Tetrapod Zoology

Probably not a sasquatch

i-6b7a5342d9248fde25f54b9778bd2d63-Jacobs photo 2.jpg

By now I think you’d have to have been hiding under a rock to miss the news on the accompanying image: taken on September 16th 2007 in north-west Pennsylvania, it depicts a large, rangy mammal, and was photographed with an automatic motion-sensing camera put in place by R. Jacobs. However, it occurred to me that, while the image (and accompany story) might be very familiar to people interested in sasquatch – and to those who get to hear the local news in and around Pennsylvania – there is still likely a huge audience that haven’t even heard of it. The photo has become known as the Jacobs photo. Obviously, the debate has centred around the creature’s identity: some people (notably those representing the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organisation, or BFRO – their page on the photo(s) is here) have suggested that the animal might be a primate, and by implication a juvenile sasquatch. And a lot of other people are saying that it’s a mangy bear. It’s a really interesting photo, and the case for the bear looks compelling. Which is a shame 🙂

Sorry, no time for proper post, again.


  1. #1 Michael P. Taylor
    November 5, 2007

    Eh? What kind of bear has hind legs that long?

  2. #2 Scott Belyea
    November 5, 2007

    Elvis in a ratty bear suit?

  3. #3 Cameron
    November 5, 2007

    I’m surprised how long the limbs on the black bear are, it looks like it takes quite a bit of maneuvering to get the head to the ground. What a mangy Arctodus would look like (and how it could get its head down to the ground) must have been a sight to behold.

  4. #4 Traumador the Tyrannosaur
    November 5, 2007

    Well at the very least this photo gives those researchers an area to focus on for a while. If they were to put up a few more cameras hopefully they’ll get some more pics. Then confirm either the bear/bigfoot question.

    Having had a VERY close run in with a juvenile black bear (it ate my shoes! though fortunently at the time I was not wearing them… it was eating them RIGHT outside my tent while I was inside it!) I’m very inclinded toward that explaination. Their a lot more gracile than the adults, and though that’s an odd pose it fits the rough profile (my bear was actually more shaggy than that. He was in the Canadian rockies in early spring and still had his winter coat I suspect).

    Would have been nice if they’d set something up in the camera’s field of view for scale…

    While on the topic of bigfoot, I’ll shamelessly plug my site’s mock close encounter with “bigfeet” (here) is the link. It’s a joking reference to a series of brilliant ads for Kokanee beer in which a Park Ranger spoofing Ren� Dahinden is trying to catch a beer stealing sasquatch.

  5. #5 Alan Kellogg
    November 6, 2007

    Looks like a bear to me. Proportions are all wrong. The forearm is longer than the upper, the hind legs appear to be shorter than the front legs, stuff like that. The lack of prominent buttocks is a big clue.

    Relying on gadgets to do your work for you isn’t going to get things done. What’s required is for somebody to go live out in the wilderness, away from people, and wait. Wait for sasquatches to show up, get used to the researcher’s presence, and start interacting with the human. Get lots of evidence. Vocal, video, photographic evidence. Footprint, bodyprints, finderprints, hair, urine, sweat, and shit.

    Where photographic and video evidence is concerned, get shots and sequences showing the animal or animals doing all sorts of different things. Walking, sleeping, taking a dump, fucking, nursing their young. Get clear shots of the entire animal, including the genitalia. Build up a body of evidence.

    Of course, a body would be nice, but I’m not going to hold my horses waiting for one.

  6. #6 arachnophile
    November 6, 2007

    Okay, I’m just a wannabe “real scientist” so I am always looking for a reason to post here without looking like a TOTAL SHMUCK, so here it goes:

    Honestly, the first time I saw this picture my thought was, “I wonder what the zoologically informed folks at Tet-Zoo would say about this?”

    Heh, I’m not sucking up, I promise. 😉 It’s the truth. I know that anyone who could spot the inherent “Squirrel-ness” in that one mystery photo Darren gave us would have something intelligent to say about this picture.

    As someone who has been tempted to buy one of these motion-activated cameras from the National Geographic site, I’m looking forward to what you all are going to say. 😉

    No pressure. :p

    Good for you Darren, that you �came out� about Cryptozoology and the REAL pursuit of �hidden life,� which is what the name is really about. It�s really refreshing to see good zoology being applied to this �study�. There�s a couple of potential-thylacine vids I�d love to get some expert commentary on. ** as opposed to cryptobiosis which is another very cool thing that has nothing to do with Bigfoot.**

    The fascination of cryptozoology really is a marriage between a child-like love of the unknown with, what I think to be, an informed view of our biological/ecological reality where a LOT of extinctions do really fall at our feet, as a species. I admit to my fascination with C.Z. being partly composed partly of Whimsy, Guilt and too much knowledge of natural history.

