Dec 202017
 

 

A new article caught my eye the other day.  It was published on the website, Ancient Origins, an online news source for those interested in popular archaeology with a dash of unusual thrown in.  They claim to be the “only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.”  This might be true.  

Thinking this was just another article about the 50th anniversary of the PG Film, I started reading and was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of writing and the perspective taken by the author.  The author briefly acknowledged some of the erroneous scientific views from humanity’s past, went sufficiently deep into the work that has been done on the PG Film, and also explored the inevitable shift in paradigm that would occur if the film was authentic. 

It was at this point I looked at the author’s name:  William Munns. 

Of course.

Bill Munns is the number one expert on the Patterson/Gimlin Film.  He wrote an excellent book about his research on the film entitled When Roger Met Patty.  He is a methodical and scientific researcher who is meticulous with details and has an academic way with words.  

This article is a great primer in the work done on the film.  It’s something you can email to your friends for them to consider.  And with that in mind, friend, check it out!

Why the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot Film Should Concern Scholars of Human Origins

The anthropological sciences occasionally have to deal with something which has a profound but unexpected impact on our understanding of human origins. Two events are noteworthy, in part because both impacted powerfully upon our concept of human evolution, but also because they were diametric opposites. One was a truth first rejected, and the other was a false contrivance embraced as fact. As presented in Roger Levin’s fine text, “Bones of Contention”, the stories of the Piltdown Man and the Taung Child were meaningful because they demonstrated that ultimately the evidence will lead to the truth, but first, one must examine that evidence with an impartial and open mind.

Sadly, they also illustrated that confirmation bias is a serious and formidable obstacle in the search for truth. Piltdown was a fraud, an orangutan jaw mated to a human skull, and it confirmed the bias of expecting that our human ancestor would be an ape-like body affixed to a human cranium, thus affirming that regardless of how primitive the body, the illustrious human mind remained robustly beyond any mere ape. Taung was a truthful hominid fossil, but its rightful place in human origins was rejected for many years because of its small brain. So, when we consider that some evidence with potential impact upon human origins is misunderstood, or suffers in the face of a confirmation bias, the idea has a solid foundation of prior examples demonstrating that exact issue.

Perceptions of “The Bigfoot Film”

Today we have a new subject with the potential to make a profound and unexpected impact upon human origins and the human family tree. And like Piltdown and Taung, there is a legitimate concern that the evidence is not being given a proper and impartial evaluation, with confirmation bias ruling the roost and dissuading the scientific community from a proper consideration of that evidence. That new subject is actually 50 years old, but it is the age of the controversy that actually justifies a new way of thinking about it today. The subject in question is a 16mm motion picture film, taken in the woodlands of Northern California in 1967, famously referred to as the Patterson-Gimlin Film or PGF (in recognition of the two men who were present, one man filming and the other man witnessing the event), but it is informally known as “The Bigfoot Film” (in recognition of the subject figure seen in that film footage).

For 50 years, people have been denouncing this film footage as a fake, yet there is virtually no rigorous and logically structured proof for that conclusion. All that can be found are insinuations, suggestions, unsubstantiated claims, and intellectual bullying to try and cajole people into accepting the claim of hoax as a fact.

But in fact, the more rigorous the analysis, the more we see inconclusive determinations. David Daegling, in his text, “Bigfoot Exposed” analyzed the film and concluded, that at his time of writing, 36 years after the event, no proof of a hoax could be found. More recently, Authors Donald Prothero and Daniel Loxton, in “Abominable Science” could do no better, and their analysis of this film resulted in a meager comparison to an anecdotal bigfoot sighting by a man named William Roe. Their conclusion was that if Roe’s anecdotal account could somehow be proven false, then the PGF might reasonably also be deemed a fake. Given that Roe’s encounter cannot be proven false, this was a subtle but tacit admission that the PGF cannot be proven false either.

 

There is much more to this article!  Click here to read the rest.  

 

More on the Sulawesi Tool Makers

 Anthropology, Asia, Human Ancestors  Comments Off on More on the Sulawesi Tool Makers
Feb 102017
 

Signs of a tsunami? Ancient tools from the island of Sulawesi show that human ancestors island-hopped around Southeast Asia, perhaps illuminating the origins of the ancient tiny humans called hobbits. – Photo by Erick Setiabudi

A new article published in Nature details the latest developments in the study of mysterious stone tools discovered on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.  The makers of these tools remains unknown and is pondered in a previous blog article on this site.  

This discovery is pertinent to the study of bigfoot for several reasons.  First of all, at least three species of unknown hominoids are reported throughout Indonesia.  One fits the description of the orang pendek on Sumatra which can be speculated to be a type of bipedal orangutan.  The other is more manlike, but smaller, and is referred to as the ebu gogo on the island of Flores.  This form is probably a relict form of Homo floresiensis.  The last of the three commonly reported forms fits the description of the North American sasquatch, and is in fact present in the folklore of Sulawesi where the tools were found.  

