London, July 28 : Scientists have determined that hairs picked up in thick forest in the Garo hills in the mountains of Meghalaya in north-east India five years ago, is the best evidence yet of the existence of the mythical creature known as 'Yeti or 'Bigfoot'.
According to a report in The Independent, tests at UK's Oxford Brookes University on hairs which local people believe came from a yeti in the Indian jungle have failed to link them with any known species and are said to bear "a startling resemblance" to those brought back from the Himalayas by Sir Edmund Hillary half a century ago.
"The hairs are the most positive evidence yet that a yeti might possibly exist, because they are tangible," said Ape expert Ian Redmond, who is co-ordinating the research.
The two short hairs - 33mm and 44mm long - were picked up in thick forest in the Garo hills in the mountains of north-east India five years ago after a forester reported seeing a yeti for three days in a row breaking branches off trees and eating their sap.
The hills are one of several places in the world where similar creatures - Bigfoot in the US, the sasquatch in Canada, the sajarang gigi in Indonesia, and the yeti in Nepal - are part of local legend and from where occasional sightings are reported.
After being brought to Britain, the hairs were magnified up to 200 times, and one of them was cast in varnish to make a better two-dimensional image.
They were then compared with hairs from animals known to live in the hills.
"We fully expected them to come from a known animal," said Redmond. "We failed to find that. So the mystery remains and we go on to the next stage of investigation," he added.
The hairs will now be examined under an even more powerful microscope and sent to two different laboratories - in Oxford and Cardiff - for DNA testing.
"Follicles containing cells remain on the base of the hairs. "So, there is every chance that we will be able to get even closer to the truth," said Redmond.
If DNA analysis cannot identify the creature, it should be able to work out what it is related to, he explained.
"It could easily be an unknown primate, even if it is not a yeti," he said.