Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Jay of the Bizarre Zoology blog. For info on weird and amazing facts/theories of zoology, paleontology, and cryptozoology go to bizarrezoology.blogspot.com or follow him on Twitter.
As you surely know if you have been following your bigfoot news, avid hunter Justin Smeja claimed to have shot 2 "Bigfoot" at Northern California in 2010. If you haven't heard this story yet, please do some searching and researching on the Bigfoot Evidence blog, or watch this for an interview (Link). To me, Smeja seemed like he wasn't lying. He seemed like a no nonsense guy and he started putting time and money into looking for Bigfoot after the encounter. He never made any money from his claims. He also had the driver of the truck that they were in collaborate the story, and passed the polygraph test (although polygraphs can be faked, but not easily). But, in my opinion, if you haven't been following this story since the beginning then you likely don't believe it. But here is a nice article by Tyler Higgins on why he believes Smeja: (Link)
|Justin Smeja looking like a boss, with a black bear|
If you believe the story, it is likely that you think Justin shot two Bigfoot (plural form in Bigfoot, not Bigfoots). He allegedly shot an adult and then later a juvenile. However, Justin's first claim was different. This is the exact post that Smeja made on Taxidermy.net:
Post by: Smeja on November 07, 2010, 01:24:27 AM
Call BS if you want but this bear season I saw a bear in Northern California that walked on 2 legs and was pale white in color like a pale yote (coyote) sorta. Like some grizzlys I’ve seen but whiter. It stood 8 feet tall or so and walked like a man. Could have been a grizzly (highly doubtful). I don’t know for sure what it was. Maybe just a monster black bear that got shot in the front leg years back and learned to walk different. I don’t know. I do know I was not alone when I saw it.
I shot it with a 25-06 behind the shoulder at 120 yards. It ran 70 yards into the brush and crashed. Sounded like a car wreck. I never found it. Not saying it was bigfoot at all – it just looked different from any bear I’d seen. If it looked any more human-like, I would have passed on it. Something wasn’t right there, oh and it was prob 600+ lbs or more. So to answer my question, I suppose the answer is probably yes for me, but not if he looked any more human then what I shot.
|Sample possibly belonging to the animals that Smeja killed|
|DNA results of sample|
|Another sample from the piece of skin that Justin found.|
On December 26 of 2012, the DNA results of a piece of skin, allegedly belonging to the animals that Justin shot, was revealed. Bart Cutino and Tyler Higgins sent this sample to Dr. Bradley White (Canada Research Chair in Genetics) for DNA analysis. It was unknown whether this was a sample from one of the "Bigfoot" that Justin killed, as Justin found the sample when he returned to the site weeks after the event. However, according to Justin, the hair color and other characteristics of the sample matched those of the animal that he shot. The results indicated that the sample's main contributor was Ursus americanus, a black bear, with some DNA contamination by Justin. So the sample was not from an unidentified hominoid, but rather, a black bear. It's possible that Justin could have found this sample from a black bear at the site, and that the different Bigfoot samples were decomposed or eaten. But, in my opinion, this result makes perfect sense.
My theory is that what Justin shot were actually black bears with natural genetic mutations or deformation. Mutations, although rare, can truly make an animal look or act differently. To make it clear, I am not saying that the animals that Justin shot were lab experiments. I am theorizing that they were the result of natural mutations. Mutations can be handed down to an animal's descendants, thus explaining the juveniles that were also reported. But how could a mutation or deformation turn a black bear into a Bigfoot like creature? The transformation from black bear to a Bigfoot like creature may seem too bizarre to be true, but it's possible. First of all, keep in mind that Justin never referred to the animals as Bigfoot before people had told him that the animals he described sounds like one. In my opinion, the Bigfoot attribution was by Bigfoot researchers and enthusiasts and not by Justin himself. He was troubled by what he had seen and did not know what to attribute the animals to, until people had approached him saying that he had shot Bigfoot. So add to this a fear inducing and fast paced encounter with bipedal standing animals, and you get a Bigfoot shooting story.
An intriguing, but very rare result, of natural mutations is that sometimes an animal can have features that prehistoric relatives had. This is known as an atavistic trait. Example of this include the dolphin found with four flippers, the chicken embryos with archosaur like teeth, and the breed of dogs that are being bred to look like Dire Wolves.
|Oh, the dreaded red circle. But we aren't circling a blob-squatch, at least.|
A prehistoric relative of bears had features that, if duplicated by a genetic mutation, could produce an black bear that looks similar to the animal that Justin shot. This bear is known as Arctodus, or more commonly the 'short faced bear', and lived throughout North America 11,000 years ago. This bear was a true giant, and claw marks reaching up to 15 feet on the walls of caves have been found! But the characteristic that associates it with the possible mutant bear shot by Justin Smeja, is its short and almost flat face. Unlike modern bears, Arctodus had a short (almost like a bulldog) face and long legs. There have been comparisons made between Arctodus and primates. It has been called the 'monkey-faced bear' by some, and its posture (as it had front legs longer than the hind) has been likened to that of a gorilla. So if a mutation resulted in a black bear with a body shaped like an Arctodus, then it could explain the Smeja encounter. However, it is very likely that this was not a case of an atavistic trait and was simply a regular deformation.
|A drawing of an Arctodus. I found this drawing very intriguing as it has the pale color that Smeja reported for the animal he shot, and also has the short face (without a long snout).|
So to summarize my theory, Justin Smeja shot an adult black bear that had a natural mutation or deformation which gave it a flat face, long and slender limbs, and possibly some deformation to the front legs which made it prone to stand on two legs. Justin did indeed originally report "a bear in Northern California that walked on 2 legs and was pale white in color like a pale yote sorta". Of course, you may be saying that bears don't walk on their hind legs. But the animal that Justin shot actually was reported to go on all fours when running. Justin's original "weird bear" shooting was blurred into a Bigfoot shooting after he came in contact with Bigfoot researchers. I know that you are probably thinking that this is the dumbest theory ever, but it does have evidence to support it. This is a simple case of Occam's Razor, a hunter reports that he has shot two "very weird and human looking bears" and DNA results from a sample that is possibly of one of the creatures comes back as a bear. Also, if there are unknown bipedal primates in America that are very intelligent, why would one stick around in front of a truck long enough to be shot? You may disagree with my theory, but I feel that it is a much more reaonable and likely explanation. You may think that my theory of Justin shooting a very strange and deformed black bear (instead of a Bigfoot) is boring, but this bear must have been an amazing and terrifying animal, and would surely make a heck of a trophy.