This essay was posted on December 16, 1998. The author of this essay is Blake Mathys, a freshman Biology major at Ohio Northern University, in Ada, Ohio, at the time of writing. I know that there are a few typographical errors, but have not fixed them in order to maintain this document in the form that it was originally posted. Any questions or comments are appreciated. These should be sent to Thank you.

Bigfoot - an analytical essay

By: Blake Mathys

Bigfoot is a phenomenon that has been reported for many years by many people all over North America. This paper will not go into most of the "who?" or "where?" of the sightings, but will examine the "why?". The question is, why did the sightings occur? There only seem to be two overall explanations to this phenomenon. The first answer to "why?" is that the witnesses did not see anything abnormal. This answer can be divided into four subcategories. These subcategories are that all witnesses were tricked by a hoax, perpetrated a hoax, misidentified something else, or were hallucinating. The second explanation, that the witness actually saw something that was not a hallucination or hoax, can be divided into three subcategories. The subcategories are at first glance ridiculous. These are that Bigfoot is a flesh and blood terrestrial animal, Bigfoot is a supernatural/metaphysical "entity", or Bigfoot is an alien. All seven of these subcategories will be the basis for this essay, which will give points and examples for and against each one.

The first subcategory is that the witness was tricked by someone perpetrating a hoax. At first glance, this is a tempting explanation. It is a well known fact that people have successfully perpetrated hoaxes and convinced innocent people that the witness(es) had seen a Bigfoot. The problem is that some sightings have been reported by witnesses that have a knowledge of the anatomy and behavior of animals, and have observed and hunted various large mammals for their entire adult lives. It would be very difficult for a human dressed in an ape suit to trick a person like this into thinking it was a real animal. Also, many descriptions indicate the creatures have a height of 2 to 3 meters. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for someone to construct a motile and natural looking costume of this size suitable for wear through the forest. The possibility of this being the explanation for more than 20% of sightings is slim, in this author's opinion. The chances of this being the explanation for all sightings by those with a knowledge of animals and their characteristics observing in good weather conditions and in the daytime is nonexistent, in this author's opinion.

The second subcategory is that the people reporting the sighting are lying, and only after money or publicity or some other goal. This argument breaks down when the number of witnesses who wish to remain completely confidential is considered. Many witnesses indicate a fear of being made fun of and ridiculed. They do not want publicity, and ask for no money in return for their information. Needless to say some "sightings" are easily identifiable as publicity stunts or hopes to attract large sums of money. These are often blatant, though this is not always the case. Even with this in mind, this subcategory is almost entirely eliminated as a viable explanation for most reported Bigfoot sightings.

The third subcategory, and one that I believe is a viable explanation for many sightings, is misidentification. Misidentification occurs when a person sees something, whether it be a bear or a tree stump or a person, and identifies it as a Bigfoot. This can easily happen at night, when lighting is low, or when a person expects to see a Bigfoot and convinces himself or herself that it was a Bigfoot they saw. This I believe is an explanation in many cases where the conditions were simply unsuitable for accurate observation. The problem with this as an explanation for all sightings is that often observations are made in good conditions, with the witness not even previously considering the possibility of Bigfoot existing. With these things stated, and also accepting that misidentification can and does happen, it is still not an acceptable answer to explain all Bigfoot sightings.

The fourth subcategory is hallucination. This can overlap somewhat with misidentification, in that a person sees something and convinces themselves it was a Bigfoot. I believe that this accounts for a very small percentage of Bigfoot sightings. Hallucinatory witnesses are often identified by the fact that they see a Bigfoot every three days, or some other ridiculously frequent time interval, and often in varied places, with the sightings being many kilometers away from each other. Witnesses on chemical stimulants are often easily recognized, and their stories are usually fantastic and unbelievable. This does not stand up, in the author's opinion, as an explanation for more than 10% of reported sightings.

As I have finished the subcategories under the first answer to "why?", I would now like to discuss what these previous four paragraphs mean. It is my opinion that the above four possibilities, either together or separately, are not enough to explain all Bigfoot sightings. This means one of two things. Either there is another explanation that, combined with the previous stated, explains the remainder, or Bigfoot, as a "real" entity, must exist in some form, which is what the second answer to "why?" says. I will investigate the latter possibility in the remainder of this paper.

