Scientists Believe Bears to Be 'Biological Basis' for Yeti

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A team of scientists, led by Charlotte Lindqvist, published a study November 29th, titled Evolutionary History of Enigmatic Bears in the Tibetan Plateau–Himalaya Region and the Identity of the Yeti, that found "the biological basis of the yeti legend to be local, extant bears."

“Our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the Yeti legend can be found in local bears,” Lindqvist said.  

Lindqvist, an associate professor at the University of Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, and her team studied genetic material from bone, tooth, skin, hair and fecal samples traditionally attributed to Yeti.  The study reported on new analyses of 24 field-collected and museum specimens, including a monastic relic said to come from a Yeti paw, and concluded that they originated from 23 distinct bears.

The scientists reconstructed the complete mitochondrial genomes of each specimen, allowing them to "determine the clade affinities of all other purported yeti samples in this study and infer their well-supported and resolved phylogenetic relationships among extant bears in the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding Himalayan Mountains."

The study also led to important discoveries about the Himalayan region's bear populations.

“Brown bears roaming the high altitudes of the Tibetan Plateau, and brown bears in the western Himalayan mountains, appear to belong to two separate populations," Lindqvist said. “The split occurred about 650,000 years ago, during a period of glaciation.”

Lindqvist speculated that the two populations of bears have remained isolated from each other ever since.

Despite the results of the study, Lindqvist maintained that there is a benefit to scientific examination of the paranormal.

“Scientific work can help explore myths such as the Yeti,” she said.

“Even if there is no proof for the existence of cryptids, it is impossible to completely rule out that they live."

Tobias WaylandComment