An unprecedented peer-reviewed genetic survey of more than 30 biological hair samples purportedly left behind by either Bigfoot or the Yeti shows they actually came from creatures considerably less mysterious... such as bears, horses, and cows.
In preparation for the study — the first of its kind — Bryan Sykes and his team at Oxford University issued an open call asking museums, scientists, and Bigfoot enthusiasts to share any samples they thought were from the elusive beasts, including those allegedly from the Sasquatch, Yeti, or my personal favorite, "anomalous primates."
Once collected, the researchers tested 36 hair samples sent in from Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Russia, and the United States using DNA sequencing (in case you're interested, the U.S. samples came from Washington, Texas, and Oregon). The researchers actually collected 57 samples, but some of the "hairs" were actually plant or glass fibers. Others were too old to analyze.
Every single hair sample matched DNA from known animals. The majority came from bears, but there were also hairs from a Malaysian tapir, horses, porcupine, deer, sheep — and even a human. Interestingly, two of the samples matched polar bear 12S RNA, which suggests that certain Himalayan bears may be a hybrid species with polar bears.
Of course, not everyone is happy with the results. And by "not everyone" I mean Bigfoot nuts. AP writer Maria Cheng explains:
[P]roving that Bigfoot is real requires significantly more than a mere hair sample.
"I would want visual or physical proof, like a body part, on top of the DNA evidence," said Todd Disotell, a professor of anthropology at New York University. He warned Bigfoot enthusiasts not to make assumptions when they find weird things in the forest. "Every mammal in the forest leaves hair and poop behind and that's what we've found," he said. "Just not the big guy himself."
Some experts said that if Bigfoot existed, there would be a lot more to find than just a few errant hairs.
"Those who believe in the Yeti, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster need basic instruction in sex," said Stuart Pimm, an ecologist at Duke University, in an email. "Each Yeti has two parents, four grandparents and so on," he said. "There should have been herds of (Yetis)," he wrote. "Where were they hiding?"
Read the entire scientific study at the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: "Genetic analysis of hair samples attributed to yeti, bigfoot and other anomalous primates.