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On the Plausibility of Another Bipedal Primate Species Existing in North America

By Guest Author Jeff Meldrum inZoology |
Score: 47.7 / 191

As I knelt beside the 38 cm footprint, one of several dozen distinctly impressed in the muddy side road in the foothills of the Blue Mountains of southeastern Washington, the hair literally stood up on my neck with the incredulous sensation that a sasquatch may indeed have passed by here just hours earlier. The clarity of detail and dynamic signatures left no ambiguity, no room for misidentification. These footprints were either a very clever hoax or the track of an unknown living creature. The spontaneity, variation and animation of the footprints tipped the scales decidedly in favor of the latter option. But what were the implications of that conclusion? As a budding physical anthropologist, I had essentially shelved my youthful curiosity about Bigfoot and assumed that the passage of decades without any physical evidence justified a skeptical indictment of the subject as nothing more than folklore and legend. Here, on an overcast afternoon in February 1996, was stark evidence to the contrary. Of course it was not definitive, as in the form of a specimen, a type to establish conclusively the existence of a novel hominoid species. And short of that, I was to learn, there was no accommodating by the anthropological discipline of even the proposition of such a species, regardless of the accumulating affirmative evidence.

It is one matter to address the theoretical possibility of a relict species of hominoid in North America, and the obligate shift in paradigm to accommodate it, but there must also be something substantial to place within that revised framework. There must be essential evidence to lend weight to the hypotheses, and counter the critics’ various aspersions. I was once confronted by a colleague, who declared, “After all, these are just stories.” My response: “Stories that apparently leave tracks, shed hair, void scat, vocalize, are observed and described by reliable experienced witnesses. Hardly just stories.” Others mock the notion as “pseudoscience,” but fail to explain their justification for that label, let alone provide a defensible rationale for their pat disqualification of the evidence at hand. Then there is the now popularized statement by ideological skeptic Michael Shermer, which eventually became the basis of a column in Scientific American, 2003 – “The science starts once you have a body.” On the contrary, most serious investigators would contend that the science starts once you have a question, followed by observation, and the accumulation of data. Each of these detractions begs the question of evidentiary substance that motivates investigation, and instead either off-handedly dismisses all evidence, or demands conclusive proof up front, a priori. That is hardly the method or process of explorative science.

Many remain skeptical of the premise simply due to what they assume to be an exceptionally low probability that such creatures could remain undetected and unacknowledged today by modern science, especially within the continental United States. It has been pointed out that there is no history of known hominoids  in North America. Indeed the original primates to have ever inhabited North America were squirrel-sized to cat-sized Eocene prosimian primates, most closely related to modern lemurs and lorises, not apes or hominins . South and Central America would subsequently be colonized by platyrrhine primates, a diverse radiation now represented by marmosets to spider monkeys.

What would be the source of a giant relict hominoid in North America?

The most likely source would be Asia. After all 75% of the mammal species now inhabiting this continent are in fact immigrants from Asia. There was indeed a giant ape in East Asia during the late Pleistocene – Gigantopithecus blacki – leaving meager fossil remains as recently as 300,000 years ago. With molar dimensions implying a body mass in the neighborhood of 450 kg, Gigantopithecus presents a species that is the right size, in the right place, at the right time to serve as an ancestral candidate for a North American relict hominoid. However, two jaws and isolated teeth leave its posture and locomotion uncertain. It has been suggested that bipedalism is a uniquely derived trait of the hominin clade, therefore sasquatch must be specifically a hominin. In that case, its apparent lack of associated material culture would suggest a very early offshoot from the hominin tree, perhaps a Paranthropus, given its robust craniodental proportions. But here we have a candidate that based on the known fossil record seems to be the wrong size, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Is it reasonable to propose connecting dots separated by 800,000 years and the breadth of the Asian continent? The discovery of the relict species Homo floresiensis cast a novel perspective on at least a part of that hurdle. Here was a species with fossil remains in the farthest southeast corner of Asia as young as 50,000 years   that most resembles the skeleton of a late australopithecine or a very early form of Homo, such as Homo habilis only known from Africa some 2 million years ago. Now the prospect of a paranthropine extending its range across Asia, achieving gigantism, alongside other Pleistocene megafauna as its range spread into more northerly latitudes, seems less improbable.

Why is there no fossil record of sasquatch in North America?

The foregoing examples illustrate the incompleteness of the fossil record. That a 450 kg ape species, with a 1.5 million year tenure in East Asia, is represented by merely two mandibles and a thousand or so isolated teeth is a point that should not be lost on anyone. Moreover, we only have those remains because of the action of porcupines accumulating and gnawing upon the bony scraps accumulated in limestone caves. No porcupines or no caves equals no fossils. It is estimated that the sampled taxonomic diversity in the primate fossil record is about 8% of what actually existed in the past, based on comparisons with extant primate community diversity. It is also likely that sasquatch is a relatively recent immigrant to North America, perhaps occupying this continent only for the last several hundred thousand years. In fact, some of its former range may now lie below sea level, or have only recently been exposed as Ice Age glaciers receded.

Where are any recent physical remains?

The same factors discussed in connection with the scarcity of fossil remains apply to the accumulation of neontological  skeletal remains. The wet coniferous forest thought to be their core habitats are notoriously poor preservers of bone (Fig.1). Acidic conditions and the action of gnawers make quick work of fresh skeletons. Consider also that a large-bodied, long-lived, slow-reproducing hominoid would have low population densities and low rates of mortality. In my home state of Idaho, I would infer a potential population of sasquatch numbering about 150. Compare this to the 20,000 resident black bear in the state, with an average life span of 10 years. How often are skeletal remains of black bear that have died a natural death discovered? Such remains are almost never found. The odds of finding sasquatch remains could be at least 600 times less, all else being equal.

How would a relict hominoid make a living in a temperate forest habitat?

The often repeated generalization that primates are strictly tropical-adapted mammals is simply inaccurate. Fossil Miocene apes occupied a temperate Europe dominated by deciduous forests. Living mountain gorillas inhabit elevations in the Virunga Mountains with nearly freezing temperatures. Monkey species in Nepal, China, and Japan endure frigid winters at high elevations and high latitudes. The productive wet temperate coniferous forests of North America provide ample resources for an omnivorous mammal (Fig.1). Some have contested that there already is a large omnivore in the temperate forests of North America, the bear – as though a Single Species Hypothesis applies to the large omnivore niche. Omnivory is a broad niche categorization and it can be partitioned in any number of ways. Bears have evolved from a carnivore ancestor and have subsequently modified the carnassial teeth and somewhat elongated the short carnivore gut, but lack a caecum and can only poorly digest plant structural parts. Sasquatch would conceivably represent a hominoid derived from a folivore/frugivore  ancestor, emphasizing a flat face with deep jaws, which almost certainly support an enlarged and thick-enameled post-canine dentition. It would have the teeth and jaws of a Cuisinart. Combined with a capacious gut, slow passage time, and likely hindgut fermentation (perhaps even employing coprophagy , as practiced by some great apes) to digest a much wider selection of foods than those available to bears. One study attributed 30 plant species to the black bears diet. By comparison, the orangutans’ diet includes over 400 plant species. Bears employ a form of hibernation as needed to bide the winter months. Whether sasquatch hibernate, migrate, store food, or have sufficient masticatory and digestive attributes to get through the winter, remain unanswered questions, but any of these options are quite reasonable behavioral hypotheses for a large bipedal hominoid.

