Sightings of homo sapiens cognatus, or homo sylvestris, are well-recorded, with a particular prevalence in North America. Bigfoot, otherwise known as the Sasquatch, is one of the most widely-reported cryptids in the world; it is the subject of documentaries, film, music, and countless books.
The Bigfoot Field Research Organisation has compiled a detailed database of Bigfoot sightings going back to the 1920s. Each sighting is dated, located to the nearest town or road, and contains a full description of the sighting. In many cases, sightings are accompanied by a follow-up report from the organisation itself.
As previously with UFO sightings and paranormal manifestations, our first step is to retrieve the data and parse it for analysis. Thankfully, the
bfro.net dataset is relatively well-formatted; reports are broken down by region, with each report following a mainly standard format.
As before, we rely on the
rvest package in R to explore and scrape the website. In this case, the key elements were to retrieve each state’s set of reports from the top level page, and retrieve the link for each report. Conveniently, these are in a standard format; the website also allows a printer-friendly mode that greatly simplifies scraping.
The scraping code is given here:
With each page retrieved, we step through and parse each report. Again, each page is fairly well-formatted, and uses a standard set of tags for date, location, and similar. The report parsing code is given here:
With each report parsed into a form suitable for analysis, the final step in scraping the site is to geolocate the reports. As in previous posts, we rely on Google’s geolocation API. For each report, we extract an appropriate address and parse it into a set of latitude and longitude coordinates. For the purposes of this initial scrape we restrict ourselves to North America, which compromises a large majority of reports on `bfro.net`. Geolocation code is included below. (Note that a Google Geolocation API key is required for this code to run.)
With geolocated data in hand, we can now venture into the wilds. In which areas of North America are Sasquatch most commonly seen to roam? The plot below shows the overall density of Bigfoot sightings, with individual reports marked.
There are particular clusters on the Great Lakes, particularly in Southern Ontario; as well as in the Pacific Northwest. Smaller notable clusters exist in Florida, centered around Orlando. As with most report-based datasets, sightings are skewed towards areas of high population density.