Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ask Bigfoot Elsie: Eye Shine

We are always experimenting with new ways to entertain and inform Bigfooters, while remaining fresh and topical. Today we are happy to announce "Ask Bigfoot Elsie." We have two reasons for this new feature.

Reason one: Since we have added, believe it or not, people are feeding back--or is the proper term "feed backing"? Either way, we are starting to get Bigfoot questions.

Reason two:Last year we created a mascot and we've been trying to figure out how to use her.

Without further ado here is our first email question.

B. Elsie,
Almost everyone agrees that Bigfoot must be a nocturnal animal to remain undetected and not yet proven to exist by man. As such you would assume that they have to be able to see in the dark and every animal that I am familiar with that roams the woods in the dark has reflective eye shine.

What am I missing here? Or are those scientific people not doing their homework?

Thanks in Advance,
Reflecting on Bigfoot


Thanks for your question. Let's go to the chalkboard to explain what eye shine is. As you can see below most nocturnal animals are equipped with a feature designed to amplify the amount of light that reaches the retina. Called the tapetum lucidum (pronounced ta-pee-tum and colored yellow) this mirror-like membrane reflects light that has already passed through the retina back through the retina a second time. Whatever light is not absorbed on this return trip passes out of the eye the same way it came in—through the pupil, causing eye-shine.

In most nocturnal mammals the tapetum is yellow. This yellow color produces the often seen yellow eye-shine. Interestingly, different animals have different color tapetum, a fact that can aid in nighttime animal identification; white in many fish; blue in horses; and red occurs in rodents, opossums and birds. We shouldn't confuse this with "red eye" in photos. Red eye is a reflection of the red blood vessels on the retina.

Wrapping this up and connecting this to Bigfoot? There are no known great apes with the night vision enhancing tapetum, although some smaller primates do have this membrane. Bigfoot encounters with eye shine would either support that Bigfoot has tapetum in her eyes, or in some cases she is being misidentified. If Bigfoot could produce eye shine, it would most likely be yellow. Black bears are known to produce red eye shine.

BigfootEncounters has a great article on Eye-shine
Wikipedia page on Tapetum lucidum


  1. MultipleEncountersJan 20, 2010, 11:02:00 PM

    Except for one thing, what is often reported isn't from the shine caused by a viewer holding a light source. What has been described are eyes that literally become self illuminated. I've never seen it myself but have spoken with one reliable person who has, and of course read other accounts online.

    It is definitely a phenomenon that has me baffled and definitely causes me to re ask myself what we're dealing with. So unfortunately I think the jury is still out on this one.

  2. Thanks for adding that information ME, it always good to get information from the entire spectrum of reported encounters. We appreciate your contribution.


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