SCIENTISTS EXTRACT DNA FROM MYSTERY APE HAIR
For Immediate Release 2010-08-18
A team of Danish scientists who have been analysing hair samples brought back from Indonesia by a British expedition last autumn have found some potentially world-shattering results. The expedition was looking for the fabled orang pendek, an upright walking ape from Sumatra which is only known from eyewitness reports.
Expedition leader ADAM DAVIES has been to Sumatra five times since 1999, to look for the orang pendek. Over the years, there has been a gradual refinement in his search technique. He is certain that it exists, and when he first went to Sumatra he was struck as to how authentic the first-hand accounts seemed to be. On a previous expedition in 2001, prints and hair were found, and subsequently examined by world famous hair analysis expert Professor Hans Brunner and by Dr David Chivers of Cambridge University. They independently concluded that they were from an unknown primate closely related to the two species of orang-utan.
Last weekend at the annual conference of the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ), the world’s largest mystery animal research group, Danish scientist Lars Thomas announced the results so far. The preliminary DNA analysis of the hairs appears to resemble that of an orang-utan. He says:
“… the significance is quite enormous no matter what the result is basically, because if it turns out to be orang-utan this proves that there is orang-utan in a part of Sumatra several hundred kilometres from the nearest population of orang-utan. If it turns out to be a primate that looks like an orang-utan but isn’t, it’s an even greater discovery because that proves that there is another great ape living in Indonesia”.
A morphological analysis of the hair samples also corroborated Professor Brunner’s findings.
RICHARD FREEMAN, the zoological director of the CFZ has been to Sumatra on three occasions, the hairs in question being found on the last expedition in September 2009. On this particular trip were Adam Davies (leader), Richard Freeman, Chris Clark, Dave Archer plus their guides Sahar, John, Dally and Doni. It was the brother – John Didmus - of their main guide Sahar, who found the hairs on a small sapling about 3 feet off the ground. Richard said that:
“if the hair turns out to be from a new species, it would be the first confirmed upright walking ape which then throws an interesting light upon other reported bipedals like the yeti, etc. It may also help tell us how bipedalism in humans first developed. Also, the fact that such a large animal was found on an island roughly the same size as Britain could be significant as it may also mean that there could be other large animals still to be found across the world.”
Film of Lars Thomas carrying out a morphological hair analysis of the samples for CFZ Director Jon Downes, and an interview with Lars Thomas can be found at:
Adam Davies can be contacted on 07952 381110 Richard Freeman can be contacted on 07900 642781. To arrange an interview with Lars Thomas, or to get pictures, please telephone Corinna Downes on 01237 431413