THE mysterious Yowie could be the forerunner of North America's Bigfoot, if the latest claims by long-time Yowie researchers are to be taken seriously.
Self-styled "Yowie Man" and cryptozoologist Rex Gilroy claims the Aussie Yowie predates similar oversized hairy creatures identified in Asia and North America.
Mr Gilroy, who has been Yowie hunting for 50 years, said his 2012 investigation of the Lismore and Border Ranges region netted several casts of Yowie footprints almost identical to, but smaller than those of the Bigfoot.
He said his latest discovery followed an "exhaustive study" over several years comparing cast Yowie tracks across the Australian East Coast mountain ranges with similar tracks across New Zealand, Asia, Russia and North America.
"All show basic physical features similar to those of the Yowie," Mr Gilroy said.
Our local region is widely considered to be the Yowie capital of Australia, with the most number of sightings between Lismore and the Gold Coast hinterland.
A sighting at Bexhill in June had a night-time driver confronting a Yowie on Bangalow Rd after it jumped a barbed wire fence with ease.
The witness chose to remain anonymous for fear of public ridicule.
Yowie enthusiasts widely hold the Yowies are a remnant population of living Homo erectus, who shared the same ancestors as modern Homo sapiens but gradually died off once we came on the scene.
"We've already proven that the Australian Homo erectus Yowies pre-date those of South-East Asia, China, Russia and North America," Mr Gilroy said.
"This implies migrations of Homo erectus out of Australia during the last Ice Age saw these beings establish themselves in these lands, where giant offshoots similar to their Australian relatives evolved."
If the latest claims are true, our region's ancient rainforests may have provided the spawning grounds for Homo erectus worldwide.
"This places Australia at the forefront of world relict hominid research," Mr Gilroy declared, although it strongly contradicts the conventional scientific view that Homo erectus came out of Africa.
Conventional paleoanthropologists who study the origins of humans call cryptozoology a pseudoscience. It deals in Yetis, Yowies and Bigfoots.