Some mysteries just refuse to be solved, but humans never give up on their search for truth.
For hundreds of years, stories of the mythical Yeti have led adventurers, scientists, and skeptics to the Himalayan mountains. The enormous and snowy mountain range is said to be home to the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, a giant ape-like creature similar to Sasquatch of Bigfoot.
Over the years collectors have identified samples of what they believe to be Yeti bones, skin, hair, teeth, and even feces. A new Animal Planet documentary called Yeti Or Not is putting nine of these samples to the test, identifying whether any of them contain actual Yeti DNA.
The project involved a global team of researchers in America, France, Norway and Pakistan, who compared the Yeti samples to human and animal DNA. Eight of the nine samples were matched with common bear DNA, but the ninth, taken from a "stuffed Yeti" located by the film crew, was different.
Scientists identified the tooth taken from the "stuffed Yeti" as a dog tooth, and said the specimen's fur actually belonged to a bear.
"Perhaps slightly disappointing to the film company [...] our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the Yeti legend can be found in local bears," says Charlotte Lindqvist, a researcher from the University of Buffalo who took part in the study.
Despite the disappointing results, she says that "the legend and the myth will live on," because "you can never prove for sure that there is nothing down there."
Three different species of bear - Tibetan black bears, Asian black bears, and Himalayan brown bears - had their DNA samples passed off as evidence of the Yeti. In the past, other paranormal researchers have pointed out similarities between "Yeti footprints" and the paw prints of Asiatic black bears.
There was a silver lining to the study: the new DNA evidence helped researchers prove that Himalayan and Tibetan brown bears have distinct DNA. It seems the two species split when they were separated by glaciers more than 600,000 years ago.
As for the Abominable Snowman? The truth it out there, somewhere.
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