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The Mystery of The Yeti, Solved

by Stephen Propatier

October 23, 2013

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Donate "British scientist may have solved the mystery of the Yeti.", that was a teaser in the news cycle last week. It involved web and print articles as well as television news. In my opinion not a great day for science reporting. The Yeti is not a mystery, it is imaginary. In addition nothing is "solved" unless you are looking for bear hybrids. This story is just another example of modern media reporters' poor critical thinking skills and science understanding.

This is a retread of a a failed concept by Bigfoot cryptozoologists, that famously claimed DNA evidence of Bigfoot. Similar cryptozoological animal, similar pseudoscience. Saying that you have DNA proof of the Yeti does not make it so. What you have is DNA of a animal. What is known about that DNA is that it matches with an animal descended from bears. Somehow that science is contorted to become, the Yeti is real and it is descended from a bear.
Bryan Sykes, a genetics professor at Oxford University, had set out to test 'yeti' hair samples and find out what species they came from.

He said he conducted DNA tests on hairs from two unidentified animals, one in northern India and the other in Bhutan.

Sykes told the BBC: "We found a total genetic match between two samples from the Himalayas and an ancestor of the polar bear.

He has concluded the most likely explanation for the myth is the animal is a hybrid of polar bears and brown bears.
So a reporter at the BBC felt that a story about bear DNA was a credible evidence of a Yeti. Think about the thought process of this reporter. A"scientist" who found hairs of an unknown animal and tested it. Found that it is related to bear DNA. Somehow contorting that to credible evidence that the yeti is real and descended from bears. The reporter doesn't even consider that someone mistook Yeti hair for bear fur. This genetics professor from Oxford could have said "I found this hobbit hair and the DNA proves that Hobbits are distant relatives of a polar bear." Equally valid/ridiculous conclusion.

So because he is a genetics professor at Oxford this makes him unquestionably qualified to be a zoologist? Then the world wide media compounds the error of the initial report circulating and reproducing this story as, "the Yeti is related to bears.". To quote Wolfgang Pauli it's not even wrong.

First of all, the supposed Yeti is primate in morphology and activity. Bears, except for being mammalian, have no direct lineage to primates. Ursidae is a separate family from prosimians and simians. The closest living mammal relatives are the caniforms or the dog like mammals. So if it has bear DNA lineage it is a bear. Bears have been a distinct family for a million years. Bears can stand upright for short periods but that does not mean it walks with a biped primate foot. Footprints that are part of previous evidence(using that term loosely) of the Yeti.

The conclusion that having a DNA relationship to a non-primate is hardly convincing evidence that the Yeti exists. It is in no way convincing that it is a brown bear/polar bear hybrid. The most amusing, yet disappointing, part of the reporting is that there is a real polar bear/brown bear hybrid.

I present to you, finally clear photographic evidence of the "Yeti"

Funny looks like a bear to me. To quote Peter Seller's iconic character Inspector Clouseau, "and the case is Sol-ved."




by Stephen Propatier

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