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A giant ape Gigantopithecus used to exist in southeast Asia. Estimates make the beast 9-10ft. tall. It is believed they died out 100,000 years ago, these may be the basis for the legends of the yeti, abominable snowman and bigfoot.

It is even possible that during one of the ice ages that they took a land bridge to North America, and might have been there before Man came ~10,000 years ago.

So how might a large ape species survive the last 100,000 years either in SE Asia or the North American continent without leaving behind significant physical evidence of their existence?

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One possibility is that they are leaving evidence, but that it's being misinterpreted. For example, consider dung. If a great ape had a similar diet, in a similar area, and was of a similar size to, say, bears, it's entirely possible that the vast majority of dung would be dismissed as "bear poop". Who is going to inspect it too closely?

Similarly, at a distance, a 9 foot tall hairy thing that is running away from you, potentially on all fours looks pretty much like a bear. Assume the ape is fairly clever, and has a good sense of smell, and you get a lot of distant sightings, most of which are dismissed as bears, especially by people who don't want to tackle bears.

It's improbable, sure, but not impossible - there is a lot of territory to cover, and a whole load of species who we've not spotted properly.

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    $\begingroup$ "Who is going to inspect [bear poop] too closely?" Biological conversationalists and people examining claims about Bigfoot dung. $\endgroup$ – Schwern Feb 1 '16 at 23:28
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Adept Stealth

It's not unlikely for a creature to bury its dung, and to adapt to leave very little trace of itself. For those living in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, they've plenty of space to roam and to avoid the (usually loud) approaches of logging trucks and even hunters. But for those that get stumbled upon, well there's a lot of unsubstantiated reports.

Unexplored Areas

Vele Do Javari, in Brazil is an unexplored area about the size of Austria, Kamchatka, in Russia about the size of California only allowed a few military people to the area, and with its many brown bears, a great ape could be mistaken for a bear in the improbable event it was ever stumbled upon. Sakha Republic as well, is about the size of India and is largely untouched where the few great apes have a diet of small plants and reindeer. Parts of Patagonia as well as large parts of southeast Asia are largely unexplored as well.

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The animals that are hardest to see are stealthy predators. Wolves are fairly uncommon to spot, cougars, panthers and jaguars are usually known to be around by finding their scat or a kill. So it implies that were they to exist still, they would be an apex predator with extreme stealth, a serious carnivore, any vegetation would be for the lean times. Scat can easily be mistaken for some other animal, likely grizzlies.

But what about dead. Dead bodies are hard to hide, especially large Grizzly sized bodies. While any particular one might not be found, we certainly do see all the dead animals out in the woods, over the last couple hundred years in the US we would have at least found bones somewhere hinting at this. So this also implies they are cannibals. They eat their dead. Even most of the parts that have been found in China have been teeth and a few jaw bones. Teeth are not very palatable.

Now to hide as well as they do, might also imply intelligence. The ability to understand situations and take extra steps to help cover up/hide from others. Some disappearances might be humans wandering where they didn't belong. Some disappear for good, others show up miles from where they 'should' be, dead. Possibly moved there, this would be more proof of intelligence and forward planning. Move the body out of our area where it can be found, and others won't coming looking here for them.

Being predators also suggests they have smaller numbers, the larger the predator (in general) the fewer there are of them since they need to be supported by their prey. Though they might be big enough and mean enough to actually kill and eat Grizzlies. Predators generally don't go about in 'large' packs, especially larger ones. Even lions prides don't have several hundred members. But since they are so good at cleaning up dead bodies, they likely have a loose 'community' of maybe small family groups.

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So could it hide undiscovered? Actually it might be able to. You will hear of new species being discovered, or old species being rediscovered that everyone thought was dead, so it's not unheard of for species to hide out in a secluded area for a long period of time.

So say a very remote valley high in the most remote and secluded areas of the tagia, far enough away from anything to make mineral exploration impractical.
This species is also very territorial, so any creatures that are vaguely ape shaped, like humans, would be seen as interlopers and attacked.

Meaning anyone that does happen to get to close to the valley just disappears in the wilderness, never to be heard from again. Between winter, wolves, bear, moose, and accidents there are enough dangers that a small number of trappers/explorers could go missing from bigfoot attack without anyone noticing.

The only way it might get noticed is if either someone got back out, where they might not be believed, or if someone were to plot the missing people over a large range of time and notice that one area has a slightly higher concentration.

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There was once an australopithecine called Paranthropus Robustus. It was slightly smaller than the reigning hominid at the time, and was driven extinct by habitat loss. Had it survived, and had evolutionary growth similar to hominids, the creature would be slightly smaller than modern humans. Seeing as Paranthropus was a herbivore, it wouldn't be able to obtain the large amount of brain fat necessary to compete with humans. Thusly, it would likely evolve a larger stature and become an expert at hiding from humans, who had vastly superior technology. These adaptations would have all taken place by the middle ages. Considering the areas where these beings live (according to mythology) are not the ones containing the most technologically advanced humans at this point, it would have a perfect place to live without too many consequences if they were found. Interestingly, these places are still fairly to extremely isolated, so the only humans they would have contact with are lone backpackers. It would be interesting to see the instinctive behaviors of this species (e.g. avoiding certain areas like hiking trails, specific caves, parts of Mount Everest.)

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The question "Could Bigfoot have actually existed?" is already answered: yes, they could. Things like them have already been found in the fossil record. Its just a very tall member of the Family Hominidae. (everything from apes to humans)

As for the question of evidence, let's look at fossil and present. Our fossil evidence for Gigantopithecus and Chimpanzees is some teeth and bone fragments. Obviously, that's a slim margin of material that differentiates proven existence, so the lack of evidence here is clearly not the presence of proof of non-existence.

What about present-day evidence? Well, there's a lot of it, actually. Most people have not looked at any of it except for the stuff that was 'debunked' and shown to them as a summary of a digestion of an opinionated account of a story, so we've immediately devalued 'evidence' and this has become an exercise in wold-view affirmation due to the 'backfire effect'. (You will hate and reject any evidence that challenges your categories.) You can't really have a conversation about the quality of the evidence without addressing this.

Let's assume we have addressed this and shown that there's no good forensic evidence for the existence of Sasquatch. You still have to deal with the logical principal of Absence of Evidence. In order to prove that the lack of validated hair, scat, footprints, environmental markers, and bodies demonstrates the absence of these creatures from a given habitat, you would first need to establish a credible base-line for the presence of these data points. Without a verified type-specimen, however, the hair, saliva, scat, and blood samples are categorized as 'contaminated' or 'unknown primate', and the vocalizations and stick structures are credited to people or escaped primate pets.

Finally, eye witnesses. There are so many eye witnesses of these creatures... its just astonishing to read the cross-referenced, curated interviews of these folks. Granted, I'm sure some of them are mis-identification, false recollection, tricks of the light, psychosis, or PTSD, but to say that the Chief of Police or PhD scientist or licenced Therapist who says that he/she watched this thing run across a field in broad daylight for many, many seconds, who then measured the footprints it left behind at 18 inches, was 'hallucinating' the event... I don't get that. Is it responsible to reject all eye-witness accounts because they are 'unreliable'? Personally, I don't think you should pronounce judgement on these accounts until you have at least read a number of them and studied the circumstances of the event and the interview.

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