Science Tuesday: Bigfoot, Real?

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 Could Bigfoot Have Been Real?

By Joe

            With the second installment of Test-Tube Tuesdays, I thought I’d talk about a weird scientific discovery. It’s by no means new, but its discovery does carry some odd possible implications – Was, at least at one time, Bigfoot real?

bigfoot xingIn 1935 the German paleoanthropologist, Ralph von Koenigswald found a large tooth that did not belong to any known member of the primate family in China. After much search, other paleoanthropologists, predominantly Chinese, found more teeth and eventually some jawbones. Given the huge size of these remains, scientists estimate the huge ape (Gigantopithecus blacki) to have been a vegetarian who mostly ate grasses like bamboo as well as seeds and fruit and stood over 10 feet tall and weighed up to 1200 pounds!

Further findings have shown that this great ape or at least some of its smaller ancestors lived in China, Vietnam, and Northern India. Perhaps the most interesting data is when it existed; Gigantopithecus lived in these areas as recently as 100-200 thousand years ago, and thus would have interacted with several homo species.

yetiSo, could Bigfoot, Sasquatch, or the Yeti have been real? Maybe. The Bering Strait land bridge joined Asia and North America during the Pleistocene or ice age, which is when Gigantopithecus existed. Could our ancient ancestors have interacted with this creature? Could they have told stories through the generations, the same stories we know today of the great ape? Most stories hold a grain of truth, so perhaps. Further, could Gigantopithecus have evolved to a smaller, nimbler size to closely resemble the Bigfoot of today? Probably not, but it’s something to think about, and I always love believing in possibilities.

The important thing, for me at least, is the realization that we as a species still have things to discover, mysteries still to solve. Maybe Gigantopithecus explains Bigfoot, maybe it doesn’t, but I love finding plausible explanations for stories our ancestors told and just maybe, a kernel of truth within folk tales.

It’s no unicorn, but having a plausible explanation for Bigfoot is a good start!

Here are some great stories on the subject:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/12/1208_051208_giant_ape_2.html

http://www.uiowa.edu/~bioanth/giganto.html

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/did-bigfoot-really-exist-how-gigantopithecus-became-extinct-16649201/

 

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