While it is unlikely that the larger, sasquatch-like form is responsible for these tools, the study of pre-modern humans and our relatives should always be encouraged.  It is within this framework that the sasquatch will eventually be recognized by science.  Though paleoanthropology is a newer science, it will certainly help provide a foundation for the subject of bigfoot and other unknown hominoids in the near future.  

For interested readers, the best book (by far) to detail the possible unknown hominoids found in the folklore of Southeast Asia is Images of the Wildman in Southeast Asia: An Anthropological Perspective by Gregory Forth.  It is detailed, scientific, and open-minded while remaining skeptical.  For any serious student of wildmen in that part of the world, I cannot recommend this book enough.  

 

Archaeologists dug deep in Sulawesi, excavating 10 meters down. Photo by Dida Yurnaldi

Ancient tools may shed light on the mysterious ‘hobbit’

The “hobbit” had neighbors. Back in 2004, researchers announced the discovery of this tiny, ancient human, which apparently hunted dwarf elephants with stone tools on the Indonesian island of Flores 18,000 years ago. Its discoverers called the 1-meter-tall creature Homo floresiensis, but skeptics wondered whether it was just a stunted modern human. In the years since, researchers have debunked many of the “sick hobbit” hypotheses. Yet scientists have continued to wonder where the species came from.

Now, an international team originally led by the hobbit discoverer reports stone tools, dated to 118,000 to 194,000 years ago, from another Indonesian island, Sulawesi, likely made by another archaic human—or possibly by other hobbits. “It shows that on another island we have evidence of a second archaic early human,” says paleoanthropologist Russell Ciochon of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, who was not involved with the work. The discovery makes the original hobbit claim appear more plausible, he says, by suggesting that human ancestors may have island-hopped more often than had been thought.

After international debate over the hobbit’s origins, co-discoverer Michael Morwood—then an archaeologist at the University of Wollongong (UOW) in Australia—set out to search other islands from which the tiny humans may have come. Java—more than 800 kilometers west of Flores but with a chain of islands in between—was already known to be the ancient home of the human ancestor H. erectus, a globe-trotting species that dates as far back as 1.7 million years ago. But Morwood instead set out for Sulawesi, 400 kilometers to the north, because powerful ocean currents sweep southward from this island toward Flores. Researchers had already found some simple stone tools on Sulawesi, but they couldn’t date the artifacts because they were found on the ground rather than buried with datable minerals.  

Click this link to read the rest of the article.

Orangutan Research Predicts What Bigfoot Research Will Look Like

 Animals, Anthropology, Apes, Biology, primates  Comments Off on Orangutan Research Predicts What Bigfoot Research Will Look Like
Jan 172017
 

A male Sumatran orangutan challenges a rival by baring his teeth and shaking branches. Now recognized as a distinct species, Sumatran orangutans number around 14,000 in the wild.

The below article is one of the best short articles I have read in a long time about the trials and tribulations of doing research on orangutans.  While reading it, I was struck by the similarity between what orangutan researchers put up with and what bigfoot field researchers deal with, and what professionals biologists will have to deal with after species recognition.  Long excursions to desolate locations, listening for howls and calls to locate the creatures, and difficulty visually observing the animals are all commonalities while doing field work on these elusive and solitary apes.  

“Sometimes I feel like I’ve chosen the most difficult thing in the world to study,”  
– Cheryl Knott, biological anthropologist

I’m sure it feels like this to Cheryl Knott, but bigfoot research after the species is recognized by science will be even harder.  Like orangutans, sasquatches seem to live mostly solitarly lives, or if they do travel in groups, they do so at a distance from one another.  Orangutans also have large territories and wander widely, but being a terrestrial species rather than the arboreal orangutans, sasquatch range would be much larger, and they would move much faster.  

Keep these challenges in mind as you read the below article.  Also, note the behavioral similarities between sasquatches and orangutans, such as the long calls and pushing down of trees in territorial displays.  Articles like this leave me wondering about what unknown sasquatch behaviors they share with orangutans and the other apes that are waiting to be observed.

Inside the Private Lives of Orangutans

 

Scientists are gaining vital insights into the red apes at a time when they face a precarious future.

Historic Account of a Giant’s Skull in Oregon

 Anthropology, Cultural, History, Native Culture  Comments Off on Historic Account of a Giant’s Skull in Oregon
Aug 122016
 

 

Memaloose Island

Memaloose Island is a small , rocky isle in the Columbia River a few miles east of Hood River which the local Native people used as a burial site for hundreds, if not thousands of years.  Until recent times, the Native Americans of the Columbia River did not bury their dead.  They instead wrapped the corpses in reeds, skins, or other materials and placed them inside canoes or structures at sacred sites, such as this island.  For an interesting history of the island, click this link (there are some pretty unsettling photos, so link-clicker beware!).

