I’m going to admit to you that as a kid, I hated “Star Trek” but I loved Leonard Nimoy’s 70s show “In Search Of…” I was entranced hearing of the mysteries of the Loch Ness monster, UFOs, and Big Foot. The creepy music aside, Nimoy’s authoritative voice added an air of gravitas to the stories being told. There’s nothing like it on the air today – yes, there’s “Ancient Aliens” with the guy whose hair you can’t look away from, but it feels more reality show than documentary.
I’m not Leonard Nimoy and I don’t have his voice, but I definitely was interested in exploring some of these types of stories. And, living in the Northwest (as well as having just finished reading Sharma Shields’ excellent novel “The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac”), Big Foot seemed like a natural choice of subject matter.
Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum is a Full Professor of Anatomy & Anthropology in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Anthropology at Idaho State University. He is also one of the country’s leading “Big Foot” researchers and was an ideal first subject to approach to photograph. There is far too much cheer surrounding Dr. Meldrum for him to be anything like Eli Roebuck, the lead character is Shields’ book, and his enthusiasm for his subject matter is contagious.
Back in 1996, he came across a set of footprints that were almost 14 inches long while hiking in the Blue Mountains near Walla Walla, Washington and his interest in the mythical creature was sparked. Sure, to the skeptic it seems like anyone can try and fake footprints in a muddy path. What was different in this set of prints was the great flexibility Meldrum saw in the prints – as a professor who is especially interested in the way hominids walk and move, he explained to me that this type of print would be next to impossible to fake. He shows me photographs of the muddy trail and points to where the foot slipped in the mud but it left behind a tell-tale mark where it looked as though the creature was flexing its toes to regain its footing on the slippery trail – again, he says, almost impossible to fake that.
Over the years, he’s had his share of critics and, despite the potential for damage to his professional reputation, curiosity continues to drive his research forward. In terms of why he thinks science does not take the subject seriously, Meldrum says, “There are few qualified serious researchers involved. Furthermore, it is in-congruent with the prevailing paradigm of human evolution that we are the only surviving hominin.”
Meldrum is one of the qualified and serious researchers leading the charge for sure!