers. Skeptics have some agenda to hide Bigfoot. But hey, a great way to fight our evil agenda is find some good evidence, to expose and vilify the hucksters (like the subject of this post) and to come up with a believable hypothesis that does not rely upon special pleading.

    After 55 years, this doesn’t seem like too much to ask.


  14. LordBalto responds:

    Actually, the real answer is that bigfoot skeletons have in fact been found. One has even been reported in the basement of the Smithsonian. The problem is, like all scientific anomalies, these have been explained away as monstrous humans and no further research has been done on them. And thus it is, in the land of the assumed conclusion.

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