Status of the DNA Analysis
of Hair Samples at Ohio State Univ.
On August 5, 1995, two separate sets of hair samples were collected by three persons (P. Freeman, B. Laughery, and W. Sumerlin) in the Blue Mountains east of Walla Walla, Washington. The group first tracked three sets of fresh foot prints, then found freshly twisted-off trees with hair caught in them, and within a short time later observed a sasquatch at less than 100 feet with binoculars. The hair was sent to Dr. W. Henner Fahrenbach (Beaverton, Oregon), who determined microscopically that the hair appeared to have come from two individuals of the same species, that it differed in color, length and hair growth cycle between the two sets, had not been not cut, and was indistinguishable from human hair by any criterion.
Hence, DNA analysis suggested itself as the only methodology of promise. Through a nation-wide search of pertinent laboratories and some fortuitous contacts, W.H.F. located an investigator (Dr. P. Fuerst) in the Department of Molecular Genetics of Ohio State University, who had a specific interest in DNA analysis of Wildman and sasquatch hair. The hair underwent lengthy and concerted analytical study by Dr. Fuerst and a graduate student, J. A. Poe, both with extensive experience in hair DNA analysis.
Although the ultimate results have not generated a diagnostic sequence of a mitochondrial gene, which might have yielded information on the relationship of the sasquatch to other primates, we nonetheless decided to publish the outcome rather than let the study fade away as most preceding such events have.
As of January 1998, the article is virtually finished except for some illustrative material and will be shortly submitted to the Journal of Cryptozoology.
W. Henner Fahrenbach Ph.D.
Affiliate Curator of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization
Update, March 20, 1998:
Re: Interim Statement on the Blue Mountain / Ohio Hair.
After lengthy deliberation, we (W. H. Fahrenbach, J. A. Poe, and P. Fuerst), co-authors of the intended article on the Eastern Washington hair found in August, 1995, have decided to withhold submission of the manuscript of the analysis until more DNA from tissue, preferably with attached hair, is obtained. Our studies have not yielded a sequenced mitochondrial gene fragment to determine the phylogenetic affiliation of the creature. The ambiguous results at the present time can, on the one hand, generate misplaced enthusiasm and be quoted as "proof", or, on the other hand, can be used by the opposite camp to criticize and denigrate the results unfairly.
This decision emphasizes the critical need to obtain tissue samples rather than hair alone. Such should be fresh blood or possibly minimal shreds of torn skin caught on some obstruction. Feces are not suitable at the present time. If such suggestive remains are detected, they should be collected without contact by human hands directly into a vial containing 70% alcohol and forwarded to one of the undersigned investigators (hair to WHF).
Dr. W. H. Fahrenbach (Hennerf@bfro.net)
Dr. P. Fuerst
Department of Molecular Genetics
Ohio State University
484 W. 12th Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43210
W. Henner Fahrenbach Ph.D.
Affiliate Curator of the Bigfoot Field Researcher's Organization
Update, November 3, 1999:
I have by now a dozen purported sasquatch hair samples, all morphologically congruent (which rules out hoaxing) and all effectively indistinguishable from a human hair of the particular structure (great variability is available among the latter). DNA extracted from both hair shaft or roots (hair demonstrably fresh) was too fragmented to permit gene sequencing. That characteristic is also sometimes found in human hair that lacks the medulla (as does sasquatch hair - at least what I am willing to identify as such).
I am concentrating now on blood or tissue, as the hair holds no promise. Feces do so even less, since the DNA collecting has to be done while they are practically steaming fresh, and it is improbable in the extreme that anybody with fecal DNA expertize would stumble onto fresh sasquatch droppings.
Contrary to popular belief, I have not encountered any deliberate effort to produce a hoax with hair samples, even in the much decried case of the fiber sample gathered by Paul Freeman. The same man-made fibers have been found elsewhere in the mountains by others and may be an environmental contaminant. People like Paul Freeman submit these samples for analysis precisely because they are not sure what they are at the time of collection.
Dr. W. Henner Fahrenbach
Affiliate Curator of the BFRO
Other Articles by Dr. Fahrenbach:
Dr. Fahrenbach can be reached via e-mail at HennerF@BFRO.net
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