Posted by: Guy Edwards on June 3rd, 2014
“…in Russia the term [Yeti] is used quite generically for the Russian Wild Man and that entity or entities may take on more than one identity, in my opinion.” –Dr. Jeff Meldrum
Dr. Jeff Meldrum sat down with me, Guy Edwards, editor of Bigfoot Lunch Club to discuss the two-hour Russian yeti special that aired on the Discovery Channel. Below are the highlights from part one and part two of the Dr. Meldrum Russian Yeti Interviews
Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives chronicled American explorer Mike Libecki as he investigated why nine college students hiked up the icy slopes of the Ural Mountains in the heart of Russia but never made it out alive. The students’ bodies were found scattered across the campsite in three distinct groups, some partially naked and with strange injuries including crushed ribs, a fractured skull, and one hiker mutilated with her eyes gouged out and tongue removed. Our first questions to Dr. Meldrum begins with defining the Russian yeti.
GE: First off I just want to say I’m a big fan of your Legend Meets Science, I think that’s a staple in every cryptozoology library and I also like your Sasquatch Field Guide that you have out, that’s one of the best things since sliced bread for bigfooters.
JM: Well good, I appreciate that too.
GE: So I want to get a couple things defined regarding the difference between bigfoot and yeti. So these are, are these the same creatures adapted to different climates or are the differences more distinct?
JM: Well, one has to first clarify what you’re referring to when you use the term yeti, because in Asia for example, in Russia the term is used quite generically for the Russian Wild Man and that entity or entities may take on more than one identity, in my opinion. There’s very interesting evidence suggests that there’s a creature much more human like than what we, at least what I, attribute to the North American Sasquatch. This creature is described as being man-sized but yet covered with hair often with differentiated head hair, frequently described as utilizing tools stone tools in fact not just opportunist brandishing sticks and such. And Even interacts with the locals in a much different way as more complex social structure larger groups of individuals, and sometimes trying to interact trying to trade, even to communicate with the local inhabitant who simply consider them to be sort of backwards people that live up in the mountain. Their foot prints from my perspectives are quite interesting in that they are much more human like, they have an arch, that they are very broad very splayed, a foot that suggest a much more robust skeleton not just someone whose gone without shoes but much more robust skeleton, so in part of that basis of description and foot print characteristics I would suggest that this is a relict Neanderthal or an affiliated species maybe like the Denisovans.
GE: Wow, so this would be totally different than the yeti that Sanderson had looked for or what Thom Slick had funded during his expeditions.
JM: Right, right so the yeti to us, to most Americans, if you use the term yeti that invokes the notion of something in the Himalayas and what evidence exists for a species in the Himalayas at least in the high valleys of the mountain passes where the footprints have historically been found by mountaineers and attributed by the sherpas to yeti. It appears to be a creature that is much more ape like, again about man sized heavy stocky but the best footprint evidence we have suggests a foot that has a divergent big toe in much more ape like fashion than a hominid or human like fashion. So now the picture again gets a little bit more complicated or interesting because when Josh Gates the host of Destination Truth went up into the Himalayas while they were scouting about at some of the lower elevations some of the forests or the foothill they had reportedly had an encounter, heard something splash through the creek and run out across a sandy gravel bar and left a string of footprints which he made several casts of one was a very complete foot print which he brought to the laboratory here and I had the chance to look at and I was able to immediately able to walk over to one of my drawers and pull out a Sasquatch track that was almost identically to it.
JM: One that came from the blue mountains up by Walla Walla Washington. So there is the possibility there is also in the foothills of the Himalayas and extending into some of the areas where this Neanderthal has been described, one of the hot spots if you will, has been the Caucasus Mountains spanning between the black and cascades season. It has been produced through the efforts of people like Mary Jane Coffman a number of very good and well documented examples of Neanderthal like footprints or sub human or I should say archaic human footprint. But also in my recent trip to Russia which was quite interesting I linked up with an investigator by the name of Dimitry (???) one of the most interesting aspects of that trip we were following up on the report of a long line of tracks that had been witness by many people in the local village and these were 16” tracks that were again indistinguishable from Sasquatch tracks but quite different the little you know 9 to 11 inch very human like arched footprint that have been more attributed to the more Neanderthal-style Russian Wild Man. So it’s not just, in fact I was happy to hear that you really liked the field guide I’m in the process of writing another field guide that addresses this very issue; the notion that there could be multiple relic hominoids species, some more man like the Russian Wild Man or some more ape like the North American Sasquatch but which has apparently the equivalence scattered across eastern and southern Asia.
In part two of the Dr. Meldrum Russian Yeti interview we discuss the likeliness of a Sasquatch or Yeti, being as aggressive as the Discovery special suggests.
GE: So on Sunday June 1st Russian Yeti The Killer Lives airs on the Discovery Channel, can you tell us a little bit about your involvement in that show is?
JM: Right, yeah well it was primarily from my spear of experience and expertise you know that the antidote or the incident described that did the basis for that title, which I had nothing to do with I’ll give a disclaimer right now, is an intriguing one and I was curious to discover that there is quite a cult of a following of this particular story and the various theories to what might have accounted for the outcome and you know the link to the Russian Yeti or Wild Man is a tenuous one at best but it is an intriguing one and you know it does raise this question of do these creatures pose any threat to modern humans when they venture out away from civilization into the wilderness you know there’s always the questions that’s raised about sasquatch and its behavior whether it is a threat whether it is antagonistic or predatory on people and a lot of discussion has been has ensued around that we have antidotal evidence some of the classic stories like that Bauman incident shared with Teddy Roosevelt.
JM: Ape canyon incident in both of those particularized incidences the key element that is often overlooked or downplayed is the antagonism that humans directed towards the alleged creatures initially.
GE: Absolutely, especially in the ape canyon incident where they were shot at.
JM: Exactly and they thought they hit and even a dispatched one that had crumbled over the precipice of the canyon and likewise with Bauman they fired at a tall silhouette in their camp at night which screamed and ran off. It was only then that the mayhem ensued. So it raises an interesting question what is the relationship if any or did the Native Americans have traditions about child abduction or of abduction of women or men as well, hunters going missing for example and it raises that question of do these pose any threat to humans or are they simply the gentle giants as are gorillas perceived and even gorillas when antagonized when defending their troop will certainly be aggressive and antagonistic in return so I don’t think that behavior would be extraordinary or out of character for a large primate.