A recent 911 call from a Pennsylvania man claiming he saw Bigfoot has gone viral and fueled debate over whether the Sasquatch exists. Police say they investigated the footprints John Winesickle found and have determined they came from a bear.
Winesickle’s Bigfoot “sighting” on May 14 is just the latest in ongoing reports of Sasquatch sightings, which have come in from every state except Hawaii. If anything, it may prove that the legend of the ape-like creature stands strong with believers looking to have their claims backed by science.
In February, a group of Colorado researchers claimed they found scientific evidence to confirm Bigfoot’s existence. Researcher Dave Paulides says his research group collected hundreds of DNA samples from Bigfoot, mostly from Northern California’s redwoods, and said the creature is a human subspecies.
“This DNA is like nothing else in the world,” Paulides told CBS Denver. He says Bigfoot is about 7 to 8 feet tall, weighs between 800 and 1,000 pounds, and travels in packs.
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Paulides, who founded the North America Bigfoot Search, understands the skepticism behind his group’s mission. In fact, a 2007 Baylor Religion Survey found only 16 percent of Americans said that Bigfoot "absolutely" or "probably" exists.
“It’s easy to say a lot of things are crazy. If you lived underground your whole life, the belief that 400 people could fly in a plane would sound crazy,” Paulides said.
A Texas veterinarian found similar results in a study she conducted on Bigfoot’s DNA in December, LiveScience reports. Melba S. Ketchum said she obtained "whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatch samples. The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to modern Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch nuDNA is a novel, unknown hominin related to Homo sapiens and other primate species."
One theory behind Ketchum’s findings is that the samples were contaminated since Ketchum’s team does not know how the samples were collected and has no point of reference to confirm whether they came from Bigfoot.
Legends about Bigfoot and its related primates have existed in many cultures around the world. In North America, the legend of Bigfoot is believed to have been part of Native American belief for hundreds of years.
European settlers in the 1830s reportedly saw large and hairy bipeds in the Pacific Northwest. Numerous articles in Canadian newspapers at the time reported Sasquatch ("hairy giant") attacks and homicides.
In 1958, Jerry Crew, a tractor operator in California, found 16-inch footprints in the mud and coined the term “Bigfoot.” Since then, eyewitness accounts, blurry photos, noises and footprints have been the only evidence to prove Bigfoot exists. Most Bigfoot researchers admit that up to 95 percent of “sightings” are mistakes or hoaxes.
The most famous footage of Bigfoot comes from Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin, who videotaped what appears to be a human-like ape walking in Bluff Creek, Calif., in 1967. It is the clearest image of the creature to date.
On Memorial Day in 1996, Lori and Owen Pate filmed a Bigfoot “sighting” at Chopka Lake in Washington state, showing the Sasquatch running across a field. One of the witnesses says he remembers seeing something unusual in the landscape at a fishing camp by the lake.
“I thought it was odd that the person was wearing a fur coat. At this point I went into the camper to get some binoculars so I could get a better look at the ‘bear.’ Upon even further examination, this time at 12x zoom I thought it was odd that the bear had really long arms, walked on two legs just as easy or more so than myself, and had a relatively short head with ape like features for a face,” the witness wrote for the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.
Outside of the United States, a Polish man spotted what looked like a Yeti in the Tatra Mountains. Piotr Kowalski, 27, from Warsaw, says he turned his camera on after he saw a Bigfoot emerging from behind rocks.
"I saw this huge ape-like form hiding behind the rocks. When I saw it, it was like being struck by a thunderbolt," he told the daily Superexpress.
"Coming from Warsaw, I never really believed the local stories of a wild mountain ape-man roaming the slopes. But now I do."
Best Places To Spot Bigfoot
The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization has an ongoing list of Bigfoot sightings worldwide. In the United States, Washington has spotted 567 Sasquatches -- the highest number of reported sightings in any given region. Estately credits Washington’s extensive forestry as prime real estate for Bigfoot.
California ranks second with 428 sightings – the most recent one was in January where a group of friends spotted footprints in Whiskeytown National Park in Shasta, Calif.
Oregon, Ohio, Texas, Idaho, Tennessee, Michigan and Pennsylvania have more than 100 reported sightings each. In Canada, the province of British Columbia has 125 recorded sightings. Malaysia and the Himalaya region have collectively seen more than 40 Bigfoot.