Bigfoot Encounters

Big test for Bigfoot going on at OSU

Preliminary Hair Analysis, November 1995

COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - Researchers at Ohio State University hope to come within a hair of verifying the existence of Bigfoot. Scientists are using a new DNA matching process to determine whether there may be more to the sasquatch legend than some blurry film footage and a few giant footprints.

The evidence consists of two tufts of hair, each with about a dozen individual strands, recovered in Washington state after a recent sighting. "This is the first time that I'm aware of that anybody will be able to do any DNA extractions (on Bigfoot)," said Frank Poirier, chairman of Anthropology. "I don't expect anything to happen because I'm pretty skeptical about this. But good science requires some wild-goose chases from time to time."

The testing is being done for the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center. "Oregon has a large number of (Bigfoot) samples all of which they treat with great skepticism," said Paul Fuerst, OSU associate professor of molecular genetics. "These two batches sent to us had the best possibility of being real."

The creatures reportedly were observed at a distance of about 100 feet in a dense, dark forest. "It was a sighting by forest rangers," Poirier said. "After the creatures left, they picked up hair from the locale, as well as footprints and knuckle prints."

Hundreds of observers have described Bigfoot as being a furry, muscular primate standing 6 feet to 10 feet tall. There is the blurry 1967 film of a creature fitting that description and some footprint casts, but most scientists find this insufficient proof.

Fuerst and a graduate student, Jamie Austin, are using a DNA testing protocol being developed by the FBI for analysis of hair strands that lack the roots normally needed for identification.

Austin, a forensic scientist, is using the Bigfoot hair as well as human and chimpanzee hair to do an independent genetic evaluation of the protocol.

The technique should be able to determine whether the Bigfoot hair came from a human or another known primate, Austin said.

Tests so far suggest the hair did not come from a primate, Fuerst said. Final results are expected this month.

If the Washington hair samples turn out to be from an unknown primate, Poirier wants to compare them with a single hair reputed to be from the Chinese "wildman", a human-like primate he has investigated in Asia.

Chinese peasants gave Poirier the strand during a 1989 expedition. It does not match any known primate, according to a chemical analysis performed at Shanghai University.

The Dayton Daily News; Monday, November 6, 1995.
Credit: Ron Schaffner

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