Sykes “Yeti” investigation published

The awaited paper is available here [PDF].

Dr. Bryan Sykes’ work was covered in a nice documentary that aired on British TV and in a condensed version in the U.S. Dr. Sykes has followed through and reported his findings of suspected Yeti hair in a very reputable journal. A book will follow.

Was It a Yeti? Bigfoot? Hair DNA Reveals Monsters’ True Identity – NBC News.com.

Sykes’ findings, published in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Academy B, follow up on a yearlong effort to bring in and analyze samples collected by monster-hunters and fringe-science researchers known as cryptozoologists.

One of his key findings was revealed last year, when Sykes reported that two hair samples attributed to the mysterious Himalayan monster known as the Yeti (or “Abominable Snowman”) were a genetic match for a 40,000-year-old jawbone from a polar bear that lived in the Norwegian Arctic.

Sykes is writing a book about that case, titled “The Yeti Enigma,” and he’s organizing an expedition to the Himalayas next year to look for a live specimen of the anomalous bear. “That’s the next logical step,” he said. “We need a live ‘Yeti.'”

Many Yeti enthusiasts were dismayed at Sykes results, saying just because he’s got a bear does not mean a real ape-like yeti isn’t really out there. True, but it does narrow the scope. A lot. The bear conclusion makes sense. The primate? Not so much.

“I don’t think this finishes the Bigfoot myth at all,” Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes told NBC News. “What it does do is show that there is a way for Bigfoot enthusiasts to go back out into the forest and get the real thing.”

But Sykes has arguably gotten the highest quality data so far to answer the question, “what is the Yeti?”. It’s not anything suggesting a Bigfoot-type animal. In fact, there is poor evidence to suggest that claim is true. As the decades go by with no better evidence but better and better techniques, the hope dwindles.

Sykes remarks on his work with American Bigfooters:

“It just wasn’t science,” Sykes told NBC News. “A lot of Bigfoot enthusiasts thought that this was how science worked, [but] it was dreadful.”

This is an aspect I have studied extensively. Amateurs mean well but can’t do quality science. They were never trained. They need to cooperate with professionals if they want to know what is out there. And they need to accept that their beloved belief may just be, a bear.

I like the best answer. So I’m not disappointed.

Finally, some solid science on Bigfoot | Science News.

I have written a review of the paper and what it says about the field of cryptozoology.

All stories about the Yeti.

  12 comments for “Sykes “Yeti” investigation published

  1. Fred
    July 1, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    I tend to agree that the vast majority of Bigfoot and Yeti sightings are cases of mistaken identity.
    Having said that, I still think that there is still a very good chance that something like the “classic”
    Bigfoot exists in very small numbers.

  2. spookyparadigm
    July 1, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    I’ve said this before, but this is the Roswell/Mogul balloon moment for cryptozoology. They made a hypothesis, so sure of their certainty, and it just got tested and rejected. Sure, there will be faithful and some others who continue on. And the effect won’t be immediate. But this is the beginning of the end of mainstream acceptance of paws and pelts Bigfootery, just as nuts-and-bolts ufology began to die its slow death 15 years ago.

    Ten years from now, habituation contactees and the like will own Bigfootery.

  3. Anthony
    July 2, 2014 at 12:41 AM

    I think a relative of the polar bear is an awesome discovery. I know others had their hearts set on some primate but really a new bear is still awesome. The abominable snow bear of the Himalayas has just as good a ring to it as the abominable snowman.

  4. Peter Robinson
    July 2, 2014 at 2:53 AM

    On what data do you base your assertion that there is a very good chance? You have missed out the category of frauds. In fact, based on the evidence to date, i.e. none, there is a tiny chance that the “classic” ‘bigfoot’ exists. Add to that the fact that when species populations reach very small numbers they tend to go extinct, so that hypothesis is unlikely in the extreme.

  5. Sam
    July 2, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    You nailed it, thanks for saving me the keystrokes!

  6. Bill T.
    July 2, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    Link to a (pretty good) article in The Independent, U. K.: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/dna-study-shows-yeti-is-real-sort-of–and-oxford-scientist-prepares-expedition-to-find-it-9577991.html

    A nice benny: A “best of” side bar “The 12 best debunked myths and fake news storys”. Probably not THE BEST, but their click-baiting hearts were apparently in the right place.

  7. BobM
    July 2, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    And yet no field biologist has EVER spotted one.

  8. Cole
    July 3, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    “For each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there is always an infinite number of possible and more complex alternatives, because one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypothesis to prevent them from being falsified; therefore, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are better testable and falsifiable” Occam’s razor

    Simply put, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it is likely a duck…The DNA samples are cows, bears, dogs, etc. and a possible “known” species of prehistoric bear (which is cool).

    There is zero facts or evidences that can be relied upon, or are reliable, that can prove the existence of some unknown species of anything walking around the forests of the world. Foot prints and images can and are being hoaxed..

    Of course, the bigfoot cultists will ignore this reality in favor of their fantasy. There is to much money to be made from it. I just wish the cultists would stop beating up tree’s and howling…It gets obnoxious trying to sleep while camping….

  9. jeffsimmons
    July 3, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    I think cryptozoologists should still see this as a victory. I mean, yeah, they got the species wrong, but there’s still a prehistoric creature that modern science didn’t know was still alive and kicking roaming the Himalayas.

  10. Tribeca Mike
    July 4, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    I look forward to Sykes ‘ magnum opus, “The Yeti Derp.” I’m sure it’ll be shelved right next to Silvia Browne’s at my local library.

  11. Ray
    July 6, 2014 at 1:24 AM

    Zero is a very small number.

  12. July 7, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    I wonder if a polar/brown bear hybrid is hopeful news for today’s polar bears faced with global warming. Will they migrate south and blend in with other bears? But I have not seen an estimate of the age of the unknown-bear hair sample – was it taken (by locals many years ago, if I recall which sample this is correctly) from a frozen 40,000 year old bear or a living-today bear? I suppose the sample is too contaminated for a good carbon date (?)

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