Do mythical creatures like Bigfoot ever turn out to be real?
By Brian Palmer
Scientists at Oxford University and Switzerland's Lausanne Museum of Zoology plan to use DNA evidence to determine once and for all whether Bigfoot is real, Reuters reported Tuesday. The museum has a collection of alleged sasquatch remains and will ask other institutions to send their own materials for analysis. When's the last time a mythical creature was proven real?Nine years ago. Hunters in Tanzania had for years spoken of a monkey they called the kipunji. Conservation biologists were skeptical, because the traditional tales of the Wanyakyusa people who populate the mountainous region include both real and mythical creatures. In 2003, however, biologists found the 3-foot-tall arboreal primate with brown body hair and a black face. The animal’s loud, low-pitched “honk bark” helped to distinguish it as a species. Researchers now believe there are between 1,000 and 2,000 kipunjis in the area.The kipunji is the most recent so-called cryptid to turn up in the wild, but it’s far from the first. Several well-known species began as rumors or legends. Throughout the 19th century, explorers of Africa reported glimpses of a zebra-like creature in the Ituri Forest of the Congo. Europeans began to refer to the creature as the “African unicorn.” In 1890, Henry Morton Stanley—of “Doctor Livingstone, I presume” fame—confirmed that the Wambutti pygmies who lived in the area spoke of a sacred animal that fit the description. (The Wambutti called the animal the O’api, but Stanley reported it as “atti.”) A decade later, explorers obtained hide and bones [PDF] from the animal, proving it was more closely related to the giraffe than the zebra. Today, the okapi is the mascot for the field of cryptozoology.
Read rest here: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/explainer/2012/05/bigfoot_dna_analysis_how_often_do_scientists_discover_mythical_creatures_.html
Ancient walking mystery deepens
By Helen Briggs BBC News
One of the first creatures to step on land could not have walked on four legs, 3D computer models show.Textbook pictures of the 360-million-year-old animal moving like a salamander are incorrect, say scientists.Instead, it would have hauled itself from the water using its front limbs as crutches, research in Nature suggests.The move from living in water to life on land - a pivotal moment in evolution - must have been a gradual one.Ichthyostega is something of an icon in the fossil world. Living during the Upper Devonian period, it was dubbed a "fishapod", with its mixture of fish-like and amphibious features.Although it probably spent much of its time under water, at times it was thought to have crawled halfway up onto land on limb-like flippers. Exactly how it moved on land has been a matter of much debate, however.
Read rest here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18177493