Saturday, May 05, 2012

Killing Bigfoot?

Is the only good sasquatch a dead one?

A kerfluffle on the sasquatch websites lately concerns whether it's proper to kill a member of the species in order to prove its existence and get protection for the the rest of the population.  A couple of people claim to have had the animals in their sights but couldn't shoot because the primates looked too human.  Then there's the "Sierra Kills" claim by someone who says two specimens were shot in California but were, of course, covered up by the shooters.  The story is ridiculous, but it does raise a real question about type specimens and whether you need a whole animal for a scientific description.
In the modern era, you can get away without shooting a specimen, but there are requirements that are perhaps harder to meet.  A bird has been described and accepted when it was live-trapped, photographed close up, a blood sample was taken for DNA, and the bird released back into the wild.  Close, repeated video surveillance would possibly work - but only if the surveillance produced images so clear that all possibility of fakery was removed, or if scientists with no perceived  bias were brought in to join the observing team.
So if there is a North American ape - an unlikely but not impossible situation - it needn't be killed. But you'd better get alternate proof so solid it will convince everyone. 

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