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Science

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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  • Re:Americans (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sique (173459) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @06:14AM (#47367203) Homepage
    This is just an anecdote, but anyway. When we had our first child, I was in serveral lectures about child upbringing and first aid and similar. One was in Frankfurt(Main), Germany, by a physician who strongly opposed vaccination and had lots of graphs and pictures to support his stance. He didn't mention the vaccination-autism-connection, because that seems to never have caused the big craze in Germany as in the U.S. and U.K.. But the people there didn't seem to be of the religious type (Religion isn't that big in Germany anyway, especially not in large urban regions), but more of the wealthy non-conformist affiliation.
  • by physicsphairy (720718) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @07:00AM (#47367367) Homepage

    To be fair, in the domain of common experience a 7' tall ape man living in the pacific northwest *is* far less crazy than the idea of a subatomic particle being in two places at once.

    Many scientists of yesteryear were hardly willing to accept such preposterousness, though I imagine they would not have batted an eye at an undiscovered hominid of unusual cleverness. (In fact, sometimes they seemed to be far too trusting when evidence of new hominids was presented to them.) People can go to the zoo and encounter all sorts of species they never anticipated. Where can they experience quantum mechanics?

    It's only through substantial and careful methodological treatment of the evidence that we're able to develop the capacity to distinguish truth which contradicts intuition, accepting the fantastic but real and dismissing the common but false.

    My wild and probably quite unpopular thinking on this is as such: the people you describe are perfectly reasonable people. They are drawing reasonable(ish) conclusions. They just lack access to the expanded toolset and and supply of evidence modern science has provided. What if instead of calling their theories a bunch of hocus pocus, we simply sent them on the right trail? Used the Socratic method, as it were. They are clearly already interested in the subject of undiscovered species, so "You think there is a wild ape man? Interesting. I wonder how we could prove its existence. What about DNA evidence? There's this great book called 'Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters.' Maybe we could read it to learn a bit more about genetics and see if it helps us come up with any ideas."

  • by 14erCleaner (745600) <FourteenerCleaner@yahoo.com> on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @09:56AM (#47368685) Homepage Journal
    Legendary alpinist Reinhold Messner once wrote a book about his encounters with suspected Yetis in the Himalaya. He concluded that they were bears, a variant of Ursus Arctos, the same species as polar bears.

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