The first subcategory under the second answer to the question "why?" is that Bigfoot is a real flesh and blood animal, a large bipedal mammal by description. At first glance this is a very good explanation. It does not require hundreds of misidentifications, drug addicts, and many people running around in the forest of North America in ape costumes. The question is simply, is it possible that a large creature could exist in the wilderness of North America, supposedly including many well populated states in the U.S., without being scientifically proven to exist. The evidence for this includes the consistency of the sighting, including nearly identical sightings by people who had no previous knowledge of each other or of Bigfoot, and often in diverse geographical regions. This is also supported by the fact that there are large areas of nearly uninhabited wilderness in North America that could support the creatures that have been described. Various other pieces of evidence have been given, including footprint analyses, by people such as Dr. Grover Krantz (Krantz, 1992). Such arguments are better left to experts in the field, and I will not address these here. Needless to say, these pieces of evidence have not been enough to prove the existence of this creature. This subcategory must remain as a possibility if the other explanations do not suffice to explain the existence of Bigfoot sightings.

The second subcategory is that Bigfoot is some type of supernatural or metaphysical entity, which, if ever flesh and blood, is not always flesh and blood. Before I hear of this paper being torn up and burned, please listen to the reason for inclusion of this possibility. In John Green's book, Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us, Green tells of happenings, with one in particular, that indicate something that generally fits the description of Bigfoot, doing things impossible for a flesh and blood animal to do. I will quote what I feel is a quintessential example. From Green's book:

February 6, 1974, a woman near Uniontown reported that at 10 p.m. she went with a shotgun to investigate strange sounds on her porch and confronted a seven-foot, hair-covered, apelike creature just six feet away. It raised both arms over its head, but she shot it in the midsection nonetheless, and it "just disappeared in a flash of light." There was no sound and no smell, only a flash "just like someone taking a picture."

This indicates a being that is not a hoax or real animal, by normal definitions anyway, of any type. The problem with an explanation that Bigfoot is supernatural or metaphysical is that the vast majority of sightings are of what are appears to be a normal physical creature. The other major objection is that this explanation is entirely unscientific, with no real way to prove it. Also, there is not an example of a being like this that has ever been proven to exist. It is therefore the author's conclusion that this is simply not a viable explanation for any reported Bigfoot sightings. With this stated, the above experience must then be given to one of the first four subcategories.

The final subcategory is that Bigfoot is an alien from space. This is a view held by many Bigfoot researchers, though notably none of the scientists who research Bigfoot. The reason that this possibility is included in this paper is that this could also explain alleged incidents of Bigfoot doing things that are not considered normal. The problem is that we do not have any conclusive proof that aliens have visited earth, and of course no proof that they even exist. I will again turn to John Green's book, Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us, for information, this time an argument by Green against Bigfoot being a visitor from another planet:

Sasquatches are obviously Earth-type animals. Walking like men, looking like apes and living like bears, they fit right in as terrestrial creatures, and they are hardly what anyone would expect to find flying a space vehicle.

I think that Mr. Green has hit the nail on the head. His point that Bigfoot is very much like known animals, and therefore well suited to life on earth, is valid and I believe all that needs to be said concerning this subcategory.

I would now like to draw some conclusions from what I have said in the preceding paragraphs. First, as I said above, it does not seem feasible that Bigfoot could not exist as a real creature in some way, when you consider sightings such as those made by William Roe in British Columbia (Green, 1978). This sighting was by a person who had observed wildlife in the past, the creature was observed in the daylight, with the observation as close as 6 meters. Roe made a sworn deposition concerning the sighting. It is my opinion that the creature Roe observed can not be explained as someone dressed up in an ape suit, Roe lying, Roe misidentifying a bear or other known animal, or Roe hallucinating. He actually saw something, a real living entity of some sort. This entity, from the elimination of the subcategories supernatural/metaphysical and alien, would therefore have to be a real animal, a large mammal by Roe's, and all other witnesses, description. This is further supported in Dr. John Bindernagel's book, North America's Great Ape: The Sasquatch. Dr. Bindernagel takes almost all aspects of the descriptions of Bigfoot and equates them to known animals, especially the great apes. It is, in my opinion, a book that demonstrates the normalcy of Bigfoot, as it has been described. I know there are those who say that a conclusion of Bigfoot's existence cannot be made, simply because we don't have proof that it exists. I say that I have eliminated all other possibilities that I consider to have even a speck of possible validity, and this is what is left. I invite you to draw your own conclusion from the information stated. I feel that Bigfoot has to exist, as a real living animal; now it is up to you to decide for yourself.


Green, John. Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us. 1978. Hancock House Publishers Inc. Blaine, Washington.

Krantz, Grover. Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch. 1992. Johnson Printing Company, Boulder, Colorado.

Bindernagel, John. North America's Great Ape: The Sasquatch. 1998. Beachcomber Books, British Columbia, Canada.