Is science fair?

by M.K.Davis

I recently spoke briefly with Linda Moulton Howe about the subject of Bigfoot. She seemed rather put out that Dr.Jeff Meldrum had not gotten a fair shake from his colleagues in the scientific arena. As I listened politely, I wondered if she really knew Jeff that well? I think that sometimes people in the paranormal world have come to expect a certain behavior from science and have so mentally prepared themselves for it that they may not realize it when legitimate challenges to ideas and notions have been presented. Not all scientists are out to get you if you believe something non traditional. There cannot be two sets of truth. Either something is...or is not...true! When someone draws the ire of their collegues, it may have nothing to do with some prejudgemental attitude of the folks there at the university in Idaho. It's just that science is a highly regimented process, and sometimes people in the field resent it when someone does not follow such. The mid-tarsal break for instance. As far as I know, there was only one print in the entire trackway at the Patterson film site that might have been an example of such. Is it scientific to ignore a hundred flat tracks, and attribute a previously unknown characteristic to an unrecognized species, based on that one and only track...ignoring the 99 other tracks that might say otherwise. The answer is no. It might be what is going on INSIDE a person, that is most resented, and compels them to preempt the scientific process that they have trained in for much of their life. It is not unusual for a person with expertise, to challenge a largely unsubstantiated claim. Such was the case when a professional podiatrist challenged Dr.Meldrum on the mid-tarsal break issue. This is what Dr.Eisner had to say:
Dr. Richard Eisner
Board Certified Podiatric Physician
Bipedal Primate Foot and Ankle Physician

Question: What is the anatomy of a Sasquatch foot and how does it function?

Before I begin, let me explain a few things about myself

First, I am literally, on the fence, as far as believing that this species exists. The evidence I have seen is rather sketchy, so far, my opinion. I know there are others who disagree. Over the past 17 months, I have been listening to, and participating in, several Blog Talk Radio shows on the subject. I have read Dr. Jeffery Meldrum's book, Sasquatch, Legend Meets Science and Chris Murphy's book, Meet the Sasquatch. Make no mistake about it, I am not a researcher in this field. I am probably categorized as an observer. I find the subject interesting, because of the importance of the human foot relative to the evolution of our species. I have come to know many prominent and respected individuals in the field and have learned how serious they are about this question. Having said that, I do believe that this species could exist. I have been asked by many, to keep an open mind on this subject, and I promise I will. Okay, end of confession.

A little bit about me, and my credentials, I am a Board Certified Podiatric Physician with 30 years of experience. Specifically, I am board certified in Podiatric Orthopedics. This is the study of lower extremity biomechanics. I have spent my career treating pathology related to foot structure and function. Okay, so here's my theory.

Assuming, that this animal exists. And, assuming, that the animal in the Patterson-Gimlin film is representative of that species. And, assuming, the MK Davis enhancements have not altered the data significantly. Finally, assuming this species walks in a manner, essentially identical to humans, based on what is seen in the Patterson-Gimlin film. I will give you my opinion on this animal's method of locomotion, probable foot anatomy and function. You will note that it deviates significantly from current theories, specifically that of Dr. Jeffery Meldrum. Below, I will give you a list of truths held by certain individuals and my explanation as to why I feel these truths are incorrect or misinterpreted.

