The myth of the Yeti may have just been solved

For the last year, British geneticist Bryan Sykes has made it his mission to identify the mythical Yeti. He has sampled 70 different supposed Yeti relics, with 27 of them yielding actual genetic information. His quest was not the first of its kind, but it may very well be the last, as Sykes has just today declared his discovery of the true identity of the mysterious ape-like creature.

After researching as many genetic samples as he could get his hands on, Sykes is declaring the Yeti to be a rare hybrid species of bear — a mix between polar bears and brown bears. When their territories overlap, brown bears are known to interbreed with polar Bears, as are the grizzy bears of North America. The mix is a rare occurrence and does lend the bears unique physical traits.

Some of the samples which Sykes examined, however, were even rarer. Two samples, gathered in the Himalayan regions of Ladakh and Bhutan had genetic markers linked to a very different breed of bear: an ancient polar bear thought to have lived between 120,000 and 40,000 years ago — in Norway. Sykes himself isn't entirely sure what to make of this ancient strand of DNA:

"I don't think it means there are ancient polar bears wandering around the Himalayas. But... it could mean there is a sub-species of brown bear in the High Himalayas descended from the bear that was the ancestor of the polar bear. Or it could mean there has been more recent hybridization between the brown bear and the descendant of the ancient polar bear."

While these results clearly aren't of the giant, hairy ape variety, they do seem to suggest that something ancient and very, very rare is and has been lurking in the high places of the Himalayan mountains. It is a large creature capable of standing upright, that is much stronger than a man, and that is covered in light hair. It was also thought not to have existed, at least not for quite some time. Tell us whether or not you think Sykes has it right in the comments below.

BBC Radio, via Phys.org

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