It’s a simple three-page article, but one in the most prestigious science journal in the English language; Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The same institution that was melded together in the 17th century and cemented by the likes of Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, and Robert Hooke. Today it can easily boast that the institution is and has been at ‘the heart of scientific progress.’ Period. It’s almost unfathomable the degree in relevance this institution and its publications have imprinted. So, why does this three-page article have of any connection to our world today? Bigfoot and Yeti, that’s what.
For many decades across the globe (more northern than southern or equatorial) the stories of often gigantic apes have been passed down by generations, sometimes recorded onto the pages of not so reputable print. Regardless, the public has been all the more hungry for tales of these exotics and not-so-normal creatures. As a cultural phenomena they have been studied. As a specter, like-minded folks have joined hands around the literary camp fires, forming investigating troops, to find the physical evidence that can strengthen their claim that ‘something moves this way,’ striding along the treed uplands, looking at the camera in profile.
Besides the footprints, the only ‘trace’ left by these mountainous hikers, the one thing that has always been the real tangible is the reported clumps or strands of hair. Of these, beside the harrumphed proclamations by the supporters, the one thing that has really lacked is, surprisingly, the actual science. And so it was announced May 14, 2012, in a press release by the Museum of Zoology, Lausanne and the University of Oxford that hair samples were solicited for macroscopic, microscopic and infrared fluorescence examination. This week, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (B is for biology), Bryan Sykes and his colleagues from multiple institutions released their findings –– Genetic analysis of hair samples attributed to Yeti, Bigfoot and other anomalous primates. Hair samples were prepared and checked against genetic sequences known species in the world. Of the samples submitted “species identification of sequences matching … 30 samples from which DNA was recovered.” With the exception of a couple of fragmentary samples, “none of the submitted and analyzed hairs samples returned a sequence that could not be matched with an extant mammalian species, often a domesticate.” The range of species include polar bear, brown bear, horse, cow, Malaysian tapir, sheep, wolf/coyote/dog, and in one case human. That is Homo sapiens, not Homo neanderthalensis, or even the big guy,Gigantopithecus.
The authors summation bears repeating: “While it is important to bear in mind that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and this survey cannot refute the existence of anomalous primates (like the Yeti, or Bigfoot) neither has it found any evidence in support” (emphasis added). For decades, in a more conspiratorial vent, ‘cryptozoologists’ have reportedly claim that their findings and discoveries have been ‘rejected by science.’ So, thanks to this new article and the research that it established, the bar is set pretty high to claim that something in the woods ‘moved this way.’