Thursday, 19 November 2015

Australian Yowie Project Podcasts

We have finally gotten around to creating our podcasts, our first one is now available on the link below - check it out

Saturday, 7 November 2015

What are they?

What are they?

In the years I have been conducting research into this 'creature' 'legend' or 'myth', the remaining question is what are they, if they are in fact real? And that is the $64000 question isn’t it?

First of all let me say that this was the last time I will say 'if' as I know they are real, I have encountered them, people I research with have encountered them and we have experienced them many times together whilst in the field. We have collected some of their evidence that we are consistently working through with our partners – so for me its not a 'if' they are real. However for many of you reading this it is an 'if' and your searching for information on your own journey to answer your own questions about the existence of this being

I can only put foreword what we know and what our research has led us to understand about these creatures. We can only comment on our theories based upon available information at hand or concepts and ideas as to their origins that 'seem' to support what limited facts we have. Some can be proven some cannot. Not until we have a body or a live specimen can we be sure of their 'origins' or 'genetic composition' and after a battery of tests to confirm or dispel what we currently think we know. I am not an Anthropologist nor any form of scientist. These are the best efforts of layman who have built networks of scientists of the years, and the list is still growing in order to answer the question - what are they?

Hair & Genetics

Over the years, we have collected numerous hair samples most of which we have used the CSRIO Australian animal hair database to identify and most samples have been easily identified. The samples we have not been able to identify fit into the unknown category. These unknowns, under closer scrutiny of the external hair scale patterns, have extremely close similarities to human hair, so much so that in the past some specialists have instantly labelled human hair. After tireless work and cross referencing by other researchers here and abroad have they have found significant differences that have been matched in presentation and in observation to other samples in different parts of the country and from the United States, this doesn’t mean they are the same species, its just that the hair have the same characteristics.

A forensic specialist, a Professor, here in Australia studied one of our samples over the last two years and concluded that whilst the outward appearance seems to suggest an exceptional closeness to human hair it is unlikely to be human. The hair is tapered, which tells us they hair has never been cut. The Professor also found that under examination of the internal cross section of the hair that there is a distinct lack medulla. This is consistent across all samples. Only a very small percentage (less than 1%) of human hair have this lack of medulla (Northern Europeans) but it is a distinct primate trait, consistent with great apes. The conclusion thus far (excluding DNA testing) is that on this examination that at very least they are primate, but not necessarily ape or human but possibly something bordering exceptionally close to both.

If the Professor is correct and that they are so close to both species and that the demarcation of species is extremely close and difficult to identify without a point of reference. The problem with DNA testing of these samples is that most of the DNA is contained within the medulla, no medulla virtually no usable DNA – which is why only hair samples with follicle will be tested by us moving forward. Furthermore given the possible closeness to human beings, when DNA testing in conducted the labs use human primers. This is problematic as the result you always get back is going to be either human, or unknown primate due to the probable genetic closeness, its a default position as the basic DNA tests are not sensitive enough to tell difference correctly, and we do not have the budget for a full genome report. Its also note worthy that as far we know, no DNA tests have been conducted using Great ape primers. We would envisage that the result if this was done, would be similar to the human tests.

The bottom line is two fold. 1. Better hair samples be obtained and 2. a serious budget for this genetic research are the only answers to these problems experienced with this type of testing. A full genome report is required on only the best samples.

So what else do we know?

Based upon our own research over the last 6 years in our research areas, we have found the following below ;

      1. During Winter months in Australia they seem to be more diurnal and more nocturnal during the           summer months.
  1. They can be active during the day, they especially like cooler and overcast weather, seem to prefer wet and cool conditions
  2. They obviously will venture closer to humans at night and will not advance beyond tree lines during the day.
  3. We believe that they are omnivores, having strong preference towards sweet fruits such as melons, sweet corn, grapes and berries, will take meat when available. Similar in diet to an Orang-utan based on feeding station results and dental patterns we obtained from eaten corn cobs – do not seem to like vegetables such as lettuce or cabbage
  4. Given their reported size they could not survive on meat alone, estimated calorific intake by biologist Gary Opit could be 5000 calories per day +
  5. Behaviour seems to be closer to Gorilla (Primatology Field guide Volume 2) behaviour with a vocal range inline with Orangutan (Orangutans – Behavioural ecology and conversation – Oxford University press) MHz range.
  6. They will nest  in trees, and sleep during the day under high thick canopies using natural formations as a first preference such as pandanis groves, giant elkhorns and staghorns either in or under large fallen trees, or like parrots inside of rotted tree trunks.
  7. Based upon daytime encounters we have found that they only seem to have good or sharp day vision inside 40 meters. Which is why we have often wore clothes that are black, brown or dark grey to purposely confuse the issue for them in order to try to get as close as possible, hoping they would mistake us for one of their own, at least from long range – definite light sensitivities
  8. Based upon day or night encounters they do not seem to like loud noises i.e.: heavy machinery, engines or gunfire.
Gorrilla Bed 

