Top 5 Bigfoot Theories: What Is Bigfoot Really?

Updated on August 7, 2017
What is the truth behind the Bigfoot legend?
What is the truth behind the Bigfoot legend?

Is Bigfoot Real?

Does Bigfoot really exist? It seems a lot of people think so, and many have their own theories on what he is and where he comes from. Hard-working Bigfoot research organizations are trekking through the woods of North America and the rest of the world as you read this, trying to get to the bottom of the mystery. As of yet the big guy hasn’t given up his secrets.

Since no Bigfoot has been willing to come forward, and nobody has ever captured one, how do we really know anything at all about this monstrous man-ape? Sure there’s evidence: photographs and videos, plaster footprint casts, and a few hair samples, but nothing definitive. Most of our knowledge comes from first-hand reports.

Fortunately, people run into Bigfoot all the time, though it seems people without cameras, and those with cameras that can’t focus very well, are more likely to encounter the beast. From these accounts and legends we’ve pieced together the picture of a large, hairy, bipedal humanoid we call Bigfoot.

But shouldn’t an 8-foot monster supposedly lurking in every corner of the continent be easier to track down? Even though sightings allegedly occur all the time, we have no way to prove the creature really exists. Eventually we have to ask ourselves if we’re missing something here. Could there be more to this mythical creature than we realize?

This article examines several Bigfoot theories, and attempts to answer the question: What is Bigfoot?

Theory #1: Bigfoot is a Rare North-American Primate

Many experts believe Sasquatch is a species of undocumented ape.

North American Ape Theory

The most prevalent theory is that Bigfoot is a highly-evolved great ape of some sort, a species some researchers have referred to theoretically as the North American Ape. This certainly fits with the description of Sasquatch through the years. But where would such an ape have come from?

Bigfoot-Giganto Theory is an interesting concept that says Bigfoot may trace his family tree back to a giant, 10-foot-tall ape species known as Gigantopithecus Blacki. This massive creature went extinct around 100,000 years ago, but some researchers speculate that Giganto may have evolved into what we call the Yeti in Asia.

Yeti ancestors may have then followed ancient humans across the Bering Land Bridge to North America during the time of the last ice age. This accounts for two similar creatures—Sasquatch and the Yeti—existing so far apart. And, it gives us an explanation for our Bigfoot.

As nice and neat as this theory seems, there are many problems with it from a paleontology perspective. But even if Bigfoot didn’t evolve as a result of the Giganto connection, by most modern accounts he does seem to be some kind of ape.

There’s no fossil record of apes in North America, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Fossils don’t preserve well in forests, and there are many scavengers to clean up any carcasses.

However, it is hard to explain how such a large creature could leave so few clues that it even exists. In the end, this theory still presents us with a flesh-and-blood creature that biologists ought to be able to track down.

Accounts of Bigfoot Sightings are Numerous, Even in the East

Theory #2: Bigfoot is Closely Related to Humans

Is the Sasquatch just another species of human that has chosen to avoid us?

Is Bigfoot Human?

What if Bigfoot isn’t an ape at all? What if he’s more like us? Many Bigfoot witnesses say the creature is very human-like, and in some Native and even early European-American cultures Sasquatch is referred to as a man, not an animal. This does make some sense on a few different levels.

Many people don’t realize that there have been several species of human on this planet, not just we Homo sapiens. Like any other animal, our family tree has twists and turns and dead ends. Some human species merged and evolved into what we are today, and some died off. Do any of them fit the description of Bigfoot? Well, sort of.

Homo Heidelbergensis is an extinct human ancestor that lived half a million years ago. Researchers originally believed they were a very robust species, standing seven feet tall with very heavy musculature.

We now know that most of them weren’t much different in average height than modern humans, but some specific populations may indeed have been giants. What are the odds that a remote population of very large H. Heidelbergensis survived and migrated to North America?

This would explain a few things, such the extremely high level of intelligence Bigfoot is said to possess for one. It would also explain how Sasquatch could survive in harsh climates by hunting. If H. Heidelbergensis learned to fear H. Sapiens it would make sense that it would try to hide from us at all costs.

