If you haven’t heard already, the Bigfoot claim from last week is debunked – the supposed Sasquatch in the freezer box is just a costume, according to admissions from its alleged finders, Rick Dyer and Matthew Whitton.
In an additional bit of fraudulent behavior, a posting on Searching for Bigfoot, Inc.’s Web site claims that these men from Georgia have now run off with an undisclosed sum of money advanced to them by the company.
Now that this Bigfoot ballyhoo is wrapping up, ScientificAmerican.com called up Jeffrey Meldrum again to get his reaction about how the whole thing went down. Meldrum is a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University in Pocatello, and has studied the Bigfoot phenomenon in depth.
Here’s an edited transcript of what Meldrum had to say:
What are your thoughts on how this "tall tale" of finding Bigfoot ended?
Well, it comes as no surprise. It unraveled pretty much as I anticipated it would. The only alternate scenario was that the body would disappear, and conspiracy theories would have abounded about how some “men in black” or government agents had swiped [the Bigfoot cadaver]. But what actually happened was the most likely scenario, and [the ruse] could only have been sustained for so long. It’s really comical.
Did the handlers of this Bigfoot claim do anything right?
The only seemingly legitimate action that they made was to recruit a bona-fide microbiologist, Curtis Nelson [of the University of Minnesota]. He said he received three samples [for genetic testing], and that they were of muscle, blood and hair. One of these samples came out as 100 percent human. A second sample couldn’t be sequenced for technical reasons. Then there was a mixture which turned out to be 97 percent possum with some human [gene sequences] mixed in. [Nelson] thought there was contamination possibly from whoever handled or procured the sample, but he admits there’s no way to really know. This goes back to the lack of a chain of custody or [any knowledge of] how the samples were collected in the first place. I’m guessing that the muscle was possum, and that maybe the hair or blood was [from a] human.
What do you think the impact of this sham will be on the continued investigation of Bigfoot’s existence?
The only positive thing that has come from it is that it has gotten people very interested again in Bigfoot. But this singular event does not necessarily represent the entire issue at hand – the question of the existence of Bigfoot does not pivot on whether the costume or corpse in the freezer turned out to be genuine. So that turns the conversation to legitimate efforts of mine and others to try and find out if there’s anything actually to the Bigfoot [myths].