Suspected Yowie Ground bed - Similarities in all three are striking 

This is a brief list of just some of the traits we have found and observed ourself over the years. Expansion of these points is too large for this blog however, understanding leads to discovery and we have always known that proper scientific data collection and analysis is the key to unlocking this puzzle.

So does this mean they are Apes?

Not necessarily, but we what we do know is that they are a form or undiscovered Primate with a stable DNA structure, which it would have to be to survive in small populations – like an Orangutans. The Orangutan as a species is 19 million years old originating in Africa and leaving that continent along with Gigantopithecus and Gigantus and a few others and headed for ASIA. The Orangutan DNA has only mutated once in the time, 400,000 years ago when the Borneo branch or the species formed away from the main Sumatran line (I will address this idea in my next blog) however the point is that it is proven that small numbers of a species can exist so long as the DNA is stable.

We do know that they will sleep and live in trees as well as on the ground, we know that their diet, at least to that of our study subjects, is similar to orang-utan and that their vocalisations are similar too and comparable with other great apes. We know that from our sightings and witnesses accounts that the physical morphology is described as Ape like and some footprints have shared some characteristics with others apes, other prints have looked distinctly human in appearance. A paleo anthropologist told me that when Apes are young they have a more human looking build until they mature and their muscles begin to grow.

When it comes to their their possible intelligence however that where the comparisons to apes seems to end by and large. The two smartest apes on the planet and the closest to humans genetically is the Bonobo and Orangutan – with the Bonobo having been awarded human protectorate / non human rights by the United Nations. Based on data collected at feeding and camera stations by us and other researchers around the country their intelligence in avoiding detection and constant observation would seem to surpass the other two species. Their intelligence has been described by those who have witnessed it as a type of, 'people smart' in a primitive sense. The fact they fear humans and fear detection suggest a conscientiousness in in excess than that of contemporary great apes bordering on human-like intelligence.

The only one certain fact we know right now is that they are some form of primate, how close or how far to us is yet to be determined but based on very preliminary work and limited budgets. We have a theory as to who they may have been related to and how they got here but it is only a theory which I will address in my next blog, but that we cannot prove with good genetic samples and a budget to test them properly

Ray Doherty  

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Survivor Man: Bigfoot                                                                       By Ray Doherty April 2015 

In the words of Survivor Man Les Stroud he is not a big-footer, nor an enthusiast nor is he a witness to a sighting. He is a man who has had some experiences and he now wants answers - The truth. These are in  his words in the new episodes of 'Survivor Man Bigfoot' airing in the US this April in which Les heads to deepest and most remote parts of Canada and the United States in his 'quest', for Bigfoot or at the very least proof or signs of a large Apex predator is living in North America. For a self described non believer we can follow Les through this series as he applies balanced scientific view in his work and is challenged by a series of events that has him questioning his beliefs about this creature. His guide, Todd Standing, is barely seen in these new adventures

In my view, this series is by far an away the most professionally produced series of documentaries on the subject that I have ever seen. Even the older 'Monster Quest' and 'In Search of ' series was very informative but this is by far the superior in terms of content that is relevant to not only the man in the street but also in some measure the field researcher where as so many contemporary shows fail. A man (or men) on the ground, searching, looking for signs, setting up feeding stations - applying their field craft in a methodical, thoughtful and professional way. This is how the subject matter needs to be handled and produced if we are serious on the content, and Stroud seems serious to me.

Now many of you will say, 'sure but he makes money from it or he gets paid for doing it' well of course he does, a documentarian is who he is, it's what he does. I have always maintained that it doesn't bother me in the slightest if people get paid for this work, so long as the content is genuine, first rate, follows scientific principles and is well produced. This certainly meets my criteria. In the plethora of poorly produced US cable shows on this subject, IE: Mountain Monsters, which make more of a mockery of the subject than rather provide a critical view, only serve to tarnish or to belittle the work of us genuine researchers in the view of the public at large.
Todd Standing and Les Stroud on location in Alberta, Canada
Stroud goes about his work methodically in this series and there are several points I wish to address and how this work clearly demonstrates the validity of the work in Australia in our search for the Yowie. The one impressive quality that Stroud brings to the field is his impressive knowledge in photography and more over small covert devices. Having a strong understanding of camouflage and allowing things such as DNA traps and concealed hard disk records to be practically invisible in his quest is an area that we all are striving to achieve. Herein lays the benefit of being a professionally produced program via his network given that there are far more expert camera technicians that us ordinary fold can access.