Figure 1. Example of Douglas fir/huckleberry (Pseudotsuga menziesii/Vaccinium globulare) forest type in the Pacific Northwest that likely represents a core habitat for a large omnivorous relict hominoid (Image credit: Jeff Meldrum).

Footprint evidence

The preceding contentions, often raised in a knee jerk fashion, reflect concerns over the probability of extant relict hominoids. These disputations taken singly, or even collectively, certainly do not falsify the hypothesis a priori. Rather than limiting the discussion to apologetics for the absence of some evidence, we would do well to consider and account for the accumulating evidence in hand and consider objectively its implications for the presence of relict hominoids. What is the substance available that lends weight to the probable existence of a relict hominoid in North America and Asia?

Given my research expertise into the evolution of hominin locomotion, especially the adaptations of the bipedal foot and footprints     my attentions have focused on the trace evidence of footprints and trackways, for sasquatch in particular, but also other potential relict hominoids around the world, e.g. yeren, almas, and orang pendek  . The footprints constitute a prolific body of data that permits repeatable objective evaluation. They, the footprints, exist. I have amassed over 300 specimens of footprint casts, as well as hundreds more photographs of footprints. The analyses of these have been the subject of a number of publications, as well as public and professional presentations. I am in the process of archiving these data in digital form, as 3D scan files in the case of the casts, making these data available to any interested investigator (http://specimens.iri.isu.edu/footprints/).

It would seem to have been a reasonably straightforward proposition to evaluate this trace evidence as it came on the public scene over half a century ago. But as revealed by the discovery and excavation of the 3.6 million year old fossilized Laetoli hominin footprints in the late 1970s, the earliest trace evidence of hominin bipedalism, there was a dearth of comparative data and acumen within anthropological circles for interpreting hominoid footprints. Although advances have been made since then, reflected in a growing literature and a new generation of anthropologists and ichnologists  specialized in this area of research, the implications of the sasquatch footprint evidence have remained largely un-appreciated or under-appreciated, in spite of the affirmative evaluations offered by scholars such as Napier (1973 ), Krantz (1992 ) and Meldrum (2006 ). Curiously, this reticence is often not the case when I interact with clinical practitioners, e.g. podiatrists and orthopedists, as when I made an invited presentation at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 2012. They evaluated the footprints on their face, without bias introduced by anthropological paradigm or preconception. Likewise, forensic investigators and wildlife trackers are frequently more open-minded on the subject and historically more appreciative of the relevance of the footprint evidence, than the anthropological community at large.

Footprints at the site of the Patterson-Gimlin film

One of the best documented and thoroughly examined trackways attributed to sasquatch is that associated with the controversial Patterson-Gimlin film, taken at Bluff Creek in northern California on October 20th, 1967. The 60 second film clip continues to evoke discussion and debate as to its authenticity and ramifications, but has withstood concerted and repeated efforts to convincingly falsify it.

This is a stabilized version of the Patterson-Gimlin footage from Bluff Creek, a remote area in northern California. It was shot by two amateur sasquatch researchers, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin, on October 20th, 1967. The 16 mm film consists of 954 frames and is one of the most thoroughly analyzed film sequences ever recorded. Although the integrity of the film has been established and numerous anatomical details of the creature have been revealed, it is virtually impossible to conclusively authenticate the film to everyone’s satisfaction. Several individuals have explicitly postulated this film being a hoax, but failed to put forward crucial elements that would support this claim, such as the “suit,” comparable test shots, or a recreation of the film clip with “actors.” (Video credit: http://i.imgur.com/rFuelVu.gif)

The associated footprints were examined, filmed, photographed and cast by multiple witnesses. The pair of 38 cm casts made promptly by the primary witnesses form the basis of the ichnotaxon, Anthropoidipes ameriborealis MELDRUM 2007, namely the “North American ape foot.” Ichnotaxonomy is the formal classification of tracks and traces, generally of as yet unknown extinct animals. In this instance the trackmaker is unknown, i.e. unrecognized or unacknowledged, but not extinct. The nomen applies to the tracks, not the trackmaker, and a description and diagnosis establishes the distinctions of these tracks from those of other species, principally humans  .

One particular footprint in the trackway at the Patterson-Gimlin film site, photographed by then USFS timber cruiser Lyle Laverty, and subsequently cast by investigator Bob Titmus, has proven to be pivotal in interpreting the distinctions in morphology of the sasquatch foot, and central to its diagnosis. This footprint captured the dynamic trace of a flat flexible bipedal foot resulting, in this instance, in a distinct midfoot (or: midtarsal) pressure ridge (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Photograph taken by Lyle Laverty at the Bluff Creek, California site of the Patterson-Gimlin film of a 37 cm footprint displaying a pronounced midtarsal pressure ridge (arrow). Inset illustrates a series of stills of a 3D scan of a cast made by Bob Titmus of the accompanying footprint (Image credit: Lyle Laverty and Jeff Meldrum [insert]).

Some have challenged, why only one footprint in the Bluff Creek film site trackway would exhibit this feature, if it were the result of a distinguishing morphology. They contend that this is merely a singular artifact and not a reasonable basis for a model of foot form and function. In fact, most of the casts made by Titmus show evidence of a midfoot pressure ridge to varying degree, as can be seen when the casts are viewed on edge (Fig. 3).


Figure 3. Scans of the ten original casts made by Bob Titmus nine days after the filming at the Patterson-Gimlin film site, constituting additional material relevant to the holotype of Anthropoidipes ameriborealis. Seen in ¾ view (top) and on edge (below), with arrows indicating the midfoot pressure ridges (Image credit: Jeff Meldrum).

Footprints in the Blue Mountains, Washington

As noted previously, I had occasion to personally examine a line of very fresh 38 cm hominoid tracks in the foothills of the Blue Mountains outside Walla Walla, Washington, in 1996   . Several of these footprints also clearly exhibited evidence of midfoot flexibility, producing either distinct pressure ridges bearing remarkable resemblance to the Titmus cast from the Patterson-Gimlin film site. The implications of this correlation, corroborated through numerous additional documented footprint examples, provided insight into the functional morphology of the sasquatch foot   .

What can we learn about sasquatch by a detailed analysis of its footprints?

