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Anthropologist Sighting!

February 1, 2011

Anthropologist sighted in popular media!

And it’s not Bones!

Actually, I’ve been going through the old X-Files episodes, and I’ve started with the first season. This also significantly augments my nerdiness level.

That's right.

Way back in the golden age of monster-of-the-week TV (AKA 1993) the X-Files series produced an episode called “The Jersey Devil”, where Mulder and Scully find themselves in an unofficial investigation into some spooky deaths in which the victims appear to have been cannibalized, that is, consumed by some humanoid! Their investigation is hindered by the actions of the local law enforcement, as these murders have been happening near Atlantic City (which I’m told is a smaller Las Vegas knockoff). The idea is that the city doesn’t want anyone to hear about these deaths, because they need to keep making money.

Anyway, during their investigation, they enlist the help of a forest service ranger, and a biological anthropologist!

Eventually they catch and kill the creature that has been committing these crimes, but it turns out that the ape-man is neither an ape nor a man! It is a feral woman! After thorough research on microfiche at the local FBI basement, they realize that the creatures could be offspring from earlier Jersey Devils!

In the end, however, it turns out that the creatures are physically completely human, although appear to be cannibals. The episode ends with a young girl with lots of leaves in her hair hiding from hikers, presumably continuing the story of the Jersey Devil.

Feral Phenomena

One thing that the X-Files did really well, I feel, was to acquire subject material for their episodes from a wide variety of sources, including the phenomenon of feral children. Feral children are those children that supposedly spent significant time in their early childhood out of touch with humans, either managing to subsist on their own, or (as is more popular with the media) they are raised by wild animals.

Examples of this in literature include Tarzan, Mowgli, and Romulus and Remus.

One reason this phenomenon is so fascinating has to do with the idea that there is a critical period in early childhood where people learn language. Most documented cases of feral children show that it is quite difficult to teach these people how to speak. Many of them merely imitate the creatures they’ve been most exposed to, in the case of Natasha, a girl found in Russia, who had only been exposed to dogs and cats.

Back to the Anthropologist!

The anthropologist doesn’t feature particularly heavily in the episode, but he does talk about humans as a top predator, and provides them with a map of the spread of humans out from Africa. He also accompanies them to the lair of the beast, and tries to help them track it down.

These are some shots from the episode. Totally awesome!

Jersey Devil!

The jersey devil likes Mulder...

"leaves in hair, dirt on face, yup, it's a vicious monster alright! kill it!"

And finally, Gregory Sierra as the anthropologist:

You can tell because of his glasses


One Comment leave one →
  1. Paul Lotz permalink
    February 1, 2011 8:33 pm

    C, you are such a talented writer, you know….

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