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'Yeti' DNA matches prehistoric polar bear

Posted on Thursday, 17 October, 2013 | Comment icon 49 comments

Could a species of bear have been mistaken for the Yeti ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Dirk Hartung

Alleged Yeti hairs retrieved from the Himalayas have been identified as those of a rare bear sub-species.

Genetics professor Bryan Sykes of Oxford University had set out to explore the myth of the enigmatic Yeti or 'Abominable Snowman' by collecting and testing samples of hair retrieved from regions of the Himalayas where the creature is believed to exist.

For his analysis he conducted tests on two hair samples, one from Ladakh and one from Bhutan. What he discovered was that one of the samples matched an ancient polar bear jawbone from Norway dating back between 40,000 and 120,000 years.

"This is an exciting and completely unexpected result that gave us all a surprise," said Prof Sykes. "There's more work to be done on interpreting the results. I don't think it means there are ancient polar bears wandering around the Himalayas."

The results do however suggest the possibility that the legend of the Yeti could in part be attributed to the presence of bears in the region.

"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," Prof Sykes added. "Or it could mean there has been more recent hybridisation between the brown bear and the descendent of the ancient polar bear."

Source: Independent | Comments (49)

Tags: Yeti, Bigfoot

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #40 Posted by skookum on 21 October, 2013, 8:04
This was all covered on a very interesting program last night on Channel 4 in the UK. The Yeti legend is pretty ancient throughout Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Each community has it's own name for it but their legends seem to suggest bear from the beginning. It seems to be Westerner's who changed the legend to a large man type creature. One German explorer was taken to see one that had been killed by hunters. He said he saw a bear which had some reminiscent to a wolf. He took some hair samples which were tested on the program.
Comment icon #41 Posted by Cyaneyed on 21 October, 2013, 11:12
The show skookum mentioned is uploaded , not sure if it's region blocked but you can definitely see it if you're in the UK.
Comment icon #42 Posted by Frank Merton on 21 October, 2013, 11:14
When I hear things like, "Legends seem to suggest," my non-belief hits the bell.
Comment icon #43 Posted by Bavarian Raven on 21 October, 2013, 14:07
Cool, that solves that. Though Sasquatches could be nothing more then a few small clans of uncontacted modern humans (aka "us") living out in the wilds, avoiding any contact. That being said, I'll be following this story with great interest.
Comment icon #44 Posted by Stardrive on 21 October, 2013, 18:30
It ain't over till the fat lady sings. As they say, "the book is better than the movie". The Quest for the Yeti will describe Sykes' hunt for genetic traces of species whose existence remains scientifically unconfirmed, including the Yeti, the Sasquatch and Big Foot. For the most part the samples he has tracked down for analysis have turned out to be known species such as humans, bears or apes; however two samples taken towards the end of his quest will "change our understanding of human history," he says. It does say "human history" not "bear his... [More]
Comment icon #45 Posted by Rogue Suga on 21 October, 2013, 19:21
The fact this DNA is pointing to a prehistoric time polar bear is even more weird!!!!
Comment icon #46 Posted by babymable on 21 October, 2013, 22:52
Why this is just making news now is beyond me, and why is this Brian Sykes guy is getting the credit for it. The hair from Bhutan was actually found in 2009 by Josh Gate's crew members during a taping of Destination Truth. Season 3 Episode 9. They found it and had it tested and it came back as a match for a ancient polar bear. No idea why a bigger deal wasn't made about it then, maybe it was because a 'TV show crew' found it and not a professor from Oxford lol.
Comment icon #47 Posted by vikas bagla on 22 October, 2013, 8:34
Indian epic "Ramayan" composed 7000 years ago depicts life story of Prince Ram who was helped by "man-bears" in his battles, who were headed by their commander named "Jaamvant".
Comment icon #48 Posted by HMS Dreadnought on 22 October, 2013, 9:42
So it's a brown bear crossed with a polar bear, very interesting all the same!
Comment icon #49 Posted by White Crane Feather on 27 October, 2013, 23:52
It would not be surprising if these hairs were simply parts of a frozen carcass. Possibly dug up by other animals or uncovered by melt. Has anyone dated these hairs? If the animal existed in frozen environments hairs might turn up. We have found mammoths and even people with dna preserved in these environments, why not an ancient bear?

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