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Media Article # 163
Wednesday, March 28, 2001
Expert on primate locomotion takes long, serious look at Bigfoot
By Jennifer Oxley
The Idaho Statesman
A drawing depicts the body position of the alleged Bigfoot that left the imprint for the casting shown in the photo.
Jeff Meldrum is not a nut. He wants you to know that up front.
He's an associate professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University and has a list of credentials and degrees as long as your arm.
Meldrum is a serious researcher studying a subject that is difficult to take seriously: Bigfoot.
For four years, Meldrum has traveled the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West talking to people who reported seeing a Sasquatch and taking plaster casts of supposed footprints.
"I'm not some fringe lunatic pursuing a wild goose chase," Meldrum said.
His theory about Sasquatches is similar to what is known about orangutans: The males are solitary and cover and defend a range of about 100 miles. Within their range there are two to three females with whom they mate and produce offspring.
Meldrum doesn't speculate on how many Sasquatches there are.
"They've got to be very rare, otherwise we would find evidence of their presence more than we do," he said.
As part of his research, Meldrum is looking for more than footprint evidence. He wants to find physical evidence such as hair.
Meldrum is part of the research team studying the "Skookum Body Cast," a plaster cast that was taken from a body imprint of a supposed Sasquatch that was found in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest in southwestern Washington in September.
Grover Krantz, a recognized Bigfoot expert who taught at Washington State University, said Meldrum's efforts are well-known and respected.
In fact, Meldrum appeared in a special telecast on Bigfoot that was broadcast nationally in February on the Animal Planet channel.
"I'm well-acquainted with Jeff Meldrum and his work. He and his regular work in anthropology/paleontology are of top quality," Krantz said.
Meldrum has more than 100 plaster casts of footprints in his lab that provide evidence of the existence of large males, smaller females and juveniles. The casts have come from several different states.
Meldrum studies the prints carefully, because people have tried to pull hoaxes in the past.
But with his knowledge of and experience with primate locomotion, Meldrum is usually able to rule out the fakes quickly -- the supposed footprint doesn't have any skin ridges, there's no evidence the foot is flexible, or the dimensions of the foot couldn't support something the size of a Bigfoot.
Despite the evidence he's collected, Meldrum hesitates to say he believes in Bigfoot.
"Frankly, when I wear my scientific hat, I hold that word 'believe' at an arm's length," he said. "I will say at the very least that the evidence justifies ongoing research and investigation. I can't just walk away from it now."
Meldrum also has faced an uphill battle trying to have his work published and accepted by other anthropologists.
"I want to move the discussion to the serious question of biology," he said.
"But they see it in the category between the Bermuda Triangle and crop circles."
The article includes a bigfoot sketch by Peter Travers of the BFRO.
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