Australopithecus sediba MAY BE AN ANCESTOR OF THE BIGFOOT SPECIES
Written by Emily Fleur & edited by Connor Anderson
Bigfoot is perhaps the most widely debated mystery. Many experienced researchers and scientists believe this creature to be an undiscovered great ape. However, new theories rooting Bigfoot’s origin in humanity need to be researched. In order to determine if Bigfoot is closer to the Homo branch of the evolutionary tree, we must dive into what it means to be human. Nine species of Homo have been identified in our fossil record. This includes H. habilis, H. heidelbergensis, H. naledi, H. neanderthalensis, H. rudolfensis, H. erectus, and H. sapiens, which is what we call modern humans today. Alongside Homo on the tree, we have Australopithecus and Paranthropus, non-human species with morphology resembling both ape and human. All species on our evolutionary tree are defined as hominins, the group consisting of modern humans, extinct human species and all our immediate ancestors (including members of the genera Homo, Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Ardipithecus.)
Pictured below: A.sediba skull layered over the Patterson Gimlin film creature
Cliff Barackman, who grew up in in Long Beach, California, and now lives in Oregon, is one of the most accomplished Bigfoot researchers in the field. Because of his dedication to Bigfoot research, Cliff has appeared in various media outlets and has written extensively on the subject. His work has been featured in student reports, newspaper articles, video documentaries, and more. In 2007, Cliff appeared on History Channel’s “Monsterquest” in the episode entitled “Legend of the Hairy Beast,” which featured Cliff and James “Bobo” Fay investigating reports and visiting with Native tribes to gather historical information about the creature. Along with documentaries, he has appeared on many internet radio shows, and was a featured guest on “Coast to Coast with George Noory.” In Spring, 2010, Cliff was a guest in an episode of the A&E series, "Strange Days with Bob Saget", and is currently being featured in Animal Planet’s series, Finding Bigfoot, where he works with colleagues James “Bobo” Fay, Matt Moneymaker, and Ranae Holland. Cliff is not only a dedicated researcher, but a wonderful character as well. he agreed to answer some of your most asked questions about Bigfoot! Read below to find out if your question has been answered!
Interview with Cliff Barackman:
1.Bigfoot has been described as a bipedal ape-like man. Do you believe it could be a surviving hominid, or do you believe it to be an ancestor of Gigantopithecus?
Cliff: "Sasquatches are definitely a surviving hominid, but all apes and humans are hominids, which means they are in the family Hominidae. The question would be if they are a surviving hominin, which is defined as being in the lineage or an offshoot of human beings. Hominins include Australopithecus all the way up to present day Homo sapiens sapiens, and all the offshoots thereof. This is most likely the case for sasquatches as well. At the same time, it is entirely possible that Gigantopithecines were also an offshoot of the Hominin lines. So little is known about them (though much is speculated), that it is impossible to say at this point."
2.What are some common behaviors that you’ve seen/heard in a Bigfoot report?
Cliff: "Most of the time when a Bigfoot is encountered, besides the mere shock of the event, it is rather a dull affair. The Sasquatch typically either walks/runs away, or it watches the observer and then walks away. Some atypical reports would include intimidation displays, such as yelling, growling, throwing and breaking objects, stomping, or even bluff charges."
3.If Bigfoot is so large, how could it remain so elusive?
Cliff: "They are large, but not significantly larger than a brown/grizzly bear. Many members of the species, if not most, are smaller, perhaps the size of a large black bear. These animals also largely stay out of sight. Sure, there are many reports of seeing bears, but there are probably at least 100 bears for every Bigfoot. The numbers are in favor of Bigfoots being rarely seen. When one adds to this that Sasquatches seem to be mostly nocturnal, very smart, hyper aware of their surroundings, and want nothing to do with us, it seems natural that they would rarely be seen."
4.Could you give me your best description of a Bigfoot’s features?
Cliff: "In general, adult Sasquatches range from six to eight feet or so in height, and they probably weigh between 400 and 1,200 pounds. They are generally human-like in shape, but covered, with hair (except on parts of the face, the palms, and bottom of the feet) with wider shoulders, longer arms, and a lower-placed head that often seems to rest on the shoulders (they do have a neck, of course, but their muscles can often obscure this). The hair covering is dark, usually brown or black, with a reddish tinge when seen in the right lighting conditions. They are often described as having an overhanging brow ridge, and a head that slopes away from the forehead in a conical shape. Their noses are wide and broad, though not ape-like."
