No DNA evidence for Yetis - but polar bears 'found in India'

Jul 2, 2014

Tests on samples of hair from all over the world rule out existence of 'anomalous primates'


A major scientific attempt to prove the existence of 'anomalous primates' - those elusive beasts known around the world as yeti, sasquatch, bigfoot, almasty or migyur - has uncovered tantalising evidence of an undiscovered type of bear.

Brian Sykes, a professor of human genetics at Oxford, wrote to museums and collectors around the world seeking yeti or other mysterious hair samples to test the theory that persistent tales of mountain men could mean that Neanderthals had survived into the modern era, says The Guardian.

He received samples from all over the world - but, sadly, DNA testing found none was a match for early hominids. Instead, the hairs he received belonged to animals including cows, raccoons, horses, dogs, sheep, a Malayan tapir and a porcupine.

One sample from Texas was a modern human hair and Sykes was also sent a blade of grass and a strand of fibreglass. He points out that, of course, just because none of the samples were from primates doesn't prove that yetis don't exist.

The study threw up two entirely unexpected results, however. Two samples of fur, one from Bhutan and one from Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas, showed a precise match to DNA extracted from fossil remains of a type of polar bear which lived 40,000 years ago.

The samples are quite different from modern polar bear DNA, raising the intriguing possibility that descendants of a prehistoric polar bear are alive and at large in the Himalayas. The Indian fur is said to come from the pelt of an animal shot 40 years ago by a hunter.

The two samples which match the fossil DNA are not coloured like a modern polar bear - one is reddish-brown and the other golden-brown. The Ladakh hunter said the bear's behaviour was very different from that of a normal brown bear, however.

Sykes said: "Polar bears have some quite distinct behaviour, including deliberately hunting human prey. It would be very interesting to go and see if this is a behavioural pattern which has endured in the Himalayan bears."

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I'd like to see some DNA testing in the House of Westminster - some of those simulacrae impersonating MPs are surely artificial life forms - they certainly are not human.