The Yeti exists, and an Oxford scientist wants to find it

The famous 1967 'Bigfoot' photo, widely believed to be a man in a monkey suit.

A scientist at Oxford University believes he's found the origin of the Yeti myth – the abominable snowman of the Himalayas – based on DNA evidence.

Bryan Skyes' team of scientists set about analysing hair samples reported to come from strange, unknown primates – culled from museums and private collections – and discovered something very odd in the Asian mountain range.

They found that two samples of "yeti hair", from India and Bhutan, seemed to be a close match for bear DNA – but not a species that is alive today, or was ever known to live in the region.

Instead, the DNA was a perfect match for a 40,000-year-old polar bear fossil from the Pleistocene era.

DNA testing found a 100% match for an ancient polar bear fossil.

Coupled with hearsay of white bears in the region down through the years, the DNA evidence seems to suggest there is an unknown species of bear roaming the mountains - one that, according to the hunter who shot the Indian specimen 40 years ago, is far more aggressive than your average bear.

This, the academic paper in the Proceedings Of The Royal Society B concludes, "may well contribute to the biological foundation of the yeti legend".

The existence of unknown species is not unusual – new varieties of plants and insects are discovered on a regular basis – but the discovery of large animals is far less common.

Sykes and his team believe the creature is likely a variant of the polar bear, or a cross-breed between polar and brown bears from a time shortly after they split into different species.

The scientific study analysed 36 samples believed to come from the yeti or American bigfoot, and all other results were less exciting - one sample was a plant, one a glass fibre, and the remainder were common animals likes bears, horses, dogs, cows, and even one human.

And, for the true enthusiasts who believe in the yeti myth or the existence of bigfoot, there's always the knowledge that six of the hair samples Sykes and his team analysed could not be used, as they just couldn't recover DNA from them.

"I don't think this finishes the Bigfoot myth at all," Sykes told NBC News. "What it does do is show that there is a way for Bigfoot enthusiasts to go back out into the forest and get the real thing."

Now, Sykes is planning an expedition to the mountain range next year. "That's the next logical step," he said. "We need a live 'Yeti.'"

By Dave Molloy

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