Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:48pm EDT
Results from tests on genetic material from alleged remains of one of the mythical half-ape and half-human creatures, made public at a news conference on Friday held after the claimed discovery swept the Internet, failed to prove its existence.
Its spread was fueled by a photograph of a hairy heap, bearing a close resemblance to a shaggy full-body gorilla costume, stuffed into a container resembling a refrigerator.
One of the two samples of DNA said to prove the existence of the Bigfoot came from a human and the other was 96 percent from an opossum, according to Curt Nelson, a scientist at the University of Minnesota who performed the DNA analysis.
Bigfoot creatures are said to live in the forests of the U.S. Pacific Northwest. An opossum is a marsupial about the size of a house cat.
Results of the DNA tests were revealed in an e-mail from Nelson and distributed at the Palo Alto, California, news conference held by Tom Biscardi, host of a weekly online radio show about the Bigfoot.
Also present were Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer, the two who say they discovered the Bigfoot corpse while hiking in the woods of northern Georgia. They also are co-owners of a company that offers Bigfoot merchandise.
Despite the dubious photo and the commercial interests of the alleged discoverers, the Bigfoot claim drew interest from Australia to Europe and even The New York Times.
Biscardi said the DNA samples may not have been taken correctly and may have been contaminated, and that he would proceed with an autopsy of the alleged Bigfoot remains, currently in a freezer at an undisclosed location.
(Reporting by Clare Baldwin in Palo Alto; writing by Jim Christie; editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Henderson)