Bigfoot Files (3 x 60′) – Mark Evans, who sets off on a global quest to unlock the real story of Bigfoot.
New DNA research on hair samples by Professor Bryan Sykes, a leading British geneticist, may reveal the answer to the centuries-old mystery of the Yeti: it is a genetic match to an ancient polar bear.
Yetis, also known as the ‘Abominable Snowman’, have been recorded for centuries in the Himalayas, with local people and even eminent mountaineers, claiming to have come face-to-face with hairy, ape-like creatures. A photograph of a ‘Yeti’ footprint, taken by British climber Eric Shipton at the base of Everest in 1951, sparked global Yeti mania.
Bryan Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, set out to collect and test ‘Yeti’ hair samples to find out which species they came from. In particular he analysed hairs from two unknown animals, one found in the Western Himalayan region of Ladakh and the other from Bhutan, 800 miles east.
After subjecting the hairs to the most sophisticated DNA tests available and comparing the results to other animals’ genomes stored on the GenBank database, Professor Sykes found that he had a 100% 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 ago – a time when the polar bear and closely related brown bear were separating as different species.
Of the various explanations, Professor Sykes believes that the most likely is that the animals are hybrids – crosses between polar bears and brown bears; the species are closely related and are known to interbreed where their territories overlap.
The theory is backed up by legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner, the first man to climb Everest without oxygen, who has studied Yetis since he had a terrifying encounter with a mysterious creature in Tibet in 1986.
During his research he uncovered an image in a 300-year-old Tibetan manuscript of a ‘Chemo’ – another local name for the ‘Yeti’. The translation of the Tibetan text is clear: “The Yeti is a variety of bear living in inhospitable mountainous areas.”
Channel: Channel 4
Producer: Icon Films
TX: 20th October 2013
Source: Channel 4 press release