The real truth about the Sasquatch

As a proud native of the great Pacific Northwest, when an article on one of our noblest creatures was mentioned to me, I had to read it. Here’s the center of the story.

In July 2005, nine residents of Teslin, Yukon,
witnessed through a kitchen window a large bipedal
animal moving through the brush. The next morning, they
collected a tuft of coarse, dark hair and also observed a
footprint measuring 43 cm in length and 11.5 cm in width.

That’s right: physical evidence, a footprint and hair, from…Bigfoot. The Sasquatch. A sample captured in the wild and brought into the lab. Pinned against the wall, trapped and unable to escape the probing appendages of an implacable, intrusive Science.

So they extracted DNA from the hair and amplified conserved mammalian sequences. They sequenced fragments of the DNA and compared them against sequences in the databases, and got a shocking answer. Prepare yourself: here is a diagram of the phylogenetic relationship of Sasquatch to other mammalian species.

Maximum parsimony tree illustrating the position of the Sasquatch hair sample. Bootstrap support values are given at the nodes. The species and GenBank accession numbers are water buffalo Bubalus bubalis*, yak Bos mutus, cow Bos taurus, wisent Bos bonasus, and
North American bison Bison bison.

The scientists squirm and try to avoid the obvious conclusions of their results, inventing foolish excuses rather than facing reality.

There are several possible explanations for these
results. First, as suggested from molecular analysis of
hair from a suspected Yeti, the Sasquatch might be a
highly elusive ungulate that exhibits surprising morphological convergence with primates
. Alternately, the hair
might have originated from a real bison and be unrelated
to the Sasquatch. Parsimony would favor the second
interpretation, in which case, the identity and taxonomy
of this enigmatic and elusive creature remains a mystery.

I wonder what Radical Sasquatch will think of this.

*Wait a minute…the scientific name for the water buffalo is Bubalus bubalis? Bubalus bubalis? No wonder they’re so mean.

Coltman D, Davis C (2006) Molecular cryptozoology meets the Sasquatch . Trends in Ecology and Evolution 21(2):60-61.


  1. Meri says

    Clearly this must be the terrifying man-bison chimera that Our Leader is trying to protect us from!

  2. Magnus Malmborn says

    Science wins again, or not…

    At least this is good evidence that cryptozoologists indeed are cranks.

  3. Stephen Bent says

    Why is it always about trees with you guys? The FSM put Bison DNA into Sasquatch to help him hide from us and our wicked PCR. Simple, loaded with truthiness, and none of your circular tree arguments. I mean the tree is even circular, and it’s published in TREE. Wacky. I also hear that when it’s July in the Yukon, Sasquatch puts on his Bison-skin overalls and goes around looking into kitchen windows.

  4. Sean Foley says

    Another possibility suggests itself: Perhaps the Sasquatch was carrying a bison when he bumped into the cryptozoologists’ Acme-brand Bigfoot Trap? Sasquatches are prodigiously strong. I think. I mean, why wouldn’t they be? It’s pretty obvious they can carry a bison.

  5. says

    Since some people (you know who you are) think that the Sasquatch is a “missing link” in human evolution, does this mean that humans are descended from bison? I have a sudden desire to grow a shaggy brown winter coat. Hell, I’m halfway there.

  6. BlueIndependent says

    Or may it’s the embodied form of a pagan god, and Bush’s hard-right base knows about it, so they have to extingusih the last remaining vestiges of paganism…

    That’s my theory, and I’m stickin’ to it.

  7. Steviepinhead says

    Everybody’s being very unfair to Our Exalted Leader here. Let’s start from a value we kin awl agree yawn: ya shouldn’t be puttin a person down just if’n they talk funny, in a regionally-diverse kind of way.

    He din’t say, “chimeras,” he said, “cameras.” He jist don’t want scientists goin round willy-nilly and makin pictures of hyu-mens and pee-yigs withoutn appropriational ethical rediculation.

    I hope I don’t have to tell you thee-us tyoo minny tie-ums, cause ah gets bored rill eezee, and ifn there’s one thang thet’s boron, it’s bored-ness.

  8. Johnny Vector says

    Oh give me a home where the sasquatches roam,
    Where the yeti and jackalope play.
    Where surely is not a more credulous lot,
    And our minds are all cloudy all day.

  9. george cauldron says

    Since some people (you know who you are) think that the Sasquatch is a “missing link” in human evolution, does this mean that humans are descended from bison?

    Of course not, since we still have bison.

  10. craig says

    I wonder what Wikipedia has to say about this? Actually, I don’t.

    If you check out the wikipedia bigfoot page and especially the discussion page for it, you’ll see that that one article is the perfect exhibit for the flaws in wikipedia – it has been repeatedly hijacked by bigfoot fanatics and is essentially useless.

    But the discussion page for it is kind of fun, as a demonstration of what is wrong with the whole bigfoot/aliens/Hoagland crowd.

  11. says

    @Apesnake: I nearly snorted my drink out my nose when I read that.

    Let’s roll some of these ideas a bit forward, shall we, and see where the crypto-zoo people might take this:

    – Clearly Sasquatch is intelligent, because it is so darned elusive
    – Sasquatch has seen humans wearing clothes, sometimes *made from the hides of animals*
    – Sasquatch has formed a sort of cargo-culture where they dress up in human clothes, including the bison-hide they grabbed from a trapper hut (a famous bigfoot story is about a man who was kidnapped by a family of ’em and lived with them for months, who reported they dressed up in his clothes.)

    So this is why this sample corresponds to bison. QED.

  12. says

    Sorry. It’s my fault: I just found out my D&D sorcerer cast Plane Shift to travel to the real world, and he accidentally left an Effigy Creature version of a yeti behind. He used cowhide for the golem’s fake fur. Sorry for all the confusion.

