Yeti or the “Abominable Snowman” has been a mythical creature for a very long time. There are numerous sightings of this elusive creature and while some believe in its existence, others see it as a scam that somehow managed to enter our popular culture and became a myth.
Scientists, on the other hand, tried to solve the mystery through scientific means.
A team of researchers from the Oxford University in collaboration with the Lausanne Museum of Zoology made a public announcement asking anyone who might have any evidence of biological material belonging to Yeti, to give it to them for DNA analysis.
The scientists wanted to see if the creature actually exists or is just part of a myth.
In 2014, Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University analyzed some peculiar hair samples collected from the Himalayas. After studying the samples, the researchers concluded that the hairs belonged to an extinct species of bear that once lived in Norway.
The latest study involving the same hair samples suggests that they actually belong to a brown bear.
There is a picture that was taken in the Menlung Basin in Nepal at approximately 19,000 feet and the man who took the photograph says that the footprint actually belongs to Yeti or the Abominable Snowman.
Sykes and his team of scientist analyzed two different hair samples taken from the same region. One of the samples belonged to an animal that walked upright and was killed by an Indian hunter more than 40 years ago. The other sample was collected from a bamboo forest in Bhutan at a very high altitude.
The scientists suspect that both samples belonged to a species of bear that lived more than 40,000 years ago. They believe that the bear might have been a hybrid between two different species: Ursus maritimus and Ursus arctos. Sykes believes that this species could have inspired the legend of the Yeti creature.
The results of the analysis made quite a fuss in the pseudoscientific world, since many hoped that Sykes and his team would announce that Yeti actually exists as a separate, undiscovered species of animal.
The real scientists, who do not believe in the existence of the Abominable Snowman, were waiting to see what type of bears the samples belonged to. However, some scientists did not approve Sykes’ findings.
Eliecer Gutierrez, postdoctoral professor of evolutionary biology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., said that the samples cannot belong to other species other than the brown bear.
Gutierrez were suspicious of the new findings saying that Sykes and his team used only a fragment of the gene in order to identify the species it belongs to. This led him to believe that the samples were nothing special and they belong to a common Himalayan brown bear.
Gutierrez and his colleague found the genetic sequence of the hair samples after looking them up in GenBank, which is the official database for DNA samples that are publicly available.
According to Gutierrez, the DNA samples did not have sufficient information to tell apart two different species of bears: the Alaskan polar bear and the brown bear. Gutierrez explained that the hair samples are likely to belong to the brown bear because the polar bear does not live in the Himalayas.
This new study is not the first to discredit Sykes’ theory on the origins of the hair samples. Back in 2014, when Sykes announced his findings, two scientists showed him that his discovery in inconclusive since Sykes had not analyzed the data sufficiently.
Ceiridwen Edwards, one of the scientists who did not agree with Sykes’ findings said that Sykes and his team should have run further tests after they determined that the hair sample belonged to a species of polar bear. According to Edwards, Sykes should have analyzed the extracted DNA and look at other regions “mitochondrial genome”, which is the DNA that is passed down by the mother.
Edwards said that Sykes has incorrectly presumed that the hair samples belonged to a polar bear that lived 40,000 years ago, and published his erroneous information in a public paper.
Sykes said that the important thing is that the hair samples do not belong to any species of unknown primates, so the Yeti myth is most likely just a myth.
Image Source: discovery
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