A new DNA study has some scientists suggesting that the legendary ‘Yeti’ of the Himalayas could be a hybrid bear species descended from both the polar bear and the brown bear:
Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at the Oxford University, set out to collect and test “yeti” hair samples to find out which species they came from. In particular he analysed hairs from two unknown animals, one found in the Western Himalayan region of Ladakh and the other from Bhutan, 800 miles to the east.
After subjecting the hairs to the most advanced DNA tests available and comparing the results to other animals’ genomes stored on the GenBank database, Professor Sykes found that he had a 100 per cent match with a sample from an ancient polar bear jawbone found in Svalbard, Norway, that dates back at least 40,000 years – and probably around 120,000 years – a time when the polar bear and closely related brown bear were separating as different species.
Professor Sykes believes that the most likely explanation is that the animals are hybrids – crosses between polar bears and brown bears. The species are closely related and are known to interbreed where their territories overlap.
Our good friend, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, has posted about the new finding on his blog, saying that these results could shake up the field of Yeti studies:
For decades, Cryptozoologists have pointed to three kinds of Yetis – a small Yeti, a human-sized Yeti, and a quite large bear-like Yeti. Bernard Heuvelmans, Ivan T. Sanderson, as well as modern researchers, including me, Mark A. Hall, and Patrick Huyghe called this variety the Dzu-Teh. It appears now Dr. Sykes has confirmed there may be a new unknown species or a hybrid bear behind some of the Yeti cases.
According to Loren, more details will be revealed on a British Channel 4 three-part documentary beginning its broadcast this coming Sunday. I wonder if any scientific paper will accompany the TV feature though?