Thursday, September 6, 2012

Look Out Meldrum, There's Another Bigfoot Anthropologist in Town

Zachary Throckmorton is Serious about Sasquatch
"If Bigfoot is real, it’s a great ape like chimps, gorillas, and orangutans, it came to the New World over Beringia like Native Americans, and it’s bipedal like humans. " -- Zachary Throckmorton

Okay, there is nothing Meldrum needs to "look out" for, as a scientist I'm sure he welcomes other serious academics looking into Bigfoot, and this new guy isn't anywhere near Meldrum's town. The problem is we needed to get your attention and the alternative title for this post is, "There's another serious anthropologist similar to Dr. Jeff Meldrum that specializes in primate locomotion and thinks we should keep an open mind as to the possibility of Bigfoot and he's working on a book on the cultural and biological anthropology of Bigfoot ." It is just too long.

Today, at dane101.com, we stumbled upon an interview with Zach Throckmorton, an anthropologist at UW-Madison. It seems Zach is very serious about his interest in Bigfoot. He says he uses Bigfoot to teach about pseudoscience, but he means no disparagement towards Bigfoot, he acknowledges there is pseudoscience regarding Bigfoot, but that does not exclude actual science being applied to Bigfoot.

Here is the part of the interview where he talks about Bigfoot reprinted below.


D101: What's the most interesting/exciting part of this for you? Why is it your favorite project?Zach: As I said I like to people watch. I think the ways in which we differ from each other are fascinating, and I like to understand and think about why we're all different.  I'm glad that my abstract search for evolutionary understanding also has real-world applications, like how to find shoes that fit best and avoiding unnecessary surgery. It's also a treat to be able to use my expertise in foot evolution to talk about Bigfoot, because Bigfoot is such an amazing topic to illustrate what anthropologists do.  (Seriously.) 
D101: Hold on a second. Bigfoot?Zach: I use Bigfoot as a context for discussing the nature of science, and the line between science and pseudoscience. If Bigfoot is real, it's a great ape like chimps, gorillas, and orangutans, it came to the New World over Beringia like Native Americans, and it's bipedal like humans. Most of the evidence for Bigfoot's existence is of course footprints, so that's an opportunity for me to talk about my expertise in human and ape feet. I'm also working with a friend who is a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology here at UW-Madison on a book on the cultural and biological anthropology of Bigfoot, though it's not the highest priority for either of us.

There other parts to the interview that are not about Bigfoot, you can read it here. But why? You probably want to hear more about Zach take on Bigfoot, right?

You can get a bigger dose of Zach Throckmorton talking about Bigfoot in the video below. This is a presentation he did after four beers. Some of this may be review for us Bigfooters, but I recommend either sticking around or fast forwarding to the last ten minutes, the most interesting stuff he says is during the Q&A session. 


7 comments:

  1. Great lecture, he's light-hearted and has fun with the subject. We need more of that... I would challenge his statement that Orang Pendek is Homo Floresiensis :)

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    1. Agreed. On all counts. His Orang Pendek comment seemed half-hearted, even when he reasserted it. I think a more articulated argument is that there are Oral traditions that can have real analogs in the fossil record.

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  2. Maybe it's the four beers, but that was gutsy correlating OP with H. floriensis. Also, if I'm not mistaken, the footprint photo is from Bluff Creek and is one of the prints photographed by P&G. Darnned Google. He was good to pick up on the fact that H. erectus or ancestors could not have made the print. Only australopithicines had the MT break in human lineage per fossil footprint evidence. A robust form being my favorite theory for BF. Also his statements on the fossil record of chimps and gorillas very enlightening. He could have mentioned Giganto there also as a classic example.

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  3. Yes he is mistaken about the footprint. Its from patty as anyone who's been into the subject could tell you. While I welcome anyone to give their opinion on the matter, they should at least get the facts straight if they're going to give a public presentation.

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  4. Well, if he is similar to Meldrum a pre-existing bias will keep him from evaluating data that shows opposable thumb and whistling and other evidence that points to genus homo and likely migration pre ice age... Not to mention valuing oral tradition of NA or even early Europeans. And of course the 'ole boy network with it's inherent validation of personal values... Is this guy LDS? Below the belt comment? Not if you were born and raised in BF territory and not a white male Mormon. Just saying.... Still waiting for a serious scientist without so much ego invested.

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    1. "other evidence that points to genus homo"
      Footprint evidence, of which Meldrum is rather good at, points to a non-homo genus. No genus homo has a mid-tarsal break based on fossil footprint and bone evidence. Australopithicines, based on fossil footprint evidence, had a mid-tarsil break.
      Check this link:
      http://archaeology.about.com/od/prehumanhistory/ss/ileret_footprin_6.htm

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    2. Another recent, good (exhaustive)footprint analysis on modern vs Laetoli (possible A. afarensis)fossil footprint data. Though not totally conclusive, points at least to the Laetoli prints not being 100% like a modern human longitudinal medial arch.

      http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2011/07/18/rsif.2011.0258.full

      A. afarensis being a gracile form more similar to modern man in body ratios would perhaps make a footprint more similar to a modern human in width and depth ratios. My thoughts are that a more robust form may be more in line with that of footprints believed to be from Sasquatch. In that they would present an even more pronounced MT break and have a greater width to length ratio.

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