Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 19th, 2010
Are Bigfoot/Sasquatch humans? Hominids? Hominoids? In my Bigfoot!: The True Story of Apes in America, (NY: Paraview Pocket-Simon and Schuster, 2003), the second most popular chapter is the final one. (Yes, the chapter “Sex and the Single Sasquatch” still gets the most comment.) In the last chapter, I look at whether Bigfoot is an ape or a human. Of course, the lines have become confused in recent years. Humans are naked apes and all that.
An authority making an appearance in that chapter of mine is biologist Morris Goodman, who several years ago came up with a controversial proposal that chimpanzees and bonobos be reclassified from the genus Pan into the genus Homo.
In 1962, Dr. Goodman’s assertion that chimpanzees and gorillas are genetically more closely related to humans than to other apes, and thus should be placed in family Hominidae rather than Pongidae, sparked debate. However, his research based on molecular evidence has since been generally accepted, including a later discovery from DNA sequences that chimpanzees and humans are more closely related to each other than either is to gorillas or other apes.
Now, the esteemed evolutionary biologist and anthropologist Morris Goodman has passed away. Morris Goodman, Ph.D., distinguished professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology, and a member of the Wayne State University School of Medicine, died November 14, 2010. He was 85.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on January 12, 1925, Goodman attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, before enlisting in the United States Air Force in 1943. Returning to Wisconsin, he earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in zoology. After a series of postdoctoral appointments, in 1958 he took a position at Wayne State University, where he remained for fifty-two years. In the late 1950s, he became interested in evolution, and swiftly became a pioneer in molecular systematics, especially as applied to primates.
Goodman was a Distinguished Professor at the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics at Wayne State University School of Medicine, editor-in-chief of the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, and a member of the anthropology section of the United States National Academy of Sciences.
His honors included election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences and in 2002, Dr. Goodman received the Charles R. Darwin Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.