Page last updated at 23:36 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 00:36 UK

Americans 'find body of Bigfoot'

"Bigfoot's" finders released pictures at a press conference

Two men in the US state of Georgia say they have found the body of a Bigfoot, the legendary ape-like creature that has been subject of decades of hoaxes.

Matt Whitton and Rick Dyer say they stumbled across the 2.3m-high (7ft 7in), 226kg (500 pound) corpse in a wood in the north of the state in June.

A photograph on the men's website shows what appears to be the body of a large, hairy creature with an ape-like face.

Bigfoot experts reacted suspiciously to the men's claims.

First documented report was prints found by Canadian trader in 1811
Name dates from 1958 reports of giant footprints found in California
Ray Wallace, who died in 2002, claimed to have faked these
Most famous footage shot in 1967 and contested ever since

"What I've seen so far is not compelling in the least, and I think the pictures cast grave doubts on their claim," said Jeffery Meldrum, a Bigfoot researcher and Idaho State University professor.

"It just looks like a costume with some fake guts thrown on top for effect," he told the Scientific American magazine.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service also said its officers were not taking the claim seriously and would not investigate it.

"Bigfoot" finder describes making the discovery

At a news conference in Palo Alto, California, Mr Whitton and Mr Dyer said they had found the body of a male Bigfoot with reddish hair, "blackish-grey" eyes, and human-like feet and hands while out hiking.

"I recognised it was unusual right away," said Mr Whitton, a police officer. "The first thing that pops into your head is that it's Bigfoot."

They also said they saw three other live creatures while carrying the corpse away.

"They were silent," Mr Whitten added.

Another picture is said to show a live Bigfoot in the wood in north Georgia

The two men also brought what they said were the results of DNA tests on the corpse's body tissue which were undertaken by Curt Nelson, a biologist at the University of Minnesota.

According to Mr Nelson, one test showed human DNA, another was inconclusive, while a third came back as the DNA of a possum, which he said could have been from something the Bigfoot had eaten.

Bigfoot is a humanoid creature said to wander the wooded wilds of the Pacific Northwest.

Stories of a giant ape roaming the forests of North America date back to before European settlement. But despite occasional footprints and photographs, there has never been much proof of Bigfoot's existence.

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