Finally, some solid science on Bigfoot | Science News
Meet Yeti, the so-called abominable snowman that science yet again out to debunk the Yeti myth," she told CBC News by email from Singapore, bear hybrid, scientist says · Sasquatch hunter files claim to prove mythical. DNA analysis finds weird bears, but no evidence of Sasquatch or the Abominable Snowman. Blurry photos have long been the main evidence for Bigfoot's existence. None reveal the existence of a yeti or Bigfoot, reports Bryan Sykes, an Oxford University geneticist well-known for his. Meldrum's new book is Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. Talking about Sasquatch or Yeti or, you know, whatever you'd like to call him, or the Science on TALK OF THE NATION: SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR News.
Ina documentary film company enlisted the help of Charlotte Lindqvist, a geneticist at the University at Buffalo in New York, to help determine whether the bone and fur samples they collected in the Himalayas were that of Bigfoot or Yeti. Though Lindqvist found that the samples were not from cryptids but were actually from multiple known species of bears, the samples allowed for scientific breakthrough of another kind: Lindqvist and her colleagues were able to, for the first time in history, fully sequence the mitochondrial genomes of a Himalayan brown bear and black bear.
When it was all said and done, they had 57 hair and fur samples, and almost all of them were from previously discovered mammals like black bears, dogs, cows, porcupines, and horses. However, two different samples from Bhutan and India matched a 40,year-old fossil of a polar bear found in Norway, though neither sample matched genetic markers in modern polar bears.
In this area, these two communities can and should speak the same language, the language of hard scientific data and hypothesis testing. Will this ultimately lead to the recognition of new large mammalian species in out-of-the way corners of the world? No one—certainly no scientist—can say for sure.
Secret of the Abominable Snowman revealed after scientists analyse 'Yeti' DNA
You know, [cryptozoologists] have their own journals, they give talks, they hold their own conferences. It can be easy for that line to get blurred. Well we have - we've worked on hair.
Henner Fahrenbach, who is a microscopist in Oregon, has sort of taken the lead on that front and samples have been sent to him. We have over 15 samples that defy identification. Attempts have been made to extract DNA but unsuccessfully sequenced. So we're still - and that's in part, for a variety of reasons, which we don't have time to go into all the details - but we're still in want of a good sample of tissue from which DNA could be extracted.
Let's go to the phones. I'm sorry, go ahead. Well, I was going to say even if we did have DNA it poses kind of an interesting question though because as I'm sure you're aware, humans and chimpanzees, for example, share remarkable similarity of DNA in their sequence.
If this animal is also great ape and closer to the life of humans it will take a very good bit of sequence, a good sample, to yield sufficient information to discriminate between human and non-human DNA. Let's go to Mitch in Pocatello, Idaho. Well I'm in Dr. I'm a graduate student and have actually taken the time to read his latest book. And I have a question for Dr. Of all the evidences that you produce, which do you think are the closest to being able to be published in a peer-reviewed journal?
Well, I already have published one article that deals with the footprint evidence, placing it in a much broader anthropological context.
Secret of the Abominable Snowman revealed after scientists analyse 'Yeti' DNA
The Sasquatch foot seems to be distinguished in its retention of a flexibility of the midfoot phmuch more similar to a great ape foot in that regard. And that very interesting feature has some intriguing parallels to aspects of the very earliest prominent bipeds. And in fact, provides for me a very interesting juxtaposition of sort of two independent, potentially independent evolutions of bipedalism from a similar starting point that have - that express very similar characteristics in parallel. Are you an outcast?
Are you considered to be like a cold fusion researcher on some other, you know, some other part of the campus? It kind of depends on who you ask, I guess, but not nearly to the extent that that article unfortunately portrayed.
I have to say that the situation was grossly exaggerated. It did include - the article did include very supportive statements and clarification by the dean of arts and sciences. And I think that represents the administration's attitude and the attitude of many of my colleagues who expressed their support. I mean, the expressions of support and encouragement have been really quite overwhelming since that article aired.
But there are - there is with out doubt some resistance. I mean obviously this is not perceived by some as a legitimate scientific endeavor. It's perceived as some sort of fringe or pseudo science. And, you know, I'd have to take the position that I am in disagreement with that, that those individuals have not really considered the evidence, nor the manner in which I'm pursuing the question.
Well, so what would it take then to prove to people the existence of Sasquatch? Well, obviously, the convention in zoology is for the establishment or the recognition of a new species to be based on a type specimen, and I've never suggested - you know, I don't use the word I believe in the existence of Bigfoot. To me, that connotes a conviction in the absence of proof or evidence, at least.
I simply say that the evidence is there, there's no refuting that.
What does the evidence tell us, where does it lead us, and is there something behind this persistence of this phenomenon in western North America? Sounds just like what Sherlock Holmes would say. Well, that's a complimentary comparison.
When you've eliminated all the obvious, he would say. You know, what's staring you in the face. Why do you think that's so - you know, relatively so few sightings are around.
If it were to survive so many years, so many generations, there would have to be enough of that creature to reproduce, would there not? And this is kind of a misconception.
