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The abominable snowman's a bear? Say it ain't so, Sasquatch!

October 17, 2013|By Paul Whitefield
  • In the 2008 movie "Strange Wilderness," TV show host Peter Gaulke, played by Steve Zahn, may actually have found Bigfoot.
In the 2008 movie "Strange Wilderness," TV show host Peter Gaulke,… (Darren Michaels / Paramount…)

So the yeti is a teddy? The abominable snowman is just a bear? What’s next: Bigfoot is a big bobcat? Sasquatch is just a guy dressed in a gorilla suit?

On Thursday, news broke that British researcher Bryan Sykes, a human geneticist at Oxford, had analyzed hairs from two alleged yetis, sequenced their DNA and found a 100% match: a DNA sample from the jaw of an ancient polar bear.

A bear? Really? Scientists might find that thrilling, but for those of us who dream of messing with Sasquatch (sorry, Jack Link’s!), it just won’t do. It may be scientific. It may be the answer. But it’s certainly no fun.

Not that Sykes is all that sure what he’s found: “I don't think it means there are ancient polar bears wandering around the Himalayas,” he said in a statement. “But we can speculate what the possible explanation might be. It could be there is a subspecies of brown bear in the High Himalayas descended from the bear that was the ancestor to the polar bear.”

Now, fortunately for the flat Earthers and the Bigfoot believers and the fans of Nessie, we live in an age of scientific disbelief, when a bozo with a laptop and an Internet connection can sit in his basement in Kansas City, telling anyone who will listen that 1,000 scientists with doctorates and Nobels and the like are chumps when it comes to climate change.

So I doubt these new findings are going to settle the yeti debate.

After all, we can’t even decide where we came from. In addition to all those folks who believe God created Earth and man (and maybe yetis?) in six days, there are scientists studying the human tree, and this week they reported that human evolution may be less complicated than previously believed.

As Robert Lee Hotz wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “A newly discovered 1.8 million-year-old skull offers evidence that humanity’s early ancestors emerged from Africa as a single adventurous species, not several species as believed.”

Which is interesting, though I suspect most regular folks stopped paying attention to this question years ago after deciding that the fact that we once looked more like chimps than Charlize Theron or George Clooney was hard enough to digest.

But here’s my bottom line: People want mystery. People want monsters. We want there to be a living dinosaur swimming in Loch Ness. Or a living dinosaur walking the jungles of Africa. Or a big hairy ape-man (and, hopefully, ape-woman) strolling through the woods of Oregon/Washington/California/you name it, or the snowy peaks of the Himalayas.

So for now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to be a yeti-bear denier.


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