Bigfoot Encounters

A partial transcription of a presentation given on
the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC)
by Dr. Mary McDonald Pavelka B.A., MA (Mc Master), Ph.D
"...apes are in fact a contemporary relative of ours, NOT our ancestors."

The late Rene Dahinden recorded on a personal tape recorder the speech given by Calgary resident Dr. Pavelka that was presented locally in British Columbia. I don’t recall that he ever mentioned the date, but it had to be at some point in the mid to late 1990’s when he contacted me.

In the course of those days, Rene sent me an audiotape copy of a presentation by Dr. Mary S. McDonald Pavelka, B.A., MA (Mc Master), Ph.D. She was at the time a physical anthropologist and well-known professor of primatology at the prestigious University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

The core of that presentation follows but bare in mind the audiotape was difficult to transcribe principally because there is no way I was able to ‘write’ the voice inflections or her tone. Dr. Pavelka speaks in nonstop tonicities on this CBC radio call-in program making it difficult to understand her without actually hearing her speak. Try to keep that in mind as you read. The transcription follows:

The program host/announcer began:

“Well Dr. Pavelka, we’ve all heard how humans have evolved from ape-like creatures, why haven’t apes evolved into man?”

Dr. Pavelka responded:
“If evolution be the underlying principle of creation, and to that I would say that yes, evolution has produced a diversity and variety of life forms that we see today on the planet - - but now to the question of why apes have not evolved into humans, or why they do not continue to evolve into humans, I would first begin by saying that an equally logical question would be, why have not humans evolved into apes?”

Pavelka continued with this fascinating reply:
“Apes have their own separate evolutionary history, apes have evolved into apes; they have evolved on a separate evolutionary path at the same time that humans were evolving into humans so they are in fact a contemporary relative of ours and NOT our ancestors.”

“Living great apes do NOT represent an earlier stage through which we passed - - in fact we share a common ancestor with them some 7 or 8 million years ago, but since the time of that common ancestor, we have each been on separate paths heading toward the living descendents that you see today.”

“So the living descendents of that ancestor on the great ape line, the contemporary forms that we share the planet with today, cannot be our ancestor. None of the living great apes ever evolved into a human, what we have is a common ancestor, which if you went back far enough, was the ancestor that gave rise to both of our separate lines.”

“Why apes have not evolved into humans or why they don’t continue to evolve into humans in some way reflects two very common misconceptions that people have about the evolutionary process in my humble opinion.”

1) “The first is that evolution is some kind of directed or a progressive process which led to us to humans as the ultimate goal of the human evolutionary process. But actually biological evolution is not progressive, is not directed, ... and there is really no ultimate goal or purpose to it… and this popular notion that we represent the ultimate evolutionary success story is kind of circular - it depends on us using ourselves as a standard of evolutionary perfection.”

2) “The second misconception is the notion that we evolved from the living great apes. And that involves this notion that apes are therefore not quite human or for that matter that monkeys are not quite apes and so on. But actually apes do not represent an earlier stage through which we passed.”

“First of all, we did not evolve from the living great apes because one cannot evolve from a contemporary form.”

“The similarity is that we do share a common ancestor with the great apes - - an ancestor that probably lived 7 or 8 MYA and that common ancestor gave rise to at least two descendent lines, one leading to us and one leading to the African great apes.”

“So what I am saying is that the great apes are just as evolved as we are. The great apes are perfectly evolved apes, and we are perfectly evolved humans and there’s no reason to assume that the ape should be trying to be evolving in the direction that we took - - or that we should be evolving into the direction the apes took.”

“The common ancestor we shared millions of years ago was probably more ape like than it was human like, it was in all likelihood a quadrupedal animal and possibly arboreal forest dwelling animal and probably had a tail something that all of us have lost since that time when both the apes and humans both passed have lost the tail.”

Pavelka concludes this answer saying, “We don’t know about the common ancestor, as we would like to probably because it was a forest dwelling species and these conditions of the forests are not suitable for fossilization so fossils in forest environment are quite rare.”

If this quadrupedal (4 legged) ancestor gave rise to humans and gave rise to the great apes, why did the split happen?

Dr. Pavelka responds:
“Why we’re divergent to our own separate evolutionary paths is a question that really fascinates popular writers and physical anthropologists and other kinds of scientists. This question of why did we leave the forest, why did we leave the safety of the trees? Why did we come down to the ground and become two legged animals, because this of course this was the prime mover in the whole of the evolution of our own particular line, this was the change that gave rise to us. There have been several different kinds of attempts to explain where this bipedalism or two legged posture and locomotion came from. We aren’t sure what the motive was for it.”

Moderator: "How closely related are we to the great apes?"

Dr. Pavelka: “Biologically, we are very close. We can get the same diseases, they get leukemia, we have the same ABO and RH blood types, genetically in what we have mapped out of their genome and ours we know that there is some estimates 99 percent similarity in a genetic material. They are very closely related.”

Pavelka continued: “Like I have said, we tend to focus so much on a lot of our cultural change which made us very different in many respects but actually biologically it’s the same basic template. We differ certainly, but not anywhere near to the extent that people tend to think.”

Moderator: "Is it possible for an ape to evolve into a more human form?"

