Tales of the “Yeti” or “Abominable Snowman” have terrified children for many years — but the legendary beast may actually have just been an extinct breed of polar bear, researchers have found.
RNA that was extracted from hair samples from a so-called Himalayan Yeti monster were similar to the genetic signature of a breed of polar bear that lived 40,000 years ago — and may still live in the remote Himalayan region, according to an NBC News report.
A different research team has come to similar conclusion: it’s just hairs from a type of brown bear common in the region.
The first study was led by Bryan Sykes of Oxford University, while those arguing for a brown bear include Eliecer Gutierrez of the Smithsonian Institution and Ronald Pine from the University of Kansas’ Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, according to the report. Sykes believe it’s the polar bear breed, while Gutierrez and Pine believe that there is so much overlap in the RNA results that the brown bear can’t be ruled out.
Sykes results were first unveiled last year and was the culmination of gathering dozens of samples of hair that had been collected over the years by cryptozoologists trying to track down the elusive mythical beast. Sykes and his team examined the mitochondrial RNA from the samples, which matched many common non-Yeti creatures like cows and dogs — and even humans. However, two of the samples that were found in Indian and Bhutan matched genetic markers from a polar bear fossil uncovered in Norway that was 40,000 years old, and Sykes wants to send an expedition to the Himalayas to see if it can find more evidence.
However, other scientists argue that his samples may have been contaminated, and believing that there is an undiscovered exotic bear species out there is a stretch.
Sykes acknowledged that Gutierrez and Pine could be right, but said the only way to find out for sure is by “getting off your butt,” according to the report.