I recently received an email from a friend notifying me of an interesting tidbit found in a comment under a photograph of Memaloose Island on the website www.HistoricHoodRiver.com.  The comment is a short account from the recollections of Ira Rowland (1873-1965).  He remembers being on the island a number of times, and vividly recounts his witnessing of Victor Trivett in 1883, when Ira was almost 10 years old.   Click here to visit the page and read the full comment.

The section of this comment that is of interest reads as follows:

“I visited Memaloose lots of times in the old days before the high waters washed away so many relics and people looted so much of the stuff. There was a big skull there that always interested me. I would sure have liked to have seen the man it belonged to when he was alive. My uncle, Green Rowland, measured it. It was thirteen inches from jawbone to jawbone. There was a bullet hole in the forehead, so we always knew how of the giant died.”

Missing, of course, is the skull, any piece of it, or any photos of it.  Also missing is the information telling us what measureing “jawbone to jawbone” means.  It seems that Ira found the skull to be noteworthy in size, so it must have stuck out from the hundreds of other skulls on the island.

The mandible seemed to draw the attention of at least two people, Ira and his uncle, Green.  Without any supporting evidence, there is only a little we can uncover about the possible size of the jaw.  But, with unclear language as our only clue, there are a few ways to think about this mystery.

First, and possibly the most likely, it could be that Ira is not being factual, which is not to say that he was lying (though this possibility exists, too).  Perhaps he was just told that his uncle measured it, or the number was exaggerated.  We don’t know if Ira saw his uncle take the measurement, after all.  We just have to trust that his memory served him well when his account was written down so many years after the event.

Assuming Ira’s story is accurate, we might look at the other possibilities.  Certainly, if the measurement is 13 inches from one mandibular condyle to the other (these are the two points on the jaw bone that are furthest up and back on the jaw where the linear distance between the two would be the greatest), this would be a massive skull.  The average human male has a width of a little under five inches for this measurement.  The giant skull would be 260% larger in this regard.  This jibes well with what few estimates we have for the width of a large sasquatch’s head.  However, Sasquatch skulls would certainly be morphologically different than a human’s in ways other than size, especially at adulthood and of this size.  One would wonder why no other unusual features were mentioned in regards to the shape of the skull or the possible differences in dentation.

A diagram showing the average human measurements.

Another possibility is that Green Rowland took that 13 inch measurement another way.  Perhaps it was the distance from one mandibular condyle around the front of the jaw to the other.  To estimate the spread of the mandibles for comparison purposes, I approximated the jaw into a half circle with the half-circumference of 13 inches.  Using C=2πr with C=26, the radius is 4.14 inches.  Doubling this for the width of the mandible gives us a spread of 8.28 inches, still very large indeed.  In fact, this measurement conforms nicely to just a little over the width of the largest gigantopithecus mandible I have in my collection (a bit worse-for-wear, but the first replica I obtained from Dr. Grover Krantz way back in the 1990s).

Gigantopithecus mandible

Gigantopithecus mandible

Of the two measurements considered above, I think a linear measurement would be the most likely metric taken.  The vertical aspect complicates the half-circumference method, and would probably be inaccurate once obtained anyway.

If we consider Ira Rowland’s recollection of this giant mandible to be true and accurate, what kind of mammal did the mandible come from?  Since Ira mentioned that a skull that went with the mandible, it can be assumed that it was a human, or at least very human-like.  If the skull and mandible came from a human (Homo sapiens), then that was one big dude.  There is no reason to doubt the possibility that a really, really big Native man lived at some point and had his remains interred on the island.  This is the most logical conclusion, though the measurements cast some suspicion on this scenario.  Some readers might opt for an explanation involving the numerous giant skeletons that are rumored to have been found in North America, but which the Smithsonian and other institutions have swept out of our view for some nefarious reason (I find most conspiracy theories tiresome and convenient excuses for a lack of verifiable evidence).  This latter scenario seems the least likely of those put forth here so far.

Another interesting possibility is that these bones might have come from a sasquatch that had been killed.  This is also not a likely possibility, but one that is fun to consider.  Could it be that at some point a bigfoot was shot in the head and killed, only to have its body given the funeral rites of any other Native American person at the time?  After all, a common traditional Native view of sasquatches is that they are just another tribe of people living alongside their human cousins.  It seems possible that a dead sasquatch would be treated with the reverence and respect offered to any other person and left on Memaloose Island with the other dead.  The rest of the hypothetical bigfoot’s remains would be lost in the jumble of bones that was present on the island back in the 19th Century.  They simply wouldn’t stand out like a skull would.

While the discussion above is a fun mental exercise, it is of little importance.  Without the mandible in question to examine, let alone a sasquatch mandible to compare it to, any conclusions are speculations at best, and utterly meaningless at worst (though I don’t really see this as a bad thing).  All we can say with any certainty is that even if the report is true and accurate, and if that mandible came from a sasquatch, then another opportunity to bring in a substantial part of a sasquatch slipped though history’s fingers.

Still, I have to wonder…  If this tale is true, where is the skull?

For another story about a possible sasquatch skull and another missed opportunity, click here.