LONDON (AP) — A British
scientist says he may have solved the
mystery of the Abominable Snowman — the
elusive ape-like creature of the Himalayas.
He thinks it's a bear.
conducted by Oxford University genetics
professor Bryan Sykes suggests the creature,
also known as the Yeti, is the descendant of
an ancient polar bear.
compared DNA from hair samples taken from
two Himalayan animals — identified by local
people as Yetis — to a database of animal
genomes. He found they shared a genetic
fingerprint with a polar bear jawbone found
in the Norwegian Arctic that is at least
40,000 years old.
Thursday that the tests showed the creatures
were not related to modern Himalayan bears
but were direct descendants of the
"it may be a new species, it may be a
hybrid" between polar bears and brown bears.
thing is go there and find one."
out a call last year for museums, scientists
and Yeti aficionados to share hair samples
thought to be from the creature.
One of the
samples he analyzed came from an alleged
Yeti mummy in the Indian region of Ladakh,
at the Western edge of the Himalayas, and
was taken by a French mountaineer who was
shown the corpse 40 years ago.
was a single hair found a decade ago in
Bhutan, 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) to the
the fact the hair samples were found so far
apart, and so recently, suggests the members
of the species are still alive.
imagine we managed to get samples from the
only two 'snow bears' in the Himalayas," he
living creature could explain whether
differences in appearance and behavior to
other bears account for descriptions of the
Yeti as a hairy hominid.
bear ingredient in their genomes may have
changed their behavior so they act
different, look different, maybe walk on two
feet more often," he said.
research has not been published, but he says
he has submitted it for peer review. His
findings will be broadcast Sunday in a
television program on Britain's Channel 4.
Gilbert, professor of paleogenomics at the
Natural History Museum of Denmark, said
Sykes' research provided a "reasonable
explanation" for Yeti sightings.
lot easier to believe that than if he had
found something else," said Gilbert, who was
not involved in the study. "If he had said
it's some kind of new primate, I'd want to
see all the data."
findings are unlikely to lay the myth of the
Yeti to rest.
or Abominmable Snowman is one of a number of
legendary ape-like beasts — along with
Sasquatch and Bigfoot — reputed to live in
heavily forested or snowy mountains.
Scientists are skeptical, but decades of
eyewitness reports, blurry photos and
stories have kept the legend alive.
"I do not
think the study gives any comfort to
Yeti-believers," David Frayer, a professor
of biological anthropology at the University
of Kansas, said in an email. But "no amount
of scientific data will ever shake their
(Sykes') motivation for doing the analyses
is to refute the Yeti nonsense, then good
luck," he said.
he was simply trying "to inject some science
into a rather murky field."
the Bigfoot, is surrounded in myth and
hoaxes," he said. "But you can't invent a
DNA sequence from a hair."