CBS Local — Apparently Yukon Cornelius was just fighting a giant bear in the children’s claymation classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” A new study of the mysterious creature, also known as a Yeti, has found that its DNA is closely tied to common bears found in Asia.
“Our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the Yeti legend can be found in local bears, and our study demonstrates that genetics should be able to unravel other, similar mysteries,” said lead scientist Charlotte Lindqvist, via USA Today. The results of the study claim that DNA samples of bones, teeth, skin, and hair from supposed Yetis were found to have come instead from brown and black bears.
The myth-busting findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B and involved an international team of researchers as well as a British film company, who collected many of the Yeti artifacts. After sequencing the DNA samples, Lindqvist and her team came to the conclusion that brown bears in the Himalayan mountains split off from the rest of the local bear population thousands of years ago and began to evolve differently.
The researchers say that those differences in the massive creatures, which can grow to over seven feet long, could have easily been mistaken for creatures which became the fabled “abominable snowmen.”
“We know that bears can be aggressive and get up on their hind legs, so they may have been attacking livestock or ravaging local villages,” Lindqvist added, via Popular Science. “It’s not that surprising that a large animal like that could feel scary and lead to myths, especially in a culture that lives in very close connection to their environment.”