Yeti mystery: Professor finds genetic match of Abominable Snowman with an ancient polar bear
For conspiracy theorists, the mystery of the so-called Yeti is the gift that just keeps on giving.
Since the 1920's, climbers in the Himalayas have been under the spell of tales by reporters and guides about a large hairy creature also known as the ‘Abominable Snowman’.
More recently in 2007, TV producers armed with infra-red cameras spent a week in the Khumbu region where Mount Everest is, producing evidence they claimed were day old footprints.
“You're looking at five digits, the shape of the foot and heel - very human looking but also enormous,” they said.
In 2011, scientists and Yeti enthusiasts came together and said they were sure the creature lived in Siberia. On a visit to the Kemerovo region, a discovery of hair and a large footprint inside a cave only fevered speculation.
Now fresh research is tackling the Yeti mystery.
Professor of Human Genetics Bryan Sykes studied hairs from two unknown animals found in the Himalayan region – 800 miles apart.
After the most advanced DNA tests available, he found that a sample completely matched that on the database with an ancient polar bear jaw bone found in Norway.
The sample possibly dates back around 120,000 years to a time when polar bears and brown bears were separating as different species.
He reckons the mysterious animal in the Himalayas could be a hybrid of both.
The research mirrors that of mountaineer Reinhold Messner, who found a 300 year old Tibetan manuscript saying the Yeti was a variety of bear.
Yeti believers will pour over the latest findings but they are far from conclusive and professor Sykes says the results need more interpretation.