Using DNA Testing to Verify Bigfoot
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Scientists are using a new DNA matching process to determine whether tufts of hair, recovered in the Blue Mountains of southeastern Washington state in August, could belong to the beast known as Bigfoot.
The two tufts of hair, each consisting of about a dozen strands, were sent to Ohio State University. These samples have the best possibility of being real, said Paul Fuerst, OSU associate professor of molecular genetics. Fuerst and a graduate student, Jamie Austin, are using a DNA testing procedure 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 samples as well as human and chimpanzee hair to do an independent genetic evaluation of the procedure. The technique should be able to determine whether the hair came from a human or another known primate, Austin said.
Tests, which are being done for the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center, so far suggest the hair did not come from a known primate, Fuerst said. Final results are expected later this month, November 1995.
"Oregon has a large number of samples, all of which they treat with great skepticism," he said. The creatures reportedly were seen at a distance of about 100 feet in a dense, dark forest. "It was a sighting by forest rangers," said Dr. Frank Poirier, chairman of the Ohio State's Department of Anthropology. They picked up hair from the site, as well as footprints and knuckle prints after the creatures left.
Wes Sumerlin, a Walla Walla man who was part of the group that found
the hair samples last summer, said he hopes the DNA research proves the
existence of Bigfoot. "There's no doubt in my mind I saw one," he said Sunday. Hundreds of observers have described Bigfoot as being
a furry, muscular primate standing 6 feet to 10 feet tall. There is the
blurry 1967 Patterson film of a creature fitting that description and some footprint
casts, but most scientists find this insufficient proof.
In Bhutan, an expedition team led by a Yeti hunter searched for the creature in a forest in the eastern part of the country, where the leader was convinced a Yeti was at large. “He told us that he had found evidence of the Yeti in the hollow of a cedar tree,” said Rob McCall, a zoologist who was on the expedition. McCall’s team removed strands of hair from the tree and took them to the U.K. for DNA analysis.
“We found some DNA in it, but we don’t know what it is,” said Dr. Bryan Sykes of the Oxford Institute of Molecular Medicine, one of the world’s leading experts on DNA analysis. “It’s not a human, not a bear or anything else we have so far been able to identify. It’s a mystery and I never thought this would end in a mystery. We have never encountered DNA that we couldn’t recognize before.”
Catherine Cooke, former director of the Mind/Science Foundation and neice of famed Yeti researcher Tom Slick, is leading an expedition to Nepal starting on April 10, 2001, in search of the Yeti. The expedition will be using specialized low-light cameras and sensing equipment in an effort to locate the unknown animal, and will be making exculsive reports to Unknowncountry.com and Dreamland. (2006, to this date, no report has surfaced.)
In early April, 2001, British scientists made a startling announcement. After examining the DNA in a strand of hair thought to come from a Yeti - the Asian cousin to America's Bigfoot - scientists were unable to identify it as coming from any known animal.
This astonishing discovery is the most recent peak of what has become a growing mountain of evidence that we share this planet with an as-yet undiscovered species - or perhaps several species - of bipedal primates. And whether they are a kind of ape or are more closely related to humans - or something in-between - is unknown. But this new scientific evidence combined with new detailed photos and an increasing number of compelling sightings holds the promise that we may be very close to solving the mystery.
The DNA Evidence
The long black strand of hair examined by the British scientists was found on the bark of cedar tree in the Kingdom of Bhutan, a small country on the eastern side of the Himalayas. The tall, hairy creature is believed by many locals to inhabit the forests and mountains of Bhutan, where it is called the Migyur. The British were led to this particular tree by Sonam Dhendup, the kingdom's official Yeti hunter. Locals had found a mysterious piece of skin in the hollow of the cedar tree, which they think the creature might have called home. Carefully examining the area, the British scientists found fresh footprints just a few hours old. Inside the tree, they noted claw-like scratch marks and found several strands of the hair.
Some of the hair was taken back to the UK for DNA testing. Bryan Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics at the Oxford Institute of Molecular Medicine and one of the world's leading experts on DNA analysis examined the hair. "We found some DNA in it," he said, "but we don't know what it is. It's not a human, not a bear not anything else we have so far been able to identify. It's a mystery and I never thought this would end in a mystery. We have never encountered DNA that we couldn't recognize before."
Several Bhutanese have actually seen the Yeti. Druk Sherrik, a former member of the country's royal guard, told the British expedition, "It was huge. It must have been nine feet tall. The arms were enormous and hairy. The face was red with a nose like a chimpanzee."
The DNA test thus far does provide us with enough information to conclude there is an unknown creature out there elusive enough to hide its remains but common enough to leave behind its bare footprints. What kind of creature the hair belongs to is unknown at this writing, but when one considers it along with the footprints and the eyewitness sightings, the case for a previously unknown ape or hominid is strengthened. The DNA is likely to inspire new expeditions to find the Yeti. AP
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