Yeti bear: If a British geneticist is right, the beasts called yetis are in fact a peculiar bear species in the Himalayas.
If a British geneticist is right, yetis are real – except, the word “yeti” would refer not to the half-man, half-bear beast of yore, but a bear.
Bryan Sykes, a geneticist at the University of Oxford, has announced that two pelts said to belong to the yeti match DNA from an ancient polar bear. He proposes not that ancient polar bears are hiding in the rugged Himalayas, but that so-called “yetis” are in fact a bear species as of yet unknown to science, an animal with a peculiar blend of ancient polar bear and brown bear DNA.
Dr. Sykes’ findings have not yet been published but will be broadcast Sunday in a television special on the UK’s Channel 4.
The findings are part of a project out of Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology called The Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project, an effort to dredge up the origins of so-called yeti samples with genetic analysis. The project’s team, including Dr. Sykes, put out a call last summer for yeti samples – pelts, tufts of hairs, anything that could be tested for DNA.