British scientists may have solved the mystery of the yeti with DNA

first_imgThe Himalaya Mountains have long been the backdrop for stories of the Yeti, a large ape-like creature that is said to inhabit the upper slopes of the range. Many supposed sighting of the yeti have been reported over the generations, but no definitive proof has ever been provided for its existence. However, a new genetic study of supposed yeti remains conducted at University of Oxford may have solved the mystery once and for all.Professor Bryan Sykes conducted DNA analysis on a sample of hairs taken from a possible yeti carcass from the western Himalayan region of Ladakh, and another from Bhutan. The genetic profiles were compared to a database of other animals in search of a match, and he found a nearly perfect one. That in and of itself is not unusual — fraudsters often try to pass off an orangutan or large goat carcass for a yeti, but the nature of this match is surprising. According to the DNA, both hair samples belong to a species of ancient polar bear from Norway that lived over 40,000 years ago.The bear species identified by the DNA is from a time when the brown bear and polar bear were separating. Sykes believes the creature known as the yeti could be a descendant of this animal — a hybrid of ancient bears. If true, the scale would be about right, and large bears can rear up on their hind legs, appearing bipedal from a distance.The recent discovery of the hair in such widely separated areas suggests the creature is still alive, according to Sykes. Many parts of the Himalayas are extremely isolated, so it isn’t impossible a large mammal has been living there in secret. It wouldn’t even be the first time an ancient animal was found to still be alive. A class of fish known as Coelacanth were believed to have died out in the Cretaceous, but were rediscovered in the 20th century.The research done by Sykes has been submitted for publication in an unnamed journal, so until other scientists have verified the findings, this should be treated as unconfirmed. Though, the possibility that an ancient species of bear still lives in the Himalayas is, in some ways, more interesting than solving the mystery of the yeti.last_img

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