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Have scientists finally debunked the Himalayan Yeti legend?

29 November 2017

"This strongly suggests the yeti legend has a root in biological facts and that is has to do with bears that are living in the region today", biologist Charlotte Lindqvist, from the University at Buffalo in NY and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, told Reuters.

But the real Yeti may not be so unusual, according to a new study published Tuesday: New DNA samples of bones, teeth, skin and hair of supposed Yetis turned out to be from bears.

Described as the "most rigorous analysis" of the yeti's existence to date, scientists from the University of Buffalo have carried out DNA testing on samples collected from the Tibetan Plateau and Himalayan region by an Italian mountaineering museum and a documentary film company.

The two sub-species have probably remained isolated from one another ever since despite their relative proximity, she speculated.

Eight of the samples were found to be from bear species - Asian black bears, Himalayan brown bears or Tibetan brown bears - while the final sample was from a dog.

"The approach that we used would be able to precisely determine the identity of other purported Bigfoot samples", she said.

The researchers gathered 12 samples-a tooth, a few paws, a bone, clumps of hair and the like-that Yeti believers from as far back as the 1930s have identified as belonging to the mythological being.

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While this is not the first team to conduct such researches, Dr Lindqvist says previous projects ran simpler genetic analyses, which left important questions unresolved.

Sykes - not without his detractors among the cryptid enthusiast community - was nevertheless careful to note that a lack of evidence was not proof for the non-existence of anomalous primates. Still, scientists acknowledge they can't completely rule out the existence of cryptids or play down their importance in local folklore.

"Clearly, a big part of the Yeti legend has to do with bears". Some believe it is more than just a legendary creature.

As it turns out, brown and black bears from the region are actually quite different when looking at their genetic code up close.

The team sequenced the mitochondrial DNA of 23 Asian bears (including the Yeti samples) and compared it with other bears around the world.

The Yeti samples that Lindqvist examined were given to her by Icon Films, which featured her in an Animal Planet special Yeti or Not about the origins of the fabled being.

Besides debunking the Yeti myth, the research has uncovered information about the evolutionary history of Asian bears.

Have scientists finally debunked the Himalayan Yeti legend?