But the fate of these kind of expeditions – and the entire field of cryptozoology - could soon be decided by Sykes and his team. If the Oxford Lausanne project finds something interesting, it opens up the possibility of further attention from mainstream science. But another possibility is that the team races through all of the samples in the museum and proves that all of them come from species already known to science. Certainly history suggests this outcome is likely.
For example a “Yeti finger” that lay in the Royal College of Surgeons museum in London since the 1950s was tested in 2011, revealing that the remains were in fact human. While in 2008, tests on hairs collected in India showed they came from a species of Himalayan goat. Countless other examples have met with similar results.
If that is the case, the current saviour of cryptozoology could become its own worst enemy. And then, Sartori says, it will be time for believers to put up or shut up.
“We are challenging the people who claim to have seen the Yeti or the Orang Pendek to show us real evidence, or otherwise hold your peace,” he says.