The Hunt For Bigfoot Gets Serious

The Hunt For Bigfoot Gets Serious

May 22


By Jeanna Bryner
LiveScience / DiscoveryNews
May 22, 2012

Original Link

A new university-backed project aims to investigate cryptic species such as the yeti whose existence is unproven, through genetic testing.

Researchers from Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology are asking anyone with a collection of cryptozoological material to submit descriptions of it. The researchers will then ask for hair and other samples for genetic identification.

“I’m challenging and inviting the cryptozoologists to come up with the evidence instead of complaining that science is rejecting what they have to say,” said geneticist Bryan Sykes of the University of Oxford.

While Sykes doesn’t expect to find solid evidence of a yeti or Bigfoot monster, he says he is keeping an open mind and hopes to identify perhaps 20 of the suspect samples. Along the way, he’d be happy if he found some unknown species.

“It would be wonderful if one or more turned out to be species we don’t know about, maybe primates, maybe even collateral hominids,” Sykes told LiveScience. Such hominids would include Neanderthals or Denosivans, a mysterious hominin species that lived in Siberia 40,000 years ago.

“That would be the optimal outcome,” Sykes said.

The project is called the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project. It is being led by Sykes and Michel Sartori of the zoology museum.

Origin of a Legend

The story of a big hairy monster of the Himalayas stomped into popular culture in 1951, when British mountaineer Eric Shipton returned from a Mount Everest expedition with photographs of giant footprints in the snow.

The cryptic creature goes by many names in many places: yeti or migoi in the Himalayas, Bigfoot or sasquatch in the United States and Canada, respectively; almasty in the Caucasus Mountains; orag pendek in Sumatra.

And while reports of such creatures have abounded around the world since then, there is no real proof they exist; the reports inevitably turn out to be of a civet, bear or other known beast.

Yeti hairs

Sykes doesn’t want to start receiving loads of skin, hair and other samples haphazardly, so he is asking people to send detailed descriptions of their “yeti” samples.

Once he and his colleagues have looked over the details — including physical descriptions of the sample (even photographs), its origin and ideas about the likely species it belongs to — they will send a sampling kit for those that are deemed suitable for study.

“As an academic I have certain reservations about entering this field, but I think using genetic analysis is entirely objective; it can’t be falsified,” Sykes said. “So I don’t have to put myself into the position of either believing or disbelieving these creatures.”

One theory about the yeti is that it belongs to small relic populations of other hominids, such as Neanderthals or Denisovans. While Sykes said this idea is unlikely to be proven true, “if you don’t look, you won’t find it.”

The collection phase of the project will run through September, with genetic testing following that through November. After that, Sykes said, they will write up the results for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal; this would be the first such publication of cryptozoology results, he said.

“Several things I’ve done in my career have seemed impossible and stupid when contemplated, but have impressive results,” Sykes said. When he set out to find DNA from ancient human remains, for instance, he thought, “It’s never going to work.” It did, and he published the first report of DNA from ancient human bones in the journal Nature in 1989.


Click the image above to see larger view.


March 21, 2012

Original Link

The big hairy monster we call Bigfoot has both eluded and fascinated many, with blurry photos and even blurrier video being some of the best evidence the creature exists.

Bigfoot stories of sightings vary on some details and the type of “evidence.” In 2008, two Georgia men claimed they had a body, photos of the body and DNA evidence of a Bigfoot. A few days later, evidence surfaced that the DNA was that of an opossum and the body was really a frozen gorilla suit.

More recently in 2011, a Charlotte, N.C.-based man named Thomas Byers claimed that, while driving, he and a companion videotaped a Bigfoot crossing the road in front of their truck and at one point it “made a snarling growling sound and looked back at me,” Byers said. Various hints, including the fact that no truck is seen, nor headlights (it was pretty dark in the video), and that the slow-moving creature (or human) seems to be waving in the footage, weighed heavily against the video’s validity.

The most famous recording of an alleged Bigfoot is the short 1967 film shot in Bluff Creek, Calif., by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin. The video shows a dark, humanlike creature striding through a clearing. It has never been proven real, and in the 45 years since the film was shot, it has remained the best evidence for Bigfoot. (It seems even with today’s technology, quality video of Bigfoot is tough to come by.)

And, of course, these sightings are not confined to the United States.

The legendary woodlands ape, though answering to different names, has been a fascination across the globe. For instance, a group of Chinese researchers announced in October 2010 that they were mounting an expedition to seek evidence of the yeren, the Chinese version of Bigfoot. Other searches for the yeren in pior decades all failed to find conclusive evidence of the beast’s existence. The team, led by a man named Luo Baosheng, is hoping to raise $1.5 million to launch the search.

The so-called Canadian Sasquatch is essentially the same creature as the American Bigfoot, though it is claimed to be primarily nocturnal and a fast runner. Moving to Asia, the Yeti — formerly known as the Abominable Snowman — is said to live in the forest below the snow line of the Himalaya Mountains. Reports suggest the creature is muscular, covered with dark grayish or reddish-brown hair, and weighs between 200 and 400 pounds (90 and 180 kilograms). Compared with Bigfoot, the Yeti is claimed to be relatively short, with an average height about 6 feet (1.8 meters).

The Down Under variety, dubbed Yowie, reportedly stands anywhere from 5 to 11 feet (1.5 to 3.4 meters) tall, and has yellow or red eyes deeply set inside a dome-shaped head.

This lack of evidence hasn’t stopped enthusiasts, however. The reason could be human nature: We want to believe. “The human brain is always trying to determine why things happen, and when the reason is not clear, we tend to make up some pretty bizarre explanations,” said Brian Cronk, a professor of psychology at Missouri Western State University, back in 2008.

And our belief in all things supernatural, from fairies and elves to gods, ghosts and monsters, seems to go way back in human history. The reason, say some social scientists, is the human need to explain that which we don’t understand.


1 comment

  1. Linda

    I’ve always wondered if ‘bigfoot’ are the ‘Vanaras’ or forest people from the Vedic times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.