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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yeti DNA to be probed

Yeti DNA is back in the news once more as Wired.UK is reporting that a new study is being designed in order to collect samples of the elusive cryptids DNA. According to the article, the Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology are combining their efforts in order to find the best sample of Yeti remains that can be tested for DNA. As a part of their goal;

The Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project has been created to try and entice people and institutions with collections of cryptozoological material to submit it for analysis. Anyone with a sample of organic remains can submit details of where and when it was collected, among other data.
Once a reasonable database has been collected, the team will select the most interesting samples (hair shafts are particularly desirable, apparently) and ask the owners to submit them for rigorous genetic analysis. The results of these analyses will be published in peer-reviewed journals.
A member of Wolfson College, Oxford was interviewed by Wired.UK for the article and he seems to be far more optimistic than I am about their chance of determining anything meaningful. Bryan Sykes said quote:
"Mainstream science remains unconvinced by these reports both through lack of testable evidence and the scope for fraudulent claims. However, recent advances in the techniques of genetic analysis of organic remains provide a mechanism for genus and species identification that is unbiased, unambiguous and impervious to falsification. It is possible that a scientific examination of these neglected specimens could tell us more about how Neanderthals and other early hominids interacted and spread around the world."
If you happen to be a group or individual that has what you believe to be Yeti DNA you can go to the Project's website to find out how to submit your sample for testing. I wish that I could be a little bit more excited about this project and in some ways I am. It's great that a scientific body is taking an aspect of the paranormal seriously. Although I do have a couple of issues with this kind of project. I'm not a scientist by any means, but it's my understanding that at best in these kinds of DNA testing situations they will only be able to tell what the sample isn't. In other words, this isn't the first time that supposed Yeti, or Bigfoot, DNA is going to be tested. The results usually end up being that the sample isn't human, bear, or any other known large animal. Which I suppose is something. But it doesn't really tell us anything for certain.
Add to that the fact that I haven't been convinced that the Yeti, or any of the giant man-apes for that mattter, are necessarily a physical flesh and blood creature. After all there are some very paranormal reports of Yeti's that have been encountered over the years. It may be that we aren't dealing with a truly 'real' creature in some sense of the word. In which case DNA testing may not be all that easy. That's not to say that I don't think the project should not still go through with it. I could very well be wrong and there could in fact exist an undiscovered large species of primate that lives in the remote wilderness of the world. I wish them luck. At the very least they could rule out some spurious evidence. 
I for one hope that Jeffrey Gonzalez of the Sanger Paranormal Group submits his Bigfoot DNA evidence for testing. After my slightly negative review of Gonzalez's conference held last year to discuss his findings, I spoke with Greg Bishop who interviewed Gonzalez. In that interview Gonzalez told Bishop that he was looking for a place to send his sample in for testing and it sounds as though this could be his best opportunity to do that. You can listen to that interview at this link.
I'll certainly keep my ears to the ground on this story because it will be interesting to see how it develops in the coming days and months. Feel free to head over to the Project's website for more information about how to submit a sample if you feel you have one. Until next, this is your friendly neighborhood Fortean Philosopher saying “Good night and good luck!”


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