Joe Penniston

According to new genetic analysis, the legendary Himalayan Yeti may be less of an abominable snowman, more of an abominable snow hybrid ancient polar bear. (We assume it is still abominable.) 

io9 explains:

The DNA analysis was conducted by Oxford University professor Bryan Sykes. He studied two different hair samples taken from two Himalayan animals, both identified by the local people as belonging to Yetis. … He found a 100% match with an ancient polar bear jawbone found in the Norwegian Arctic that’s at least 40,000 years old, and probably around 120,000 years old — a time when the polar bear and closely related brown bear were separating as a different species.

That could mean the Yetis were time travelers, but more likely it means that they’re either an undescribed species descended from these ancient polar bears, or (more likely) that polar bears and brown bears hybridized (science term for “boned”) sometime more recently.

These results are still awaiting peer review, but they’ll air on a BBC documentary series called Bigfoot Files regardless, because Sykes has his priorities straight.

This is good news for people concerned about the fate of the polar bears — apparently some strains are hardier than we think. Instead of dying out from climate change, perhaps they’ll adapt, or cross with hardier bears, and go on to evolve into legendary creatures.