Scientist 'Solves' Yeti Mystery

Geneticist suspects it's a polar bear-brown bear hybrid

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 17, 2013 5:00 AM CDT | Updated Oct 17, 2013 8:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – Whether you call it the Abominable Snowman or yeti, the mythical creature may have just jumped from the pages of fiction to the world of fact. Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes performed DNA testing on 27 suspected yeti samples that had been sent to him from around the world, and got a big hit, reports PhysOrg. Two brownish hair samples found in opposite ends of the Himalayas were a perfect match with the DNA of an ancient polar bear species that lived 40,000 to 120,000 years ago, the Telegraph reports. His conclusion? That yeti is a cross between a polar bear and brown bear—and "may still be there."

One of the "yeti" hair samples is 40 years old and came from a hunter in India's western Himalayas; the second was found in a Bhutan bamboo forest 30 years later, so "we know one of these was walking around 10 years ago," Sykes says. In the former case, the hunter who shot the animal described being unusually frightened by it, Sykes says. "If its behavior is different from normal bears, which is what eyewitnesses report, then I think that may well be the source of the mystery," he tells the BBC, adding the species may be "more aggressive, more dangerous." Still, he's not saying there are "ancient polar bears wandering around the Himalayas." But there very well could be "more recent hybridization between the brown bear and the descendant of the ancient polar bear."

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