H. Heidelbergensis is also believed to have buried their dead, which may account for the lack of physical evidence.

But like a few of the most popular Bigfoot theories, this one still leaves us with problems. Even H. Heidelbergensis used stone tools, and a social human species living in groups would almost certainly leave other evidence behind.

This early human was likely far more advanced than Bigfoot appears to be, and the chance that it would have culturally “forgotten” its ways is illogical and unlikely. In the end, if Bigfoot is a type of human, we should still find more evidence than we do.

Theory #3: Sasquatch is an Ancient Earth Spirit

Does the spiritual realm explain Bigfoot better than the physical world?

Is Sasquatch a Forest Spirit?

What if this creature doesn’t exist in the natural world at all?

Is it just luck and happenstance that the only people who ever see Bigfoot are totally unprepared to document the encounter? It’s an odd paradox that a creature so secretive that it has not even been properly documented by science seems to readily reveal itself to moving cars, hunters wearing orange camouflage and teenagers wandering along dirt roads. Of course, even in this age where everyone is carrying a smart phone with a camera attached nobody who claims to spot Bigfoot ever snaps a picture.

Sure they’re startled and shaken up by the encounter, but during tsunamis, earthquakes, street riots and every other terrifying event people will record video and take pictures. However, some witnesses will claim to observe a Sasquatch for thirty seconds and it never occurs to them to take a photo. Why?

Is it possible that Bigfoot is a forest spirit, a supernatural guardian of the Earth and the woodlands? Might this be why witnesses report being mesmerized by encounters, and might this be why so few have the wherewithal to go for their cell-phone camera?

Indeed, in some parts of North America, Native Americans regard Bigfoot as a supernatural being, and often a messenger of the natural world. This is similar to the way the indigenous peoples of Nepal and Tibet view the Yeti: as a spiritual entity.

Perhaps Europeans, and modern researchers, have missed the mark, so to speak, when it comes to understanding the true nature of Sasquatch. Maybe there is so little evidence because there is simply none to find.

Theory #4: Bigfoot is Not From this World

Some believe alien visitors have deposited Sasquatch on our planet for reasons known only to them.

Bigfoot - Alien Theory

Some people believe Bigfoot may be an alien species, dropped off here by visitors from another world for reasons known only to them. As odd as this sounds, there does seem to be a correlation between increases in Bigfoot sighting and increases in UFO activity. But what point could there be to this strange relationship between aliens and Bigfoot?

Maybe these Sasquatch creatures are a type of experiment. Aliens would leave them on our planet for a while, and then collect them again after a period of time. Since they are apparently so similar to us, the alien visitors may be able to see all kinds of results that exposure to our Earthly environment has had on them. Maybe this is a kinder, gentler way for aliens to get information about the human race, rather than all that inconvenient abducting and probing.

Perhaps Bigfoot is a hybrid of some sort, a cross between humans and some kind of creature that exists on the alien home world. Or, maybe an alien race is somehow attempting to reverse engineer human DNA, and this Bigfoot creature is closest thing they’ve come up with so far.

The Bigfoot alien theory is certainly is among the most bizarre of the Bigfoot theories. We could speculate forever, but alien involvement definitely could explain why no specimen has ever been captured, why no carcasses have been found, and why Bigfoot seems to be here one instant and gone the next.

Theory #5: Bigfoot is a Myth

Skeptics say the Bigfoot Myth is an important part of Native American religion that has carried on into the mainstream world.

Is Bigfoot a Myth?

So far each of these Bigfoot theories is more bizarre than the one that came before, but here’s one even the most devout skeptic can get their brain around. What if Bigfoot only exists in our minds, as a sort of ancestral memory passed down over thousands and thousands of years? Of course this explains why nobody has found any evidence, but it does not account for why the legend is so ingrained in the cultures of North American, both ancient and present day.

