119 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Interesting
I first learned about "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science" on November 10 of this year, when I was sitting in my car listening to NPR's "Talk of the Nation/Science Friday". They had a guy on named Jeff Meldrum, who was talking about Sasquatch sightings. He sounded very knowledgeable and intelligent -- oh, and he had a new book out. Intrigued, I sought it out at the local...
Published on November 23, 2006 by Robert Thorbury
3.0 out of 5 stars Just a rehash of what has already been made available ...
Just a rehash of what has already been made available on the subject. Reading this book did not change my doubts about existence of big
Published 2 months ago by Ike
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119 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Interesting,
I first learned about "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science" on November 10 of this year, when I was sitting in my car listening to NPR's "Talk of the Nation/Science Friday". They had a guy on named Jeff Meldrum, who was talking about Sasquatch sightings. He sounded very knowledgeable and intelligent -- oh, and he had a new book out. Intrigued, I sought it out at the local Borders store. It was, I think, a very good sign that it was in the "Science/Biology" section, rather than the "Paranormal" section sandwiched in between "Crop Circles" and "UFOs".
Now, most of us have probably heard tales of Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, from childhood onward. It's part of American folklore. I think subconsciously I'd always kind of associated Bigfoot sightings with ridiculously gullible people who might also claim to have seen Elvis at the local shopping mall. Steven Spielberg poked fun at this in one scene of his classic film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".
But a funny thing happened as I dug into the book, a nice, sturdy hardcover tome suitable for reading while propped up in bed. I learned that a wide variety of people have seen signs of something big and mysterious in the woods of North America. These are experienced backwoodsmen, hunters, trackers, naturalists and primatologists. Sightings by settlers go back to the mid 1800's. Even Jane Goodall, a world-renowned export on apes, was persuaded by the evidence she'd examined. It would seem that, whatever Sasquatch may turn out to be, it's no joke.
Without repeating the entire book, I will instead list some of the big questions and observations that are made or raised therein.
o The chapter on Cryptozoology discusses various "unknown" creatures which may exist around the world. One of these is the yeti, or "abominable snowman", of the Himalayas. How similar are its footprints to those of Sasquatch?
o One useful technique for discovering unknown mammal species in remote places is to consult with indigenous peoples. They, after all, are in the best position to know where to look. So, what does Native American legend and lore, and artwork, have to say about Sasquatch?
o There have been some pretty infamous hoaxes concerning Bigfoot, particularly the ones perpetrated by Ray Wallace and his family members. Does this mean that all Sasquatch sightings are hoaxes? How would it be possible to tell real ones from fake?
o There are tantalizing fossil remains of an ancient giant ape called Gigantopithecus. Could Sasquatch turn out to be one of these? Just how hard is it for fossils to be created in places like Oregon and Washington State? How commonplace are fossils for known primate species, such as chimpanzees and gorillas?
o Casts of Sasquatch footprints, including known forgeries, are quite abundant. What does detailed analysis of the presumed "real" ones have to say about the kind of creature which made them. How similar are they to, say, bear paw prints?
o What about dermatoglyphics, the fingerprint-like ridge patterns found in some exceptional footprint casts? What do experts have to say about these?
o Wildlife photography turns out to be much more challenging than many of us think. A lot of the pictures we see in calendars and the like are actually posed, using creatures in captivity. Chimpanzees and wolverines both are notoriously difficult to film in the wild. Plus, commercial-grade videotape doesn't make for the best pictures, especially after they've been copied a few times.
o By far the most famous Bigfoot video was one taken on 16mm film in northern California in 1967, by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin. It has long been dismissed by experts as a fake. But can modern image enhancement techniques yield useful information? Is some of the behavior evinced by the creature in the film the kind of thing people in the 1960s would have known about? Or is it perhaps something primatologists have learned about only in the past couple of decades?
o Modern computerized motion-capture techniques, like those used in movie special effects, have been used to recreate the kind of skeletal-muscular structure which would be needed to produce some well-documented sets of Sasquatch tracks. What does this evidence show?
