The Evolution of the Werewolf and Bigfoot

Brian Regal, a historian of science at Kean University in New Jersey, has an interesting theory about the relationship between werewolves and Bigfoot. He notes that hundreds of years ago werewolves were very prominent in popular culture. But during the past 150 years the werewolf's place in popular culture has declined, while Bigfoot has grown enormously in popularity. He attributes this shift to the theory of evolution. From Science Daily:

From the late 19th century onwards, stories of werewolf encounters tailed away significantly, says Regal. "The spread of the idea of evolution helped kill off the werewolf because a canid-human hybrid makes no sense from an evolutionary point of view," he says. "The ape-human hybrid, however, is not only evolutionarily acceptable, it is the basis of human evolution."

Contrast this with Joshua Buhs' theory, detailed in his new book Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend, in which he attributes Bigfoot's popularity in the 20th century to working-class men who saw in Bigfoot "an icon of untamed masculinity, a populist rebel against scientific elites, the last champion of authentic reality against a plastic, image-driven, effeminate consumer society." (text from the Publishers Weekly review)


Posted on Tue Jun 30, 2009


Werewolves giving way to bigfoot had occurred to me while watching History Channel's "Monster Quest". In trying to vary their nomenclature to hide how often their episodes are about bigfoot, they blurred the line a bit between werewolf stories and bigfoot stories, and it really highlighted how similar some of those stories are. But they didn't overtly make the connection Regal is; I think that's a really interesting idea! Kind of like how stories of demons paralyzing people in their sleep evolved into alien abductions with modern science entering popular culture.
Posted by Crazy Ivan  on  Tue Jun 30, 2009  at  12:23 PM
uhh... we lycanthropes have not diminished in numbers... we now interact on the net, whilst Bigfeet still feel compelled to run naked thru the woods... I myself, have never been predatory, therefore I do not seek victims... I do, however, enjoy a good moonbath and howl session once a month. Bigfeet, do their thing daily, so it only appears that they are higher in numbers. I walk amongst "regular" humes 3 1/2 weeks per month, and except for the hirsute spots on my palms and jowls, you'd hardly be able to identify my condition. Try and hide Bigfeet in crowd at a parade, I dare you. Even shaven, their proportions give them away. Some, however, become professional basketball players and are seen quite regulary. That's why they invented electrolysis... you're welcome
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Jun 30, 2009  at  02:54 PM
I don't much about Big Feet (plural?), but a were-wolf will get you every time!
Posted by ARCANE12  on  Tue Jun 30, 2009  at  05:05 PM
So the popularity of Bigfoot is driven by misogynists? Interesting. Plus, it seems to me that werewolves have just morphed into Wolverine.
And I'm surprised that no one's commented to the Brian Regal quote, "The ape-human hybrid, however, is not only evolutionarily acceptable, it is the basis of human evolution." An ape-human hybrid is not evolutionarily acceptable or genetically possible. Humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor--but apes were never humans, and humans were never apes.
As the Smithsonian Human Origins Project website puts it:
"Comparisons of DNA show that our closest living relatives are the ape species of Africa, and most studies by geneticists show that chimpanzees and humans are more closely related to each other than either is to gorillas. However, it must be stressed that humans did not evolve from living chimpanzees. Rather, our species and chimpanzees are both the descendants of a common ancestor that was distinct from other African apes. This common ancestor is thought to have existed in the Pliocene between 5 and 8 million years ago, based on the estimated rates of genetic change. Both of our species have since undergone 5 to 8 million years of evolution after this split of the two lineages."
Not that this really has anything to do with Bigfoot....
Posted by Donna F.  on  Tue Jun 30, 2009  at  06:33 PM
Can I get the conclusion that the bigfoot is more suitable to the society while the werewolf has not the ability to live in the crowd?
This can be attributed to the change of the environment?
Posted by Irene Savoia  on  Tue Jun 30, 2009  at  09:51 PM
If the werewolf had more popularity than the bigfoot,what would be the society now? It is interesting.
Posted by Jess Holroyd  on  Tue Jun 30, 2009  at  09:56 PM
>>apes were never humans, and humans were never apes<<

Well, technically, humans are considered to be a species of African ape. So the phrase "human-ape hybrid" is a tautology.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Jun 30, 2009  at  10:29 PM
This is eerie: I was just reading an article on a genetic study that seems to indicate a possible period in human evolution when the lines of genes in humans and chimps reconverged in a way that suggest that the two groups of proto-creatures may have interbreed after they seperated aprtially, and the human line may be a form of hybrid resulting from this.

Not unusual, though a little surprising. Whethr any putative Bigfoot ( If they aren't polio-infected black bears ) exists or not, the fact is taht seperate species often collapse back into one again, like the way certain finches on the human-inhabited Galapagos islands did when their food source changed to human feeders with boiled rice; the broad-beaked forms in the poulce who could eat certain native seeds began to disappear as the average beak width was favoured again .
Posted by D F Stuckey  on  Thu Jul 09, 2009  at  05:34 AM
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