Is there really a bi-pedal species that can be qualified scientifically and matched with the perpetual legend that is Bigfoot?
After decades of verifying and debunking sightings and evidence of the massive man-ape from various points across the U.S., Idaho State University’s Jeffrey Meldrum, author of “Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science,” finally has the technological potential to make a determination, thanks to a wealthy gold dredger with a mystery of his own to solve.
Anyone with a television has likely seen the grainy image of Bigfoot shot by former rodeo rider Roger Patterson in 1967. William Barnes, who believes he had a similar encounter, has created “The Falcon Project,” which will use a 45-foot-long camera on a remote-controlled airship to conduct non-intrusive flyovers in Bigfoot territory hoping to gather conclusive film evidence.
Meldrum is the on-the-ground collaborator for the project, which he said is being sponsored by the University of Idaho. Currently on a fundraising tour, Meldrum spoke at The Community Library in Ketchum Tuesday night to drum up believers and supporters.
The curiosity of Bigfoot was launched with Patterson’s film and has embedded in the public psyche the image of the beast as a large, bipedal hairy humanoid creature that lives in wilderness areas of the United States and Canada.
Meldrum said he focuses on the evolution of bipedalism and human biology in his coursework at the university, but raises the specter of the alleged North American ape, commonly known as sasquatch, for his students to ponder.
He is often consulted in cases of sightings and has interviewed countless eyewitnesses.
“If it’s just a really good story, a coincidence, it is one of the most eternally coherent and consistent stories ever told,” he said.
Meldrum offered numerous first-person accounts he has collected, including Forest Service employees who told of having their campsites invaded and pinecones thrown at them.
Advances in film and technology have meant he can go back and dissect all previous evidence to prove or disprove it.
Some compelling arguments for why Patterson’s sighting could be authentic have been made by plastic surgeons, Hollywood costume designers, and physiology experts.
However, he said the consensus was “this is no longer a man in a fur suit, this was a 7-foot man in a fur suit.”
But when asked about where the women and children from the species were, he said that Patterson’s image had pendulum breasts consistent with a female, and her footprints suggested a weight of only about 500 pounds, whereas the other specimens suggested a male was twice the weight at least.
The closest, most exciting development, he said, came from Pocatello, where students on an erosion project saw something in the woods nearby.
“There’s a dude watching us,” one teen said before the camera was swung over to try to intimidate the stalker in an area called Elk Meadows. A fast-moving shadow figure resembling the original sasquatch is seen disappearing into dense woods. Footprints were collected at the scene.
Meldrum hopes The Falcon Project will provide more evidence. The camera on the stealthy airship will be able to scan densely wooded regions with a penetrating vantage.
“These unmanned drones, I believe, are the next step in proving the nature of these creatures,” Meldrum said in closing.