Are Yetis Real? DNA Links Abominable Snowman To Himalayan Bears

By Allan Adamson | Nov 29, 2017 08:03 AM EST

Folklore describes the Abominable Snowman, or the Yeti, as a mysterious, ape-like creature taller than the average human that lives in the Himalayan regions of Tibet, Bhutan, and Nepal.

More Than Just A Mythical Creature

Stories about the Yeti have been passed down from generation to generation. Some believe it is more than just a legendary creature. Several sightings of the entity were even reported in the high mountains of Asia over centuries, which were supported by footprints and even samples of hairs and bones.

Now, findings of a DNA study that looked at purported yeti samples from private collections and museums may shed light on the mystery of this creature. Does the abominable snowman really exist or is it just a mythical boogeyman?

For the study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B on Nov. 29, Charlotte Lindqvist, from the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, and colleagues analyzed nine specimens believed to belong to Yeti. The samples include tooth, bone, skin, hair, and fecal matter that were gathered from the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau.

Eight Of Nine Yeti Samples Linked To Himalayan Brown Bear

Of the samples, one was from a dog. The eight were found to be of bears. Analysis of the mitochondrial genome showed that the yeti samples were from a Himalayan brown bear.

"Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequences determined clade affinities of the purported yeti samples in this study, strongly supporting the biological basis of the yeti legend to be local, extant bears," researchers wrote in their study.

The findings of the study are similar to those that involve hair samples of the North American counterpart of the Yeti, the Sasquatch or Bigfoot. The studies revealed that the supposed fibers from the Sasquatch belong to horses, bears, dogs and even a human.

"Our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the Yeti legend can be found in local bears," said Lindqvist. "Scientific work can help explore myths such as the Yeti."

Earlier Study Links Yeti To Ancient Hybrid Bear

In an earlier study that sequenced supposed Yeti samples, Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes found that the Yeti hair matched an ancient 40,000-year-old polar bear suggesting that the Yeti could be an unknown and possibly hybrid bear. Although the findings were published in a scientific journal, scientists criticized the work because it is based on a fragment of one mitochondrial gene.

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