Genetic analysis of hair attributed to Bigfoot found no support for that claim, but hairs linked to the Yeti were determined to belong to a mysterious bear species that may not yet be known to science.
The research, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, marks a rare intersection of peer-reviewed science and cryptozoology, which is the search for, and study of, animals whose existence or survival is disputed or unsubstantiated.
The study solely focused on hair samples, and did not address the footprints, photographs, recorded sounds and other “evidence” purportedly linked to Bigfoot, the Yeti and similar supposedly human-like creatures.
“The whole thrust of the project and this paper is that the ‘other evidence’ may convince believers, but has not convinced anyone else,” lead author Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at the University of Oxford, told Discovery News. “It is evidence of a sort, but very poor.”
A total of 57 hair samples obtained from museum and individual collections underwent examination, with 36 of the samples selected for genetic analysis based on their provenance or historic interest.
The supposed Bigfoot hairs were found to belong to the following: a raccoon, sheep, American black bear, North American porcupine, wolf, coyote, dog, white-tailed deer, mule deer, horse, cow and human.
Hairs attributed to Russian Almas (aka “wild men”) belonged to a brown bear, horse, cow, American black bear, brown bear and a raccoon.
Hairs attributed to an Orang Pendek (aka “short person”) belonged to a Malaysian tapir.
Hairs linked to the Yeti belonged to a serow, (a goat antelope), and to the mysterious bear.
“The paper refers to two Himalayan samples attributed to yetis and which turned out to be related to an ancient polar bear,” Sykes explained. “This may be the source of the legend in the Himalayas.”