Oxford Scientists Say the Mythological Yeti May Actually Exist

Oxford Scientists Say the Mythological Yeti May Actually Exist

The news: Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Abominable Snowman — the giant primate rumored to stalk the Himalayas has largely been the stuff of legends ... until now.

A team of geneticists from Oxford University published a study this week in the Proceedings Of The Royal Society B, detailing their analysis of 36 hair samples purportedly from yetis. Nearly all of them turned out to be from common mammals such as horses, cows and even people.

But two came back with with something interesting. Upon deeper analysis, these samples were shown to have a 100% genetic match with a prehistoric bear-like creature, which was thought to have disappeared in the Pleistocene period — and which very may well be "the biological foundation of the yeti legend."


The preliminary evidence: As the researchers note, they cannot definitively say that the hair samples came from the Pleistocene bear. While they may have a 100% match, they only constitute a small fragment and the team would need a more complete sample to make a surer determination — or even better yet, a live sample. 

"I don't think this finishes the Bigfoot myth at all," professor Bryan Sykes, who led the Oxford team, told NBC News. "What it does do is show that there is a way for Bigfoot enthusiasts to go back out into the forest and get the real thing."

The search continues: And while the elusive yeti may turn out to be a bear, not a primate, that means that yeti enthusiasts might have been right all along that there is a large, unidentified species roaming the Himalayas. Now, the greater scientific community is open to that idea.

"Bigfootologist and other enthusiasts seem to think that they've been rejected by science, but science doesn't accept or reject anything," Sykes said. "All it does is examine the evidence and that's what I'm doing."

Maybe we should be more like Agent Mulder and open ourselves to the world of possibilities:


How much do you trust the information in this article?

Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

MORE FROM

The six words that will make you sound smarter than all your friends when watching the eclipse

What is an umbra? How does the Saros cycle work? The total solar eclipse, explained.

Do you have little freckles in your eyes? This might be why.

Remember to protect your eyes.

The US desperately needs computer science majors, so keep coding

There are more than 500,000 computing jobs open in the US right now.

The 2017 solar eclipse will help scientists figure out just how much energy we get from the sun

Reflections are tricky things — as we'll learn when August's total solar eclipse hits.

No, Mars didn’t grow 12 more moons — here’s what’s happening in this stunning picture

Mars and the mysteriously multiplying moon.

Scooby-Doo’s real name isn’t Scoobert Doobert

It's time to call Scooby by his real name.

The six words that will make you sound smarter than all your friends when watching the eclipse

What is an umbra? How does the Saros cycle work? The total solar eclipse, explained.

Do you have little freckles in your eyes? This might be why.

Remember to protect your eyes.

The US desperately needs computer science majors, so keep coding

There are more than 500,000 computing jobs open in the US right now.

The 2017 solar eclipse will help scientists figure out just how much energy we get from the sun

Reflections are tricky things — as we'll learn when August's total solar eclipse hits.

No, Mars didn’t grow 12 more moons — here’s what’s happening in this stunning picture

Mars and the mysteriously multiplying moon.

Scooby-Doo’s real name isn’t Scoobert Doobert

It's time to call Scooby by his real name.