Bigfoot: Worth Investigating?
Updated: Mar 18, 2021
I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone who has supported me and my new series. While most of the feedback has been very positive, I’d like to address the criticism and sometimes personal attacks that I have received, particularly from other scientists, who do not feel Bigfoot is a topic worthy of investigation. I approached this investigation as a scientist and an anthropologist, not a Bigfoot enthusiast.
I don’t accept things in the absence of evidence, but I strongly believe that if you want to be a part of a scientific discovery, you have to be willing to take risks. I like to take risks. Exploration is foundational to science. I have always been interested in the exploratory part of science. I gravitate toward controversial questions because I find them more interesting. From the onset, my scientific career has been driven by the challenge of looking for obscure and unknown species. This ultimately led to my co-discovery of the world’s smallest primate, as well as being the first scientist to photograph and study several other primates that had never been studied and rarely seen.
The age-old legend of Bigfoot, coupled with the more than 10,000 modern day accounts, captures my curiosity. I especially have high respect for Native American people and their accounts. And to quote one of my heroes, Jane Goodall, “the notion of Bigfoot cannot be dismissed. I’m a romantic,” Goodall replied, when asked if she thought Bigfoot existed. “I would like Bigfoot to exist. I’ve met people who swear they’ve seen Bigfoot. I think the interesting thing is every single continent there is an equivalent of Bigfoot or Sasquatch. There’s the Yeti, the Yowie in Australia, the Chinese Wildman, and on and on and on. I’ve heard stories from people who, you have to believe them. So there’s something. I don’t know what it is.” Some will argue that it has been “proven by countless investigations that Bigfoot doesn’t exist, and therefore this is a waste of time”. In my humble and professional opinion, both of those statements are false.
The absence of evidence doesn’t prove the non-existence of species.
It is our duty as scientists not to let our judgement and preconceived notions cloud our investigations. There is to date, no concrete evidence that Bigfoot exists. However, there are countless reports and unexplainable findings that cannot be, nor should be, ignored. Other legendary creatures, such as “hobbits”, have left the pages of myth and fiction, because curious and tenacious scientists ultimately found evidence in the fossil record. Dozens of species are discovered on a yearly basis. Many more are yet to be discovered. I set out on this expedition like I do all my others, with curiosity, a sense of wonder and no-preconceived expectations.
Without curiosity and wonder, where would science be? I took a position at FIU as the Director of Exploration and Science Communications because I believe in engaging the general public in science. For those who feel I have somehow sold out for television, I offer you this: Science and entertainment can and should co-exist. Whether you think it’s lowbrow or highbrow misses the point. Women and young girls have few female explorers at the televisual forefront.
I hope that seeing me waist deep in the swamps in Congo, getting charged by gorillas, or scouring the woods of Oregon inspires them to explore. Perhaps like Jane, I too am a romantic. I assure you that as a scientist, my feet are firmly planted on the ground. My mind is open to the possibilities. The mind and science cannot explore closed doors.