A data scientist thinks he’s solved the mystery of Bigfoot ― not by searching for the creature out in the wilds, but by examining the math instead.
In a new preprint study published online in bioRxiv, data analyst Floe Foxon says many sightings could actually be black bears, which can be roughly the size and shape of a Sasquatch when walking on their hind legs.
He’s even come up with a simple formula:
Sasquatch sightings were statistically significantly associated with bear populations such that, on the average, one ‘sighting’ is expected for every 900 bears. Based on statistical considerations, it is likely that many supposed Sasquatch are really misidentified known forms.
“If Bigfoot is there,” he writes, “it may be many bears.”
The study includes a map showing black bear populations and Bigfoot sightings overlapping in some places, especially the Pacific Northwest.
But it also shows two big exceptions: Texas and Florida. The two states have had plenty of Bigfoot sightings, but Texas has no real bear population and Florida has only a small presence.
Those, he wrote, could be explained by other animals or even people mistaken for Bigfoot.
“Usually when people say they’ve seen something like Bigfoot they aren’t lying about what they think they saw,” he told The Telegraph newspaper. “But that doesn’t mean they aren’t mistaken.”
Foxon’s analysis cites previous studies, including a 2009 report published in the Journal of Biogeography that also found a distinct overlap between black bear populations and Bigfoot sightings. The authors of that study wrote that the overlap suggests “that many sightings of this cryptozoid may be cases of mistaken identity.”
But while Foxon thinks Bigfoot sightings might be explained by bears, he has also debunked a common explanation for another mysterious creature: the Loch Ness monster.
Some have speculated that the sightings could be spawned by giant eels swimming in the loch.
Turns out, the math doesn’t work.
He told The Telegraph that spotting a 3-foot eel would be a 1-in-50,000 event in the loch. For an eel that’s about 20 feet or more ― big enough to be mistaken for Nessie ― “the probability is practically next to zero.”
At least one hunt, it seems, is still on.