Monday, October 29, 2012

The howl of the true believer

kw: tv shows, cryptozoology

Last evening, once we got tired of all the Weather Channel stuff, we watched an episode of Finding Bigfoot on the Discovery Channel. We've watched a few of these, curious to see if there is any scientific content. I suppose there is a little. At least, one of the four on the team is an actual biologist (Ranae).

The three men, Bobo, Cliff and Matt, are clearly true believers in the Sasquatch, or "Squatch", or Bigfoot, so-named for its large footprints. As an episode goes along, they pass along a large fund of lore about Bigfoot behavior, particularly the sounds they are supposed to make. They hoot or howl, they knock on trees with sticks, and throw stones, so it is said. The truest of the true is Bobo, who seems to end every episode by declaring whatever piece of forest they have visited, "Squatchy as hell."

A crucial bit of footage ran in this most recent episode. Cliff was spending the night trying to get some kind of response from the local Sasquatches in western Rhode Island, when there arose a sporadic series of hoots, howls and screams. He took the chance to inform us that these sounds were made by the Saw-Whet Owl, which is the most vocally versatile owl. This owl's repertory clearly includes every sound supposedly made by a Bigfoot. How did Cliff know the difference? I suppose it was because the owl made a few calls that are not considered Bigfoot noises.

I looked up a map of the distribution of the Northern Saw-Whet Owl. Guess what? It coincides almost exactly with the distribution of "sound" encounters with Bigfoot. The burden of proof is on the team to determine which encounter is not of someone hearing an owl.

By the bye, we live between Philadelphia and Wilmington, closer to Wilmington. The eye of hurricane Sandy passed just to the south of Wilmington about an hour ago. It is big enough that we are included, and have had an hour or so of calm, which is just now coming to an end as rain and wind are getting going again (Mark: 10:30 PM EDT). I am very relieved and thankful that we still have power and none of our trees fell. It isn't over yet, but I think the worst is over, in this area at least.

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