When Jeffrey Meldrum was 11 years old, he saw Roger Patterson's famous 60 seconds of jumpy footage of an unidentified, giant, ape-like creature.
"The larger-than-life image of a Bigfoot deliberately striding across the screen made a lasting impression on a young and adventurous mind and served to reinforce my fascination with the primates and primitive humans," Meldrum writes in the introduction to his book, "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science."
Thirty years later, with bachelor's and master's degrees in zoology from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in anatomical sciences from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Meldrum found himself examining mysterious 14-inch footprints in Washington state.
Meldrum was using his expertise in foot morphology and locomotion of monkeys, apes and hominids to bring a new level of scientific inquiry to the search for Bigfoot.
In his 2006 book, Meldrum doesn't argue for the existence of Sasquatch, but rather states that "the evidence that exists fully justifies the investigation and the pursuit of this question."
Even that is going too far for some of his skeptical colleagues in academia and science, a few of whom have publicly disparaged Meldrum's work. Those with positive things to say about him include primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, who said his book "brings a much-needed level of scientific analysis" to the debate about Sasquatch. Zoologist Dr. George Shaller said that "by offering a critical scrutiny, [his book] does more for this field of investigation than all the past arguments and polemics of contesting experts."
Meldrum is an associate professor of anatomy and anthropology and adjunct associate professor of the Department of Anthropology at Idaho State University. He is also adjunct professor of occupational and physical therapy and affiliate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Idaho Museum of Natural History. He joined the ISU faculty in 1993 after a short time at Northwestern University.
Meldrum will give a free presentation at Sun Valley Center for the Arts in Ketchum on Thursday, Feb. 10, at 6:30 p.m. The lecture is in conjunction with The Center's ongoing multidisciplinary project "Creatures: From Bigfoot to the Yeti Crab," which explores fantastical creatures, real, imaginary and status undetermined, through the eyes of visual artists, scientists, filmmakers and writers.
For details, visit www.sunvalleycenter.org or call 726-9491, ext 10.
Sabina Dana Plasse: firstname.lastname@example.org