London - Scientists are turning to genetic testing to see if they can prove the existence of the elusive hairy humanoid known across the world as bigfoot, yeti and sasquatch.
A joint project between Oxford University and Switzerland's Lausanne Museum of Zoology will examine organic remains that some say belong to the creature that has been spotted in remote areas for decades.
"It's an area that any serious academic ventures into with a deal of trepidation... It's full of eccentric and downright misleading reports," said Bryan Sykes at Oxford's Wolfson College.
But the team would take a systematic approach and use the latest advances in genetic testing, he added.
"There have been DNA tests done on alleged yetis and other such things but since then the testing techniques, particularly on hair, have improved a lot due to advances in forensic science," he told Reuters.
Modern testing could get valid results from a fragment of a shaft of hair said Sykes, who is leading the project with Michel Sartori, director of the Lausanne museum.
Ever since a 1951 expedition to Mount Everest returned with photographs of giant footprints in the snow, there has been speculation about giant Himalayan creatures, unknown to science.
There have been eyewitness reports of the 'yeti' or 'migoi' in the Himalayas, 'bigfoot' or 'sasquatch' in America, 'almasty' in the Caucasus mountains and 'orang pendek' in Sumatra.
Tests up to now have usually concluded that alleged yeti remains were actually human, he said. But that could have been the result of contamination. "There has been no systematic review of this material."