Sasquatch footprints indicate that its foot is not merely an enlarged facsimile of a human foot. The human foot is generally characterized by a relatively rigid longitudinal arch, produces the characteristic “waisted” appearance of its footprint. This arch is a fairly recent evolutionary innovation associated with the gracilization of the human skeleton and adaptations for endurance walking and running in Homo sapiens, or its immediate antecedents  . It derives from a primitive foot pattern marked by a greater range of flexion and rotation at the midfoot. This mobility, combined with a divergent big toe is integral to the ape’s grasp-climbing adaptation, in which the prehensile vs propulsive functions of the foot are coordinated. When climbing, or walking on the ground, this flexion of the ape’s midfoot is called the “midtarsal break.” This denotes a “break” in the sense of flexion about an axis of rotation, not as some form of damage or dysfunction. On the contrary, the agility and gymnastics of chimpanzees and gorillas are impressive to say the least.

In the case of the sasquatch, this inferred flat flexible foot morphology provides a biomechanically sound and effective adaptation for a massive terrestrial bipedal primate to negotiate steep uneven terrain in mountainous forest habitats. In contrast, the human foot has evolved along a very different path – one that took our recent ancestors into more open flat terrain, where distance running and walking were the activities selecting for a lighter skeleton and a more rigid foot platform. The arched foot and shortened heel of the modern human lend advantage to running behaviors  . In contrast, the sasquatch foot avoids a significant consequence of an arched foot – peak plantar pressures beneath heel and ball, instead distributing forces more evenly across the whole plantar surface of the foot.

The action of the sasquatch foot itself, as it correlates with these distinctive footprints, is evident and observable in the Patterson-Gimlin film subject (Fig. 4). Elevation of the heel, while flexed at the midfoot, disperses pressure beneath the entire forefoot, sparing relatively longer toes the bending stresses experience by human toes. Under appropriate conditions of gait and substrate, this action may occasionally produce the distinctive pressure ridge evident in the Titmus cast and numerous other examples   . The observable subtleties of correlated form and function within a distinct biomechanical context of this film and associated footprints render the cliché adage “Oh, that’s just a man in a fur suit” quite vacuous.

Figure 4. The morphology of the sasquatch foot (left), inferred from the Patterson-Gimlin film, to account for the midtarsal pressure ridge evident in the photo and cast in Figure 2, contrasted with that of a modern human foot (right). The pressure ridge results from displacement of plastic substrate from under the forefoot (arrow).

Similar footprints in North America and China

This inferential model of the sasquatch foot form and function received dramatic corroboration during a visit to China’s Shennongjia Nature Reserve, in Hubei province. This reserve comprises more than 3,000 square kilometers and includes the largest expanse of old-growth forest in central China. It was there that in 1995, a park ranger, Mr. Yuan Yuhao, claimed to have witnessed an upright hair-covered hominoid, a yeren (Chinese – wildman) while patrolling within the park  . He was climbing a slope near the head of a valley at an elevation of approximately 2,100 m. The site, which I inspected, is a mosaic of fir forest and sedge meadows, not unlike some Rocky Mountain habitats I am so familiar with. Yuan observed the yeren through binoculars at a distance of approximately 500 m. It was covered in reddish brown hair, reclining and sunning itself on the exposed facing slope. When Yuan called out to it, it sat up and turned towards him. Instead of the expected snout and prick ears of a bear, he described a flat face atop broad shoulders. It arose and walked away bipedally into the nearby tree line. Yuan estimated its height at 2.3 m. He subsequently tracked the creature and cast a clear pair of its footprints on the muddy banks of a spring.

The casts measure approximately 38 cm in length, 16.5 cm across the forefoot, and 10 cm across the heel. A distinct midtarsal pressure ridge indicates a significant degree of flexibility in the midfoot (Fig. 5, top). Presumably the pair of footprints were left as the yeren squatted beside the spring to drink. This action apparently elevated the hindfoot, concentrating pressure beneath the forefoot distal to the axis of midfoot flexion. The plasticity of the moist bare soil resulted in a distinct midfoot pressure ridge. The deepest points on the cast lie just distal to the pressure ridge, apparently beneath the talonavicular joint medially, and to a lesser degree beneath the cuboid laterally. These two points of plantar pressure lend a distinctive appearance to the proximal edge of the forefoot ahead of the pressure ridge. The margin of the forefoot is marked by a double convexity. In all distinguishing characteristics the casts resemble those of North American sasquatch footprints, including those recovered at the Patterson-Gimlin film site at Bluff Creek, in northern California. This striking resemblance not only substantiates my model of foot form and function, but indicates a circum-Pacific distribution to this form of relict hominoid, with its likely Asian origin  .

A further example to demonstrate this remarkable consistency of foot form and function comes again from the Blue Mountains of southeastern Washington State. This example was cast by Paul Freeman, January 14, 1991, along Mill Creek, outside Walla Walla, Washington. The tracks measured nearly 35 cm in length by 13 cm across the ball. The step length ranged from 1.0 to 1.2 m and the trackway was followed for over two miles. Not only does the cast exhibit the distinctive pressure ridge in the appropriate position and orientation, but the distinctive double-convexity at the proximal border of the forefoot, formed by the joints of the transverse tarsal joint is evident as well (Fig. 5, bottom).

Figure 5. Independently collected footprint casts exhibiting similar midfoot pressure ridges, both in location and orientation (dashed line). The proximal edge of the deeply impressed forefoot is marked by a double convexity just distal to the ridge (solid line). Note the dates (see text for discussion) (Image credit: Jeff Meldrum).

Now here is the remarkable aspect to all this. Although the Titmus cast was gotten in 1967, to my knowledge only a single screened black and white photo of it, depicted amongst a number of other casts in Titmus’ growing collection, was ever published, and that initially in 1973  . In the poor quality photo, the pressure ridge is hardly recognizable. The first replica and analysis of that cast, including the first description of the midfoot pressure ridge, were published by me in 1999, after Titmus’ death  . A photo of the footprint itself (Fig. 2) taken by Lyle Laverty, was published in 1978  , but no previous investigator had identified or drawn attention to the midfoot pressure ridge, let alone interpreted or discussed its significance for sasquatch foot function, before 1999. Mr. Yuan had discovered and cast his footprint pair in 1995, also before I have published my analysis. The Mill Creek cast was documented in 1991. To these could be added the tracks I cast near Walla Walla in February 1996  , and numerous additional examples.

How could these independent examples, separated by as much as three decades and some a half-a-world apart, coincidently share these sound and significant subtleties of anatomy and functional morphology? Simply a convergent happenstance of unrelated hoaxed footprints? I think not.

