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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Channel 4 TV "Bigfoot"

My original posting was as follows:

It's Official -The Yeti Is A Bear....Probably.

It is, supposedly, a series that hominologists / cryptozoologists  and others are getting excited over.  On Cryptozoology sites there is talk of UK contacts ready to record and upload the 'episode' to You Tube.

However, if you have read a newspaper, listened to the radio or seen TV snippets you'll know -EVERYONE KNOWS- the conclusion drawn -bear.

Zoologically it is interesting but just because someone said "these are yeti hairs" does not mean they are allegedly from a hominid.  On the other hand, if it proves yeti reports are of a 'new' species of bear that in itself is interesting.

It does NOT mean that Sasquatch is a bear.  Evidence suggests otherwise but scientists ARE taking note and studying material they are given.

And in case you missed the item:

New DNA research may have finally solved the mystery of the yeti. 
Tests on hair samples were found to have a genetic match with an ancient polar bear, with scientists believing there could be a sub species of brown bear in the High Himalayas that has been mistaken for the mythical beast.

Yetis, also known as the "Abominable Snowman" or "Bigfoot", have been recorded for centuries in the Himalayas, with local people and mountaineers claiming to have come face-to-face with hairy, ape-like creatures.

Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at the Oxford University, set out to collect and test "yeti" hair samples to find out which species they came from. In particular he analysed hairs from two unknown animals, one found in the Western Himalayan region of Ladakh and the other from Bhutan, 800 miles to the east.
After subjecting the hairs to the most advanced DNA tests available and comparing the results to other animals' genomes stored on the GenBank database, Professor Sykes found that he had a 100% match with a sample from an ancient polar bear jawbone found in Svalbard, Norway, that dates back at least 40,000 years - and probably around 120,000 years - a time when the polar bear and closely related brown bear were separating as different species.

Professor Sykes believes that the most likely explanation is that the animals are hybrids - crosses between polar bears and brown bears. The species are closely related and are known to interbreed where their territories overlap.

The professor said: "This is an exciting and completely unexpected result that gave us all a surprise. There's more work to be done on interpreting the results. I don't think it means there are ancient polar bears wandering around the Himalayas.

"But we can speculate on what the possible explanation might be. It could mean there is a sub species of brown bear in the High Himalayas descended from the bear that was the ancestor of the polar bear. Or it could mean there has been more recent hybridisation between the brown bear and the descendent of the ancient polar bear."

A photograph of a "yeti' footprint, taken by British climber Eric Shipton at the base of Everest, sparked global mania after it was taken in 1951.

Legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner, who became the first man to climb Everest without oxygen, has studied yetis since he had a terrifying encounter with a mysterious creature in Tibet in 1986.
His own research backs up the Prof Sykes' theory. H e uncovered an image in a 300-year-old Tibetan manuscript of a "Chemo" - another local name for the yeti, with text alongside it which was translated to read: "The yeti is a variety of bear living in inhospitable mountainous areas."

Prof Sykes added: " Bigfootologists and other enthusiasts seem to think that they've been rejected by science. Science doesn't accept or reject anything, all it does is examine the evidence and that is what I'm doing."

His investigations features in a new three-part Channel 4 documentary series, Bigfoot Files, which starts on Sunday.

A book by Prof Sykes about his research, The Yeti Enigma: A DNA Detective Story, is to be published next spring.

Given that for many decades, even since the advent of DNA testing (very expensive), those looking for the Yeti have found hairs and other "artefacts" of yeti and just checked under a microscope and said "bear" or found fecal matter with hair -"bear" I find it funny.

There are going to be people out there screeching "That should have been MY discovery!"  And whis is it NOT their discovery? Because they would not test further.  Science "knows" everything out there and now that this pompous attitude has been dropped and DNA testing carried out....

I do not think many who are versed in the subject believed that yeti and Sasquatch/Bigfoot were related. The yeti never conformed to behaviour noted in Bigfoot.  Also, there are the attacks by yeti -killing one or more yak and even injuring people.

But, I am sure some will point out, just because these are said the be yeti hair does not necessarily mean they are yeti hair.  It won't stop the manic "Yeti is a mystery ape" crowd.

What does this all mean, though? Well, now every TV company, scientific institution are going to be getting money together for trail cams and better scientific evidence -even the first 'yeti' footage!

Luckily, the yeti is protected in its homeland and I think anyone thinking of going to hunt one would get very swift kicking out of the country.

After watching the programme last night I wrote:

My initial notes on Channel 4 TVs "yeti" programme titled "Bigfoot" (naturally):

C4s Yeti documentary. Travelogue. Talk about bears but not the reports that differ from what might be bears. 
A brown bear paw cast that matches (if you take away the bear claws and ignore the dissimilarities) Shipton's yeti foot print -plenty of sarcastic comments suggesting hoaxy climbers and natives not able to tell a bear -and we are talking a BEAR- from what they call a yeti.
Two hairs dis-prove the yeti are anything than a bear "might be" "could be" "possibly" "If they still exist". 
DNA was interesting but Sykes got 10(?) minutes of the programme and judging by a BBC interview he DOES have unidentified hair samples but it seems C4 cut that. If you have samples send them to him because he is serious even if the series isn't!
what a pile of s***.
Does the Yeti exist? Going by this programme -maybe, possibly, we don't know. 
Now here is the problem. I have absolutely no doubt that Professor Sykes is genuine. I think that is beyond question and there is no "hidden agenda" as someone put it to me.  He admits to having unidentified hairs and he has a true scientific curiosity which is to investigate the evidence and see where it leads because THAT is what science is supposed to do.

I've worked with TV people -Sky, BBC, ITV and Channel 4 and there is one thing you learn: despite every promise from those working on a piece for TV you can guarantee that they are being nice and "tolerant" toward you because they NEED your imput.  Some are genuinely nice but know that the final edit is not theres.  

You get the "oh, maybe they ought to lay off the strong stuff" or "That must have been one Friday night" -suggesting drink was involved in the witnesses cases -I got an apology from the BBC when they made it sound that I was a loony eccentric and I presented my credentials as having been a member of the official Partners Against Wildlife Crime (PAWS), UK police forces advisor on exotic animals and of course having my name on a couple of conference papers not to mention write ups as being "a noted naturalist". But that apology was from the reporter. "I am sorry but the editor/director makes the decisions" and so I blacklisted any future work from the BBC.

I did expect something like "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science" but that was a mental aberration on my part.  The presenter was THE main feature of the programme so we got no real look at Sykes' work. It was, as I wrote, a travelogue.

I should not have expected more from Channel 4 -I've heard two conversations today where members of the public were saying "Did you see that on TV -they proved the yeti and bigfoot were bears". And THAT is what will stick in peoples minds. None will have read a book or even Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science or even seen the TV programme of the same name. They do not care.

The rather sarcastic "gentlemen climbers wouldn't pull a hoax" line was so insulting. The travelogue was there for one reason: so that C4s resident "animal expert" could start leading people up the bear trail and then edit Sykes down to "its a bear. possibly. might be"

If you were expecting science you'll be disappointed -they were building the programme up in that way but it was a sham.

Again, though, if you have possible Sasquatch hair GET THEM TO PROFESSOR SYKES!

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