Aw, shucks. Science goin’ off and ruining everything again for cryptozoologists. The latest blow comes from a UK geneticist who says hair samples from an alleged Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, actually came from another — albeit real — creature from the north: an ancient hybrid between polar bears and brown bears.
The DNA analysis was conducted by Oxford University professor Bryan Sykes. He studied two different hair samples taken from two Himalayan animals, both identified by the local people as belonging to Yetis. One came from an alleged Yeti mummy in the Indian region of Ladakh, at the Western edge of the Himalayas, and taken by a French mountaineer 40 years ago. The other was a single hair found ten years ago in Bhutan, 800 miles (1,300 km) to the east.
Sykes took these samples and compared them to to a database of animal genomes. He found a 100% match with an ancient polar bear jawbone found in the Norwegian Arctic that's at least 40,000 years old, and probably around 120,000 years old — a time when the polar bear and closely related brown bear were separating as a different species. According to Sykes, these bears were not related to modern Himalayan bears, but were direct descendants of the prehistoric animal.
Channel 4 reports:
Of the various explanations, Professor Sykes believes that the most likely 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.
Professor Sykes says: “This is an exciting and completely unexpected result that gave us all a surprise. 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 we can speculate on what the possible explanation might be. 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 hybridisation between the Brown Bear and the descendent of the ancient Polar Bear.”
The findings have been submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed science journal, but they will soon be explained in "Bigfoot Files," a documentary series on Britain's Channel 4 TV network.