A drawing of the Yeti by Philippe Semeria & a footprint on Mt. Everest c. 1951 (Photo: AP)
Is the Yeti, aka the Abominable Snowman, real? It's a mystery that's attracted a lot of attention over the years — and now a U.K.-based geneticist says he may have solved the riddle.
Professor Bryan Sykes, a geneticist at the University of Oxford, put out a global call last year for samples from suspected Yeti findings and compared them with other animals' genomes stored on a database.
He believes the Yeti is not an apelike creature as it's usually depicted, but a cross between two modern types of bear, the polar bear and the brown bear, which is nearly identical to a type of ancient polar bear.
"In the Himalayas, I found the usual sorts of bears and other creatures amongst the collection [of findings sent to him]," Sykes told BBC radio.
"But the particularly interesting ones are the ones whose genetic fingerprints are linked not to the brown bears or any other modern bears, (but) to an ancient polar bear."
Sykes came to his conclusion after running DNA tests on hairs from two unidentified animals — one found in the western Himalayan region of Ladakh in Northern India, and the other in Bhutan, 1,300 kilometres to the east — and uncovering a genetic match.
He also matched the DNA with that found in the jawbone of a polar bear that dates back at least 40,000 years (and maybe as far as 120,000 years). At that time, the polar bear and brown bear, which are closely genetically related, were separating into two different species.
Sykes' theory is that the animal identified as a Yeti is a hybrid of the two modern bear species, which is why its DNA matches that of the jawbone. But he also says that he can't be certain of the existence of the creature he's describing.
"There’s more work to be done on interpreting the results," he told The Telegraph. "I don’t think it means there are ancient polar bears wandering around the Himalayas. But we can speculate on what the possible explanation might be."
"It could mean there is a sub species of brown bear in the High Himalayas descended from the bear that was the ancestor of the polar bear," he said. "Or it could mean there has been more recent hybridization between the brown bear and the descendant of the ancient polar bear.”
Sykes has submitted his findings to a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and they will also feature on an episode of a U.K. documentary series called Bigfoot Files.
Via The Telegraph