VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The debate over the existence of sasquatch, aka Bigfoot, an ape-like creature said to haunt the wilderness of western Canada has entered the world of modern DNA testing.
A laboratory will test hair samples that several residents of Teslin, Yukon, say were left when the large, but so-far mythological creature made a late-night run through their community in early July.
University of Alberta wildlife geneticist David Coltman, who agreed to do the tests as a favor to a colleague, said on Monday that scientists have cataloged the DNA of nearly all large animals in the Yukon such as bears and bison.
"So we'll compare it to all of that, and if it doesn't match anything, then it's potentially interesting," said Coltman, who suspects the hair was actually left behind by a much more mundane Yukon bison.
"If sasquatch is indeed a primate, then we would expect the sample to be closer to humans or chimpanzees or gorillas," Coltman said.
The legend of a large, hairy, two-legged creature lurking in the mountains of western Canada and the United States dates back to before Europeans settled the continent. This was the second report of the creature near Teslin in just over a year.
In the latest sighting, a group of Teslin residents told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. they heard branches cracking and saw a large human-like creature run by a house. It left behind large footprints, they said, and the hair tufts that were given to wildlife officials.
Coltman expects to have his results on Thursday and said that even if the hair turns out not to be from a sasquatch, the process should serve as good way to get students interested in the field of DNA testing.
"It's sort of like a wildlife CSI story," he said.
Thanks to Steve for the tip off.. -Van