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Alleged 'Bigfoot' DNA Samples Sequenced, Turn Out To Be Horses, Dogs, and Bears 198

Posted by Soulskill
from the film-at-never dept.
sciencehabit writes: In North America, they're called Bigfoot or Sasquatch. In the Himalayan foothills, they're known as yeti or abominable snowmen. And Russians call them Almasty. But in the scientific laboratory, these elusive, hairy, humanoid creatures are nothing more than bears, horses, and dogs. That's the conclusion of a new study—the first peer-reviewed, genetic survey of biological samples claimed to be from the shadowy beasts. To identify the evolutionary source of each sample, the team determined the sequence of a gene—found inside the mitochondria of cells—that encodes the 12S RNA, which is often used for species identification. Unlike standard DNA, mitochondrial genes are passed only from mother to offspring.

Seven of the samples didn’t yield enough DNA for identification. Of the 30 that were sequenced, all matched the exact 12S RNA sequences for known species, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Ten hairs belonged to various bear species; four were from horses; four were from wolves or dogs; one was a perfect match to a human hair; and the others came from cows, raccoons, deer, and even a porcupine. Two samples, from India and Bhutan, matched polar bear 12S RNA—a surprising finding that Sykes is following up on to determine whether some Himalayan bears are hybrid species with polar bears.
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Alleged 'Bigfoot' DNA Samples Sequenced, Turn Out To Be Horses, Dogs, and Bears

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  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @06:31AM (#47367089) Homepage
    Relevant XKCD [xkcd.com]
  • Documentary series (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @07:05AM (#47367181)

    Channel 4 put out a three-part documentary series about this research last year, called Bigfoot Files. Depending on the episode you got a mixture of local legends, interviews with bigfoot chasers, and of course the search for and testing of the putative hominid remains. The article mentions that one of the samples tested as human; there's a rather heartbreaking local tale behind that. Very nicely done and desensationalised.

  • by niado (1650369) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @09:37AM (#47367983)

    Seriously, we have never found any corpses from this beast and with the amount that man has spread out, I am 100% certain we would have found the beast by now.

    At the risk of sounding like a tinfoil hat wearing lunatic, just a few years ago I remember seeing several scientists stating on camera that they believed that every large mammal on earth was already documented and known to science. Not long after that I read a news piece reporting the discovery of several previously unknown species of mammals including a species of deer that reportedly weighs in at 150lb. Another example is a species of whale native to the Southern Arctic that is only known from a few DNA samples obtained from whalers. The point being that even though it is fun to ridicule crypto zoologists, there are numerous examples even in this day and age of unknown species hiding right under our noses.

    Here are some relevant lists for your perusal:

    List of megafauna discovered in modern times [wikipedia.org]
    List of recently discovered mammals [wikipedia.org]
    List of cryptids [wikipedia.org]

    Not very many on the second list that I would consider "large" (scientific definition of "large" in the context of megafauna [wikipedia.org] is somewhat ambiguous, though often bounded on the lower end at 100 pounds). Most of the creatures on these lists are very similar to already known and described species (the giant peccary, for example), and aren't very impressive discoveries from a lay viewpoint. Notice on the "list of cryptids" there is only one creature with "confirmed" status - the Okapi, [wikipedia.org] discovered over a century ago.

  • I can excuse syfy. It's the history channel and the learning channel I can't excuse.

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