London (AFP) - A British geneticist said Thursday he may have solved the mystery of the yeti, after matching DNA from two animals said to be the mythical beast to an ancient polar bear.
"We have found an exact genetic match between two samples from the Himalayas and the ancient polar bear," said Bryan Sykes, emeritus professor at Oxford University.
There have for centuries been legends about hairy, ape-like creatures, also known as "migoi" in the Himalayas, "bigfoot" in North America and "almasty" in the Caucasus mountains.
The myth was given credence when explorer Eric Shipton returned from his 1951 expedition to Everest with photographs of giant footprints in the snow.
Eyewitness accounts have since fuelled speculation that the creatures may be related to humans, but Sykes believes they are likely to be bear hybrids.
He made a global appeal last year for samples from suspected Yeti sightings and received about 70, of which 27 gave good DNA results. These were then compared with other animals' genomes stored on a database.
Two hair samples came up trumps -- one from a beast shot in the Kashmiri region of Ladakh 40 years ago and the other found in Bhutan a decade ago. ...more
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