    Kudos and thank you!

    P.S. Did we ever deal with that red-brown pelt you showed us? I know I was behind in my Tet-zoo reading but I�ve not seen it� You did promise :p

    [from Darren: thanks for the comments Heather. The red-brown pelt has proved a bit tricky and investigations are still underway – – I’ll post the news eventually, honest!]

  7. #7 Allen Hazen
    November 6, 2007

    As you undoubtedly know, Darren, but as some of your loyal readers may not, Loren Coleman has posted about this photo several times at his “Cryptomundo” site, most recently here.

    Bears (in Pennsylvania, it would be the American Black Bear, Ursus (I think, though in the past it has been separated generically from Ursus) americanus) if de-haired (mangy) and (probably) in scrawnily bad condition otherwise are surprisingly long-legged and rangy: the comparison photo Coleman posts of a known mangy bear is really, really, weird looking, utterly unlike the stereotype of a bear! And the proportions of the unknown in this photo seem to match those of the mangy bear very closely.

    [from Darren: some recent studies on ursid phylogeny have failed to confirm monophyly of Ursus and have suggested that some of the old generic names – like Euarctos for the American black bear – should be reinstated. While the details differ according to the study, americanus never seems to group closer to brown bears than it does to other, more divergent ursids.]

  8. #8 Noni Mausa
    November 6, 2007

    I followed the links to see the bear photo. Poor bear! I hope somebody fed it after taking that photo.

    Balding Bears: Mangy Mystery in Florida, by Brian Handwerkfor, National Geographic News, January 14, 2003.

  9. #9 Nathan Myers
    November 6, 2007

    Bears are interesting in their own right, even with hair on.

    How did those damned naked monkeys get to building computers ahead of the bears, anyway? I suspect it’s because we had to stay awake all winter.

  10. #10 luca
    November 7, 2007


    I remember Asimov wrote a short story about future intelligent bears coming in contact with newly evolved, intelligent monkeys from Africa. Is it what you’re referring to?

  11. #11 Nathan Myers
    November 7, 2007

    luca: I recall a story about a treatment that tripled the victim’s intelligence. It had been applied to a person, who went more or less insane (imagine a sulking MacGyver), and a bear who became curiously good company.

    I don’t know of any other non-primate mammal that is as adaptable. Probably the real impediment to developing sentience in bears is that they aren’t social. Raccoons might have a shot at it, after we’re gone.

  12. #12 arachnophile
    November 7, 2007

    Awh, come on guys. We all know that if this planet ever spun out another “intelligent” creature it’d be a CEPHLAPOD. 😉 :p

  13. #13 Susan
    November 12, 2007

    “I don’t know of any other non-primate mammal that is as adaptable. Probably the real impediment to developing sentience in bears is that they aren’t social. Raccoons might have a shot at it, after we’re gone.”

    Hey, if you like books about sentient raccoons, read, “The Architect of Sleep” by Stephen Boyett. I’ve been waiting almost 20 years for him to write a damn sequel to that book.

    Since we’re on a sasquatch thread here, we just passed the 40th anneversary of the Patterson/Gimlin film.

  14. #14 historian
    November 19, 2007


    1. 28 minutes elapsed between photo 1 & photo 2. Which is more than enough time for the cubs with mother to clear the scene. So a cub is not necessarily nearby, thus eliminating the possibility of a non-mother-bear near the cubs. Thus a sasquatch possibility.
    2. The dark and identical object in the forefront of photo #2 & #3, appears to be a turned over salt lick. Which is why it is stationary.
    3. No ears are evident in photos #2 & especially #3, which would indicate a bear, if present. Thus a sasquatch liklihood.
    4. The supposedly mangey look, is possibly because sasquatches have hair, not fur. Hair is much thinner than fur. Fur gets mange, which results in loss of all layers of fur and completely bare skin is then evident. This creature has not lost all layers of either hair or fur and no completely bare skin is evident. Fur has a dense underfur and outer guard hairs. Hair has no dense underlayer, so skin is can be seen through the thinner hair. So a misidentified and alleged mangey creature, can be mistaken for normal healthy body hair. This hair looks similar in density to many known wild primates. Thus a sasquatch liklihood, since this is a Pennsylvania photo.
    5. Bears appear to have identical length front legs and rear legs, resulting in their backs being generally parallel to the ground. In photo #3, the front legs or arms, appear to be significantly longer than the fully extended real legs, or the only legs. Which is similar to known wild primates. Thus a sasquatch liklihood.
    6. In photo #3, a sharp right hip bone appears to be evident. Primates have hips. Bears do not have hips at all. Bear hind ends are covered with heavy muscle. Thus a sasquatch liklihood.
    7. In photo #3, the body is contorting fairly severely, yet the legs or rear legs, do not appear to be particularly stressed from that contorsion. I do not recall ever seeing a bear contorting its body to this degree, implying a greater flexibility in the skeletal structure. Thus a sasquatch possibility.
    8. Bears would more likely roll in a scent or fragrance that they wanted on their fur. Rolling involves quickly flopping down on its side or back. This creature is not rolling onto its side, but maintaining its only 2 legs in a supportive position. Thus a sasquatch liklihood.
    9. Bears have short tails. Although the resolution of the photographs is not great, no tail is evident. Sasquatches dont have tails. Thus a sasquatch liklihood.