o The holy grail of discovering a new species, other than capturing an actual live specimen, would be sequencing its DNA, perhaps from hair samples. What have DNA tests and hair sample comparisons taught experts?
o One challenge with describing unknown species: it is very easy to say that hair does NOT come from, say, moose, elk, bear or wildcats. But it is much harder to say what it IS. What can be learned by comparing the various "unknown" hair samples? Do they consistently look like they could come from a single unknown species?
o There is a principle, called Bergman's rule, which notes that related animal species tend to get larger the closer to the poles they get and the farther from the tropics. One example is bears, where the smallest are a kind found in South America, while the biggest are polar bears. Page 94 shows a graph of the sizes of Sasquatch footprints ranging from northern California to northern Saskatchewan. Is the graph consistent with Bergman's rule?
The chapters come with lots of useful diagrams and photos, including 16 pages of color photos right after page 96. The exceptionally well-written pages are filled with a wealth of information about wildlife that I never knew before. It was worth reading for that alone. Some of it can get pretty technical, to the point that I just had to skim it. Finally, there is an extensive index and bibliography in back, for those who want to do further research.
Jeff Meldum's conclusions purposefully take the middle ground between excessive skepticism on one hand and excessive credulity on the other. Clearly, scientists can be satisfied that Sasquatch really exists only if they can find something truly tangible -- a skeleton, for instance.
Capturing Sasquatch would be a major coup. However, based on various eyewitness accounts of close encounters, including by the author himself, this is likely to be a very large, dangerous creature. Also, people who claim to have literally had one in their gun sights have reported being extremely reluctant to squeeze the trigger. Native American tradition views Sasquatch as sacred, and at least one county in the U.S. actually has laws protecting them.
One thing is for sure: scientists really ought to keep looking into the matter. The impression I get is that the sightings aren't going to go away any time soon.
Should you read this book? I would encourage it. If nothing else, it is a sober, painstaking scientific analysis of available evidence by a large number of experts, in multiple disciplines. This is what science should be. It is very illuminating even if the subject should turn out to be completely bogus in the end.
Final note: There is also, it appears, a companion DVD. It looks like you have to go to their web site to order it, but I'm tempted.
43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you believe in Science...History is about to change forever,
It took me only 3 1/2 days to finish this book, the third-most important Sasquatch book to have in your collection (followed closely by "Meet The Sasquatch" and "Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us"). Meldrum covers so many topics that were covered in the TV special that preceded this handsome volume, but the book goes beyond the TV special. Meldrum discusses the Ray Wallace fiasco, the Patterson/Gimlin Film (with an exclusive interview with Bob Gimlin), video footage, footprint morphology and dermatoglyphics, bear/Sasquatch misidentifications, Great Ape behavior and its parallels to Sasquatch behavior, statistical data and information and several other different topics. I would say if you only buy one Sasquatch book this year, make it this one. It's terrific, well-written and scholarly and sober. Would make a great Christmas or birthday gift for the skeptic in your family or circle of friends.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New favorite sasquatch book!,
Dr. Jeff Meldrum has done an outstanding job with this latest book on the mystery of sasquatch.
Written partly to be a companion to the documentary "Sasquatch - Legend Meets Science," this book has the latest up-to-date material to tantalize the skeptics and the believers alike.
Included are many unique photos, along with the most recent scientific findings and discoveries made to date of this elusive creature.
Thanks Dr. Meldrum, for giving us a new favorite book on the subject!
-Scott Schubbe, SRI & AIBR
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Instant Classic!,
Jeff Meldrum wrote this book. That's all you need to know. The only real scientist in America with the fortitude to wave his proverbial middle finger at all the alleged "real scientists" who never separate their left and right butt cheeks from their comfortable leather-upholstered chairs of academia.
What this book is: A true scientific approach to presenting the case FOR the existence of a North American bipedal ape.
What this book is not: A listing of countless sightings.
I do have to respond to the moron who gave Meldrum's book one star. Dude, this IS real science. It's about getting out there and investigating what people are telling you they are seeing. If you are a scientist and you're simply going to wait for John Doe to walk into your office with the bigfoot body before you start investigating, then you should be stripped of your credentials.
