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.

 

 

 

Oct 012013
 
Comparison of the skeletons of three bipedal mammals:
an Egyptian jerboa, an eastern gray kangaroo and a human.
(Credit: Image courtesy of University of Texas at Austin)

This sounds like a no-brainer, but the scientific debate has lingered for almost 90 years.  Finally, the relationship between the foramen magnum (the hole at the base of your skull through which the brain stem transmits) and bipedalism has been proven beyond doubt.

This is important to us bigfooters in regards to future cranial discoveries of apes, and particularly hominids and our ancestors.  As we learn more about bigfoots, humans, and our relationship on the primate family tree, we need to know where the big hairy guys belong.  Are they hominids?  Are they Silvapithecus offshoots?  Are they something else entirely?  Only by learning about our ancestors can we shed any light onto these mysteries.  Certainly, chief among the concerns about possible ancestory would be bipedalism.

Anthropologists Confirm Link Between Cranial Anatomy and Two-Legged Walking
Sep. 26, 2013 — Anthropology researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have confirmed a direct link between upright two-legged (bipedal) walking and the position of the foramen magnum, a hole in the base of the skull that transmits the spinal cord.

Apr 202013
 
Regional Accent of humans map by William Labov

One commonly-used field technique for bigfooting is call blasting.  Back in the late 1990’s and 2000’s, this was usually done with loudspeakers and amplifiers hooked up to CD players.  The most common calls used were the Tahoe Scream (there is no public source for this recording) and the Ohio Howl.

While John Frietas is often recognized as the godfather of call blasting, it was Roger Patterson himself that tried this method first to my knowledge.  He not only recreated bigfoot sounds by yelling into church bells (to add resonance), but he also blasted calls off of a tower on a property in Tampico, WA.

Call blasting sounds purportedly made by bigfoots brings a number of questions with it.  First of all, how does one know the sounds are bigfoot sounds unless somebody saw the creature make the noise?  Even if the recordings are in fact bigfoot sounds, what are the bigfoots saying?  After all, they could be saying, “Stay away!  There’s a human here!”

One interesting question that has arisen is if bigfoots have regional accents.  Would a Southern bigfoot (possibly with a drawl?) answer or ignore one of its Yankee brethren?  Would a Midwest bigfoot shun or welcome a Canadian sasquatch’s greeting?  I would hope that bigfoots would be above stereotyping based on accents…

I ran across this article that brings to light a precedence of regional accents in primates.  Sure, these are gibbons and not bigfoots, but if one ape species has this characteristic, perhaps others do.  After all, humans have accents…

Enjoy the article:
Apes Found to Have Regional Accents
by Jake Richardson

A group of researchers has discovered that crested gibbon apes have regional accents. The scientists studied the singing of over 400 crested gibbons in 24 different locations in Asia.

The gibbons studied live in the rainforests of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China. “Each gibbon has its own variable song but, much like people, there is a regional similarity between gibbons within the same location,” said lead researcher Van Ngoc Thinh. (Source: UPI.com) (Their study was published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.)

Gibbon songs are made to travel over long distances in thickly vegetated areas by having a single frequency. It was found the songs that were most similar came from species that genetically were very closely related. Identifying gibbons by their songs is easier than by genetics because obtaining physical samples is difficult, whereas the songs are constantly being emitted and can be heard from some distance. Also, the songs can help identify where the gibbons are from, sort of like regional accents for humans.

Apr 182013
 

Anytime I hear about apes doing things that only humans are supposed to do, it catches my attention. Clearly the reason is my interest in sasquatches, and my quest to understand them more than I do now (a life-long quest that will never be completed, I’m sure).

I’ve always thought that the debate about whether bigfoots are apes or humans is not a worthy argument to engage in. Humans are apes. Special apes, I admit, but apes nonetheless. In fact, all the apes are special in my mind, and bigfoots are included in that assessment. The question should be how human-like are bigfoots. I suspect they are very much like humans, probably far more so than most folks would be comfortable with.

