Yeti legend busted by DNA analysis

A comprehensive new study claims to have solved the mystery behind the legend of the Abominable Snowman, or Yeti, by showing that a number of "Yeti" specimens actually belonged to bears.
By Delila James | Nov 30, 2017
A comprehensive new study claims to have solved the mystery behind the legend of the Abominable Snowman, or Yeti, by showing that a number of "Yeti" specimens actually belonged to bears.

The findings will be published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Sightings of the Yeti have been reported for centuries in the high mountains of Nepal and Tibet.

Researchers analyzed nine purported Yeti samples, including bone, tooth, hair, skin, and fecal samples. Eight were from Asian black bears, Himalayan brown bears or Tibetan brown bears, according to a statement by the University of Buffalo. One specimen belonged to a dog.

"This study represents the most rigorous analysis to date of samples suspected to derive from anomalous or mythical 'hominid'-like creatures," write the authors.

The specimens came from museums and private collections and included a scrap of skin kept as a relic by a monastery and part of a femur bone discovered in a cave on the Tibetan plateau.

"Our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the Yeti legend can be found in local bears," says lead author Charlotte Lindqvist, Ph.D., an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, "and our study demonstrates that genetics should be able to unravel other, similar mysteries."

The researchers also are learning more about the evolutionary history of Asian bears. For example, genetic analysis shows that Himalayan brown bears belong to a distinct evolutionary lineage that split from other brown bears some 650,000 years ago.

"Further genetic research on these rare and elusive animals may help illuminate the environmental history of the region, as well as bear evolutionary history worldwide and additional 'Yeti' samples could contribute to this work," says Lindqvist.

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