One way to explain this is by looking at ancient people’s way of remembering history through storytelling. Many Native American tribes, and we presume the primitive tribes who crossed the Bering Strait, kept history based on oral tradition. They had no written language, only the stories passed on from generation to generation. If early human ancestors shared the forests of Asia with a creature such as the aforementioned Gigantopithecus, these stories and accounts may have survived to recent times, passed on by the indigenous tribes of the Americas.

These Native American Bigfoot legends would have been passed down to early European explorers, who no doubt were mystified by the prospect of such a fantastic creature living in the New World. Naturally, Europeans would have built upon the myth themselves, and perpetuated it to present day.

This satisfies skeptics and explains why there is little physical evidence, but it does not account for all the reported sightings. If Bigfoot isn’t real, why are so many people spotting him?

The Sasquatch Legend Lives On

Wherever you stand with the Bigfoot mystery, you have to admit it’s an interesting puzzle. There must be something to the Sasquatch phenomenon, but getting all the pieces to fit together seems impossible at this time.

Is Bigfoot some sort of undiscovered ape, possibly a relative of the Yeti descended from an ancient species called Gigantopithecus? It makes a lot of sense, even though there is no way to prove it in the fossil record, at least at this time.

Could Sasquatch be a species of primitive human, perhaps a remnant population of Homo Heidelbergensis that migrated to North America during the last ice age? If not H. Heidelbergensis, then perhaps some other species of human, far more like us than we’d like to think.

Might Bigfoot be an alien, or a spirit, or maybe just a figment of our collective imagination? As wild as these theories sound, they do account for the missing evidence, and the elusive nature of the beast.

Nobody knows, but until there is more definitive physical evidence anything is possible. But rest assured that tireless Bigfoot researchers are out there looking for the truth, and getting to the bottom of these Bigfoot theories.

Your Opinion

What is Bigfoot Really?

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Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        David Robidoux 

        4 weeks ago

        These are men or rather human beings. It's not 1/2 ape or 1/2 human for this would be a genetic impossibility.It is 100% human being just a species not recognized. There are many different variations just as there are many different variations with homo sapiens. The intelligence ratio is much higher than the average homo sapien and I knew that prior to reading some of the posts. You can always tell when someone is totally dishonest when they describe an ape-like creature. Anyone who has been close enough to see knows these are humans though large in statue. The United States government is also very aware of these facts and that's why an elite military group is usually sent in with the FBI being on the scene shortly after.The native Americans are well aware and have considered these people another tribe for many many centuries.Believe what you will but most will recognise the truth when they hear it.

      • profile image

        Rob Zimmerman 

        8 weeks ago

        I've only ever seen one Bigfoot but I have had numerous local encounters hollers and screams and whistles as if I was the one that was being hunted

      • profile image

        WEIERDO 

        2 months ago

        i have seen bigfoot

      • profile image

        Annie D 

        3 months ago

        This was a awesome paper! I believe that Bigfoot is a North American ape. It truly seems like one.

      • profile image

        Bug Stomper 

        4 months ago

        Gigantopithicus. Thought to be extinct.

      • profile image

        XXXtentacion 

        5 months ago

        BIGFOOT IS REAL

      • profile image

        ejc 

        7 months ago

        I believe it is some kind of an ape.

      • profile image

        Fishook 

        7 months ago

        After catching it on camara I belive it looks like a preastoric man

      • profile image

        John L. 

        8 months ago

        Why hasn't anyone proposed a theory that Bigfoot might actually just be a person who has decided to live away from people only in the wild off of nature away from technology and Mankind who then becomes kind of like a feral cat so to speak

      • profile image

        d Groff 

        8 months ago

        As far as the Jacobs photo, that's definitely a BEAR, I have game cam photos of bear looks just like that, the animal turns for another pic and it turns out to be a bear, thin young one.

      • profile image

        MountainEd 

        9 months ago

        Can't vote. Multiple answers to the question.

        How about:

        Forest spirit AND alien AND shape shifter?

        From a different world, traveling through portals, existing at a higher vibration beyond our normal range of sight.