But I digress…

I saw this article about a particular bonobo that figured out how to use fire for cooking. I found that interesting, but the last few paragraphs of the article are the ones that really made me want to post it to the blog. Here are some of those paragraphs:

“This isn’t the first time apes have displayed uniquely human behavior. The report “Spontaneous Prosocial Choice By Chimpanzees,” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the primates are as cooperative as humans, especially when their partners are patient with them.

“For me, the most important finding is that like us, chimpanzees take into account the needs and wishes of others,” researcher Dr. Victoria Horner told LiveScience following the study.

Previous studies have also found that monkeys can doubt themselves, and even show disappointment and regret.

I am always interested in the ever-fading division between what constitutes “human” behavior, and what is solely ape behavior.

Here is the beginning of that article:

Kanzi The Bonobo Can Start A Fire, Cook His Own Food

Anyone who’s ever seen “Planet of the Apes” or the recent “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” knows this is exactly how it starts. And it’s all downhill from here.


Kanzi, a fun-loving male bonobo, has figured out how to cook his food with fire, the Daily Mail reports.

Bonobos are also known as pygmy or dwarf chimpanzees, and listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List due in large part to poaching.

According to the Daily Mail report, this is the first time a bonobo ape has developed this skill, which Dr Savage-Rumbaugh, of the Great Ape Trust, links to early human development.

“When humans learned to control fire and to domesticate dogs we began to feel a new level of safety which freed us to become creative and to create more sophisticated cultures,” Savage-Rumbaugh told the Daily Mail.

Kanzi’s skills have also transcended food groups: not only can he cook hamburgers in a pan over the fire, but he can roast marshmallows at the end of a stick, too.

Read the rest of the article by clicking this link.

Mar 112013
 

I recently received an email from a man who lives in Norway.  He told me a little about what the Northern Norwegian Sami traditions call a bigfoot-like creature in their area.  This creature is reportedly called a “stollo,” with this name being specific to the area and the Sami people.  Similar creatures in Norway are described elsewhere by more common names such as trolls and the like.

The rock pictured above is supposed to be the size of one of these stollos, and is a location where the local people would make sacrifices to appease these creatures.  The photo, along with a description in Norwegian, can be found by clicking this link.

The description next to the photograph on the above web page was translated by using Google Translate as follows:

Ogre was a stone to honor the Gods Sacrifice Stone – ogre was anciently used as a place of sacrifice, and it was used until the 1800s. The legend says that it’s bad luck to tear it. It further states that one should not speak ill of it otherwise it may go bad. You should also politely greet the stone as you pass it to show respect. Ogre (cliff) is in Kvalsundet, on Highway 94, between Hammerfest and Kvalsund and watches over the travelers through Kvalsund.

I find it so interesting that cultures from around the world have creatures that could very well be sasquatches.  It gives strong indication that bigfoots, or something much like them, once wandered on nearly every continent, though now the only signs of them in some regions are found cultural memories and traditions.

A Norwegian bigfoot?  Seems possible.

Mar 082013
 

While watching this, remove the gorilla and insert a sasquatch.  Is this level of interaction with a bigfoot possible?  Could it be that extended video of this quality could remove the need of a type specimen (a dead one) to prove the species?  I think it’s at least possible, and certainly worth a try.

People claim to have achieved this level of interaction with bigfoots, but so far these stories are just that: stories.  I suggest that to avoid the killing of a bigfoot, people who say they have this level of interaction should produce video of this quality or better.

I’m not saying, “Put up or shut up.”  I’m saying that we should do this for them, the big guys.  There are already several groups actively pursuing the killing of a specimen.  One will eventually be successful.  Can those who take a more compassionate stance beat them to the punch?

Bigfoots are real.  The “discovery” of the species is inevitable.  Can we avoid killing one to prove they are real?  Not unless we try.

