It’s news that may be hard to bear, but the abominable snowman may be just be a big Asian bear.
Charlotte Lindqvist, a biologist specializing in bears, has analyzed DNA specimens purportedly from yetis found in the Himalayan mountains for a new paper published in the British science journal Proceedings Of The Royal Society B.
The nine samples came from so-called “yeti” bones, fur and other animal material. After rigorous testing, they all turned out to be bear parts, except for one “yeti tooth” that actually belonged to a dog, according to the Washington Post.
“All the samples that were supposed to be yetis matched brown and black bears that are living in the region,” Lindqvist told the paper.
In 2014, Lindqvist, who researches bear evolution at the University at Buffalo, researched an ancient polar bear who may have inspired the original yeti legends.
After the study was released, British film company Icon Films approached Lindqvist, who had previously worked with them on an Animal Planet special called ”Yeti or Not.” The company asked if she wanted access to biological samples believed to have come from yetis.
She and her team also collected samples from bears, gathered from zoos, national parks and museums.
Lindqvist sequenced mitochondrial DNA from all the samples, a process that determined that what people believed were yeti specimens actually came from local bears, according to Popular Science.
The study also determined that Himalayan brown bears split off from the rest of the regional bear population several thousand years ago, making them genetically distinct from other brown bears.
Lindqvist admits the people who asked her to test the samples may have been slightly disappointed they actually belonged to bears, but she emphasizes there is now new information about the bear family tree.
She also doubts her study will nail the coffin door shut on the yeti legend.
“I am sure, though, that the legend and the myth will live on,” she told the Guardian. “You can never for sure prove that there is nothing out there.”
Meanwhile, some in the cryptozoology community think that the “yetis are bears” theory is too simplistic.
Loren Coleman, who runs the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine, is taking issue with the study because the samples supplied by Icon Films were already declared to belong to bears in “Yeti or Not.”
He added that cryptozoologists have always considered the yeti could be a species of bear, but says there’s evidence suggesting the existence of a smaller creature and even one the size of a human.
Coleman claimed that DNA tests on what may be a small-sized yeti have been inconclusive. He also said proving the yeti isn’t just a bear puts researchers like him in a catch-22 situation.
“Until we discover a yeti, we’ll never have a sample of yeti DNA, so the only matches that come up will be from samples of bear,” he told HuffPost.