        Light-beings that can make themselves visible in any form they choose. Visible one moment, gone the next.

        If you want to start a real adventure into the answers, and have an open mind, research the work done by Dr. Matt Johnson. He's on YouTube and FaceBook.

      • profile image

        Skylar 

        10 months ago

        I have news for all of you. "Bigfoot" is a generalization of an unknown creature.

        1- Large Ape.

        2- Apelike Man.

        3- Primitive Man.

        4- 3 to 4 foot ape.

        They are not fairies, aliens or myths.

        Flesh and blood beings who have never evolved, disproving evolution.

        Mark my words, you all will know the truth in your life time. When a person says that they seen a big, hairy man walk across the road. It isn't because they had just seen a bear walking on two feet. Our brains aren't perfect. But I'm pretty sure that our brains function good enough to remember what they just had seen. How many times have you heard a witness say that they just seen Colonel Sanders walking across a forest road? Never? Thought so.

      • profile image

        bradley56 

        10 months ago

        i believe sasquatch is a drone..does not eat , leave waste , can maneuver almost any terrain , predators won't bother it..what is it doing?..searching for something ? plant, mineral, maybe surveying..

      • profile image

        Jesse 

        12 months ago

        It's a skin walker.A human who can change its form...Can change into various species..Better known as a witch..Most commonly believed in down south by Indian tribes.."Shape shifter"They are out there..

      • profile image

        Shea 

        14 months ago

        Thanks for these theories! I have to do a presentation on why sasqautch is more likely to exist then chubacabra and this was really helpful

      • EricDockett profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Dockett 

        23 months ago from USA

        Hi Sophie: This article was intended as food for thought, and certainly not as any kind of definitive research paper. It is based on a wide range of theories put forth by various Bigfoot experts over the years. In some cases, as in the North American Ape Theory, you can look to researchers like Jeff Meldrum as a major proponent of such an idea. Other origins are a bit more obscure, and of course much of my own speculation is thrown in.

        As with anything Bigfoot, I caution your students not to take anything as "fact" but instead look at any theories and ideas with a skeptical and analytical eye.

        The existence of Bigfoot, of course, has yet to be proven by mainstream science, but many people experience Bigfoot encounters each year. So, we are left with many questions requiring some deep pondering. In the case of this article I'm asking people to think about: "If Bigfoot does exist, what is it?"

      • profile image

        Sophie 

        23 months ago

        Hi Eric,

        One of my students has read your article whilst researching for a school "history mysteries" project. They are curious to know where you got a lot of your information. Is it possible to provide a list of sources you used for your article?

        Kind regards,

        Sophie

      • profile image

        John David Stone 

        2 years ago

        Theory #6. Sasquatch is the now feral descendants of the Biblical Nephilim, or giants, who seem to disappear from history following the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations.

      • EricDockett profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Dockett 

        2 years ago from USA

        Interesting stuff, deboramjama! I'm like you: Open-minded to new possibilities, but I need some evidence!

      • profile image

        deboramjama 

        2 years ago

        Native Americans also believe that Sasquatch is a shape shifter. So it can change into black animals in the forest. It also likes whistling. But you shouldn't whistle back as it has the ability to possess your body. One of my Native American friends believes she was chased through the forest by one.

        Muslims believe in a creature that sounds very similar. They believe that there are very ugly creatures who can shape shift and are attracted to whistling. Also like Native Americans, they believe that they prefer to shift into black animals, but are usually unseen. God wrote in the Qur'an that after he banished the Jinn named Shaytan, from heaven, for not serving mankind, and the rest were banished to the forests and deserts. They are forbidden to have contact with mankind. Muslims also believe that the Jinn who disobey God can possess you and God gave a special paragraph of the Quran to be read to exercise them from your body. This is usually done by an Iman (akin to their priests) Mohammad was also sent by God to the Jinn to read to them the Qur'an at night so that they too could enter their own version of heaven or hell. So, per this most avoid mankind in order to enter heaven.