For those of you interested in taking the bigfoot phenomenon to the next level, there is no getting around it...buy the book, read it, and then frame it on the wall of your front entryway.
Feeling really revolutionary? By several copies and give them to friends and libraries. If today's academia refuses to conduct real science, we're going to have to do it for them.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good place to start for the Sasquatch fan - cryptozoology at its finest,
Does Sasquatch exist? If not, why not? If so, what evidence supports your claim?
Author Jeff Meldrum throws the gauntlet with Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. His background as a specialist in vertebrate locomotion serves him well in studying a creature whose existence depends more on plaster casts of tracks than any other source.
Is this tale worth any serious time, from any serious scholar?
""It seems that the majority of scientists are content to remain aloof, trivialize the probability of new discovery, or presume to discredit the witnesses and the evidence, leaving to others the search for the proof, the definitive type specimen. They passively challenge, 'Show me the body'" (p. 44).
"It is one thing to casually dismiss a report from the security and comfort of one's armchair. It is quite another thing to look into the face of an experienced outdoorsman and tell him he is mistaken or worse yet, a liar. It is yet another matter, a betrayal of scientific principles, to decline to examine and consider the evidence because after all, such creatures as the sasquatch 'cannot exist, therefore they do not exist,' so why be bothered with questionable 'evidence.' And yet, such is the atmosphere that has prevailed in scientific circles" (p. 52).
"Whatever the Wallaces' [re: Ray Wallace, who said he was behind the Sasquatch hoax in the infamous Patterson film] motivation, the story provides the armchair skeptic with a simplistic explanation for a complex and vexing phenomenon. How is it that the word of a well-known spinner of yarns, if not an outright liar, is accepted as gospel, and the accounts of hundreds of credible eyewitnesses who have seen such a primate are dismissed, even when their testimonies are corroborated by footprints, hair, and scat? When it comes to the media's gullibility, it seems that Wallace had the last laugh" (p. 71).
Meldrum reviews the evidence for Sasquatch in a careful, methodological manner. His strength is in his analyses of foot morphology, tracks, study of the gait, and other issues relating to inferences of weight, height, body structure, and even injuries.
Much weaker are the analyses of vocalizations, scat, diet, DNA, and habitat.
Meldrum did a nice job discussing the importance of eliminating bears as "sasquatch," with the habit of bears to stand on two feet, feet 'similar" to humans, and their imposing stature. In fact, this section made me reflect that, although Sasquatch searchers are asked to produce a body, it is rare, exceedingly rare, to find a bear carcass in the woods away from a hunting camp or a road.
Skeptics Magazine publisher Michael Shermer stated "A century has been spent searching for these chimerical creatures. Until a body is produced, skepticism is the appropriate response" (p. 272). However, "skepticism" is defined as "A doubting or questioning attitude or state of mind" (Freedictionary). It is not an absolute, black and white concept, but rather comes in shades of gray. I would say that both Shermer AND Meldrum are skeptics, but Meldrum is becoming less skeptical while Shermer is keeping at a distance. Meldrum states, "For me, it now seems more incredible to suggest this matter could all be dismissed as mere stories, misidentifications, and spurious hoaxes than it is to at least rationally entertain the well-founded suggestion that the legend of sasquatch possibly has its basis in a real animal and may eventually prove to be among the most astounding zoological discoveries ever" (p. 276).
For me, I believe Meldrum packaged the sasquatch story, and the evidence, into a tight bundle, moving it from the realm of most cryptozoological fantasies into something with more "meat." However, the hoaxes and the flimflam are mixed with the bona fides. That a creature exists I have no doubt, but I don't doubt that this creature is already know to science, with misidentifications in abundance, and a collision of bears, elk, coyotes, deer, people, dogs, cattle, sheep, and, yes, the hoaxes, all mixed into the Sasquatch caldron.
Hair MUST come back with definitive DNA. A big herbivore like Sasquatch MUST leave scat piles. There MUST be sleeping areas, feeding areas, and wintering areas. And why isn't anybody skipping the casts, and collecting the entire fresh track, mud, dirt, and all? Skin cells and hairs constantly are being shed, and that definitive sample is needed.
