Hair of the Yeti

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 10th, 2005

In a comment to an earlier blog, delfin asks:
“Would you please tell me if genetic analysis has been used for ‘identification’ of the hair brought by Slick and Hillary? If yes, what the results are? If no, why still not?”

I’ve discussed this question, in depth, in Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology, but here’s a summary and a few other thoughts.

The Hillary hair samples from 1960 were mostly from only one of the Buddhist monasteries they visited, the Khumjung Lamasery. The famed supposed Yeti scalp from this Buddhist monastery was brought back to Paris and Chicago by Edmund Hillary and Marlin Perkins.

Bernard Heuvelmans and other mammalian experts examined it along the way. Hillary and the publicity from his World Book expedition claimed the Buddhist monks said the Khumjung skullcap was “from a Yeti.” But as members of the 1954 Daily Mail expedition (e.g. Charles Stonor and Ralph Izzard) had been writing for years, and also noted by Bernard Heuvelmans and Ivan T. Sanderson, these scalps were made “in imitation of Yeti.” Therefore, it was not a surprise when it was discovered that the animal from which the skullcaps were made was the serow.

Now rare or extinct in some of its former habitat, the mainland or Asiatic serow (Nemorhaedus sumatraensis) ranges from the Himalayas of Nepal, north to Gansu and Anhui in China, and south to the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. The serows are the most generalized representatives of the bovid subfamily of goat antelopes called Caprinae, and are the most primitive living Caprinae. Their fossils appear in the late Pliocene of 7 to 2 million years ago. Serows are, thus indeed, living fossils.

As to the hair samples obtained during the Slick-Johnson expeditions, perhaps the individual is thinking of the hair/skin samples from the Pangboche hand and the stool samples of the The-lma (smaller Yeti), which were gathered. The DNA results from the Pangboche analysis revealed that is was “near human, but not human.” And the fecal material showed a parasite species that was unknown, and thus theorized to be found only from an unknown primate.

The problem with Yeti and Bigfoot hair samples’ results are that until we have a type-specimen for Yeti and/or Sasquatch/Bigfoot, we mostly will hear about negative results. Analysis coming back “inconclusive” will be misread by the media as “showing nothing.” But actually inconclusive results are what we would expect until we have a verified sample from an authentic Yeti or Bigfoot.

Recently, I asked for Bigfoot hair samples via this blog, and I was taken to task privately for one part of the wording of my request. I mentioned that I was interested in a sample, even “if eventual tests revealed it was something else.”

Of course, I was not saying I wanted “unanalyzed hair” but, indeed, samples that had been analyzed and found to be “bison hair” or “hair brush hair” or “inconclusive” or “unknown animal.” A display will not revolve around one strand of hair, but a sampling of various “unknown hominoid hairs” as well as “serow” or “bison” hair to demonstrate some external and intriguing descriptive details revealing some interesting histories.

Some good Bigfoot hair do exist, and, of course, a library of superb examples exist with Dr. Henner Fahrenbach. Few people have seen them. He has recently written me that he has “numerous [Sasquatch] congruent samples, including some collected under compellingly tight circumstances.” A university-based display would allow some educational cryptozoological opportunies.

As to the analyses that have already been done leading to new insights, well, if we can get the type specimen of an Abominable Snowman and/or a Bigfoot, to compare these samples to those, we will be all set.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

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