Some call him the Abominable Snowman, some know him as the yeti: he’s been part of Himalayan folklore for centuries. But now DNA testing has proven that this elusive creature is in fact a bear, or a dog.
Cable television channel Animal Planet requested that biologist Charlotte Lindqvist test Yeti evidence (including droppings, teeth, hair and bones) gathered from across the Himalayan mountain range. In all, Lindqvist and her colleagues examined the mitochondrial DNA of nine supposed yeti samples and published the results in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B .
Seven of the nine purported yeti samples came from Himalayan or Tibetan brown bears, one came from a black bear, and one came from a dog. Lindqvist, a professor at the University of Buffalo, specialises in species genetics and agreed to the unusual project because of her interest in brown bear sub species. Her team were able to create the first full mitochondrial genomes for the Himalayan brown bear and the Himalayan black bear. The research also proved that the Himalayan brown bear and the Tibetan brown bear are more genetically distinct from one another than previously thought.
The researchers concluded: “This study represents the most rigorous analysis to date of samples suspected to derive from anomalous or mythical ‘hominid’-like creatures, strongly suggesting that the biological basis of the yeti legend is local brown and black bears.”
 T. Lan, S. Gill, E. Bellemain et al. Evolutionary history of enigmatic bears in the Tibetan Plateau–Himalaya region and the identity of the yeti. Proc R Soc B 2017;DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1804
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