Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

CRYPTOLINK: No reason to believe yeti legends to be inspired by an unknown type of bear

A word about cryptolinks: we are not responsible for the content of cryptolinks, which are merely links to outside articles that we think are interesting (sometimes for the wrong reasons), usually posted up without any comment whatsoever from me. 

Bear species.
Credit: Image courtesy of Pensoft Publishers; CC By 4.0
A Venezuelan evolutionary biologist and a US zoologist state that they have refuted, through mitochondrial DNA sequencing, a recent claim, also based on such sequencing, that unknown type of bear must exist. in the Himalayas and that it may be, at least in part, the source of yeti legends. Their study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.
Last year, B. Sykes and co-authors, in the course of mitochondrial DNA sequencing identification of hair samples that had been attributed to "anomalous primates" (yetis, bigfoots, and others), claimed to have found that two samples said to have come from the Himalayas had a 100% match with DNA recovered from a fossil Polar Bear from over 40,000 years ago. On this basis, they concluded that a currently unknown type of bear must inhabit that portion of Asia.
Later, however, it was shown by C.J. Edwards and R. Barnett that the sample that matched Sykes and co-authors' Himalayan ones, was in fact, from a present-day Polar Bear from Alaska, not from a fossil, and they hypothesized that the genetic material in the samples attributed to an unknown type of bear might have been misleading because of degradation.
Sykes and co-authors, however, have continued to maintain that their Himalayan samples must be from an unknown type of bear -- a claim that has received a good deal of attention from the media.
However, further analysis by Eliécer E. Gutiérrez, currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution, and Ronald H. Pine, affiliated with the Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas, have concluded that the relevant genetic variation in Brown Bears makes it impossible to assign, with certainty, Sykes and co-authors' samples to either that species or the Polar Bear.
In fact, because of genetic overlap, the samples could have come from either one. Because Brown Bears occur in the Himalayas, Gutiérrez and Pine state that therefore there is no reason to believe that the samples in question came from anything other than ordinary Himalayan Brown Bears.

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