October 18, 2013
British Professor Claims Yeti Is A Polar Bear Hybrid
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The Abominable Snowman, also known as the Yeti, has been reportedly traipsing the Himalayan hillsides for millennia. Sightings of this assumed ape-like cryptid have been occurring since the 19th century, gaining in popularity in the 20th century only after the advent of exploration to the region.
While most accounts of this cryptid have offered up striking similarities to the American Sasquatch, as well as other primate-like cryptids around the world, one new account by a British scientist is adding a whole new element to the legend of the Yeti.
According to genetics professor Bryan Sykes of Oxford University, the legendary Himalayan Yeti may not be an ape-like creature after all. He is leaning more toward Ursidae, or bears to be exact – and he says he has the DNA evidence to prove it.
Sykes conducted DNA analysis of hair samples taken from two Himalayan animals that have been identified by local people as Yetis. The analysis showed both hair samples shared a unique genetic fingerprint with a polar bear jawbone discovered in the Norwegian Arctic that is at least 40,000 years old.
Sykes said this analysis of the DNA recovered from the hair samples shows that the creatures they came from are not related to modern Himalayan bears, but rather were direct descendants of a prehistoric polar bear.
Sykes told the Associated Press “it may be a new species, it may be a hybrid” between brown bears and polar bears in the Himalayas; but to know for sure, Sykes said, “The next thing is go there and find one.”
The hair samples Sykes analyzed came to him after he put out the call to museums, scientists and Yeti experts to share their evidence with him. He noted one sample came from an alleged Yeti mummy in the Indian region of Ladakh, on the western edge of the Himalayas. That sample was taken by a French mountaineer nearly 40 years earlier.
The second sample was found a decade ago in Bhutan, 800 miles east of where the first sample was found.
Based on the evidence that two distinct hair samples were found so far apart and so recently, Sykes believes the members of this species are still alive and roaming the snow-covered mountains of the Himalayas.
“I can’t imagine we managed to get samples from the only two ‘snow bears’ in the Himalayas,” he told AP.
According to Cnet’s Amanda Kooser, Sykes said that he didn’t necessarily believe there were ancient polar bears roaming around the Himalayas, but he was open to the possibility of the existence of a modern descendant of these ancient creatures. He noted that a bear explanation sounds more plausible than a giant hair-covered humanoid traipsing the countryside.
However, Sykes has been involved in a much larger investigation of Bigfoot, based on genetic evidence gathered from around the world. His analysis on more than 30 samples will be revealed on a three-episode feature in the upcoming documentary series “Bigfoot Files,” according to Kooser’s report.
Sykes research on the Yeti evidence has yet to be published, but he thinks discovering the creature could go a long way in further confirming his findings. His findings will be broadcast, along with the Bigfoot evidence, on the upcoming “Bigfoot Files” series in the UK. His paper has been submitted for peer review.
Tom Gilbert, professor of paleogenomics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, said Sykes’ research provides a “reasonable explanation” for the alleged Yeti sightings.
“It’s a lot easier to believe that than if he had found something else,” Gilbert, who was not involved in the study, told AP. “If he had said it’s some kind of new primate, I’d want to see all the data.”
Still, his findings are unlikely to sway popular belief that Yeti is an ape-like, hairy humanoid.
The Abominable Snowman is one of numerous legendary ape-like creatures said to be stalking the untamed mountains and forests of the world. Mainstream scientists remain skeptical, but decades of eyewitness testimony, blurry pictures and short, grainy videos persist, and have done much to keep the legends alive.
David Frayer, a professor of biological anthropology at the University of Kansas said, in an email to the AP, that he doubts Sykes’ evidence will offer any comfort to those who believe in the Yeti. He added that “no amount of scientific data will ever shake their belief.”
“If (Sykes’) motivation for doing the analyses is to refute the Yeti nonsense, then good luck,” he said.
Sykes maintained he was simply trying to “inject some science into a rather murky field.” He added that much evidence pertaining to Yeti or Bigfoot can be easily hoaxed. However, “you can’t invent a DNA sequence from a hair.”
In the US, recent DNA evidence has come to light that could be the one key piece of the puzzle in the American Bigfoot saga.
A large team of researchers, led by Dr. Melba Ketchum of the Sasquatch Genome Project and founder of DNA Diagnostics, analyzed more than one hundred samples taken from possible Bigfoot reports and found that among them, exist several DNA strands that are of an unknown primate.
Ketchum’s genetic evidence also coincided with the release of a short video taken by Bigfoot enthusiast Adrian Erickson, which allegedly shows a female Sasquatch sleeping on the ground.
Erickson donated the $500,000 to the project, which was needed for Ketchum and her colleagues to conduct their genetic analyses for this research.
Both Ketchum’s genetic evidence and Erickson’s full unedited video will be part of an upcoming documentary to be revealed later this fall.
Yeti sightings have been recorded for centuries, with locals and explorers alike claiming to have had face-to-face encounters with an ape-like hominid. But it wasn’t until British climbing expert Eric Shipton captured a photo of the alleged creature at the base of Mount Everest in 1951 that global interest in Yetis took shape.
According to Jasper Copping of The Telegraph, the following is a history of reported sightings pertaining to the Abominable Snowman/Yeti.
The first known sighting of a yeti occurred in 326 BC, when Alexander the Great reportedly coveted the creature during his conquest of the Indus Valley. Likely to his dismay, locals had told him that such a creature could not exist at the low altitudes of the Indus Valley.
The first photographic evidence of Yeti came from N.A. Tombazi of the Royal Geographical Society in 1925. His evidence provided one of the clearest descriptions of a “figure in outline was exactly like a human being, walking upright ... It showed up dark against the snow, and as far as I could make out, wore no clothes.”
During World War II, a Polish Soldier who claimed to be an escaped prisoner of war, maintained he crossed path with two yetis when he trekked across the Himalayas to India on his escape route.
A few years following Shipton’s photos sparked global interest in the yeti, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reported seeing large footprints while scaling Mt. Everest. Hillary later mounted an expedition in search of the creature, which he said his father had once seen. After failing to capture further evidence, he became more of a skeptic.
Actor James Stewart has said he once helped smuggle Yeti remains from India to London, concealing them in his luggage.
Renowned mountaineer Reinhold Messner claimed to have had a face-to-face encounter with a Yeti in 1986.
There have been several documentaries televised about the Abominable Snowman, and the cryptid has been widely popularized in television, film and video games.