Supposed yeti remains are being put under the microscope in a collaboration between Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology.
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 large number of cultures around the world have variations of the yeti legend, including bigfoot, sasquatch, meh-teh, almasty, migoi and orang pendek. Bryan Sykes from Wolfson College, Oxford, told Wired.co.uk: “Theories as to their species identification vary from surviving collateral hominid species, such asHomo neanderthalensis or Homo floresiensis, to large primates likeGigantopithecus widely thought to be extinct, to as yet unstudied primate species or local subspecies of black and brown bears.”
He added: “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.”