5.How many do you think there are?
Cliff: "I guess that there are probably between 8,000 and 10,000 individuals in North America, give or take a few thousand. This sounds like a lot, but would make them one of the rarest large animals."
6.Based on your research of footprints, how does Bigfoot’s anatomy differ from humans or apes?
Cliff: "The footprints indicate that the Sasquatch foot is proportionally wider than a human foot. It also seems to be flexible in the mid section of the foot, just like the feet of other apes. In other words, Bigfoots lack the rigid arch that the human foot has. The ankle is shifted forward on the foot, which is a biomechanical redesign of the human foot in order to accommodate their larger mass."
7.Have you come across many hair samples? What were the results of DNA testing?
Cliff: "I've seen a couple purported hair samples, but the ones I've been directly involved with have not produced testable DNA."
8.If one were to come across a Bigfoot, what would your advice be?
Cliff: "Savor the moment. It might never happen again. Oh, and take a photo if possible."
to learn more about Cliff Visit http://cliffbarackman.com/
Cliff Barackman, Bigfoot Researcher, http://cliffbarackman.com/
"About Cliff." CliffBarackman.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2017.
All across the world, thousands of reports describe a similar, 6-11 foot tall bipedal ape. Many call it Bigfoot, and some believe it is an ancient hominin. However there may just be another explanation to the sightings of such a creature. Thousands of years ago, a creature called Gigantopithecus was undeniably the King Kong of ancient people. It thrived for 6 million years in Southeast Asia before dying out just a few thousand years ago...or did it?
Dr. Russel Ciochon, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Iowa, says that when Gigantopithecus was standing on its hind limbs, it would have measured up to the eves of a one story house, almost doubling the size of a human. It was about 10 ft tall and 1,100lbs. The fossils of this massive and mysterious creature have been carefully studied, and although scientists only have 3 jaws and 1,100 isolated teeth, they can conclude that it was the largest ape that ever lived. Gigantopithecus was also the only one to go extinct in the Pleistocene, the geological epoch which lasted from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago. But what if this creature did not go extinct...what if it was still thriving, perhaps in a different location than it originally inhabited.
Scientists believe that the land bridge that once connected Siberia to Alaska may have been a possible route for Gigantopithecus to have traveled to North America. Dr.Jeff Meldrum from Idaho State University points out that the environments of both continents share a striking resemblance. If this giant ape has been dwelling in North American forests, then perhaps it could explain the thousands of eye witness reports of an ape-like creature called Bigfoot. Some experts even believe Bigfoot may be a relative of Gigantopithecus. Either way, the countless sightings and descriptions of a giant ape-like creature have been talked about for centuries. Aboriginals have told many stories of giant apes kidnapping their women and children from the village, and different Native American tribes have over 100 names for it.
Dr.Briggs Hall is a Washington State wildlife veterinarian, and he believes the possibility of a giant ape living in the North American forests is high if the creature is nocturnal and very intelligent. But, if this giant ape exists in North America, why did it go extinct in Asia? Aaron Clauset, a computer scientist at the University of Boulder has been studying the extinction of Gigantopithecus. He explains that as an animal gets larger, they become unable to produce offspring as quickly, therefore reducing the population and making them more sensitive to changes. As a result, fluctuations in climate that threatened their food sources caused their ultimate demise. But, if their food source was being affected in Asia, perhaps they were intelligent enough to seek it out elsewhere. If Gigantopithecus really did migrate to the Northwestern United States, then it would have had an abundance of food and water, and it would be able to sustain its population. Until further evidence is discovered, we must assume the extinction of Gigantopithecus. Could Bigfoot be a descendant...or perhaps not an ape at all? Bigfoot may just be closer to us in DNA than we think.
"The Largest Ape That Ever Lived Documentary." YouTube. N.p., 23 July 2015. Web. 03 May 2017.
"The Largest Ape That Ever Lived Was Doomed By Its Size." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 01 May 2017. Web. 03 May 2017.
