Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Sunday, December 15, 2013

On Yetis and Polar Bears

A very short post to share an article I found online about the DNA analysis of some alleged "Yeti" (abominable snow man) hairs.


The article is this one: The Yeti Comes in from the Cold.

And below is the quote:

DNA analysis of two “yeti hair” samples, one collected from the western Himalayas and one from Bhutan, has uncovered a genetic match to a species of ancient polar bear. Professor Bryan Sykes, the Oxford University geneticist who conducted the analysis by comparing the hair DNA to a polar bear jawbone found in Norway, has called the finding “exciting and completely unexpected.
The dazzling discovery raises the possibility that a mysterious beast previously unknown to science indeed roams the peaks, and not just the fevered imaginations of locals. Professor Sykes offers two alternative explanations as to how an animal living today in the Asian mountains shares its genes with a Nordic polar bear that existed between 40,000 and 120,000 years ago: the creature is possibly a sub-species of brown bear that shares a common ancestor with the polar bear, or there has been recent interbreeding between brown bears and descendants of the polar bear.

The text was not too clear. Where did the samples come from? Who provided them? So I Googled "Prof. Bryan Skyes" and turned up more data... below is from National Geographic:

One of the most promising samples that Sykes received included hairs attributed to a Yeti mummy in the northern Indian region of Ladakh; the hairs were purportedly collected by a French mountaineer who was shown the corpse 40 years ago. Another sample was a single hair that was found about a decade ago in Bhutan, some 800 miles (1,290 kilometers) away from Ladakh. According to Sykes, the DNA from these two samples matched the genetic signature of a polar bear jawbone that was found in the Norwegian Arctic in 2004. Scientists say the jawbone could be up to 120,000 years old.

That made some sense... a "Yeti mummy" and the single hair could belong to some extant descendant of this yet unknown bear species.

The match with a 120 kya jawbone may be due to the time both species split: polar bears going, well, to the North Pole and surrounding areas an the other one moving into the Himalayan glaciers.

The daily The Telegraph added:

Professor Sykes added: “This is a species that hasn’t been recorded for 40,000 years. Now, we know one of these was walking around ten years ago. And what’s interesting is that we have found this type of animal at both ends of the Himalayas. If one were to go back, there would be others still there.”
Both hairs were brownish in colour. The Ladakh remains suggested a creature that would have been around 5ft tall – shorter than the towering figure of mythology. However, Professor Sykes suggested the animal could have displayed other characteristics which would have fitted with the yeti myth.
He added: “The fact that the hunter, who had great experience of bears, thought this one was in some way unusual and was frightened of it, makes me wonder if this species of bear might behave differently. Maybe it is more aggressive, more dangerous or is more bipedal than other bears.


If true, it supports my "theory" that "Myths are based on something real". Which does not mean that the real and mythical part are identical. A dragon may not be a dragon but a large lizard, a "water bull" may actually be a deer and so on.

What counts is that a "fact", something "real" originated the myth. The key is to find the actual "real" thing. That is what cryptozoology is all about.

New, July 2014, Bryan Skyes and his team published a paper which studied different hair samples from alleged Yeti and Bigfoot, finding them to belong to extant creatures and, this archaic polar bear. I have posted on this paper that claims Bigfoot is a fake.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2013 by Austin Whittall © 

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