For years bigfoot research has been driven by a handful of items. Sightings, vocalizations, strange limb formations, and tracks. By far bigfoot prints have been the bread and butter of our evidence. It would be interesting to see just how much plaster and other casting materials have been purchased and used over the years by bigfoot researchers. We all look for those perfect tracks. Large in size, clear toes, dermal ridges, but rarely do we find them. Plaster footprints fill boxes and drawers in our homes, get put on shelves for display, and toured around from conference to conference. Sometimes we even pay for duplicates of other casts of these large mysterious footprints. Bigfoot tracks have always been our closest connection with these hair-covered giants.
Even the science world has taken an interest in some of these tracks. Or at least a few scientists have. Certainly no one of this era would discuss bigfoot tracks without at least mentioning Dr. Jeff Meldrum.
You can read about Dr. Meldrum's credentials by clicking here.
Meldrum is one of the few scientists in the world who have taken the time to actually study the evidence of footprints, and realize their potential value. His database of bigfoot track castings is one of the most significant undertakings in bigfoot history, and holds a huge amount of information about these undocumented creatures. That is, at least in my opinion.
Bigfoot tracks are a double-edged sword however. While tracks are probably the most commonly found evidence that we can attribute to bigfoot, they don't just occur all the time and everywhere. It has to be the right conditions at the right time, and then we have to be in the same location and happen to notice them. Or at least somebody does. Bigfoot do not live in parks and recreation areas (typically) so you have to get off the beaten path most of the time to find where bigfoot would be to leave the tracks in the first place. When we do find them they are generally few and far between, and almost never complete. But sometimes we do get lucky, and we stumble across a trackway. Such as the case with the London Trackway that Cliff Barackman has studied in length, along with the help of course of Chris Minniear, as well as several other well known and respected researchers.
For the story on the London Trackway, click here.
In situations like this you have multiple footprints. The London Trackway is amazing in the sense that there were over 100 tracks. 126 I believe, and several of these castings have been added to Dr. Meldrum's database if I'm not mistaken. Once again, a huge amount of information to be learned.
There is a problem with all of this however. Tracks, as we all know, can be faked. They can also be misidentified. A bigfoot track isn't always a bigfoot track. In fact they are easy to fake, and rather easily misidentified by the untrained eye. Human footprints, bear footprints, double steps, there are various types of tracks that have been misidentified, and a truly vast amount of tracks that have been hoaxed, for whatever reason. Ray Wallace ultimately became famous for faking tracks, although it was after his death that it became so well known.
The biggest issue with tracks is that while they do offer us information, and make a fine souvenir, they do not prove anything. We have no proof bigfoot made the track, and as we know tracks are not enough to validate the existence of these creatures. Science demands more, and rightfully so. Researchers have long debated this fact of life because we all know what it boils down to. DNA, kill vs. no-kill, do we need a body or is video and photo proof enough, the ever-lasting bigfoot debate. But what if we've just been going about things the wrong way? What if we had the key to unlock this mystery the entire time, and it was sitting there right under our noses? Or in this case, feet.
Recently an article was published about a team of scientists who were studying the possibility of identifying sea creatures by conducting DNA tests on sea water. The sea water contains DNA in the microscopic particles of the various living organisms of the ocean that are just floating around in it. Makes sense huh?
You can read up on it here.
Extracting DNA From Footprints
So why not apply that same logic to bigfoot? We know they don't wear shoes, and whenever they take a step, they would ultimately be leaving behind DNA. Many researchers have scoured tracks, looking for blood or hair fibers to have DNA tested before casting their latest discovery, but we have always ignored the actual tracks as a possible source for DNA. We all know not to stick our tongues to a flagpole in the winter. Why is that? Because we know a chunk of our tongue will stick to it. I'm sure most of us have experienced the same thing with a piece of ice and our lip at one time or another. On a much smaller level, what do you suppose would happen when a bigfoot steps down into some snow-covered ground? I'm willing to bet some DNA would get left behind.
Now we know that DNA samples can be extracted and used to identify animals from water, but can this be applied to footprints in snow, or other substrates such as soil or mud? Surprisingly enough, the answer is yes. At least according to these findings published in 2007:
As technology and techniques advance in the field of DNA identification and analysis, new doors open to possibilities we did not once have. I propose this is the direction bigfoot research should follow in terms of species recognition.
Instead of destroying tracks by creating plaster replicas, efforts should be made in video and photo documentation of the tracks in their natural state. Researchers should learn the exact means for retrieving and handling items for possible DNA testing. Techniques for doing so would have to be developed. I'm certain there would be much more involved when attempting to extract and preserve an entire track as opposed to a single hair fiber. Researchers should study track identification as well, so they know what to actually look for. The key would be to rule out nearly, if not all, possibilities of the track impression being the result of a known animal, and not an actual bigfoot creature. Of course proper video and photo documentation would play a large role in this. In that sense others could study the track, and help rule out possible track misidentification. The condition and age of the track would play a large role as well. The fresher the track the better. There are methods for determining these things, one just needs to learn it. The type of substrate the impression is in would be a factor as well.
Another key aspect would be hoax recognition. Researchers would need to learn how to recognize a fake impression from a natural one. Once again, this information is already out there, it just needs to be learned. A positive of this is that a person could easily hoax a footprint, make a plaster cast of it, and then parade it around as authentic. However, a hoaxer would not fake an impression and then send it off to be analyzed for DNA identification, resulting in the exposure that they manufactured the print.
I realize that as is the case with all things, there would be a number of obstacles. I'm by no means claiming otherwise. I do feel however that this could be our best chance at acquiring real DNA evidence of bigfoot's existence. Not only would the argument of the source material be stronger, there would be the evidence of the actual track impression to support it. This is much better than a random hair found stuck to a tree, or some misidentified pile of scat, which rarely yields anything substantial. With the cooperation of reputable scientists in the field, such as Todd Disotell, Bryan Sykes, Jeff Meldrum, etc. I believe this could be a real possibility that certainly garners our immeidate attention.