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back to article Like frozen burgers, 'Bigfoot' DNA samples have a touch of horse

Oxford boffin Professor Bryan Sykes' quest to prove the existence of Bigfoot by DNA testing supposed samples of the mythical beasts' fur and flesh has come up with dogs, bears and horses, but no Sasquatches, Yetis or Abominable Snowmen. In a study soon to be published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Sykes and colleagues …

Headmaster

Finds all are extant animals?

No, that's not what the study says. It says that they were all extant EXCEPT the polar bear ones, which were closest to a Palaeolithic polar bear, not a modern-day one.

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Re: Finds all are extant animals?

The polar bear DNA was from an earlier study of yeti DNA samples. Yeti != bigfoot, one is Asian/European, the other is North American

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Re: Finds all are extant animals?

True. It's an odd way of collecting samples though. While the two Himalayan samples may well be genuine, how do you check the provenance properly if you've just got people to send samples in? I suppose follow up work could go to the sites and look for samples.

It seems quite tenable though - during a glacial period pre-polar bears spread widely, then the Himalayan ones get cut off as the climate warms. A limited food supply would mean ranges would need to be large. But it seems unlikely that such a large animal would not raid local villages for food and have it's picture taken.

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Re: Finds all are extant animals?

"Yeti != bigfoot, one is Asian/European, the other is North American"

Considering neither exists, nor has either been proven, I would question your claim. Please supply DNA samples.

And no, hair from your thumb knuckle doesn't count.

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Re: Finds all are extant animals?

Considering neither exists, nor has either been proven, I would question your claim. Please supply DNA samples.

Existence is irrelevant in this case, 'Yeti' is a term for supposed Himalayan cryptids, 'Bigfoot' is a term for supposed cryptids from North America, as is 'Yowie' for the Aussie variant, etc.

Since there is no confirmed evidence for any of these, so you cannot confirm that any of them exist, the correct position to adopt is that if they do exist, then they are, until proven otherwise, separate phenomena.

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@Bunbury

A Himalayan polar bear would probably be much smaller than a modern polar bear. Large animals always become smaller when confined to an island, the Himalayas might as well be an island as far as that's concerned.

Small enough that they'd perhaps be no taller than a man when reared up on its hind legs, as it probably would be when it encountered a human and felt threatened and wanted to appear as large and intimidating as possible. This would fit with the reports which don't indicate Yetis as being 10 feet tall. In that case it wouldn't need nearly as much food to support itself.

Still not sure what it would eat up there, even if it were an omnivore is there enough food in the Himalayas to support a sustainable population of human sized bears? I have no idea, but I hope its true because it would be cool.

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Re: @Bunbury

"A Himalayan polar bear would probably be much smaller than a modern polar bear. Large animals always become smaller when confined to an island, the Himalayas might as well be an island as far as that's concerned."

Explain this to the Kodiak brown bear please.

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Joke

The Adventures of Reynard Muldrake and Diana Lesky

Jose Chung: "As for her partner Reinhardt Muldradt - a ticking time-bomb of insanity - his quest into the unknown has so warped his psyche - one shudders to wonder how he can receive any pleasures from life."

Fox Mulder: [Mulder is jerking off to fake bigfoot video]

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Windows

You can't kill a myth, period

"I don't think this finishes the Bigfoot myth at all.”

I agree. No amount of evidence can ever kill a myth, because the people upholding it are not trying (however awkwardly) to make sense of the real world in its own terms. In their minds the truth has already been found, all they need is to produce some proof, so "they will all see". Hell, 20% of Americans still think the Sun goes around the Earth!

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Err...

... didn't I see all this in a documentary on Channel 4 at the end of last year? What is there here that's new?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Err...

Nothing new as such, what's happened is that Sykes' book, which should have been published round about now, has been delayed till September.

Maybe someone failed to make a matching slip in the book's PR schedule.

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WTF?

Mythical beasts

"One sample was a human hair [...] and a further four were wolves or dogs."

I think we urgently need to know if those last four samples came from dogs or werewolves...

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Crossbreed

OK, so, Bigfoot is a human/wolf/dog/deer/horse/bear crossbreed. That could happen. It gets really cold up there.

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I'm thinking it's either Scuzzlebutt or Manbearpig

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Anonymous Coward

We can posit the colour of a feathered dinosaur BUT

....... nobody can find the scat or body of a massive hominid in frequently used forests.

Give it up guys, the myth has been flogged to death.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com.au/news/2010/01/100127-dinosaur-feathers-colors-nature/

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Joke

Bigfoot DNA

Findus were unavailable for comment.

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I left the window open

Sorry, about the Panserbjørne.

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Joke

I propose we immediately commence a second round...

...to start testing Nessie / Ogopogo / Kraken - scales! FOR SCIENCE!

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Of those, 20 turned out to be glass or plants or were not suitable for analysis

Glass. Glass?! Really? Well done that fruitcake.

Or was it "I saw Bigfoot through this window"?

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Re: Of those, 20 turned out to be glass or plants or were not suitable for analysis

I'm guessing, in this case, glass fibres, which can presumably be made to look like hair/fur samples.