Two independent footprints from the same individual

Another remarkable example of a variation on this theme of midfoot flexibility recently came to my attention. One of the first questions I asked myself when initially undertaking a systematic survey of the footprint evidence was whether there were examples of repeated appearance of particular individuals. It stood to reason that if these creatures were as rare as I suspected, then should tracks be found in a given region over time, the likelihood of them originating from a particular individual should be high. These could be recognized based on size, shape and proportions of the foot, configuration of the toes, and other distinguishing features. Therefore, I was on the lookout for examples of footprints and casts that could be attributed to particular individuals with a degree of confidence. There were two very clear examples of footprints casts from southeastern Washington that at first glance were taken as distinct from one another: one had what seemed to be a somewhat “arched” foot with toes disposed rather squarely across its distal end; the other was quite flat with toes lying along a rather inclined angle. But the feet were otherwise very similar in size and proportion, and details of the toes were particularly comparable, especially the distinctive big toes, which had a characteristic pad shape, among other details. Recalling that the very flexible foot of a chimp, for example, can be flat in one step, but in the next display a transiently raised medial margin of the foot (although not equivalent to a fixed longitudinal arch with its concomitant adaptations of heel and ball), I wondered about this pair. What if, for the sake of argument, I assumed that these casts did come from the same foot and superimposed them with the toes aligned, rather than the casts separately oriented along their generalized long-axes? With the toes lined up, the margins of the forefoot segments likewise came into alignment and the only divergence between the casts was in the respective angles of the heel segments (Fig. 7, right).

Movement about the transverse tarsal joint is not just a simple hinge action, but also describes a twisting motion between the fore- and hindfoot segments. It may also involve adjacent joints, such as the subtalar joint, and tarsometarsal joints. This coordinated twisting/flexing action raises the medial border of the foot and increases the angle between the fore- and hindfoot – i.e., supination. Alternately in can flatten the foot and lessen the angle between the fore- and hindfoot – i.e., pronation. These actions are present in the human foot, but to a lesser degree due to the limited range of motion in the joints involved in the relatively fixed longitudinal arch (Fig. 6).

Figure 6. Supination and pronation about the transverse tarsal joint in the human foot. In pronation the arch is lowered (left) and the axes of the forefoot and hindfoot segments are relatively aligned. In supination the arch is raised (right) and the axes of the fore- and hindfoot are relatively angled to one another. The distinct appearance of the resulting footprints are contrasted in the center (Image credit: Jeff Meldrum).

The intersection of the long axes of the fore- and hindfoot segments in the representative sasquatch track falls at the inferred relative position of the transverse tarsal joint, in agreement with examples of midtarsal pressure ridges previously discussed (Fig. 7). The two casts in question here were documented independently, by two different investigators, at different locations within the region, separated by nearly two years. What are the odds that such subtleties of footprint anatomy, correlated with intricacies of foot function, could have been so accurately incorporated into these separate and distinct tracks by two independent investigators with no pertinent knowledge or training, let alone the skill to fabricate such a contrasting, yet correlated pair of footprints? Here again this is not an isolated example. Similar instances have been identified, including the contrasting foot postures seen within a single trackway, as is evident in comparisons among the ten casts made at the Patterson-Gimlin film site by Bob Titmus. The cast at upper right in the two series is the most pronated and correspondingly the flattest example from the cast sequence (Fig. 3).

Figure 7. Two independently collected footprint casts (38 cm long) from the Walla Walla, Washington region, which are evidently from the same individual. The cast on the left exhibits a position of foot pronation, while that on the right of each frame exhibits foot supination. Alignment of the toe row and forefoot contrasts the respective angle of the hindfoot, illustrating the mobility of the transverse tarsal joint, indicated by the arrows (Image credit: Jeff Meldrum).

A paradigm shift in evolutionary anthropology

It has been said that perhaps the most convincing test of a hypothesis is the eventual validation of an inference that initially appears at odds with prevailing knowledge. In this vein, I am struck by the numerous examples from the footprint data and the Patterson-Gimlin film, having both received some of the closest scrutiny, that seem to have anticipated by decades current anthropological thinking, but which were rejected at the outset because they were at odds with conventional wisdom of the time. For example, one of the skeptical reactions to the initial viewings of the Patterson-Gimlin film by academia went like this – “From the waist up it looks like an ape, but from the waist down it looks like a hairy human; such a mosaic of traits in nature is inconceivable.” Yet a decade later, with the discovery of more complete skeletal remains of an early australopithecine, Australopithecus afarensis, one could hear the commentary – “From the waist up it looks essentially like a chimpanzee, and from the waist down it looks like a short human; isn’t the mosaicism of evolution fascinating.” Likewise, the combination of a flat face with deep jaws was unknown in the hominin fossil record in 1967 and the biomechanics of the specialized paranthropine face wouldn’t be published until the early 1980s. Only then was the lack of a projecting canine understood to have more to do with chewing mechanics than tool use. A non-divergent hallux  was assumed to be correlated with the evolution of the longitudinal arch, not combined with a flat flexible foot. This has remained the case, even for some time after the discovery of examples of early hominin foot skeletons, which, together with the Laetoli hominin footprints themselves, indicated that the combination of non-divergent big toe and flat flexible foot constituted a stable adaptation in these extinct species for millions of years.

A giant bipedal ape with relatively small brain, flat face, deep jaws, non-projecting canines, non-divergent hallux, flat flexible foot, as embodied by sasquatch was to be sure inconceivable to the anthropological community fifty years ago. At that time, not only would its very existence violate the prevailing paradigm of the Single Species Hypothesis, which allowed for only one hominin species at a time, but the combination of features unwittingly attributed to sasquatch were quite at odds with many assumptions about the pattern of hominin evolution and supposed correlations between morphology and behavior. It should be impressive that decades later these “inconceivable” combinations of traits are now aligned with conventional wisdom, rather than at odds with it. However old paradigms can cast long shadows and many are slow to acknowledge these compelling observations. Naturally, it will require a type specimen to establish conclusively the existence of sasquatch, but the plausibility of a North American relict hominoid is quite compellingly framed theoretically according to current anthropological thinking, and a probable case for the species is made by a variety of evidence quite deserving of objective consideration.


Further reading on this topic:

Meldrum J (2006) Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science Forge Books/ Tom Doherty Associates, New York


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Responses

The Shrike

Dr. Meldrum would like readers to accept his assertion that science won't take bigfoot seriously, but he pads his assertion with a list of prominent scientists (himself included) who do take it seriously. It's a self-contradictory position.

Also curious is the drumbeat of "we need money to test the bigfoot hypothesis" without a description of how that money would be used. To do what, exactly?

We have tested the bigfoot hypothesis many times over: Every archeological investigation into indigenous settlements that does not reveal a bigfoot tooth or piece of hide is a test of that hypothesis. Every Pleistocene/Holocene/Anthropocene fossil dig in eastern Asia, Beringia, and North America is a test of that hypothesis. So is every ledger of the Hudson Bay Company and every 49er's rucksack and every biological inventory and cave exploration and hunting season and timber cruise and game camera and birding expedition and mile driven by big trucks on dark forest roads across the purported range of the beast in temperate North America. Of course you cannot prove a negative but in wildlife conservation we do this all the time: It's how we make the determination that species should be considered extinct. (It's not perfect, but it generally works: Passenger Pigeons really are extinct.)

What, then, is a test of the bigfoot hypothesis? With a case so compelling and the support of so many leading lights in primate foot anatomy that there is a non-Homo sapiens source of the Anthropoidipes ameriborealis prints, then surely there must be an outstanding proposal on file somewhere at the National Science Foundation. If not there, then the office of sponsored programs research at Idaho State University must have records of all the scientific proposals Dr. Meldrum has submitted to fund this research. What is in those proposals? How do they differ from what has already been done? More important, if such proposals have not been submitted and do not exist then why not?