    Sasquatch liklihood 6 Sasquatch possibility 2 Da Bears 0

  15. #15 David Marjanovi?
    November 19, 2007

    In the photo above, the hindlimbs look at least as long as the forelimbs…

    Bear tails are hardly ever visible.

    And what do you mean by “bears don’t have hips”? All vertebrates with hindlimbs have hip bones and musculature in the same places. In bears the front rim of the upper hip bone (ilium) could be covered by fat and fur, but not by musculature.

  16. #16 doug l
    November 20, 2007

    I think, left to natural processes, were it not for h. sapiens and its kind, the otters would have taken over. Smart, highly social and damn clever.
    “I don’t want to control the planet, just that little strip where it touches the water.”

  17. #17 Hai~Ren
    November 21, 2007

    historian: Oh please stop… I can’t stop laughing.

  18. #18 aix
    December 3, 2007

    oy, it looks like a very malnourished bear to me in picture #3. poor thing.

  19. #19 Gavin
    April 20, 2008

    Of course, we know that sasquatches don’t have tails from the empirical study of…

  20. #20 Monkey Maker
    March 27, 2009

    i just listened to a debate on http://www.pattersonfilm.com I have to admit, i just came out of the bigfoot closet about a week ago, but i have been doing solid research for abour 2 months straight. I think this picture is someones pet chimp that got loose, or they let it go cause they did not want it anymore. I dont think its a bigfoot or a bear.

  21. #21 Michael Erickson
    June 28, 2009

    This is almost certainly not a bear. I’ve seen mangy bears – this looks nothing like a bear. To me it looks just like some sort of scrawny ape. In fact, I think that these photos are some of the very best evidence I’ve ever seen presented in favor of Sasquatch.

  22. #22 Graham King
    October 13, 2009


    I think, left to natural processes, were it not for h. sapiens and its kind, the otters would have taken over. Smart, highly social and damn clever.
    “I don’t want to control the planet, just that little strip where it touches the water.”

    What about beavers? They too are competent in and out of water, and what’s more, build not only lodges to inhabit, but also dams.. dams which they maintain and adjust, so manipulating their watery environment to their own advantage on a much larger scale.
    The benefits of cooperative action on a large scale seems a good driving force toward beavers eventually developing more sophisticated and even abstract symbolic communication. (Maybe not speech, but sign-language, gnawed or scratched marks>symbols>diagrams>annotations, etc)

  23. #23 matthew
    January 2, 2011

    Sorry, i’ve seen this elsewhere, and it just aint no bear my friend, and it is one of the most compelling images I have ever seen. Without venturing what it might be 🙂 there are a handful of others (the Patterson photo being one of them) that require the usual skeptics to keep an open mind. Remember the Patterson photo was initially and for some time heavily criticized as a fraud and then decades later new anylsis of the video including physio-skeletal movement of the “humaniod” thing revealed bodily proportions and a bipedal gate that is distinctly non-homo-sapien ruling out the Holywood rumor and a man in a suit. Skeptics will just have to live with the uncertainty im afraid and keep an open mind yet again!

  24. #24 Surroundx
    January 23, 2011

    It’s just a pet chimpanzee! The photo was probably setup, and it looks undernourished as well, poor thing.

  25. #25 Donn
    February 14, 2011

    I’ve never understood the folks that just toss this off as a bear, and I’ve never seen any analysis that supports that view.

    I can’t tell precisely what this is. But I have seen a load of bears in the wild, and this doesn’t look like one to me.

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