        The abilities of these creatures as described by both Native Americans and Muslims would account for the allusiveness of the creatures. And at the end of times per the Norse legend, The Bible and The Qur'an the giants of old will return.

        Who knows? People used to believe that the world was flat, Xray was good for you, and that America didn't exist, so I try to keep an open mind. I'm also scientifically based and need the evidence though. And maybe it's not so much that the giants will return but that we are encroaching upon their forests and deserts by overpopulation. I'm fascinated by new discoveries and I'll withhold judgement until concrete evidence is secured.

      • profile image

        Name 

        2 years ago

        Bigfoot is not real people are just childish

      • Jennifer Mugrage profile image

        Jennifer Mugrage 

        2 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

        Love the Hub, love the sly humor too. :)

      • EricDockett profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Dockett 

        2 years ago from USA

        @t.byran: I don't know if you are joking or not, but that is something I have seriously considered. :-)

      • profile image

        t.bryan 

        2 years ago

        Bigfoot is a ghost of a caveman

      • EricDockett profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Dockett 

        2 years ago from USA

        Thanks zoey. If at least some of the Bigfoot sightings are real I have to agree than an undiscovered ape is a strong candidate to explain Bigfoot.

      • zoey24 profile image

        Zoey 

        2 years ago from South England

        Great hub! I would have to go with the great ape theory. We may never know the truth but I still find the legend of bigfoot fascinating :)

      • profile image

        zak 

        3 years ago

        omg that is cool

      • profile image

        David Torres 

        4 years ago

        they are not of this world

      • profile image

        bill 

        5 years ago

        i just don't understand how bigfoot manages to stay hidden from humans so well

      • EricDockett profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Dockett 

        5 years ago from USA

        Thanks CR! Yeah, I think bears probably account for a fair number of Bigfoot sightings, and there are all kind of strange sounds in the woods at night. With those shoes, we're kind of at the mercy of the experts (and their producers) to tell us what sounds legit.

      • CR Rookwood profile image

        Pamela Hutson 

        5 years ago from Moonlight Maine

        What a thorough and readable hub! I really enjoyed it. I think it's very possible that a different species of human or undiscovered ape could easily live in the huge expanse of forest up in northern Canada and some parts of the northern USA and not leave much behind in the way of physical evidence. Sometimes though, the Bigfoots on the reality TV shows sound a lot like bears on their hind legs to me.

      • EricDockett profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Dockett 

        5 years ago from USA

        LOL! Interesting comparison, Noway!

      • profile image

        Noway 

        5 years ago

        Auditing the discussion about BF is sort of like observing Fantacy Football.

      • EricDockett profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Dockett 

        5 years ago from USA

        That's as good a guess as any, Relationshipc. Your theory does make a lot of sense. Bigfoot sure is sneaky!

      • Relationshipc profile image

        Kari 

        5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

        My theory is that bigfoot lives in another dimension and has the ability to vistit ours. I mean, if the species was constantly in our world, then there would likely be a lot more sightings...and annoyingly even some captures. Obviously this is just my theory.

        I was watching one show on people tracking bigfoot, and they could see a huge upright creature on their night scanner. They followed it for quite a while and eventually it just dissappeared from their vision (on the scanner). It's not like he would be able to hide under a rock or behind a tree...to me, being able to transport (possibly through a portal) makes much more sense.

      • EricDockett profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Dockett 

        5 years ago from USA

        Thanks NitroD. You're right. With so many Bigfoot sightings, there must be something going on here . . . whatever it is!

      • NitroD profile image

        NitroD 

        5 years ago from London

        This was a great read and some excellent theories and possible answers. I am not sure what the truth is, but one has to wonder with a story as prevalent as Bigfoot.

      • EricDockett profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Dockett 

        5 years ago from USA

        Thanks Eiddwen! I have a feeling there will be more Bigfoot on the way, probably sooner than later. :-)

      • Eiddwen profile image

        Eiddwen 

        5 years ago from Wales

        A brilliant read and thanks for sharing. I now look forward to many more. Eddy.

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