A recent paper published by Bryan C. Sykes, Rhettman A. Mullis, Christophe Hagenmuller, Terry W. Melton, and Michel Sartori (Genetic analysis of hair samples attributed to yeti, bigfoot and other anomalous primates Proc. R. Soc. B. 2014 281 1789 20140161; doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.0161 (published 2 July 2014) 1471-2954) indicates that the Bigfoot and Yeti hair samples that were studied do not belong to unknown hominins but to other extant mammals:
In the first ever systematic genetic survey, we have used rigorous decontamination followed by mitochondrial 12S RNA sequencing to identify the species origin of 30 hair samples attributed to anomalous primates. Two Himalayan samples, one from Ladakh, India, the other from Bhutan, had their closest genetic affinity with a Palaeolithic polar bear, Ursus maritimus. Otherwise the hairs were from a range of known extant mammals.
The team was part of the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project, a project that began in 2012 to study these "anomalous hominids".
The scientists worked through a set of 57 hair samples which they screened and classified (some were not even hairs: the "hairs" were plant fibre or glass fibre) and the remaining group was analysed. mtDNA was extracted and sequenced in a broad manner allowing the identifiaton of the genus but not the species (i.e. canid but not wolf, coyote or dog).
The mtDNA was compared against known databases and... all were clearly identified as belonging to well known mammals: American black bears, canids, cows, horses, deer, and odd creaturs such as Malaysian tapir, serow or North American porcupines!.
A human hair was identified and, amazing find: an American racoon which came from a sample gathered in Russia (far away from the racoon's territory), a clear sign of cross-contamination or a deliberate fake.
The extinct bear
Two of the samples (#25025 and #25191) matched the sequence of a now extinct Pleistocene polar bear (Ursus maritimus). The samples are modern but the bear lived 40 kya in the Arctic islands of Svalbard, Norway. Also, they were not found in the polar regions: sample #25025 came from Ladakh, India, from an animal that was shot over 40 years ago. The other sample came from Bhutan in a high altitude bamboo forest (11,500 ft. or 3,500 m). What do these locations have in common with extinct polar bears?
Please see my post On Yetis and Polar Bears (Dec. 2013), which now, I see, is an advance report on the findings that were finally published early July 2014.
Implications and comments
It is a pity that they did not manage to confirm the existence of our well known Yeti and bigfoot, but it is also nice to know that good science can counter the poor science of some other "scientists" such as the bigfoot DNA of Melba Ketchum; by the way Ketchum is asking the public to donate money so she can keep up with her great research. Not a joke, see for yourself, I'd call it sponsoring non-science.
On the other hand I am persuaded that the bigfoot - hominin myths and those of South American Patagonian giants are not related to unknown apes but to our closer relatives such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus which probably reached America long before H. sapiens did, and shared the New World with them until relatively recently. If the Flores hominin co-existed with modern humans in an insular setting c. 13 kya and originated the local myth of "Ebu-gogo", why wouldn't our more primitive human relatives cause a similar reaction among the Paleo Indians in the Americas?
Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall ©