One more Bigfoot hoax went down in history this week.
Two men in Georgia claimed they had found the legendary creature's body last month. But amateur Bigfoot hunter Tom Biscardi realized it was a rubber gorilla suit filled with animal guts and encased in ice when he discovered that the hair on the body melted under heat. Unfortunately, Biscardi had already paid an undisclosed sum of money for it.
A former police officer and a former prison guard in Georgia 'fessed up to the fake find.
Cryptozoologists, people who study unknown animal species, are no strangers to a good Sasquatch hoodwinking. But Jeffrey Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and biological sciences at Idaho State University and author of Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science, doesn't think such pranks should deter academic research on Bigfoot.
"I think it's irresponsible of the scientific community to just turn their nose up at this because of its past association as a tabloid subject," Meldrum tells NPR's Scott Simon.
Meldrum researches the evolution of human locomotion and bipedalism, and that work sometimes leads him to study the possibility of things that go bump in the night. His specialty: animal tracks.
"And I don't mean somebody with crude, carved wooden feet strapped to their boots, tromping around in the mud," Meldrum said. Over the years, he's found dozens of tracks he believes may be evidence of Sasquatch, complete with tension cracks, signs of dragging and movement of the toes.
He says it would have been extremely hard for hoaxers to have created the tracks. "There just aren't that many people out there with the understanding of the subtleties of anatomy and kinematics of the human foot," Meldrum says.
So if Sasquatch, or Bigfoot or the illusive Yeti is roaming the great unknown, why haven't government satellites or infrared cameras found the creature?
Meldrum says the dense coniferous forest canopies of the Western United States render those technologies ineffective. "It's not a matter of, well, if we, if the government just turned the satellite to look for it, we'd be able to pick it out." The best strategy for Meldrum and his team at Idaho State is still wearing out their boot leather.
While he isn't ready to say that Bigfoot actually exists, he says the tracks are part of a growing body of evidence that something may be out there. For now, Meldrum says he's just one guy looking for a missing link in the larger order or, as he puts it, that "interesting and mysterious phenomenon."