Respond to this
Robert Anderson

What is the best way to send to you evidence so you can evaluate??

Let's say you become convinced by that evidence....now what?? Who are you and what would be your plan?

Robert Anderson

Not using a real name is not two strikes against you, but you should be open to evaluate the evidence and supply an email and use your real name. At least Dr Meldrum is brave and has the courage to stand by what he knows to be fact.

Supply an email and who you are...I will send you evidence to evaluate from 2014 that I documented.

Robert Anderson

Ask most people where camels evolved from and most will give the wrong answer. The fossil record says camels evolved in North America. So I ask, if the route of the migration for camels into Africa is the accepted route by science through the Bering land bridge, why wouldn't the route be used by hominids migrating out of Africa into North America??


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The Shrike

We have plenty of evidence that Homo sapiens dispersed through Beriniga, but we lack evidence that any other hominids (e.g., Gigantopithecus) did.

Gigantopithecus could have dispersed from its known distribution in southern Asia, through Beriniga, eastward into North America, and eventually be perceived by modern humans as the "bigfoot" of today that is purported to occupy pretty much all temperate, forested landscapes in the US and southern Canada today. Two big things would have to happen for that to be the case, however.

First, Gigantopithecus would need to be at least facultatively bipedal to be our modern bigfoot. Assertions of a bipedal Gigantopithecus do not represent paleontological consensus.

Second, although we don't have anywhere near complete skeletal remains of Gigantopithecus, the fossil record is comprised of more than 1000 individual items - the vast majority of which are teeth - so this species did, in fact, fossilize in its native range. Because the fossil record is incomplete, we cannot say definitively that Gigantopithecus didn't occupy a much larger range in Asia, disperse across Beriniga, and colonize the whole of temperate North America, but we haven't recovered even one tooth in that vastly larger area to suggest that this happened.

The Shrike

A great way to determine if someone is thinking critically about some belief/disbelief is to ask "What evidence would be sufficient for you to change your mind?" In my case, it's clear and simple: Show me a bigfoot. It can even be a piece of a bigfoot. It might even be eDNA that, properly analyzed, could be shown to occupy a unique position in a hominid clade. This is the same standard we apply to the recognition of all other extant organisms. Why should "bigfoot" get a pass?

What about you, Dr. Meldrum? Is there evidence that could convince you that your work is invalid and, if so, what kind of evidence would that be?

Also, if the end goal is to convince "science" (who, exactly?) to test the hypothesis that there are real, live bigfoots wandering about the US right now, what would such a test look like? Where should we look, for how long, and with what technology? I agree that it would be far easier to document the existence of black bear in Idaho than it would be to find a bigfoot, but what would be your actual plan to obtain definitive, physical evidence of any one of the 150 bigfoots you assert could potentially be there?

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Robert Anderson

The gigantopithicus theory is outdated and colored by old preconceptions. All the evidence suggests a robust australopithicine or closely related species. The lack of a divergent big toe suggests that an ape can be ruled out ....gigantopithicus included.

In my research on this subject, the preconception of a 10 foot tall Bigfoot running all over North America is more than likely an over exaggerated story. If we are to use evidence that can be evaluated and find a negative, the Patterson Bigfoot footage is the evidence to use to determine a basic height and the conclusion Dr. Krantz got in his measurements was 6 to 6.5 feet in height. Not nowhere near the 10 foot height of the gigantopithicus hypothesis.

Hoaxers are a problem in this subject and hoaxers have been problems even in excepted fields of science...paleoanthropology included.

Most hoaxing with the claims of Bigfoot is done with track impressions or simple misidentification of a known animal track impression, but how do you explain an unknown track way and track impressions?? How do you explain an unknown encounter with an animal not known to science?? Unfortunately not everyone will find an unknown track way and or impressions or have an encounter with an unknown animal, so we are to simply write that evidence off as false??....that is not good science.

Funding is the key to exploratory science and there is enough supportive evidence to justify funding. Why Dr Meldrum has not put the case of track impressions that replicate in a scientific journal is a good question?

Funding is the key to exploratory science and there is enough supportive evidence to justify funding. Why Dr Meldrum has not put the case of track impressions that replicate in a scientific journal is a good


Robert Anderson

Having tangible evidence or photo evidence to colabarate a find is a fact and not a belief. A belief is for an individual who has never evaluated the physical evidence or witnessed first hand an unknown track way or track impression. I am sure if you used your real name instead of hiding behind a fictional name, you could probably reach out to Dr Meldrum and he would let you evaluate some of his cast.

Sean Bober

Dr. Meldrum,

Have you used your track data to estimate an individual's range? If so, what were your findings?

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Pterodactyl

Once you pare down the wordiness of the spooky intro, gratuitous sciency-sounding Latin, and successive lessons in special pleading to Dr. Meldrum’s actual thesis here, what you find he is essentially arguing is that ( even though there is a well-documented and sordid history of giant footprint hoaxes perpetrated to fool the public and various academics over the last few decades ) upon examination of the available giant footprint evidence out there, he has come to the  conclusion that some percentage of these large tracks are in fact, not hoaxed, but instead genuine footprints from a real, live Bigfoot. What percentage? We are left in the dark. And the evidence provided is rather scant and anecdotal in nature. A small number of these tracks from seemingly unconnected trackways display and share one main anatomical attribute. And this attribute can’t possibly be a simple, sometimes artifact of creating giant hoaxed feet because... well he doesn’t go into that. Just take his word for it. He simply states “I think not.” Not very compelling. Not very scientific. 

Any reasonable person would expect that giant, hoaxed footprints, regardless of when and where they were created, might share some characteristics. And sometimes they might not. Which is basically all that has been demonstrated here. No data is presented to suggest otherwise. 

Dr. Meldrum should at least attempt to present some statistical support for his assertions.  A man of his expertise should find it relatively simple to conduct a morphometric analysis and comparison of track casts and present the findings in a legitimate journal (No, not Denovo or Relict Hominid Inquiry) where said findings can be subject to a proper review and scrutiny. As it stands, the information presented here adds no more to our knowledge of the natural world than that he presented in the History Channel’s “Bigfoot Captured” or in Todd Standing’s recent “Discovering Bigfoot” film.

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Doubty McDoubterson

"Take my word for it" is the motto of all bigfooters everywhere.

Robert Anderson

Nothing of scientific value is in the "Discovering Bigfoot" flick. Another example of "take my word for it"....absolute flim-flam. Supposedly the individual who made the film is going to the courts and making his case that he has seen Bigfoot and photographed Bigfoot, except he has 5 different versions that are ridiculous looking and are obvious fabricated fakes. Wouldn't one go through the proper peer review process in science to prove a species is real instead of the courts??

