|DNA may offer clues to Yeti identity
A British geneticist said he may have solved the mystery of the yeti, after matching DNA from two animals said to be the mythical beast to an ancient polar bear.
“We have found an exact genetic match between two samples from the Himalayas and the ancient polar bear,'' said Bryan Sykes, emeritus professor at Oxford University.
There have for centuries been legends about hairy, ape-like creatures, also known as “migoi'' in the Himalayas, “bigfoot'' in North America and “almasty'' in the Caucasus mountains, AFP reports.
Sykes made a global appeal last year for samples from suspected Yeti sightings and received about 70, of which 27 yielded good DNA results. These were then compared with other animal genomes stored on a database.
Two hair samples came up trumps – one from a beast shot in the Kashmiri region of Ladakh 40 years ago and the other found in Bhutan a decade ago.
“In the Himalayas, I found the usual sorts of bears and other creatures amongst the collection,'' Sykes told BBC radio, ahead of the broadcast of a TV program about his findings.
“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.''
The DNA from the Himalayan samples was a 100 percent match with a sample from a polar bear jawbone found in Svalbard in Norway, dating back between 40,000 and 120,000 years.
But Sykes said: “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. But... 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.
“Or it could mean there has been more recent hybridization between the brown bear and the descendent of the ancient polar bear.''