New report reveals bear facts about the Yeti
PARIS - AFP
Actors dressed as Yeti ride aboard a tour bus during a promotional event for Travel Channel’s ‘Expedition Unknown: Hunt for the Yeti.’
It turns out, they report in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B, that the long-sought creature, also known as Yeti, is in fact a bear. Or three different bears, to be precise: the Asian black, the Tibetan brown and Himalayan brown.
Each of these sub-species inhabits different niches on the roof the world, and all of them have probably been mistaken at one time or another for the "Wild Man of the Snows," the scientists said.
"Our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the Yeti legend can be found in local bears," said lead scientist Charlotte Lindqvist, associate professor at the University of Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences.
The study is not the first to reduce the myth to bear facts, but it does amass an unprecedented wealth of genetic evidence gleaned from bone, tooth, skin, hair and fecal samples previously attributed to the cryptic creatures.
The artefacts -- from private collections and museums around the world, including a monastic relic said to come from a Yeti paw -- were, in reality, the remains of 23 distinct bears, they found.
Lindqvist and her team reconstructed the complete mitochondrial genomes of each specimen, leading to important discoveries about the region's beleaguered carnivores and their evolutionary back story.
"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," she said.
Today, the Himalayan brown bear -- Ursus arctos isabellinus -- is listed as "critically endangered" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List.
Its reddish-brown fur is lighter in color than the darker Tibetan brown bear, which also sports a white collar around its neck.