May 23, 2012 12:26 PM EDT
Oxford University is Hunting for the Yeti
Scientists at Oxford University are renewing the hunt for one of the world's most elusive creatures - the Yeti.
While most of us probably suspect that the Yeti is a mythical beast, the finest minds in the world beg to differ. That's why Oxford University announced that it will be hunting the yeti to establish once and for all whether the creature still exists, or has ever existed.
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Individuals and institutions are encouraged to submit samples of hair and teeth from "cryptids" - animals that are unknown to the scientific world, such as the Yeti.
The university has collaborated with the Lausanne Museum of Zoology in Switzerland and scientists will analyze the samples and publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals. Oxford is inviting people and organizations with supposed evidence of the yeti to submit it for testing.
The preferred material is hair in order to "avoid misidentification."
Once a respectable number of samples have been collected, the researchers will select the most convincing and process them for authenticity.
Bryan Sykes, from Wolfson College, Oxford, told explained to Wired.co.uk:
"Theories as to their species identification vary from surviving collateral hominid species, such as Homo neanderthalensis, to large primates like Gigantopithecus widely thought to be extinct, to as yet unstudied primate species or local subspecies of black and brown bears.
"Mainstream science remains unconvinced by these reports both through lack of testable evidence and the scope for fraudulent claims," he said. "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."
The Yeti is well-known to many cultures, although often takes on different names including Sasquatch, Big Foot, Skunk Ape, Mande Barung and Yowie - not to be confused with characters from reality television shows.
With any luck, the study should bring together the strongest evidence around the world to settle the issue once and for all.
Source: Science Journal Magazine