Drewbot

Dr. Meldrum said: "The classification was published in the peer-reviewed proceedings of an international symposium on Cenozoic tracks and traces. The abstract was invited and reviewed by the organizing committee. It was subsequently presented in a conference room populated by several dozen experts on footprints and ichnology. Furthermore, the manuscript benefited through numerous discussions with expert colleagues in ichnology, and ultimately went out for anonymous review to five reviewers, plus the editor of the Bulletin. I don’t know where Dr. Pine is coming from, but none of these experts in this specific field felt it inappropriate to classify non-fossilized footprints in this instance. "

Dr. Meldrum, regarding the Anthropoides ameriborealis name, it really doesn't matter who was at the symposium, if your reviewers and or editors don't know the rules of the ICZN regarding the classification of the work of extant animals. The arbiter on this would be the ICZN

1.3. Exclusions. Excluded from the provisions of the Code are names proposed

1.3.6. after 1930, for the work of extant animals;

In other words, the ICZN does not recognize footprints (work) of any extant creature as a basis for zoological naming.

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Jeff Meldrum
Jeff Meldrum

You are correct that ICZN does not want traces of extant animals named. There has been a precedent established with the naming of Hominipes modernus, by Lockley et al for the Acahualinca, Nicaragua tracks, which are footprints of extant Homo sapiens, though the type specimen is a few thousand years old. Furthermore, it should be pointed out that there are a number of traces named from fossils, indistinguishable from traces being made today by extant species (especially among invertebrates) with no resolution of that issue. Bear in mind, for a long time ICZN did not regulate trace fossil names, and certainly the way they now regulate them is open to discussion. The proposed rationale for this “exception,” which was accepted by the symposium attendees and reviewers, was that while the alleged footprint-maker was unrecognized by science and therefore “unknown” to science, we nevertheless needed to deal with the existence of consistent, and apparent to some, credible footprints. This sets this case apart from the intent of the ICZN's exclusion, such as naming the footprints of the extant black bear.

My point was made to address the charge that my research has not withstood “peer review,” not whether naming traces of an “unknown”or unrecognized, but potentially extant species was counter to current conventions of the ICZN. The footprints exist. A description and diagnosis, accompanied by an analysis, based on a type and referred material, plus numerous additional examples, exist and have withstood peer review and publication. Anyone is welcome to write a rebuttal of the paper and seek peer-reviewed publication. Knock yourself out. It will only have merit and warrant publication by a serious editor if it gets beyond the perception of a mere technicality and fully addresses the data and their interpretation. That sort of discourse was the very motivation for publishing the paper in the first place! I welcome and encourage it!

Craig

Great response. It's high time science tackled this issue head on instead of hiding and shying away from it. I love Meldrum's take on science: that

--“The science starts once you have a body.” On the contrary, most serious investigators would contend that the science starts once you have a question, followed by observation, and the accumulation of data. "

Science is all about investigating something which isn't known, doesn't make sense or begs a question. And yet, with Sasquatch the official position is to assume it's nonsense--not scientific process at all.

Go Meldrum!

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Kat M.

Thank you, Dr. Meldrum, for your insightful and articulate explanation of how the anatomy of the foot relates to bipedal locomotion. It's not only fascinating, but your analysis of the data that has been collected over time and in various places is compelling to say the least! It's unfortunate (and ironic) that so many of your peers seem to lack the open mindedness necessary to allow for new theories based on ever growing evidence. Isn't that supposed to be what science is all about? Thank you again for sharing your research with everyone - keep up the good work!

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Jeff Meldrum
Jeff Meldrum

In a few weeks I will be submitting another piece that addresses what I conclude was a major contributing factor to the flat out rejection of even the possibility that such relict species could exist. Although that paradigm was eventually overturned, its shadow has influenced a generation. Stay tuned.

Drewbot

Does the ICZN even recognize track impressions that are not fossilized? You are naming the tracks based on plaster casts, according to Dr. Ron Pine at the University of Kansas, this hasn't been recognized since 1931.

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Jeff Meldrum
Jeff Meldrum

The classification was published in the peer-reviewed proceedings of an international symposium on Cenozoic tracks and traces. The abstract was invited and reviewed by the organizing committee. It was subsequently presented in a conference room populated by several dozen experts on footprints and ichnology. Furthermore, the manuscript benefited through numerous discussions with expert colleagues in ichnology, and ultimately went out for anonymous review to five reviewers, plus the editor of the Bulletin. I don’t know where Dr. Pine is coming from, but none of these experts in this specific field felt it inappropriate to classify non-fossilized footprints in this instance.

The Shrike

Mr. White and Dr. Meldrum:

I, too, am a fan of data-driven research. In this case, the primary assertion made by an experienced scientist is that the data lead to the inescapable conclusion that there is a population of large mammals (hominins, no less) roaming North America right now that has never yielded a scrap of fossil or near-fossil material (despite all the other species that have left such material from the same environments) and has not provided any definitive physical evidence in recent history. That's a rather extraordinary claim.

The primary argument put forth for this claim is Dr. Meldrum's analysis suggesting that the mid-tarsal pressure ridge evident in some purported sasquatch footprints belies a flexible mid-foot, quite unlike that of modern humans. Okay, but this is based on reported bigfo0t footprint evidence, so our hoax-detectors need to be set to 11 to evaluate such evidence.

Dr. Meldrum asserts that it is so unlikely that uncoordinated hoaxers would demonstrate a level of primate foot anatomy knowledge to intentionally put a mid-pressure ridge into their prints that it is actually more likely that real bigfoots have left these prints. The problem is that the UNintentional appearance of a mid-tarsal pressure ridge in bigfoot prints has not been sufficiently ruled out. Here is a demonstration of that phenomenon resulting from a rigid cheapo print-maker: http://orgoneresearch.com/2009/10/19/bigfoots-mid-tarsal-break/.

Dr. Meldrum is, as I mentioned, an expert on primate anatomy. If he is truly convinced that his analysis of inferred print-maker anatomy from plaster casts of bigfoot prints is rigorous enough to withstand peer-review from other experts in his field, then this analysis needs to be submitted for publication in scientific journals of the highest caliber. Science, Nature, Zoomorphology, Journal of Mammalogy, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, and probably dozens of others would be tripping over themselves to announce this incredible discovery to the world. "My research proves bigfoot is real" cannot be relegated to an occasional publication of a museum's bulletin or - especially - to a journal of one's own founding.

If the data are insufficient to convince other experts of Dr. Meldrum's conclusions, then it is disingenuous - at best - to present them to general readership so subject to an appeal to authority.

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Jeff Meldrum
Jeff Meldrum

I, too, am a fan of data-driven research. In this case, the primary assertion made by an experienced scientist is that the data lead to the inescapable conclusion – “a probable case for the species is made by a variety of evidence quite deserving of objective consideration.” – that there is a population of large mammals (hominins, no less) roaming North America right now that has never yielded a scrap of fossil or near-fossil material (despite all the other species that have left such material from the same environments) and has not provided any definitive physical evidence in recent history. That's a rather extraordinary claim.

