Bigfoot Encounters

Sasquatch researchers face unwilling peers
by Scott Sandsberry

June 26, 2012 --YAKIMA, Wash. — It’s easy not to believe in Bigfoot. It’s harder to accept the possibility, and harder still to go public with that acceptance.

Fingerprint expert Jimmy Chilcutt says he has “had that used against me, or tried to use against me, in court.” Members of the jury, how seriously can you take the testimony of a man who who believes in THAT?

Photo: Meldrum with the Skookum Meadow casting. (Courtesy photo)

Earlier this spring, while up for a promotion within the faculty of Idaho State University, Jeff Meldrum found “the bias and closed narrowmindedness of a few of my colleagues rearing its ugly head once again.”

Meldrum’s promotion was approved, but he, Chilcutt and others researching the Sasquatch phenomenon remain frustrated by those peers who remain unwilling even to consider their findings.

“It’s baffling that academics, who one would think would be objective and open-minded to questions on the fringes of knowledge,” Meldrum said, “would instead not be fair-minded and egalitarian in the treatment of their colleagues that delve into that realm to explore where the evidence will lead.

“But the scientific community is a community of people and individually they are subject to all the biases and prejudices of any other cross-section of humanity.”

A number renowned scientists — notably George Schaller, one of the world’s preeminent naturalists, and primatologist Jane Goodall, known for her chimpanzee research — have publicly called for more a open-minded approach by science to the research of Meldrum and others.

But perhaps no scientist has undergone a more dramatic transformation in terms of that open-mindedness than Daris Swindler.

A long-time professor of anthropology at the University of Washington, Swindler quite literally wrote the book on the comparative anatomy of man, apes and chimpanzees. His masterwork, “An Atlas of Primate Gross Anatomy,” is considered mandatory reading for all primate anatomists.

And for many years, Swindler was publicly adamant that Sasquatch did not and could not exist.

“He was the required poo-poo guy when it came to anything Bigfoot,” says John Green, a retired newspaper publisher and editor British Columbia. “If invited, he would give the scientific comment that there simply couldn’t be any such thing.”

In September 2000, though, a group of researchers took a 31/2-by-5 foot cast of what appeared to be a partial body print of a large animal reclining in the mud in a Skamania County area of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest called Skookum Meadow.

Soon after the discovery a number of scientists, including Meldrum and Swindler, were invited to an Edmonds, Wash., hotel to study the imprint cast and discuss their findings as part of a documentary film, “Legend Meets Science.”

“He looked at that cast and saw the very same thing I did,” recalls Meldrum. “His attention immediately was drawn to this remarkable Achilles tendon and very broad heel imprint, and what we interpreted to be the prominent buttock.

“The combination of short, pronounced buttock and a well-developed Achilles tendon equals biped — and nothing else.”

For Swindler, though, that realization was profoundly affecting — something that became obvious to the documentary film’s producer, Doug Hajicek, when he went to Swindler’s suite to find out what his on-camera testimony would be.

“He got really choked up,” Hajicek said of Swindler, who died in 2007. “He literally had tears coming down his face.” Photo: Daris Swindler courtesy Bobbie Short

Hajicek said Swindler had calculated, based on the size and structure of the creature’s leg and well-defined Achilles tendon, that the weight of the animal had to have been between 600 and 800 pounds. And that, as Meldrum said, the animal had to have been bipedal — that is, moving around primarily on two legs.

Swindler’s emotions, Hajicek said, came from having just talked over the phone with his family to tell them about his findings, “because what he was about to say on camera was probably going to change his life … that, basically, these things were real.”

Yakima dot com

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