The mythical Bigfoot may really exist, but it is just a cross between an ancient polar bear and a brown bear, according to new DNA research by an Oxford scientist.
Analysis of supposed yeti hair samples, one found in the western Himalayan region of Ladakh and the other from Bhutan, found a genetic match with an ancient polar bear that could date back 120,000 years.
This was a time when the polar bear and closely related brown bear were separating as different species.
Bigfoot may be cross between polar bear and brown bear, claims Oxford scientist
Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University, said he believes the most likely explanation is that the mythical Bigfoot is a hybrid - a cross between polar bears and brown bears.
He believes there could be a sub species of brown bear in the Himalayas that has been mistaken for Bigfoot.
"This is an exciting and completely unexpected result that gave us all a surprise. There's more work to be done on interpreting the results. I don't think it means there are ancient polar bears wandering around the Himalayas," Sykes was quoted as saying by 'The Mirror'.
"But we can speculate on what the possible explanation might be. It could mean there is a sub species of brown bear in the High Himalayas descended from the bear that was the ancestor of the polar bear.
"Or it could mean there has been more recent hybridisation between the brown bear and the descendant of the ancient polar bear," Sykes said.
The hair samples were subjected to the most advanced DNA tests available.
When comparing the results to other animals' genomes stored on the GenBank database, Sykes found that he had a 100 per cent match with a sample from an ancient polar bear jawbone found in Svalbard, Norway, that dates back at least 40,000 years - and probably around 120,000 years - a time when the polar bear and closely related brown bear were separating as different species.
Yetis, also known as the "Abominable Snowman" or "Bigfoot", have been recorded for centuries in the Himalayas, with local people and mountaineers claiming to have come face-to-face with hairy, ape-like creatures.