Then Dr. Pavelka gave this interesting reponse:
“No, it’s not possible but the chance of the evolutionary process replicating the same species twice is so infinitesimally small that we really can safely say that it is impossible. So no, for those who are interested in the future of ape and human evolution should not expect to see some ‘Planet of the Ape’ scenario where apes have become human only they retain some of their body hair. There is no reason to assume that would happen.”

Rene’s audiotape ended here but Dr. Pavelka’s words were not lost on me…

... for the record here,
my impression was that Rene recorded this at some point in 1990's, the cassette was not dated, only labeled by name.... how timely it is to mark Dr. Pavelka's words today in research,
April 17, 2010... Bobbie Short.
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In the process of uploading Dr. Pavelka's presentation,  there was this bit of sharing from a friend of mine in New York, a Bigfoot enthusiast on the east coast that may be of interest to readers; he posed the following question to several anthropologists and received these interesting replies…
        “Do all hominids from the genus homo share a similar construction,
        regarding the morphology of the foot, throughout the evolutionary
        timeline of the genus? That is to say, if we compare some of the earliest
        known forms of "human beings" such as Homo Habilis, to that of
        modern humans, Homo Sapiens, do we all share the same basic foot
        design...5 toes more or less in a straight line with each other, as
        opposed to non-human great apes and their ancestors that have
        feet designed more like hands?”

Dr. Frederick Grine, Professor of Anthropology and Anatomical Sciences in the Anthropology
Department of Stony Brook University responded March 17, 2010:

         “As far as we know (the fossil evidence for some species is not
          terribly complete), all members of the genus Homo from homo
          habilis to us (H. sapiens) share the same basic anatomy of the
. All toes are aligned and short, the big toe is adducted,
         and there is a longitudinal arch.” (Grine 2/2010)

Then there was this thoughtful reply from anthropologist professorial expert in primate evolution,
Dr. James Rossie, also at Stony Brook University (SUNY) to the same question:

This is a good question, and luckily one that can be partially answered by available fossils. The answer is essentially yes.  The foot is not very well known for Homo erectus, as far as I know, but there is a nearly complete foot of the more primitive Homo habilis from Olduvai Gorge (see picture). This is the earliest known species of Homo, and here there is an essentially modern foot although the phalanges are not preserved. Now, it is not identical to Homo sapiens, but it is quite a departure  from the foot anatomy seen in Australopithecus. In Australopitheus, the foot has obvious adaptations for bipedalism, but it retains such primitive features as long and curved toes.

Author names that will help you if you want to search for   articles on the subject include: Randall Susman, John Napier, Will Harcourt-Smith and Jack Stern. The olduvai foot is known by the specimen number "OH 8" so you can search for that too.” (Rossie 3/2010)

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The great zoologist Richard Owen once wrote that "...the human foot is the most characteristic peculiarity in the human body."

Dr. Will Harcourt-Smith, Vertebrate Paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History wrote in his abstract, "Some may feel that there are plenty of other candidates for this title, but the fact remains that the human foot is highly specialized in its anatomy and strongly reflects our 'unique form' of locomotion - habitual bipedalism. Fossil hominin foot bones therefore provide an invaluable lens through which to view the origins of bipedalism." (Owen)
- ---
And finally, this note from anthropologist, Dr. Louise Leakey on assignment in Nairobi, Kenya affiliated with Stony Brook University.

        “Thanks for your email. In haste as I am in a rush; firstly, we don't
         have many feet preserved in the hominid fossil record. Ardipithecus
        ramidus at 4.6 million has a very ape like foot, H erectus has human
        like foot.  But to walk well on two legs you need a foot designed
        quite similarly to our own. 
So yes, ape ancestors have feet more
        like hands and the more bipedal, the more derived the foot becomes.”

        (L. Leakey April 2010)
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Last October (2009) Primatologist, Dr. Esteban Sarmiento, a functional anatomist affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History & New York University (his main field of study is the skeletons of hominoids both extinct and extant species) said at the Tyler, Texas BF Conference, pointing to the frame in the Patterson film when the creature turns in full stride to look over its shoulder at the camera: "A gorilla couldn't do this. It can't turn its head. An ape would have to stop and turn around to look at the camera. Apes can walk on two legs,” he said, “but not with the stride and gait the Patterson Bigfoot uses. That's a human trait.”

In an interview with a journalist from the American Statesman after the Texas Bigfoot conference Dr. Sarmiento is quoted as saying; "...if Bigfoot exists in North America, it is the closest living relative to human beings!"

One analyst, British biomechanics specialist Dr. D. W. Grieve, wrote, "the cycle time and the time of swing are in a typical human combination but much longer in duration than one would expect for the stride and the pattern of limb movement" - meaning that if this is the correct film speed, the figure's "neuromuscular system was very different to that of humans." In other words, the figure is not a man in an ape suit, and the "possibility of fakery is ruled out." At 24 feet per second, however, it "walked with a gait pattern very similar in most respects to a man walking at high speed."

It's not looking good for the proponents of the ape theory who seemingly fail to consider that there is no fossil record of apes in North America and elementary points such as no ape has evolved to walk upright. They don't seem to comprehend the radical anatomical evolutionary changes that would be required to fulfill the foot design the way they propose in support of their theory. The Sasquatch is over-whelmingly, ...a human figure, one that requires a foot designed the same as ours it flat-footed or partially arched; they may also be capable of other human physical attributes such as speech! ...Bobbie Short
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