And depending on what part of the country you live in, I guess, it might be more acute. You go to areas where, you know, small towns and cities where the habitat is appropriate, where we think these animals may, in fact, reside, and for many people it's just part of the landscape.
I mean, I have received hundreds and hundreds of communications - e-mails and letters here in the past three days, as you can imagine, in the wake of that story - and a large fraction of them share with me their experiences. And many of them are absolutely, you know, down to earth, simple encounters in the woods, a hiker, a hunter or a woodsman or a recreationist, and they see something that they cannot account for, or they come upon footprints that they can't compare to any other animal they've seen before.
Did you have one yourself? I mean, since being shown the footprints back in '96, I've seen - found tracks in very remote areas on at least five different occasions.
In the book, I explain a couple of other experiences, where I think that there was something pretty close that we couldn't pin a label on by any other means, something rummaging through backpacks, say, able to negotiate clasps and flaps without leaving marks of claws or teeth. But no, I've not seen one myself yet. Greg in San Francisco. Hi, welcome to Science Friday.
Thank you for taking my call. I had a daytime sighting where I actually spent some time with what was clearly a Bigfoot creature at dusk, and I was essentially in the woods camping and playing my harmonica, and I heard something walk up a hillside very quickly, station itself by a tree where I couldn't see.
I felt uncomfortable, and when I stopped playing my harmonica, it started walking. I saw in the daylight a nine to 12 foot high creature with extremely straight shoulders, tucked back posture, and it moved into a clearing and stopped and turned around and looked at me and moved very slowly and comfortably back into the woods.
And after seeing that famous film of that creature that you were talking about earlier, I found the film to be a creature where it was slumped over with hunched shoulders and swinging like an ape, and that's not what I saw. That's not the film - the film I saw matches your description. Very, very dark furred. No, matches Jeff's description of, you know, matches the description of a very upright, almost human gaited type of creature. Well certainly, and there's going to be individual variation.
I mean, if you go stand on a street corner and just watch people walking by, you're going to note a variety of different degrees of uprightness and posture and manner of walking.
So it doesn't surprise me that what you saw doesn't match exactly what was on the Patterson film, but we're still talking in general about a tall, upright, hair covered animal.
And your report is very interesting, too, the role that the harmonica playing may have played in attracting its attention or curiosity.
One of the individuals that I work with in the field quite regularly had the sighting in southern Colorado, and it was, we believe in part because she was sitting out on a boulder next to her tent playing a recorder. And it seems that it may have been the music that drew in this one individual that popped up standing behind her tent a mere 15 from her in the daylight of the afternoon, a really stunning experience. It changed her life.
Finally, some solid science on Bigfoot
Do we think that Sasquatch or Bigfoot is related to Yeti, because Yeti's been sighted in other parts of the world. Well, the Yeti or the abominable snowman in the Himalayas, if it exists, there's actually less evidence for it than there is for Sasquatch by a large measure.
One of the things - the description is quite different in its stature and some of its behavior. And from my vantage point, the footprints that have been attributed, at least those that are the most credible, which are very few in number, the clearest ones appear to have a divergent big toe. So with the divergent big toe, as opposed to the Sasquatch tracks, which have a toe that's aligned with the remaining digits.
Let's go to Josh in Anchorage. Hey, how are you doing? I was on a fishing trip a few years back with a friend. We flew up - we were about miles south of Hudson Bay in Canada there, and it was a small village called God's River.
It's only accessible by plane. And I was talking to one of the Indian guides there, and he was telling me a story about going out into the woods collecting firewood on a snowmobile, and the machine broke down, and he started following his track back to the village. And about halfway back, another track entered onto the trail of his fresh snowmobile track, and it was just a footprint, and he was wearing Size 12 bunny boots, and the track was several inches longer than his boots.
And I mean, that was the extent of his story, but the guy that I went up there with is kind of a regular in that area, and he said the Indians up there have numerous stories.
And so I'm not sure if it's, you know, if it's something that they're trying to impress visitors or what, but you know, that was his story. Well - and the experiences are so widespread and pervasive in many areas like that that both the Native Americans and the long time residents of the area, many have had interesting encounters.
Now on the other side, as well, I'm also confronted with individuals who say, well, I've lived in the woods all my life, I've hunted and fished, you know, from here to there, and I've never seen anything. And I mean, that's the case for those individuals. I could point to other people who said that until, you know, last week virtually, when they had an encounter or found footprints and suddenly changed their tune.
Legend Meets Science by Jeff Meldrum. Jeff, is there any place where we can actually see the Sasquatch evidence? Is it on exhibit anywhere? Well actually, as a matter of fact, on the ISU campus, the Idaho Museum of Natural History has hosted an exhibit or incorporated elements of a traveling exhibit on Bigfoot or Sasquatch entitled Bigfoot: How Do We Know?
Do people actually go out searching for Sasquatch or in parties, or is it just occasional sightings? There - well, there's no - other than - there are a lot of non-professional investigators, enthusiasts, whatever, you know.