(Photo: Rachel Anne Seymour)
5 Things About Me: Anthropologist Jeff Meldrum
August 9, 2011
AAAS Member Jeff Meldrum has been facinated by the possible existance of Sasquatch since he was a child.
Jeff Meldrum, Ph.D.
Department of Biological Sciences
Idaho State University
Background: As a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University at Pocatello, I teach human anatomy in the health professions programs, as well as biological evolution and primate studies. As a researcher my interests encompass a number of topics ranging from science and religion, New World paleoprimatology, vertebrate evolutionary morphology generally, bipedalism and the emergence of modern human walking and running more specifically.
Question 1. Why did you become a researcher/engineer/scientist?
Answer: I have always been fascinated by life on planet Earth -- from my first insect collection, to the recovery and naming of extinct primate species from fossil remains. The lure of exploring new frontiers, uncovering novelties -- past and present -- drew me to the sciences.
Question 2. Share a story from your past that led to your choosing your field of work?
Answer: As a youngster, I attended a showing in the Spokane Coliseum of a documentary showcasing the Patterson-Gimlin film, which depicts a Bigfoot (or Sasquatch) filmed in northern California. My fascination with primates and early humans, and with all mysteries on the fringe of acknowledgement, seemed to converge in that film clip. The prospects of a living primate species more closely related to humanity than any other, sharing our adaptation for walking upright, spurred me on to further exploration.
Question 3. What are you most proud of in your work?
Answer: I have a sense of accomplishment that my attention to the evidence for the existence of Sasquatch has kept this matter before the gaze of the scientific community and engendered meaningful dialogue about it. To have these efforts recognized and encouraged by the likes of George Schaller, Jane Goodall, and Russell Mittermeier has been very gratifying.
In the foreword to my book, George Schaller wrote: “Jeff is a scientist, an expert in human locomotor adaptations. In Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science he examines all evidence critically, not to force a conclusion, but to establish a baseline of facts upon which further research can depend. His science is not submerged by opinion and dogmatic assumption…He disentangles fact from anecdote, supposition and wishful thinking, and concludes that the 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.”
Question 4. Share a comment or opinion you have on a topical science-related issue?
Answer: There is a growing awareness of the bushiness of the hominid family tree, as well as increasing indications of the very recent persistence of a number of the branches on that tree. This raises the possibility that some of these species may in fact persist as relict populations in various corners of or globe. Mounting evidence is being seriously considered by more and more scientists.
Question 5. Share a Web link/video/blog etc. that you found that really excites you and tell us why.
Answer: In order to provide an objective venue for the publication of scholarly papers addressing the question of unrecognized species of apes and prehumans persisting into the present, and to encourage discussion among the broader scientific community, I am editing a refereed online journal, The Relict Hominoid Inquiry. The first of what I expect will be a sustained series of stimulating and illuminating research papers, essays, and reviews are soon to be posted. The site is under construction: http://www.isu.edu/rhi.