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Re: Of those, 20 turned out to be glass or plants or were not suitable for analysis

This is solid evidence of triffids and also that baller story I wrote in middle school about a stained glass golem that haunted a church. DID THEY TEST FOR GOLEM DNA are they trying to COVER UP THE TRUTH and the bigfoot stuff is MISDIRECTIONS.

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Re:... glass ....

Likely fiber glass, or is it "fibre glass" yonder? Plant fibers would explain the next. Human hair though, that sounds curious.

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Holmes

Obligatory final line of report

"More research is needed."

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Anonymous Coward

Of those, 20 turned out to be glass or plants or were not suitable for analysis

i wonder what "not suitable for analysis" means?

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"not suitable for analysis"

means did not have animal DNA to extract

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"One interesting anomaly the study turned up was polar bear DNA in samples from the Himalayas"

That actually sort of tracks. If you squint at a polar bear that's reared up on it's hind legs it's not hard at all to see the resemblance to the descriptions of a yeti. If a few of them somehow ended up in the Himalayas it wouldn't be hard at all for them to become 'abominable snowmen' in the oral history of times gone by.

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one thing to keep in mind...

one thing to keep in mind. DNA samples of polar bears may not have actually been obtained in the Himalayas, regardless of the claims of whomever submitted the sample. Before rethinking any theories, make absolutely SURE the samples are both actually from their claimed location, and/or were NOT planted for some honest yet overzealous cryptozoologist to conveniently find.

I Wanted To Believe...Then I Grew Up. :(

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Re: one thing to keep in mind...

A yeti lookalike-suit made from a polar bear rug would nicely fit the picture here. Who's to say Tibetans don't have a sense of humour? Must help in a climate and terrain like that.

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Alien

Settled

http://xkcd.com/1235/

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Re: Settled

That particular XKCD conveniently ignores that as the number of cameras carried everywhere has risen so has the number of pictures/videos of UFOs and ghosts, though Randall does have a valid point about Bigfoot and Nessie with it.

And that also doesn't account for the prevalence of Photoshop or how much easier it is to fake videos than it was 20 years ago, so said pictures and videos are not really proof. Just saying there's a whole lot more of them floating around than there used to be.

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"Existence is irrelevant in this case, 'Yeti' is a term for supposed Himalayan cryptids, 'Bigfoot' is a term for supposed cryptids from North America, as is 'Yowie' for the Aussie variant, etc."

I'd have thought Austrailia had enough ridiculous creatures roaming around that they wouldn't need to make more up.

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Joke

Well you're talking about a continent where at some point a duck and a beaver got drunk together and woke up not knowing what happened the night before but certain they should be ashamed of themselves. I'm still waiting to see what the result of a barbie with both ostriches and kangaroos on the guest list might be.

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I'm still waiting to see what the result of a barbie with both ostriches and kangaroos on the guest list might be.

That's already happened mate. It's called a cassowary. Looks like an ostrich, kicks like a roo.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassowary

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Re: "Looks like an ostrich, kicks like a roo."

But what does it taste like?

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Re: "Looks like an ostrich, kicks like a roo."

But what does it taste like?

Like an ostroo, obviously.

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Re: "Looks like an ostrich, kicks like a roo."

Or a kangarich. Depends which was giving and which was receiving (cf. liger/tigon).

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If this were a television program, I'd want to require that the presenter of the sample would promise to perform a dare if the sample did NOT turn out to be bigfoot or yeti or whatever was being claimed.

If the dares were suitably entertaining/humiliating, it might even be worth it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re, Himalayan bear

Ursus erectus maybe?

Its not totally impossible, given millions of years for something similar to an early hominid to evolve from isolated polar bears, with the adaptations needed for high altitude and climbing?

Its also possible that at least one of those adaptations might have been increased speed and agility explaining how they can vanish without trace and presumably hide up trees/in caves/etc.

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Re: Re, Himalayan bear

I have just two words for this:

Occam's razor.

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The people who "know" Bigfoots (bigfeet?) and Yetis exist are surely no different from those who "know" that god or any other deity exists. If the latter can continue to believe without supporting evidence, why can the former not do the same?

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There's a little difference. Religious sorts, for the most part, will generally admit flat out that there's no proof and tell you to take it on faith. Cryptid hunters usually try to get proof.

There's also a lesson about cryptids in the form of the giant panda. A huge animal with a limited, known range, and it still took them 60 years after they knew they existed to actually find one. And that was with the bulk of the scientific community being supportive. Is it any wonder that it's hard to find evidence of critters that most scientists scoff at?

That and you have to consider that for at least the last hundred years there's been a cryptid discovered to be real after all every 2-5 years, some of which were just as easy to dismiss as sasquatch and his snowball throwing cousin (gorillas were pretty danged hard to believe in not so long ago).

I'm not saying bigfoot is real. I for one think bigfoot is so much bunk in fact, but scoffing at the people who think it's real and look for evidence means ignoring the lessons of the past.

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"I don't think this finishes the Bigfoot myth at all.”

Now can i have this years funding grant please?

Its a hoax. it doesnt exist. You're a man of science for gods (sic) sake...

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