In our work as researchers regardless of where are in the world and regardless of our quarry we must, through our own initiative and expense embrace and become, at some level,  a Primatologist, Anthropologist, Biologist, Geneticist, Photographer, Outdoorsman, Trackers, Botanist - all of these things we must invest hours in knowing and using discipline in acquiring if we are to be and taken as serious for the reality is that we are in fact on our own and have only each other to work off. If we where perhaps millionaires who can engage a large range of paid specialists and an array of DNA labs then it would be vastly different. Stroud shows some simple techniques that if your not already using then you will find useful. He makes many good points, especially about remaining objective when in the field

As mentioned, there are several points I need to raise that I observed in this program that will in many ways answer a lot of our own questions as it relates to purported evidence in this country. I will say that I am somewhat disappointed that they (Standing & Stroud) kept this search strictly terrestrial, it tells me that perhaps Stroud should broadened his horizons a little further as we know in this country via our work and work and testimony of others that are also Arboreal. This was evidenced when several US based video-bloggers identified  object(s) in tree's, photobombing the episode. I must say that some of these items are compelling.
Les sets one of his hidden Camera's and DNA Traps at a feeding station
This was impressive, a hidden HD camera inside a fake 

Grosse. He drilled into it placed the camera and wire runs 

to a small hard disk recorder that is buried in a plastic container
close by. He covered it so well you cant see and covered his 
scene with Beaver scent - Good lessons for us 
Tree breaks - After watching the series so far I am even more convinced the role tree breaks can play for our work here, I am uncertain if we actually ever understood the true significance of them. We are a long way away from knowing what they mean but we have them as they are found in the US. In a line or in a direction serving as boundary markers perhaps. The one truly critical point to consider for us here is that in 99% of our country we do not have snow fall. So no breaks here can be caused in that way, rotting, yes perhaps, but not in sequence and certainly not in freak regularity.

A nearly identical stick structure found by us in 2012
Les makes a great point, something else that we all can forget at times. When we are in area and we get to know the area. We need, no we must develop a baseline for what is normal in the region, what is the norm in terms of terrain or dead falls etc for when we know that we have a much greater awareness of what is not normal in the bush, what could not be naturally made or constructed by chance

A tree Structure that Stroud finds in 

The final point I would ask you to consider in comparing results in the US, in particularly pointed out in this program that really, at least for me, sends home a strong point and thats on foot prints. My US colleagues tell me that for the untrained novice researcher it is very easy to confuse a bear track with a Sasquatch print. Especially if the bear is walking in another bears tracks. You then get an elongated track that is easily confused with Bigfoot.
A Bear print for Canada

How does this help us? well we don't have bear's, there are virtually no people I have ever seen with a 42 inch length print found in the middle of the Australian bush, regardless if it is semi used location. I believe we take this fact for granted and that we really do not consider the gravity of this reality. The skeptics will says its anything other than the single prints of a large bi pedal creature.

A 44 Inch foot print found by The Australian Yowie Project in
June 2013 

By looking at these two photos we can see that for us here in our work there is no confusion. There is no doubt. It is a salient point worth noting despite if you think that I have pointed out the bleeding obvious.

Our job should be easier, we dont have wolves, cougars, brown bears, black bears, wolverines, and a host of other predatory animals that not only confuse and potentially erase Sasquatch evidence for the equation is simple. Its either human as we know it or its not.

In conclusion we need more people in the bush with better quality equipment. Make your own Survivorman style programs for the more people out looking and applying basic scientific principles the sooner we can move onto the next phase of our work which is to study them. Finding them is only a quarter of the job.

Les Stroud has produced a brilliant series that has great content for all. It is a professional and serious look and a subject that has been dealt with by ridicule in the main stream media for decades. Finally a critical point of view and he gets results

- Cheers

Ray Doherty

NB: All images where found and supplied by google and as such are and remain in the public domain and a matter or public record) All other Images are and remain the copyright of the Australian Yowie Project (C) 2015