By Ben Guarino, The Washington Post
The yeti, or abominable snowman, is one of the most wanted animals that does not exist. A long line of explorers, including mountaineers Sir Edmund Hillary and Reinhold Messner, reported seeing strange figures and footprints in the Himalayas. It is said that he walks on two legs through the Tibetan plateau, the yeti is described as a furry and humanoid primate, halfway between the gorilla and the beard of David Letterman.
If you want to hunt a yeti, there are only three rules to follow. If you find one, do not talk to the press, not without permission from government officials in Nepal. You can take the animal alive, but you can not damage it: the filming should be done only with cameras, according to a memorandum from the State Department of 1959 (an exception is established for self-defense). And he must pay Nepal 5,000 rupees ($ 48.50) for a yeti permit.
We recommend that you spend those 5,000 rupees in another place. You will not find a yeti in the yeti habitat. But, if you're lucky, you could run into a bear.
In a new genetic badysis, yeti bones, skins and other biological materials turned out to be bear parts. "All the samples that were supposed to be yetis matched the brown and black bears that live in the region," said Charlotte Lindqvist, who is studying the evolution of the bear at the University of Buffalo in New York and the Nanyang University of Technology in Singapore. .
was only an exception. A yeti tooth kept in the Reinhold Messner Mountain Museum was a dog.)
Lindqvist and his colleagues, the authors of a report published Tuesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, extracted DNA from nine yeti samples and more than a dozen of specimens of known bears, collected in zoos and a national park in Pakistan.
The connection between the yeti and the bear is old. Messner and Hillary finally concluded that what they had seen were bears. Biologists have also established the link. In 2013, the University of Oxford issued a worldwide call for yeti samples. Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes said that the DNA of the hairs revealed that the yeti was similar to an ancient and extinct polar bear. For a moment, this biological curiosity revived the hopes of an unknown animal traversing the Tibetan snow.
"I think this bear, which nobody has seen alive … can still be there and can have quite a polar bear in it," Skyes told the BBC in 2013.
But other genetic experts, especially Ross Barnett at the University of Copenhagen, challenged that finding. Sykes had made a mistake, partly due to degraded DNA, according to a new badysis of Barnett's research and the biomolecular archaeologist at Huddersfield University, Ceiridwen Edwards.
It was as if "Sykes had the letters STILL and, looking for coincidences". , he thought he found YETI, "Barnett said," Sykes acknowledged the mistake, but held that the yeti hair could come from a polar bear or an ursin hybrid. "
The new work is more robust, Barnett said, probably" the most rigorous in terms of samples and sequence lengths. "Where the DNA fragments revealed STILL, Lindqvist's deep genetic leap produced" ALL SAMPLES ARE DARK BEARS STILL THE PEOPLE STILL BELIEVE, "Barnett said." Very few possibilities of joining that rope to something else by chance "
Although the brown bears of the Himalayas are neither abominable nor snowmen, they are still quite unusual animals, DNA badysis revealed.
Brown bears have conquered the Northern Hemisphere forests , in Canada, Russia, the United States – grizzlies are a subspecies of brown bear – and other 42 countries. (In the United States, sightings of bears on two legs have left observers wondering about the true nature of Bigfoot and Sasquatch, too.) Despite its wide spread around the world, many brown bears have found themselves in danger. "There has been a great extinction of brown bears around the world," Lindqvist said.
The brown bears of the Himalayas are not exempt from bad news. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the subspecies as critically endangered.
Such loss of lives makes it difficult for experts to unravel a tangled bear ancestor. But the DNA sequences produced by Lindqvist and his colleagues were enough to create a family tree for the brown bears of the Himalayas and Tibet. Although it is not clear where the brown bears evolved, Lindqvist said, their evolutionary history "certainly suggests that they may come from an area in Asia."
New genetic research indicates that isolated bears are a "relict population". Put another way, these were the first brown bears, said Lindqvist, who separated from all the other subspecies, 600,000 years ago.
Both researchers predicted that the yeti myth will survive this latest study. The yeti "is very important for the local culture and folklore," Lindqvist said. "Maybe the Western exaggeration about the yeti, we can leave that aside"