– The paucity of fossils for some species, and the absence of remains of species yet to be discovered (there are novel discoveries being made, or should we call it quits and stop prospecting for fossils altogether since if they had been here we would have found them by now?) seems extraordinary only to the novice.

The primary argument put forth for this claim is Dr. Meldrum's analysis suggesting that the mid-tarsal pressure ridge evident in some purported sasquatch footprints belies a flexible mid-foot, quite unlike that of modern humans. Okay, but this is based on reported bigfoot footprint evidence, so our hoax-detectors need to be set to 11 to evaluate such evidence.

– A glaringly narrow and sophomoric assessment of the argument. The midfoot flexibility is only one contrast with human foot adaptations. The baloney-detection, in the words of Carl Sagan, is set to high. Indeed several elaborate attempts at hoaxing have recently been identified and exposed.

Dr. Meldrum asserts that it is so unlikely that uncoordinated hoaxers would demonstrate a level of primate foot anatomy knowledge to intentionally put a mid-pressure ridge into their prints that it is actually more likely that real bigfoots have left these prints. The problem is that the UNintentional appearance of a mid-tarsal pressure ridge in bigfoot prints has not been sufficiently ruled out. Here is a demonstration of that phenomenon resulting from a rigid cheapo print-maker: http://orgoneresearch.com/2009/10/19/bigfoots-mid-tarsal-break/.

– Quite the contrary! The attempt cited failed miserably. It is quite clear that these pressure ridges, which vary in position from step to step, are in no way equivalent to the midtarsal ridge attributed to sasquatch footprints.

With all your concern for peer-review and yet you appeal to a nameless blog post for an “expert” rebuttal of my research?

The same misdirection was foisted on readers by Dr. David Daegling in his Bigfoot Exposed (Fig. 6.2, p. 174.) using a human footprint with a pressure disc that originates proximal to the base of the big toe. The confusion over the nature of the midtarsal break by so many skeptics simply reiterates their lack of acumen.

Dr. Meldrum is, as I mentioned, an expert on primate anatomy. If he is truly convinced that his analysis of inferred print-maker anatomy from plaster casts of bigfoot prints is rigorous enough to withstand peer-review from other experts in his field, then this analysis needs to be submitted for publication in scientific journals of the highest caliber. Science, Nature, Zoomorphology, Journal of Mammalogy, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, and probably dozens of others would be tripping over themselves to announce this incredible discovery to the world. "My research proves bigfoot is real" cannot be relegated to an occasional publication of a museum's bulletin or - especially - to a journal of one's own founding.

– What an ignorant characterization of the published and peer-reviewed proceedings of an international symposium on Cenozoic tracks and traces (you talk about appeal to authority? I offer the sanctimonious adulation of one journal over another, without regard to content as “appeal to authority”). Here was a conference room populated by dozens of experts on footprints and ichnology. The classification and diagnosis of sasquatch ‘withstood’ presentation to this roomful of experts in the field. Furthermore, the manuscript benefitted through numerous discussions with colleagues in ichnology, and ultimately went out for anonymous review to five reviewers, plus the editor. I don’t where Dr. Pine is coming from, but none of these experts in this field felt it inappropriate to classify non-fossilized footprints in this instance.

There is a clear pattern to the skeptical m.o. – disregard the evidence and simply poo-poo the implications. I have seen this repeatedly (see Shermer’s ‘Show Me the Body’). You feel quite comfortable critiquing the conclusions, which you usually misrepresent (I have never advocated acceptance of the existence of sasquatch on the basis of the evidence presented; the evidence is presented in support of the hypothesis of the potential existence of sasquatch), without a sense of obligation, or an outright lack of expertise, to read and understand the methodology and results. Most recently, a colleague related a conversation he had with a committee member discussing whether the AAPA should expand sessions or increase rejection of abstracts. He inquired on what basis an abstract would be rejected. The respondent cited having rejected one of my abstract submissions pertaining to sasquatch. When challenged on that point by my acquaintance, the reply came “Well, any suggestion that Bigfoot might exist is unreasonable.”

If the data are insufficient to convince other experts of Dr. Meldrum's conclusions, then it is disingenuous - at best - to present them to general readership so subject to an appeal to authority.

– I hesitate to dignify this remark with a response, but what experts are you referring to? The data are convincing enough to sway the likes of George Schaller to state:

…or does citing this passage make me guilty of the skeptical sin of ‘appeal to authority’?

Jeff Meldrum
Jeff Meldrum

The George Schaller quote, which appeared on the back cover of Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science (taken from the Foreword to that book) did not come through in the last post, so for completeness, here it is:

"Jeff Meldrum is a scientist, an expert in human locomotor adaptations. In Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science he examines all evidence critically, not to force a conclusions, but to establish a baseline of facts upon which further research can depend. His science is not submerged by opinion and dogmatic assumption. With objectivity and insight, he analyzes evidence from tracks, skin ridges on the soles of feet, film footage and DNA, and he compares it to that on primates and various other species. He disentangles fact from anecdote, superstition, and wishful thinking, and concludes that a search for yeti and sasquatch is a valid scientific endeavor. By offering a critical scrutiny, Sasquatch does more for this field of investigation than all the past arguments and polemics of contesting experts."

I would assume Dr. Schaller needs no introduction, but just in case, at the time of this statement he was Vice President of the Wildlife Society's Science and Exploration Program and holder of the of the Ella Millbank Fosbay Chair in Wildlife Conservation. He has too many publications, awards and accolades to enumerate here. He is recognized as ranking among the preeminent naturalists of our century.

Terry McLeish

Dr. Meldrum, if the PG film is proven at some point to in fact be a hoax, is there still conclusive evidence to warrant carrying on with your research based on additional evidence not associated with that film?

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Jeff Meldrum
Jeff Meldrum

Attempts to "debunk" the P-G film have proven unsuccessful for 50 years. The film is quite compelling, except to those unwilling to acknowledge its potential implications. Regardless, no, the argument for the plausibility of a sasquatch does not pivot on that singular data point. There is much compelling evidence, stopping short of "conclusive," which as I have always acknowledged, would require a type specimen.

Len White

I'm sorry Shrike but the only psuedoscience I see here is your unsupported complaint about Dr. Meldrum's detailed description of a relic hominoid foot. Perhaps with real science behind your assertion you would sign your name instead of using a handle. Too bad I have to be so blunt about it but I'm tired of data driven research rejected by nameless people who ignore where the compendium of evidence leads.


Thank you Dr. Meldrum for standing by the evidence even when it hasn't led you down the most comfortable path. Wherever that path leads please continue to follow a data driven scientific method.


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Jeff Meldrum
Jeff Meldrum

Thank you Len for your welcome, and appropriate, bluntness. It was spot on.