In the Great Rift Valley of Ethepoia, about 300,000,000 years ago, an upright hominin lived. Her name? Lucy. She was determined to be the first Australopithecus africanus found in the region. By examining her knee bone structure and spine, scientists determined that Lucy walked primarily upright, however she did climb trees to seek shelter, which resulted in her death from falling. This species of hominin (an early human ancestor) measured about 3 feet tall and weighed 60 lbs. Their brain was the size of an orange and they began to evolve human-like features. Because of this discovery, scientists are able to further link ape and human, and determine how modern humans were the species to ultimately out-live other hominins….or so we think. Bigfoot is described as a bipedal ape-like creature, and whose description has a striking resemblance to a hominin. Could it be that a mystery species survived along modern humans, remaining undetected? What would it take to make it through millions of years? Lucy, and other hominins might reveal the answer.
Archeological research shows that Homo erectus, our early ancestor, actually constructed stone tools. Because of their ability to hunt, they were now consuming high-energy food: meat. This energy would be enough to power and grow the brain, increasing intelligence. This would eventually lead to an increase in population. Research suggests that the Bigfoot population remains in the thousands, which many assume will lead to extinction. However, the early Homo-Sapiens population was extremely small, and bones are rarely found. The early Homo-Sapien resembled something of a modern man from Africa, with a round braincase and a flat face. Similar to Homo erectus, Homo-Sapien used stone tools to gather high energy food. This could be how Bigfoots hunt their prey, and combined with their massive size and power, they could have easily competed with Homo-Sapien.
Because of their newly created stone tools, humans began to hunt. However, they would soon run into some major dilemmas while catching prey: becoming prey themselves. Humans had to be extremely organized while hunting in order to avoid large cats and other predators. This need for organization eventually evolved the intelligence of the Homo-Sapien brain. This type of social culture would evolve us into what we are today. Similar organization has been reported in many eye witness accounts of Bigfoot. Many witnesses report seeing more than one creature in the same area, and some have even heard a sort of signal system using whistles and tree knocks back and forth in order to catch deer. This similarity to the style of ancient Homo-Sapien hunting is striking. Aside from eating, the human brain development took place when migration kicked in. When land became bone dry, humans were forced to regroup and migrate. Evidence discovered of a 100,000 year old artifact suggests that the Sans people stored water in empty Ostrich eggs while traveling, and during migration they hunted and cooked over fire. Experts believe Homo-Sapiens may have used similar methods. Their brains were growing and they were evolving. During this time, a form of verbal language was also present. Such language can be compared to Bigfoot’s language which is often described by eye witnesses as a gibberish grunting sound.
Although another species of hominin, Neanderthals, were skilled hunters with large builds, their intelligence wasn’t enough to compete with Homo-Sapiens. Homo-Sapiens had greater technological skills and the ability to relate objects with one another. While Neanderthals developed stone tools, humans developed more intricate hunting tools along with representations of them. *CLICK READ MORE TO CONTINUE*
how closely related are humans, apes, and bigfoot?
Humans relate to apes in more ways than you may think. Chimpanzees and bonobos are the closest relatives of humans DNA wise, however gorillas resemble us more (physically) when it comes to hands and feet. Gorillas spend more time on the ground than other apes, resulting in adapted walking feet, especially prominent in mountain gorillas. Differences between apes and humans are especially small when referencing the nuclear DNA. Some genes found in chimpanzees and humans differ by only 1.2% and recent evidence suggests that humans are more closely related to chimpanzees than any other ape. According to the American Museum of Natural History, humans and chimps share 98.8% of their DNA however they use their genes in different ways. A gene's activity can be expressed on a higher level or a lower level depending on the animal, even though the same genes are expressed in the same brain regions in humans, chimps, and gorillas. Small differences such as the level at which the gene is active can affect brain development and function, resulting in the human brain being much larger and more intelligent than the apes. This may be true, however apes are still extremely intelligent animals, and aside from their abilities to fend for themselves in the wild, they demonstrate very advanced forms of communication. Recently, chimpanzees and gorillas in captivity have been taught American sign language. In a specific case, Koko the gorilla was taught by Dr.Penny Patterson, an American animal psychologist. Within just a few weeks, Koko the gorilla was using American sign combinations. Observations made by other researchers at several zoos actually pointed out that gorillas seem to have their own form of language using their own hand gestures to communicate with each other. The same genes shared by humans, gorillas, and chimpanzees may be the reason why they are able to pick up sign language so quickly. Apes' intelligence and ability to learn so quickly can play a part in the research of Bigfoot. If Bigfoot is not a species of human, but rather an ape, they may