The origins of the Yeti myth of the Himalayas have finally been revealed thanks to science.
Large furry animals, larger than humans and able to walk on two legs, actually travel the highest mountains on Earth, according to a study published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a biological science journal .
But they are not Yetis. They are bears.
After badyzing the DNA of nine putative Yeti specimens, the scientists found that five of the preserved "Yetis" were in fact brown Tibetan bears, two were brown bears from the Himalayas and one, a relic resembling a fossilized hand, originally It belonged to an Asian black bear.
The ninth specimen, part of a tooth belonging to a Yeti dissected in the collection at the Reinhold Messner Mountain Museum, turned out to be from a dog.  "I think the taxidermist got a little crazy about that," said Charlotte Lindqvist, who led the work. Study bear genotypes at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Lindqvist's results contradict a 2014 study by Bryan Sykes, an Oxford human geneticist, who claimed to find a genetic match between two alleged Yeti samples and an ancient polar bear that lived tens of thousands of years ago.
At that time, Sykes speculated that the creature known as the Yeti could be an unknown subspecies of brown bear in the high Himalayas that descended from an ancestor of the polar bear.
Lindqvist said that his more complete DNA badysis shows that the Yeti samples match the subspecies of bears known to live in the area.
"It was a very short stretch of the mitochondrial genome that he used, too short to say anything conclusive," she said. "The only thing I really knew was that the specimens had something to do with the bears."
Both Sykes and Lindqvst were invited to investigate the science behind the Yeti myth by the British television production company Icon Films. Sykes' work was shown in a series called "The Bigfoot Files." Lindqvst's subsequent investigation appeared in Animal Planet's 2016 special "Yeti or Not."
"I'm a biologist and bear geneticist and certainly Yetis has never been on my radar from a scientific perspective," Lindqvst said. . However, when Icon Films arrived, she was happy to sign up for the project partly because she wanted to learn more about the genetic diversity of bears in this remote region of the world.
In the course of a year and a half Lindqvst badyzed the genetic sequence of a total of 24 specimens, including 12 samples of Brown Bear feces from the Himalayas collected in the Khunjerab National Park in northern Pakistan.
Their research suggests that the brown bears of the Himalayas diverged from all the other brown bear lineages approximately 658,000 years ago, making them one of the first subspecies to separate from the brown bear group. The Tibetan brown bear separated from its sibling lineages of North America and Eurasia much later, about 342,000 years ago.
Furthermore, he discovered that although the Tibetan and Himalayan brown bears live close to each other, it seems that there has been little mixing of the two subspecies.
"The data we badyzed, which is mitochondrial DNA and inherited by the mother, shows that at least the female brown bears are genetically isolated from each other," he said.
is probably because the unique and challenging topography of the Himalayan region has kept these two subspecies separate from each other, and other bears, for hundreds of thousands of years, he said.
Lindqvst would like more samples of brown bears from the Himalayas to better understand their origins, but may be running out of time.
As noted in the document, it has been reported that the population of brown bears in the Tibetan Plateau and Himal The Aya region was reduced by half during the last century due to habitat loss, poaching and intense hunting of humans.
"I know this article will be very interesting because it has to do with the Yeti, but I also hope to put some attention on this group of bears that have evolved independently for hundreds of thousands of years," he said. "They are very valuable and their number is decreasing."
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