Mystery hair brings little interest from the scientific community

At the end of January, the blogger and researcher known as “Texas Cryptid Hunter” received an intriguing report. A driver hit what appeared to be a large black feline on the road. The damaged car contained hairs (the animal escaped) which he was able to retrieve and pass along to the researcher. The story continues…

Texas Cryptid Hunter: Alleged Black Panther Hair Analysis.

The first thing I decided to do was to get the hairs to a friend of mine who has some background in hair analysis. To be completely up front, he is not a professional when it comes to this sort of thing but is very competent, owns his own microscope, and has the know how to quickly identify the hair of most common North American mammals. He holds a degree in Animal Science from Tarleton State University and is a life-long hunter, trapper, and naturalist. He is more than qualified to do the initial analysis of these hairs. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have a bag full of hog hair before I went out on a limb and sent the samples in to a university or lab for analysis. His results, supported with photographs of the samples, yielded results that were promising.

Analysis and pictures are included. The tentative conclusion is that they look like leopard hairs. So TCH wishes to have them analyzed by an expert. What happens? No one wants to look at them. No one is interested. He gets the brush off from university scientists.

Am I surprised? No. They think there are no big cats in Texas so it would be a waste of their time. This is scientific conservatism at work. I know people decry this but it almost always works pretty well. Scientists are very busy and can’t afford to be diverted by something that will almost certainly amount to nothing. That said, I am disappointed that there isn’t a more cooperative attitude to see what this animal could have been. It was large enough to damage the car. Skeptics want the evidence. Here is the evidence and there is no one to look at it.

So I will reiterate the appeal:

I find myself in a rather ironic situation. I am being told by biologists that there is no such thing as black panthers because there is no evidence to support their existence. When I share with these biologists that I may very well have evidence that could support the existence of these animals I am told that my evidence cannot be valid since they don’t exist. The circular nature of these arguments is incredibly frustrating.

I am at an impasse and don’t know what my next move will be. I am open to suggestions. If anyone out there has expertise in this area or can suggest someone that does I would appreciate it if you would contact me. I think that, based on the preliminary analysis, I might have something important here. I want to find out.

Can anyone help out? It’s important to get answers. It’s really NOT a waste of your time. It means a closure to a problem sighting. That’s worthwhile.

  8 comments for “Mystery hair brings little interest from the scientific community

  1. Fortean UK
    May 24, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    This is the sort of daft attitude that leads to head meeting desk.

  2. May 24, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    it does cost money. If you had proof, say a photo…or more personal reports…well, they would still want money to at least cover expenses. Expecting free testing,basically means you want someone to pay . So you need a lab willing to cover the expense, it really isn’t free even for the lab. You are asking someoe to pay for it…if you could pay….do it. The news alone if it is a big cat will be reason enough.

  3. May 24, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    If you want something tested, you can get it tested. Period. Just send it to the appropriate lab and pay their fee.

    If you want something improbable tested, and you want it tested free, at taxpayer expense, it would probably help if you are someone with at least a smidgen of credibility.

  4. May 25, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Anyone know if Todd Disotell might do the testing? He’s been pretty good with the bigfoot folks even if their results are never bigfoot.

  5. May 25, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    You have to have the root to extract DNA I think. He does DNA testing, not hair analysis. But, yes, they do cost money to run such tests.

  6. Bearman
    May 25, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    To date, no black panthers/cougars/pumas have been documented but there are melanistic phases of jaguar, leopard and bobcat (I have examined the carcass of one of these). In all 3 of these cases the spots of the cat are still visible. Other than DNA, it is possible to get a suggestion of what it might be from looking at the hair under magnification. The core (medulla) of the shaft as well as the outer surface (cuticle) have characteristic patterns that differ from species to species. There are published keys with photos to mammal hair available. Without a key in front of me I’m not sure whether there are enough differences between the feline genera of Puma (cougar) and Panthera (jaguar) to be diagnostic.

  7. May 25, 2013 at 8:20 PM
  8. June 5, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    There are still a lot of mountain lion in Texas. A photo was snapped on trap cam near my in-laws in Granbury last year and the foot prints even turn up in the suburbs. So there ARE big cats in Texas, just not big BLACK cats. The dude can get the hairs tested. There’s a great DNA lab in San Marcos that will do it cheap, right on the university campus. Bag ’em, tag ’em, pay a little fee. It seems to be the “pay money” part that’s causing the problem. Dude never hear of Kickstarter?

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