There is perhaps no person in history who has spent more of their life with chimpanzees yet is universally well known among humans than Jane Goodall. That work began in 1960, but in the 1980s Goodall shifted her main focus from saving chimps to saving all creatures being severely affected by climate change. While that’s what she’d like to be known for today (and the subject of her new Trees for Jane project to get one trillion trees planted by 2030 to restore lost forestation and reduce the effects of climate change), that nor the chimps are not what we’re interested in. In a recent interview, Jane Goodall gave her views on the possible existence of Bigfoot. Before you read them, place your bets – believer or non-believer?
In a wide-ranging interview with GQ, Goodall answered a question about the existence of Bigfoot. The renowned primatologist and anthropologist explained that a number of factors contributed to her response, especially one incident which occurred in Ecuador -- she does not give the year nor the exact location, only to say her plane flew for “two solid hour over unbroken forest.” Stopping at a small village of 30-to-50 people whose only communications link to the outside world was hunters passing through who carried and delivered messages. She asked her interpreter to query them about if the hunters ever talked about seeing “a monkey without a tail."
“Three of the hunters came back and said, "Oh yes. We've seen monkeys without tails. They walk upright and they're about six foot tall."”
Upright, tailless, six-foot-tall monkeys! Needless to say, Goodall was intrigued. This was not the first time she’s talked about Bigfoot in an interview – in 2018, she told Yahoo! Entertainment that she’s met people who claim to be Bigfoot witnesses and they have come from every continent except Antarctica. Goodall reiterates this in the GQ interview but then adds an interesting new twist:
“So I don't know if it's perhaps a myth that stems from maybe the last of the Neanderthals. But then is the last of the Neanderthals still living in these remote forests?”
Evidence has been mounting recently that humans lived with (and had sex with) Neanderthals, Denisovans and other archaic humans possibly as recently as 12,000 years ago – certainly close enough in time that folkloric tales of different beings could evolve into tales of Bigfoot, Yowie, Yeti, Wildmen and more. But … is the esteemed Jane Goodall saying she believes a Neanderthal could still be living in Ecuador or Washington State or Australia?
“I don't know. But I'm not going to say it doesn't exist and I'm not going to say people who believe in it are stupid.”
That may not be a ‘yes’ but it certainly is well past a ‘maybe’. Few people have spent more time with our modern closest biological neighbors – the chimpanzees. She’s long documented behavior that shows just how talented chimps are, and how the largest ones could, in the right light, be mistaken for a humanoid species by people who have little contact with other humans. However, her admission is that people who clearly know what monkeys are say what they’ve witnessed is something else – an upright, tailless, six-foot-tall creature.
Are you going to call Jane Goodall stupid?