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DNA analysis reveals ‘Yeti’ hair is NOT an Unknown Species of Bear

Sunday, November 15, 2015 13:56
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They have eluded explorers, hunters and scientists who have been searching the Himalayan mountains for the mysterious yeti for over a century.
Now it seems we are no closer to knowing what creature lies behind the mysterious sightings and footprints that have led to the legend of the

Abominable Snowman.Latest research dismisses theories that yeti is an unknown species of bear

Scientists had claimed DNA from ‘yeti’ hair found in the Himalaya matched the genetic sequence from a fossil polar bear that died 40,000 years ago

They claimed that the hair may belong to an undiscovered species of bear

The new research concludes the hair may belong to a common brown bear

But scientists are baffled how hunters confused the fur with hair of a yeti

A key piece of evidence that suggested many of the sightings were due to an unknown type of bear living in the Himalaya has now been ruled out.

Biologists used DNA analysis to examine claims that hair samples attributed to yetis appeared to belong to a scientifically undiscovered species of bear.

The researchers conclude, however, that from the colour and shape of the hair samples, they were likely to have come from common Himalayan brown bears rather than an unknown species of bear.

This means that the identity of the species behind yeti sightings is still a mystery.

Dr Eliécer Gutiérrez, an evolutionary biologist at the Smithsonian Institution, said one of the hair samples had apparently come from a bear that had been shot by hunters.

He said: ‘We have concluded that there is no reason to believe that the two samples came from anything other than Brown Bears.

‘What strikes us as odd is that an “experienced hunter”, who was very familiar with the Brown Bear, could mistake the animal that he had shot for anything other than a bear of some sort and, specifically, for a “yeti”.

‘Corroboration and documentation of, as well as other information concerning, the anecdote of this bear being shot by the hunter and the subsequent history of the hair that was saved would be most welcome.’

In 2014 Professor Bryan Sykes, a geneticist at the University of Oxford, found that DNA extracted two samples of ‘yeti’ hair from the Himalaya were a 100 per cent match with a 40,000 year old fossil polar bear but not to modern species of polar bear.

However, subsequent analysis by researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that the hair was not from a polar bear.

Professor Sykes and his colleagues maintained, however, that the hair samples must be from an otherwise unknown species of bear living in the Himalaya.

Writing in the journal ZooKeys, they said: ‘The molecular data obtained and analyzed by Sykes are not informative enough to suggest the possibility that a taxonomically unrecognized type of bear exists in the Himalayas.



1832: A book on trekker B.H Hodgon’s experiences in Nepal recalls the sighting of a tall, bipedal creature covered in long dark hair. Mr Hodgson concluded it was an orangutan.

1899: Laurence Waddell reports his guides seeing an ape-like creature and seeing footprints. He suspects they spotted a bear.

1925: N.A Tombazi, a photographer, wrote that he saw a creature in the Himalayas that was walking upright like a human, was dark coloured, and wore no clothes.

1951: Eric Shipton captured images of what some believe is a Yeti footprint .

1948: Peter Byrne claimed to have discovered a Yeti footprint in India .

1953: Sir Edmund Hillary reported seeing large footprints while scaling Mount Everest. He discounted Yeti reports as unreliable.

1954: Mountaineering leader John Jackson photographed symbolic paintings of the Yeti along with many sets of footprints in Nepal, some of which could not be identified.

1959: Supposed Yeti feces were collected and analysed. They were found to contain a parasite that could not be identified.

1959: Actor James Stewart, while visiting India, reportedly smuggled Yeti remains to London .

1960: Sir Edmund mounted an expedition to collect and analyse physical evidence of the Yeti. He found nothing conclusive.

1970: British mountaineer Don Whillans claimed to have witnessed a creature while scaled Annapurna.

1983: Daniel Taylor and Robert Fleming Jr led a Yeti expedition into Nepal’s Barun Valley where footprints were discovered.

1996: A hoax Yeti movie called The Snow Walker Film was aired .

2007: U.S TV programme Destination Truth reported finding Yeti-like footprints in the Everest region.

2008: The BBC reported that hairs collected in North-East India were tested, but results about what creature it came from were inconclusive .

2008: Japanese adventures photographed footprints thought to have been left by a Yeti.

2011: At a conference in Russia , scientists and enthusiasts claimed to have 95 per cent proof of the Yeti’s existence. It was later claimed to be a publicity stunt.

2011: A hunter claims to have spotted a bear-like creature trying to kill one of his sheep in Russia.

2013: British climber Mike Rees captures an image of footprints in the Himalayas thought to offer further proof of the Yeti’s existence.

2014: A video of a ‘hairy figure’ is captured stumbling through a forest in Russia


‘We emphasize that no evidence has ever been presented to suggest that an unknown bear species occurs in the Himalayas

As part of their study, Dr Gutiérrez and Dr Pine examined how gene sequences can reveal the relationships between the six present-day species of bears.

They found one sequence from an Asian Black Bear from Japan indicated that it was not closely related to the mainland members of that species.


Last year, in what was the first serious scientific study of the abominable snowman for 50 years, Professor Bryan Sykes from the University of Oxford analysed 30 samples of hair.

The hairs had supposedly been shed by yetis, or their bigfoot cousins, and were part of museum and private collections from around the world.

Twenty eight of the hairs were genetic matches to known animals from bears to racoons, horses and cows. But two did not fit the mould.

Their DNA matched that recovered from a 40,000-year-old polar bear fossil.

One hair was reddish brown and found in a Yeti nest in a bamboo forest in Bhutan, ten years ago.

The second was golden brown and taken from a Yeti in Ladakh on the Tibet-India border 40 years ago.

But new research suggests Professor Sykes’s findings were in fact down to an error in analysing the data.

Researchers Ross Barnett, from the University of Copenhagen, and Ceiridwen Edwards from the University of Oxford looked at the same hair samples that led Professor Sykes to make his bold claim.

They proposed that the previously unexplained samples come from the Himalayan bear – a sub-species of the brown bear that lives in the higher reaches of the Himalayas, in remote, mountainous areas of Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India.

The latest research, however, concludes that it is difficult to attribute the DNA to any species of bear.

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