Walt Disney imagined the Abominable Snowman as a red-eyed monster when he conceived the Matterhorn Ride in 1959. But for hundreds of years before that, imaginations had already been running wild about the creature’s identity.
Is our fantasy ride now coming to an end? The Yeti, according to a genetics professor, is a bear.
Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University, has been collecting hair samples provided by people in the Himalayas who have seen the animal. In particular he’s analyzed hairs from two unknown animals, one found in the Western Himalayan region of Ladakh and the other in Bhutan, 800 miles to the east. They were a 100 percent match with the DNA of an ancient polar bear jawbone found in Norway.
Professor Sykes ran the hairs through the most advanced DNA tests available and compared the results to the genomes of other animals. They turned out to be a 100 percent match with the DNA of an ancient polar bear jawbone found in Norway.
That Norwegian bear lived between 40,000 and 120,000 years ago when polar bears were separating from their close relatives the brown bears and becoming a different species.
Prof. Sykes says the two species are still closely related, and so the Yeti that people have been seeing is probably a cross between a polar bear and a brown bear.
Reinhold Messner, the mountaineer who first climbed Mount Everest without oxygen, is one of those who say they have seen the Yeti. Messner later came across a 300-year-old manuscript in a Tibetan monastery that had a drawing of such an animal, along with text saying: “The yeti is a variety of bear living in inhospitable mountainous areas.” Seems like the folks back in the 18th Century knew what we’re only now coming to discover.
And so to Nessie . . .
In other news, yeti another insult to Nessie, the renowned denizen of the most famous Scottish lake.
Five years ago, Scottish sailor George Edwards published what he claimed was the best photo ever taken of the Loch Ness Monster. Edwards said of the mysterious dark hump moving through the water:
“It was slowly moving up the loch towards Urquhart Castle and it was a dark grey color. It was quite a fair way from the boat, probably about half a mile away but it’s difficult to tell in water.”
But now he’s admitting it was a hoax – just a piece of fiberglass he’d made himself.
Like a pouting child, Edwards is defiant.
“Why should I feel guilty for having a bit of fun?” he complained to the Scottish media. “Where would Loch Ness be without the world’s best known forgery? These so-called experts come along with their theories about big waves and big fish, and their visitor center, but I’m sick to death of them. People come here for a holiday and a bit of fun.”
The real Nessie, however, still guards her ancient secret.