Bigfoot is a bear but Loch Ness is not a giant eel, says scientist using math to explain legends

View of the Loch Ness Monster in 1934, purportedly taken by Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson. The photo was later exposed as a hoax – Hulton Archive

In the field of cryptozoology – the study of animals whose existence has yet to be proven – there are no bigger questions than what Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster are.

Now, a scientist has used statistics to try to explain the legends of two of the world’s most famous urban myths.

Bigfoot and Nessie, two cultural giants of the 20th century, have attracted the attention of the press for 90 years and still make headlines as people try to determine once and for all whether they are fact or fiction.

Modern research has found no convincing evidence that Loch Ness harbors a giant prehistoric marine reptile or that there is an as yet unrecognized species of giant bipedal ape roaming the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

US data analyst Floe Foxen took his partner Dr Arielle Selya on an X-Files-style tour of the UK

US data analyst Floe Foxen took his partner Dr Arielle Selya on an X-Files-style tour of the UK

US data analyst Floe Foxen used cold hard numbers to try to solve mysteries.

The self-proclaimed “epistemic intruder” works as a professional data scientist by day, and has transferred his number-processing methods to Nessie and Bigfoot.

He found that, statistically speaking, the current theory that Bigfoot sightings are actually misidentified black bears is “highly plausible.”

However, he says the current theory that Nessie is actually a giant eel is “vanishingly implausible.”

“Last year I took my partner, Dr Arielle Selya, who is also a scientist, on an X-Files-style tour of the UK as a treat,” Foxon told the Telegraph.

“We went on a ghost tour to Edinburgh and visited Stonehenge, Whitby Abbey and Loch Ness. Neither of us are “believers”; we’re skeptics, so it was just fun.”

He doesn’t believe in either Bigfoot or Ness, saying the likelihood of finding a Mesozoic reptile or early Pleistocene hominid alive today is “vanishingly unlikely.”

Alleged Bigfoot Photo: Former Rodeo Rider Roger Patterson Says It Represents The American Version Of The Abominable Snowman - Corbis

Alleged Bigfoot Photo: Former Rodeo Rider Roger Patterson Says It Represents The American Version Of The Abominable Snowman – Corbis

However, he said scientists need to be open-minded, adding that “it would be presumptuous to say there’s no chance” that they exist.

The trip stirred up his analytical juices and set him on a new side project, seeing if the numbers could shed light on two of the world’s most important cryptozoology cases.

“Most scientists are very dismissive, but a few have taken things a bit more seriously,” he said.

“For example, the suggestion that there may not be a plesiosaur in Loch Ness and that there may be large eels that are sometimes mistaken for lake monsters splashing on the surface.

“Usually when people say they’ve seen something like Bigfoot, they’re not lying about what they think they saw, but that doesn’t mean they’re not wrong.”

In two preprints, one for each beast, Mr. Foxon looked at existing data on bear sightings and eel fishing to estimate how many of each animal would be needed, statistically speaking, to make one animal large enough to be mistaken for a 10 foot tall bipedal ape. feet or Mesozoic leviathan.

“On average, for every 900 bears in a given state or province, you can expect one ‘sighting’ of Bigfoot,” the Telegraph said.

“The most likely explanation, then, is that many Bigfoot sightings are actually black bear sightings, which makes sense because bears sometimes walk bipedally on their hind legs, so they can look a bit like giant apes. Bigfoot’s explanation for the bear is very likely.”

However, while there are enough black bears of sufficient size in the US and Canada to convince the laws of probability that Bigfoot is just a bear, the same cannot be said for Scottish eels.

In 2019, Professor Neil Gemmell, a geneticist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, searched Loch Ness for DNA and found no evidence of plesiosaur genetic material. There were also no signs of sturgeon, catfish or Greenland shark, other creatures previously thought to be Nessie.

Professor Neil Gemmell searched Loch Ness for DNA and found no evidence of plesiosaur genetic material - Andy Buchanan/Getty Images

Professor Neil Gemmell searched Loch Ness for DNA and found no evidence of plesiosaur genetic material – Andy Buchanan/Getty Images

However, Dr. Gemmell found a lot of eel DNA and assumed there might be giant eels in Loch Ness that might be behind Nessie’s sightings. Unfortunately, the DNA evidence doesn’t point to size.

“We cannot dismiss the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness,” said Dr Gemmell. “Therefore, we cannot dismiss the possibility that what people see and believe is the Loch Ness Monster could be a giant eel.”

However, Mr Foxon’s analysis revealed that the odds of finding a one-metre-long eel in Loch Ness are one in 50,000.

“In the case of a six-meter eel, the probability is practically close to zero” – he added. “So, although there are a lot of eels in Loch, they don’t get very large. Not terribly big, anyway.

As for what might actually explain the Loch Ness Monster legend, a century-old hoax remains the most likely scenario.

Mr Foxon said “other natural explanations such as wave effects, logs and the occasional mammal crossing the lake” could be behind the Nessie folklore.

“I’d like to think there was more to it, but that’s probably not the case. But it’s worth thinking about,” he said.

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