YETI DNA PROJECT LAUNCHED AT OXFORD UNIVERSITY AND LAUSANNE MUSEUM OF ZOOLOGY

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Do you have a sample of material that could contain Sasquatch DNA or some other mysterious lost hominid.  The search is getting serious at two prestigious institutions in Europe.

A new collaboration between Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology will use the latest genetic techniques to investigate organic remains that some have claimed belong to the ‘Yeti’ and other ‘lost’ hominid species.

Purported Yeti Scalp  at Khumjung monastery

File:Yetiscalp.JPG

 Credit: Wikipedia

The Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project invites institutions and individuals with collections of cryptozoological material (cryptozoology: the search for animals whose existence is not proven) to submit details of the samples they hold, and then on request submit the samples themselves, particularly hair shafts, for rigorous genetic analysis. The results will then be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Credit: Museum of Zoology in Lausanne

Ever since Eric Shipton’s 1951 Everest expedition returned with photographs of giant footprints in the snow there has been speculation that the Himalayas may be home to large creatures ‘unknown to science’.

Since then, there have been many eye-witness reports of such creatures from several remote regions of the world. They are variously known as the ‘yeti’ or ‘migoi’ in the Himalaya, ‘bigfoot’ or ‘sasquatch’ in America, ‘almasty’ in the Caucasus mountains and ‘orang pendek’ in Sumatra, as well as others.

Photo of purported juvenile Sasquatch

File:Croped BFRO image.jpg

 Credit: Wikipedia

Professor Bryan Sykes, a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, who will lead the project with Michel Sartori, Director of the Lausanne Museum of Zoology, said: ‘Theories as to their species identification vary from surviving collateral hominid species, such as Homo neanderthalensis or Homo floresiensis, to large primates like Gigantopithecus widely thought to be extinct, to as yet unstudied primate species or local subspecies of black and brown bears.

Gigantopithecus blacki lower mandible (cast)

File:Gigantopithecus blacki mandible 010112.jpg

Credit: Wikipedia

‘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.’

Credit: Museum of Zoology in Lausanne

These techniques were not available to biologists like Dr Bernard Heuvelmans, whose 1955 book Sur la Piste des Betes Ignorees (translated into English as On the Track of Unknown Animals) helped foster widespread public interest in the subject. Between 1950 and 2001, the year of his death, Dr Heuvelmans, as well as investigating numerous claims, assembled a considerable archive that is now curated by the Museum of Zoology in Lausanne, Switzerland.

1960 Radar Magazine Covernaturalist, is one of the pioneers of cryptozoology.

Credit: Museum of Zoology in Lausanne

Professor Sykes said: ‘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.’

Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project

As part of a larger enquiry into the genetic relationship between our own species Homo sapiens and other hominids, we invite submissions of organic material from formally undescribed species, or “cryptids”, for the purpose of their species identification by genetic means.

Timetable

The project is divided into three phases.

SAMPLE SUBMISSION PHASE May – September 2012

DNA ANALYSIS PHASE September – November 2012

PUBLICATION PHASE November – December 2012

SAMPLE SUBMISSION

Sample submissions are invited from institutions and individuals. In the first instance, please send details of the material you would like to submit to one of the Principal Investigators. These should include:

· Your name, institutional affiliation (if any), postal and email addresses and other contact details.

· A physical description of the specimen: (Hair, tooth etc). Photographs welcome.

· Its provenance: A short account of the origin of the sample, when and where (with coordinates if known) it was collected and how it came to be in your possession.

· Identification: Your opinion of its likely species identification, and your reasons.

· Authority: A statement that you are entitled to send the specimen for analysis and that we have permission to publish the results.

In order to avoid misidentification of samples due to contamination, our preferred material is hair, although tissues will be considered.

Credit: Museum of Zoology in Lausanne

After reviewing your submission, we will send you a sampling kit with instructions. Please do not send any materials without first hearing from us. They will not be analysed nor returned.

You may choose whether to be identified as the donor of the sample, or to remain anonymous.

Ape creature in a block of ice

Credit: Museum of Zoology in Lausanne

DNA ANALYSIS

At the end of the submission phase, the most promising samples will be selected for DNA analysis. You will not be charged for the analysis. Unselected samples will be returned.

The process of DNA analysis is destructive. Any unused material from selected samples will be returned or, if you prefer, will be submitted for curation as part of the Bernard Heuvelmans Cryptozoology archive in Lausanne.

Credit:  Museum of Zoology in Lausanne

PUBLICATION PHASE

Results from DNA analysis will be prepared for publication in a peer-reviewed science journal. No results will be released until any embargoes on publication have passed.

Contacts and sources:

Prof. Bryan Sykes

Professor of Human Genetic

Oxford University 

Dr. Michel Sartori

Directeur

Musee de Zoologie