The Yeti Mystery & Disappointing DNA Results

YetiDo any of you remember the notice I posted the end of last year about the call for Bigfoot samples? Professor Bryan Sykes was collecting this evidence to see if he and his colleagues could capture some unique DNA to prove the existence of Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti, etc. The project was called The Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project. (Here’s that link:)

After all this time, they are reporting on one of the results.

Apparently two of the hair samples proved to be from an ancient, thought to be extinct, polar bear. The two samples were found in the Himalayas in areas that were 800 miles from each other (Ladakh and Bhutan).

Professor Sykes compared the two hair samples with DNA from the jawbone of a polar bear that was found in Svalbard in northern Norway.  The jawbone sample is believed to be between 40,000 and 120,000 years old.

CNN reporter Laura Smith-Spark wrote, “What Sykes called an “exciting and completely unexpected result” casts new light on the Yeti legend, although it may not satisfy the legions of “Bigfootologists” around the world.”

BigfootSilhouetteHere’s an example of how we have to be careful of media bias. Did Professor Sykes imply that this cast new light on the Yeti “legend”, or is that her assumption? He seems to be reporting that two hair samples thought to have belonged to a Yeti may “only” have belonged to an extinct bear, or descendant of that bear.

I don’t for one minute believe it puts the “legend” of the Yeti in a new light of any kind. The locals in the Himalayas have seen it for at least centuries, and they’re not idiots.

MountainGorillaPeople disbelieved the natives of central Africa when they tried to tell the explorers about the mountain gorillas. Yet one day, a Westerner “found” the mountain gorilla, thanks to his native guides, and voila, the world believed. But this is not to say having some good DNA to prove that the Yeti exists wouldn’t hurt. But nothing has changed – for most of the world, the jury is still out on whether the Yeti exists as many of us believes it does.

Back to the ancient bear …

Sykes added, “There’s more work to be done on interpreting the results. I don’t think it means there are ancient polar bears wandering around the Himalayas. But we can speculate on what the possible explanation might be.  It could mean there is a subspecies of brown bear in the High Himalayas descended from the bear that was the ancestor of the polar bear. Or it could mean there has been more recent hybridization between the brown bear and the descendant of the ancient polar bear.”

FragileDNASigh. What about the rest of the Bigfoot research? It seems that each test costs around $2,000 so that is why it’s moving slowly. I don’t know where the money is coming from, but I wish Professor Sykes would skip the Himalayan samples for a while. Why?

Because DNA is so freaking fragile, its chances of existing in that icy world are slim to none. How about digging into some samples found in the Pacific Northwest of the US? It’s still very hard to get viable DNA samples from that part of the world, but they may at least be more fresh.

In the meantime, Dr. Sykes is publishing his latest research in a peer-reviewed science journal. He’s also going to publish a book based on his findings. Does that mean ALL the DNA analysis that he did for this study, or just the polar bear relative?

scientificjournalsI’m not comfortable with a scientist publishing a book about test results done for what is still considered a “sensational” creature such as Bigfoot. I would prefer to see his results disseminated through scientific channels only because anything else makes me think someone is just trying to profit from this situation rather than adding to mankind’s scientific knowledge.

What do you think? Am I being too cynical?




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