1. The subject in the film has a compliant gate. I agree, but here is where my opinion differs from many of the researchers. This compliant gate is not unique to that species. Human beings can, and do, demonstrate a compliant gate. This is a normal variant of normal human gait. It is not well known by laypeople, that the human gait has many variations. You can prove this to yourself. Simply go to a local mall and watch people walk. You'd be surprised at the variations of gait you'll see. In fact, I actually have a compliant gate myself, slightly different than the subject on the film, but a compliant gate nonetheless. Following along these lines of logic, my conclusion is, this species walks essentially identical to humans. Thus, this species probably has essentially the same lower extremity anatomy and function as humans. Being an expert in human foot function, I am simply applying my expertise to apply to this other bipedal primate.
2. The subject on the film has a flat appearing foot. I agree. I am not speaking of its actual functioning, only its appearance. It is impossible to determine the functioning of the foot from this film, due to its low quality. Enhancements to the film do not provide enough information to analyze the foot function, in my opinion. Let's assume the subject in the film has a flat appearing foot. A foot does not actually have to function as a flatfoot to leave flat footprints or appear flat when observing it during a gait cycle while the foot is in the swing phase. The reasons for a flat appearing foot can be explained very simply. Being a large heavy animal, it would be very normal for this foot to have a rather thick fat pad. This would give the foot and appearance of being flat. For example, the larger a human is, the thicker their fat pad is. I have observed this firsthand. Also, since this species spends a great deal of its time outdoors in cold weather, an exceptionally thick fat pad would be of benefit for insulation against cold and protection from injury.
3. The Patterson -Gimlin film allows meaningful evaluation of foot motion. The detail is not evident based on the angle of the subject to the camera, as well as, quality of the film. Dr. Jeffery Meldrum seems to see a midtarsal break during ambulation in the film, as he stated in his book. I don't see how that is possible to observe this due to the poor quality of the film, the position of the subject relative to the camera and the amount of time the foot is visible.
4. The midtarsal ridge, found in some footprints, is a direct result of anatomy, a midtarsal break. In my opinion, the midtarsal ridge is not result of foot anatomy, as stated in Dr. Jeffery Meldrum's book, but merely a function of substrate. You can try this yourself by walking in the sand, or dirt, barefoot. Depending on the consistency and the amount of moisture in the substrate, you can create a midtarsal ridge identical to that found in the Sasquatch footprints which demonstrate the ridge. Also, in my opinion, the midtarsal break in the Sasquatch foot structure, as postulated by Dr. Jeffery Meldrum, would not impart to the species an evolutionary advantage, rather the contrary is true. Let's look at the only other bipedal primate in existence. Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens who have feet which collapse in the middle, (function with a midtarsal break) are actually cripples and have great difficulty simply walking. I spend a great deal of my time treating these individuals in my practice. I would not expect natural selection to allow for development of a bipedal primate with this foot structure. It would be a huge disadvantage to have this foot structure when you are a bipedal primate. You would have extreme difficulty walking and would probably end up being eaten by the local carnivore, since you are very easy to catch. And, you would not pass your genes on to future generations and your inefficient foot structure would die out with you. Chimpanzees do have a midtarsal break. Chimpanzees are not bipedal. They walk in a bipedal fashion on occasion, but they do not use this form of locomotion regularly or to escape predation. They walk using their arms as crutches, it's called knuckle walking. Observe one of your fellow humans walking with crutches. They walk like chimps, who use their arms, as we use crutches.
5. The toes of the species are longer than that of humans, based on the footprints. This is quite an assumption. You certainly cannot see the phalanges in these footprints. You can see imprints of the toe pad, but not the actual phalanges themselves. As far as I'm concerned, having seen my fair share of feet, the Sasquatch footprints demonstrate toes and general foot structure identical to that of humans. I see no difference. In my opinion, the information some researchers feel they can obtain from the footprints is not justifiable. As an example, some researchers feel they can tell where various joints are, based on the footprints. I feel that is not credible. For example, you can look directly at a human foot and you truly cannot tell where the various joints are. The fat pad is quite thick and does not reveal the location of any of the joints in the foot. The exact same is true when looking at an impression of a foot in the ground. Also, the foot is in motion and changing its contours during the contact phase of gait. The bones and the joints are moving in three dimensional space during that time. Hence, a footprint is essentially a form of a smudge in the ground. When the heel hits the ground, the forces are traveling first in a forward direction, then directly down into the ground and finally the forces are pushing backwards. The same is true when the good foot and finally the forefoot contact the surface. There is so much motion from changes in force and direction, that attempting to identify any anatomical structures in a footprint with any type of accuracy would be sketchy at best, except when analyzing the foot relative to its position just prior to leaving the substrate. You essentially need an x-ray, if you are to examine the bones and joints themselves, to gain any meaningful and truly accurate information.
6. This species foot demonstrates an elongated heel. I'm assuming this is based on the appearance of the heel in the film or extrapolation from footprints. As I stated earlier, the quality of the film does not allow a meaningful evaluation of the foot structure. The footprints do not provide this information either, as stated above. In my opinion, there simply is no credible evidence to support the elongated heel structure purported by some.

So my theory is that the Sasquatch foot structure, and function is essentially no different from the Homo sapien foot structure and function. What other logic would lead me to believe this?

Why would this species evolve a foot structure so similar to ours, and not a foot with a functioning midtarsal break? If you look at the footprints, you'll see that the (hallux) big toe is adjacent to the second toe, as in humans. This would indicate the same arch structure as in humans and thus, no midtarsal break. The big toe, is not coming out from the side of the foot, (divergent) as in chimpanzees. The Sasquatch has an arch no different than humans. This is confirmed by the vast majority of purported Sasquatch footprints. These footprints demonstrate a big toe located next to the second toe, in exactly the same position as a human foot. This anatomical position in structure can only be consistent with the formation of an arch. As my anatomy professor once told us, Form Follows Function. As it turns out, the front two thirds of the human arch is actually comprised of the first midtarsal. In the Sasquatch foot and the human foot, the first metatarsal aligns with the big toe (unless you have a bunion deformity). So, if the big toe, and hence the first metatarsal, are aligned with the second toe and second metatarsal, that foot has an arch, form follows function. If the foot has an arch, it will not have a midtarsal break, form follows function. The midtarsal break, only exists in feet of lower (non-bipedal) primates, which have a divergent first metatarsal, form follows function.

In conclusion, I simply feel that Dr. Jeffery Meldrum's theory is incorrect and also not supported by the data. He and I look at bipedal locomotion from totally different perspectives and have drawn different conclusions. We have both demonstrated theories we feel are valid. You be the judge.

There is one phrase I hear repeated by Bigfoot researchers, and I agree with it. Keep an open mind.


Bipedal Primate Foot and Ankle Physician

Now I Dr.Eisner being unfair to Dr.Meldrum?
When a person has been in this business for a while, a few lessons are learned, and sometimes the hard way. Some people will use information... sometimes skew information... and sometimes lie out right... in order to ride a vehicle such as the Patterson film, to fame. When someone objects...the same ruthless nature that compelled them to do such in the first place makes them cry foul. Here's two men of science with all their professional weight behind their conclusions. Both claim validity. My question is...which one is at all the conferences? Which one stays home? What is fair? You might be surprised where the mid tarsal idea REALLY came from, but that is for another post. M.K.Davis


Posted on Apr 22, 2011, 4:47 PM
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