Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Jeff Meldrum on Bigfoot and Henry Gee on possibilities of mythical beasts

In search of Bigfoot By Aaron Dean
Dr. Jeffery Meldrum said he doesn't take on faith that Sasquatch is real but based on the body of evidence he has examined, he does think the creature exists.Meldrum is an Associate Professor of Anatomy and Anthropology in the biology department at Idaho State University.Meldrum said he started researching Sasquatch 14 years ago when he found a fresh footprint in southeastern Washington. "That was what set the hook as far as embarking on a more systematic and focused consideration of the question from a research perspective."He has been featured on the History Channel, the SyFy Channel and National Public Radio.Meldrum also said the case of Sasquatch is particularly interesting to him because his background is in the evolution of human locomotion.He said, "The proposition of another biped – perhaps an early hominid or an ape – that had evolved the same bipedal adaptation as humans is an intriguing question."I was already familiar with footprint evidence for early humans walking, so I recognized features and possibilities attributed to Sasquatch."I thought I could make a significant contribution to the resolution to this issue from the perspective of systematic evaluation of footprint evidence because I'm very familiar with that type of data."So I started collecting as many examples of the footprints as I could."Meldrum said his collection currently has over 200 footprint casts and they are working with the Idaho Virtualization Laboratory to create 3D models so other researchers will have access to them.Meldrum also said he's traveled around the world to study Sasquatch.He said one of his more interesting travels was for a documentary for the History Channel to the Hubei province in China.He said China has legends of a creature called the Yerin, which translates into "wild man" and has a similar description to Sasquatch.He said they met with a park ranger who claimed to have seen a Yerin.Meldrum said, "The ranger was patrolling the park and spied at several hundred yards, a reddish brown hair covered figure sprawled on a boulder in the sun in the morning hours."The ranger called out to it, it sat up, looked at him and instead of it being a long snouted bear it was a flat faced man-like figure that got up and walked into the forest."The ranger went after it and tracked it some distance to a stream where it left nice tracks in the mud."He went to get the materials and returned to make a cast of the feet."Meldrum said, "One of the objectives of the trip was to examine these casts.He said the ranger opened up a suitcase and unwrapped the casts."I was stunned," Meldrum stated, "because these footprints were virtually identical to the examples I have here in my laboratory."Meldrum also said the park ranger had no frame of reference as to what these footprints would look like making a hoax unlikely.Meldrum said he is submitting an abstract to the American Association of Physical Anthropology meeting in the Spring about the trip.As far as research here in the U.S., Meldrum said they are working on training search and recovery dogs to track Sasquatch.He said one of the biggest criticisms of Sasquatch is there is no body, and the only way to get a body would be to track one down and kill it or for someone to stumble upon a body."Given their intelligence, this is probably going to be a very unlikely scenario," Meldrum said."The next best thing would be to have a trace of that organism with DNA, and that would come from hair or faeces," he continued.Meldrum said the dogs are generally used to identify humans and human remains, but can be trained to identify almost anything.He said they had one of these dogs check what was suspected being Sasquatch faeces, based on circumstantial evidence.Meldrum said, "They get wind of this faeces which would either be from bear or Sasquatch, because it was filled with black ants, and the dogs had a fear response to it."This is a very unusual response because those same dogs would walk by bear faeces with no response.""This enthused one of the handlers, and he has agreed to train a dog to great ape hair and tissue with the presumption that Sasquatch falls close to the variation of gorillas, chimps and apes," Meldrum continued."Once we have a dog that is at hand, if fresh footprints are found within about 12 hours, we can take the dogs to the site and imprint them with the scent, presuming the tracks are authentic."Meldrum said, "I'm not just about collecting footprints; we're also approaching this as a question of wildlife biology. What is this creature's role in the biological community?"

Over at The Guardian Newspaper UK an article by Henry Gee
Indiana Jones and the Sasquatch of Doom
The recent discovery of the saola - a large mammal - shows that we don't know everything ... that big mysteries still await
An extract:
“And if one admits H. floresiensis to the canon, what of other celebrated mythical beasts - if not necessarily Nessie, then the orang pendek of Malaysia? The yeti? The sasquatch? Bigfoot? Are all such creatures the products of delusion, conspiracy theories and hoax? Perhaps - but not necessarily. The little we know of those large mammals on the fringes of knowledge suggests that they live in remote places, are very shy, are extremely rare, and that to find them before they become extinct requires a degree of luck. So far, no hard evidence for yetis (say) has emerged. But in a world that hosts H. floresiensis and the saola, the kouprey and the red gazelle, one should keep an open mind.”
Read the whole thing here:
Henry Gee is a senior editor of Nature. He blogs at The End Of The Pier Show. He will be speaking at the Grant Museum, University College London, on 26 October. [630pm; UCL Darwin Lecture Theatre; free admission]

No comments: