The growth in computing power, databases and mapping APIs has led to an explosion in geographical information presentation. So when Joshua Stevens, a PhD candidate at Penn State, came across 92 years worth of Bigfoot/Sasquatch sighting reports in Canada and the United States, he thought it “just has to be mapped”.
The thousands of reports come from archival work and reports submitted directly to the website of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), each of which is geocoded and timestamped.In all, Stevens combined the data of 3,313 sightings reported from 1921 to 2013, and immediately noticed some interesting aspects:
Right away you can see that sightings are not evenly distributed. At first glance, it looks a lot like a map of population distribution. After all, you would expect sightings to be the most frequent in areas where there are a lot of people. But a bivariate view of the data (right) shows a very different story. There are distinct regions where sightings are incredibly common, despite a very sparse population. On the other hand, in some of the most densely populated areas sasquatch sightings are exceedingly rare.
I don’t have a really good explanation for this. These are sasquatch sightings we’re talking about and I’m way out of my area of expertise (do bigfoot experts exist?). But it’s clear that if the legendary biped is real, it’s thriving out west.
The terrain and habitat likely play a major role in the distribution of reports (note: reports, not sasquatch themselves!). Even if bigfoot wasn’t lurking nearby, it might be hard to tell when surrounded by rugged terrain and dense forest. Was that a stick cracking naturally or is a giant primate creeping around? The desire to find, or think you saw, bigfoot might be especially high if you’ve heard tales of giant, ape-like creatures calling the place you’re in home. A combination of environment and legend likely combine to at least put wary outdoorsmen on the lookout.
It might be interesting also to see any change in the data from pre-Internet days to post. Click through to the link for more analysis and images, as well as high-resolution versions.