Apr 232011
 

Associate professor of Anatomy, and friend of the ‘squatch, Dr. Jeff Meldrum is the preeminent scientist in the field of bigfooting today.  He has boldly put his academic reputation on the line by investigating the sasquatch mystery, but has cautiously supported his claims and findings with an unerring devotion to data and the scientific method.  One of his specializations is bipedal locomotion in hominids, and the evolution that led up to it (check out his pricey, but excellent book, From Biped to Strider).  This, combined with his long-time interest in sasquatches, makes him the perfect candidate to carry the torch that Dr. Grover Krantz lit and carried for so long.

Cliff Barackman and Dr. Jeff Meldrum
April, 2011

Dr. Meldrum is best known in Bigfootland for his analysis of sasquatch footprints, as would be expected by his academic qualifications.  Meldrum inherited the majority of Dr. Krantz’s footprint casts when he passed away in 2002, and the collection has now grown to number over 200 specimens.

For several years, Dr. Meldrum has been working on a project called the Virtual Footprint Archive (VFA).  The VFA is an online collection of over 100 digital scans of footprint casts that can be turned and manipulated in virtual space by any user.  The public database is of lower resolution than a private archive that will eventually be available by invitation only, but it is still intensely interesting to cast nerds like myself.

The following three scans are screen grabs from the VFA.  Each depicts the same cast, but from a different angle.  The cast shown is from the Freeman collection and was collected in 1984 from Table Springs deep in the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington.  The individual is commonly known as “Wrinkle Foot,” a name coined by the late Dr. Grover Krantz.

Table Springs, 1984
“Wrinkle Foot,”
Front view.
The same cast viewed from
the heel area.
The same cast from the toes.  Note
the “mushroom effect” on the small digit
nearest the bottom of the scan.

The VFA is a little hard to navigate at this point.  There are no thumbnails of the casts, and they are only listed by a number.  Also, the version of Flash that is used seems to be an older version than the one my computer is running.  This means that to view a cast, I have to grant permission to run the older Flash for each new page I open up.  It’s a little clumsy, but well worth it to see this project finally come to some level of fruition.  Dr. Meldrum gave permission for me to share the VFA with my readers, so please drop by and enjoy.

Jan 092011
 

Whenever an article is published about human ancestors, I always read it with my bigfoot goggles on, meaning  that I look for connections to sasquatches. I strongly suspect that bigfoots are humans’ closest living relatives (although I leave plenty of room for other hypothetical species of bigfoot-like critters from other parts of the world), and if this is true it makes sense that we can learn about sasquatches by learning about humans.

Right now, bonobos and chimps hold the title of our closest cousins.  Since chimpanzees and humans share nearly 96% of their DNA sequence, it should be expected that sasquatches would be right in that ballpark too, if not even closer in relation.

The following article caught my eye, not only because of the human ancestor connection, but also because it mentions cross-breeding.  The anthropological community (which you are a part of if you’re interested in apes, humans, sasquatches, and the connections between them) will be hearing a lot more about cross-breeding in the coming years, so start brushing up on it now.

A molar tooth of a Denisova, a group of early humans
who lived in central Asia about 40,000 years ago.



NEANDERTHAL RELATIVE
BRED WITH HUMANS

A previously unknown Siberian group, the Denisovans,
left fingerprints in some humans’ DNA.

Content provided by Laura Sanders, Science News



Neanderthals need to make room for a new kid sister in the early human family.  


By sequencing the full genome of a girl’s fossil finger bone found in a Siberian cave, researchers conclude that there must have been a closely related sister group of Neanderthals living in central Asia about 40,000 years ago. The data also show that, like Neanderthals, the mysterious group interbred with modern humans, in this case leaving behind a genetic fingerprint in modern-day Melanesians of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville Island, nearly 10,000 kilometers (6,213 miles) from where the fossil was found.


The new genetic information, reported Dec. 23 in Nature, underscores the fluidity of human evolution and hints that even more groups are waiting to be uncovered [emphasis added by Cliff], says paleoanthropologist Milford Wolpoff of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “We’re just scraping the outside of what’s probably a much more complex picture.”


Read the rest of the article here.