The Shrike

I'm sorry but Dr. Meldrum presents arguments in this article that he has espoused for years but that the evidence does not support. For just one glaring example, a foot need not be flexible to leave a mid-tarsal pressure ridge in a soft substrate like sand. (Try it yourself - it's easy!) By tossing around enough anatomical lingo (and Meldrum is indeed skilled and knowledgeable in human anatomy and physical anthropology), he lends his credentials to assertions that he knows are inconsistent with the evidence and incapable of support from legitimate peer review in a scientific journal. This is textbook pseudoscience.

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Jeff Meldrum
Jeff Meldrum

"Textbook pseudoscience" is a vacuous accusation by individuals unable to provide a convincing refutation of the evidence presented. Shrike should demonstrate an example of a human foot leaving a midtarsal break. I know what he/she mistakes as equivalent -- a pressure ridge or more likely a disc originating proximal to the ball of the foot, not the midfoot. Apples to oranges. My discussions of the midtarsal break in the footprints attributed to sasquatch have been presented at specialized international symposia on tracks and traces, at clinical colloquia at renowned hospitals, and in multiple peer-reviewed publications. Clearly, the burden is on Shrike to offer a reasoned counter argument.

Eric Spinner

Thank you to CAPEIA for publishing Dr. Meldrum's article. Very insightful and informative! Wish I would have read it before doing Q&A sessions this past weekend in PA. Learned more about these elusive creatures, and thank you for the photos and links Dr. Meldrum!

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Question:

Blacki's diet is thought to have been bamboo and it's extinction due to a loss of habitat/food sources. In reviewing the history of Beringia I see that it was generally tundra. I've read nothing that indicates the climate on the land bridge would have been hospitable to bamboo, certainly not in the sort of abundance which would have supported the migration numbers needed for a breeding population.

I see that the author suggests that Blacki might have evolved new teeth as was done by the progenitors of bears. My question would be when? As the author also suggests that the migration is relatively recent, the last several hundred thousand years. Blacki went extinct 100,000 years ago during the Pleistocene era. So when did Blacki evolve new teeth and a new gut? Both of those would be complex evolutionary shifts, accomplishing both quickly enough to stave off extinction AND migrate from Blacki's ranges in Southeast Asia in sufficient numbers over a land bridge which does not offer much nutrition seems a stretch. I would ask the author if any other modern animal has accomplished those evolutionary complex evolutionary changes, in that short time, while also migrating from a tropical environment across a tundra and into a temperate environment. If there is no analog I would ask the author why if his argument isn't just special pleading.


The author suggests that the paucity of the fossil record is the reason there are no fossils of Blacki or any great ape on the North American continent. North America has seen periodic extinction events which killed off vast numbers of Mega-Fauna present on the continent at those times. I would ask why neither Blacki nor any great ape is present the resulting massive bone pits? Why also is not a single Blacki or any great ape bone found in, say the La Brea Tar Pits when every other predator is represented? Over a million bones have been recorded just there and yet not a single example of any great ape of any description seems damning considering the other leaps of faith the author is asking us to make.


I find the arguments presented by the author to be unpersuasive, I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt it.

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Jeff Meldrum
Jeff Meldrum

There is an adage in paleontology "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence." It is always curious to me that skeptics select a point of contention that falls under this adage and pivot their entire position on it, while ignoring all the positive evidence that is at hand, much like the blind men examing the elephant.

In this instance, the La Brea tar pit argument is irrelevant because this site is not representative of the local Pleistocene biota. The original habitat has been reconstructed as parkland pines and chaparral. With regard to mammalian fossils, about 90% are from carnivores, with the most common species uncovered being the dire wolf and saber-toothed cats. Fossils of other carnivores are much less abundant. Black bears and grizzlies are "rare," the scimitar cat is known from only a few teeth and bones, and the American cheetah is not represented at all in this site. There seems to be a strong bias with regard to which species have been trapped in the tar pits, and if black bears are "rare" (black bears presumably being the ecomorph most similar to sasquatch) considering the inferred ratio of black bear to sasquatch in contemporary Idaho already discussed, one can imagine how unlikely it is to detect remains of sasquatch.

Jeff Meldrum
Jeff Meldrum

I neglected the first half of your comment.

You need to do more research on the environments of the landbridge. It is often stereotyped as arctic tundra, but pollen samples from sediment cores taken along the continental shelf indicate periods of contiguous forest, at time mixed deciduous/coniferous forests from Asia to North America.

You comments about distinctions between ursine and pongid dietary adaptations are misdirected. The adaptations suggested for a sasquatch are largely primitive features inherited from a folivore/frugivore pongid ancestor. These were not necessarily evolved de novo when a sasquatch ancestor expanded its range into North America.

The notion that Gigantopithecus was a “bamboo specialist” is a misnomer perpetuated in the popular literature. It was based on a provisional study examining a single occlusal surface on a sample of four teeth, only one of which had embedded “grass” phytoliths, presumed to have been from some species of bamboo. No subsequent studies have supported this generalization; instead multiple studies have demonstrated that Gigantopithecus had a quite generalized diet. These studies have detected phytoliths from various plant sources, in particular fruits, and carbon isotope analysis of tooth enamel indicated a generalist vegetarian diet, most closely resembles that of the orang utan. This was a diet exclusively of C3 biomass, typical of cool moist conditions.


Tyler Huggins

Thorough and well-thought out angles in this article. Thanks Dr. Meldrum

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David Hastings

Excellent article. Well researched with logical conclusions.

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Daniel Smith in West Virginia

Great article Jeff Meldrum it had me looking at all my cast again. All the cast I got from Stuarts Knob near Elkins and off of Shavers Mountain have the Midtarsal Breaks. Some are obvious and some not so obvious, and some of them have black hair around the edges. I believe I sent you photos of them and also to Cliff Barrackman. These were cast from 8/17/17 and the huge track cast from 6/26/17. same Mountain Range. Some BFRO Investigaters and I camped on the site and it was worth-while. We remeasured the huge track I found and it,s actual length is 19 and 3quarters inches long not 19 and a quarter. They told me I measured it wrong. My Bad! Any way I would hope that a lot of Skeptic people have a chance to read this article, so keep the research coming and may God Bless You Jeff. Daniel Boone Smith

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Jeff Meldrum
Jeff Meldrum

Thanks for this Daniel. I will review my correspondence on this.

doug lucchetti

This was a really good summation of what is objectively understood about the evidence supporting the existence of relic hominids or other similarly adapted species in remote areas. Dr Meldrum deserves much praise for his reasoned pursuit despite his detractors. I certainly have enjoyed his speculation and insights for many years.


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Patrick Langer

Prof. Meldrum raises an interesting point by addressing the missing "suit" and test shots. If the P-G film clip is really fabricated, then where is the suit and where are the reels with the inevitable test shots? As far as I know, these issues have not been addressed adequately by skeptics.

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Jeff Meldrum
Jeff Meldrum

Indeed, it is all too easy to flipantly assert "Oh, that's just a man in fur suit"...until you actually see the film subject alongside a man in a fur suit. The best treatment of the subject is Bill Munns' book When Roger Met Patty. Bill and I have also done some collaborative papers, which can be found in the RHI (www.isu.edu/rhi).

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