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Geographical Index > United States > Himalayan Region (International) > Article # 169

Media Article # 169

Monday, April 2, 2001

'Yeti's hair' defies DNA analysis

By Mark Henderson
The Times

British scientists on the trail of the Yeti have found some of the best evidence yet for the existence of the mythical Himalayan creature — a sample of hair that has proved impossible to identify.

Genetic tests on the hair, which was gathered from a tree in Bhutan, have failed to match its DNA to that of another animal. The findings, which have surprised sceptical researchers, raise the strong possibility that the sample belongs to an as yet undiscovered species.

In Bhutan, an expedition team was led by an “official Yeti-hunter” to a forest in the eastern part of the country, where he was convinced that an animal was at large. “He told us that he had found evidence of the Yeti in the hollow of a cedar tree,” Rob McCall, a zoologist who was part of the expedition, said. Dr McCall’s team removed strands of hair from the tree and returned to Britain to have them analysed.

Bryan Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics at the Oxford Institute of Molecular Medicine, one of the world’s leading experts on DNA analysis, who examined the hair, said: “We found some DNA in it, but we don’t know what it is. It’s not a human, not a bear nor anything else we have so far been able to identify. It’s a mystery and I never thought this would end in a mystery. We have never encountered DNA that we couldn’t recognise before.”

The discovery was made by a team of scientists assembled by Channel 4 for a documentary in the To the Ends of the Earth series, which will be shown tonight.

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