So Jeff Meldrum's book doesn't solve the case, it makes the case. The opposing attorney now gets their chance at the evidence and the witnesses (although Meldrum isn't bad at taking both the pro and con side in his investigations).
Unfortunately for Sasquatch fans and believers, the Bigfoot literature is mixed in with alien abductions, crop circles, UFOs, and other extra- and other-worldly events. The hurdle for believability is high, and Meldrum can't quite get his feet over this one.
Interesting stuff, however. I WILL pay closer attention to the reports, and the evidence. Because if I'm wrong... I'm missing something interesting.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science,
To list everything that is good about this book would require a recitation of virtually everything in it. This is a great book for anyone curious about, or skeptical of, the sasquatch/bigfoot mystery. It provides a clear, rational, science-based examination of the evidence that stands head and shoulders above many of the other books on the subject, and Jeff Meldrum avoids the proselytizing--both pro and con--that characterizes the work of too many other authors in this field. While it is a companion piece to the DVD of the same name, it goes far deeper in its examination of the mystery than time allowed in the show. Bravo!
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science at it's best!,
I have a collection of over 200 books related to bigfoot. Dr. Meldrum's "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science" is the most significant book on the subject I have ever read. Finally putting all we know into one cohesive text, Dr. Meldrum addresses the evidence, hoaxes, theories, concepts, and "myths" related to bigfoot in a professional and scientific manner. Significant in the book is the discussion of the Skookum Cast, Patterson/Gimlin film, footprint evidence, and dermatoglyphics. I highly recommend this book as it will be quoted by the bigfoot community for years to come!
Kathy Moskowitz Strain
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An in-depth scientific analysis.,
Dr. Meldrum has taken several areas of hard science and applied them to the speculation about sasquatch. I strongly agree with his conclusion that the evidence points to the existence of a large ape-like creature inhabiting areas of North America. He is not a believer, he is a scientist and he presents the various areas of evidence in a scientific manner. Some of the writing uses some scientific terminology that can be difficult to wade through, but, overall, I heartily recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Bigfoot/Sasquatch.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sasquatch Teaches Science,
I read a tremendous number of "nature" and "science" books, and I have also followed the Bigfoot search off and on with some distant curiosity for years; I bought this book on a whim, and read it in one day (it was very entertaining) and would recommend it to anyone with a like curiosity about the world---science is a tool to be used for answering questions, and here "science" is applied to the question, "Given the evidence, is it possible that an unknown ape exists in North America?"
If you are curious and know nothing, or just a little, or even consider yourself an avowed skeptic in all things Bigfoot/Sasquatchesque, then this is the best book to read to familiarize yourself with the subject. (If you know "everything" then likely you don't need to read it.)
It is strictly non-sensational (that is, nothing like the tabloid press), serious, factual and perhaps just a tiny, tiny bit dry in its coverage of the evidence and the scientific examination of that evidence.
I entreat you NOT to skip over the scientific bits, because in the end, it's the science that makes this book compelling and a worthwhile read. That said, this is not at all a difficult read. Dr. Meldrum is after all in the business of teaching, so if you managed (or are managing) high school science, you will certainly be able to follow the explanations given. Here is proof that science, far from being close-minded, boring or dull, can also be marvelous fun.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meldrum's book is soundly based on the scientific method.,
Meldrum has written "Sasquatch" from a sorely needed scientific viewpoint.
He is a Darwin of our time, overcoming adversity to present findings that are based on solid science. While he presents the nitty gritty of his professional expertise, he does discuss related items of human interest. He readily acknowledges hoaxes, showing how to separate them from reliable observations. He calls for funding of serious scientific research on Sasquatch. Naturalist George Schaller writes a Foreward,and Meldrum notes Jane Goodall's conviction of Sasquatch's existence. I started reading as a skeptic; by the end, Meldrum had convinced me that Sasquatch exists.
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Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science by Jeff Meldrum (Paperback - September 4, 2007)