  13. says

    Certainly the quoted article is some sort of tongue-in-cheek play. July 2005, Coltman stated definitively that the hair’s DNA was a 100% match with known Bison sequences, and that based on the level of degredation of the DNA, the tuft didn’t even come from a live specimen (meaning it was probably torn from a tanned or processed piece).

    Scientists who analyzed a hair sample found near a Sasquatch sighting in Yukon say the material came from a bison, not the legendary bigfoot….

    ‘It also bore little similarity to other groups of mammals such as primates or carnivores,’ said Dr. David Coltman, a wildlife geneticist at the university in Edmonton….

    Reporters packed conference rooms in both Edmonton and Whitehorse to hear the results of the DNA sequencing done on the sample.

    Not only was the hair from a bison, it was from a long-dead animal, said Coltman. The DNA was highly degraded and of very low quality, said the researcher. It was either exposed for a long period of time to moisture and sunlight, or came from a hide that had been tanned.

    From CBC News

  14. Ginger Yellow says

    The obvious headline:

    “Cryptozoologists buffaloed”

    Or, after Steven Pinker: Buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo sasquatch

  15. lurker says

    “came from a hide that had been tanned”

    Great, so bigfeet have mastered tanning.

    I worry about them getting armed.

  16. says

    Trent Smarch seems to have figured it out,

    I was just excited to see what it was, and when it tuned out to be bison, I thought ‘Holy shit, what a fool I am’. [ CBC North]

  17. CWeaver says

    P.Z. You unfairly libel water buffalo. They are NOT mean — very common farm animals, used for plowing and pulling carts in Sri Lanka and Philippines. You are probably thinking of CAPE buffalo, which are very mean indeed — said to be one of the most dangerous big-game animals.

  18. Christopher says

    This reminds me of a futurama quote, about a race of alien spider people:

    “Interesting fact, the Spiderians are actually more closely related to our elephants then our spiders.”

  19. chris says

    A 2004 paper* used a sample of ‘yeti’ hair and concluded that the yeti was a perissodactylid. I guess that means that two different ungulate groups converged on primates!

    My favorite part of that (2004) paper was that the taxa were displayed on the phylogeny using pictures and the picture for the Yeti was simply hilarious – reminded me of ‘bigfoot Homer’ from the Simpsons.

    *Milinkovitch et al. 2004. Molecular phylogenetic analyses indicate extensive morphological convergence between the “yeti” and primates. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 31(1): 1-3.

  20. chris says

    P.Z. You unfairly libel water buffalo. They are NOT mean — very common farm animals, used for plowing and pulling carts in Sri Lanka and Philippines.

    Also of course the source of the mozzarella on the pasta bake that must be offered to the FSM (see next post). The noodly one would be seriously displeased by mere cow’s milk cheese on his topping, and you wouldn’t want that.

  21. Dave S. says

    Ladies and gentleman…this all makes perfect sense.

    You see, what was actually analysed was mitochondrial DNA. Now as we all know, mDNA comes only from the maternal line. So with this, suddenly everything comes clear. The sasquatch you see is not an independent species at all, but is in fact a sterile hybrid between a bison mother (hence the DNA result) and as yet unknown primate (tentitive name Pan sasquatchewanis) father. This explains the rarity of sightings (the primate has to get pretty drunk in the first place), and it also explains why we don’t have any evidence for sasquatch families and significant sasquatch populations.

    I rest my case.

  22. Nix says

    The Simpsons, chris? The Simpsons?

    Oh the ignorance of the young today. It was an Herge yeti from _Tintin in Tibet_, of course.

    (Hence the quote from Captain Haddock and the multiple Tintin references and allusions in the text.)

  23. Anonymous says

    I sense another split in the cryptozoological community coming, as faithful Bigfooters defend their beloved primate, and a brave band of rebels bows their head, accepts the data, and forges a new cryptobeast known only as “Bighoof.”

  24. Kagehi says

    No, no, no!! You are all wrong, this beast simply ate from the cursed human-human fruit, just like the raindeer in the One Piece anime. ;)

  25. says

    As I like to point out, this isn’t just a random waving of Occam’s Razor: this is waving Occam’s Razor over your head, screaming “Blood and souls for my lord Arioch!”

  26. Chris Haffly says

    So, it’s an unknown animal, but, somehow, cryptozoologists are cranks?

    “Parsimony would favor the second interpretation, in which case, the identity and taxonomy of this enigmatic and elusive creature remains a mystery.”

    Are you people so blinded by dogma that you completely failed to read the last clause of that sentence?

  27. says

    Perhaps you are not familiar with reading those trees. The sample fit right in with samples from 5 other bison.

    It’s a bison. A perfectly ordinary, stock standard bison. The point of the article is to mock people who can’t see that the evidence is completely, totally, inarguably in support of the idea that it is bison hair.

  28. Chris Haffly says

    You’re right. I have no experience reading those woefully unintuitive trees. Pity; the world should contain mysteries for us to study.

  29. says

    I am the one of several re-editing the Bigfoot Wikipedia page under duress from three jerks with no names who never read a single bigfoot book nor paper journal article.

    To see a better page, click on HISTORY, then bring up
    19:28 Feb 7.

    The Three Stooges of Wikipedia keep deleting this and “reverting” this to a more PC version (boring).

    Also visit my website


    Jon-Erik Beckjord (see my name article also)

  30. says

    FWIW, if BF is interdimensional (it is never killed)
    then it may manifest for short times and leave any kind of hair it wants, subject to hair rules in a different universe.

    Bison, human, gorilla, “unknown primate” , whatever.

    Just not Earthly hair.

    Got it?

    Jon-Erik beckjord