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Life sciences/Organismal biology/Animals

Bigfoot and the Yeti are often characterized like the Loch Ness Monster and unicorns as mythical creatures. But there is the possibility that another primate species exists who shares part of our evolutionary heritage and walks on two feet. Most likely, such animals would be large, hairy, and not very friendly to humans. Sasquatch faces lots of skepticism, and the evidence supporting its existence is often disputed. But there are legitimate scientists who believe in these creatures and are trying to convince the scientific community to take them seriously.

AAAS Member Jeff Meldrum, professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University at Pocatello, specializes in primate bipedalism. He has spent his life researching the evolution of human movement on two feet, and has long been fascinated by the possibility that we have an evolutionary relative who shares this trait.

Several years ago, he found fresh Sasquatch tracks in the Blue Mountains of the northwestern United States, and his passion for the science behind these creatures grew. In his book, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science, he looks at the science behind Sasquatch and gathers scientific evidence to support the existence of this possible human evolutionary relative. In this podcast, he reads a section of his book recounting his discovery of several Sasquatch tracks and his initial skepticism about their validity.

When asked what has surprised them most during their careers investigating lead poisoning in the United States and beyond, experts at the AAAS annual meeting echoed the same sentiment: the misconception that we’ve gotten rid of it.

While efforts to reduce the blood lead levels in children in the United States have been largely successful with the elimination of leaded gasoline and restrictions on lead paint, lead pollution internationally remains a pressing issue.

Researchers have identified a system of three genes that are responsible for hybrid sterility in rice, or the inability of many hybrid rice species to pass their genes on to the next generation. Their findings suggest one way that hybrid sterility is maintained across rice species, and they might also lead to the genetic improvement of rice as a food stock.

Many different species of plants and animals have been moving higher in elevation and farther away from the equator to escape the Earth’s warming climate. Now, new research shows that this phenomenon is occurring at much faster rates than previously realized.