Sci-Tech

Believing in Yeti without any scientific basis

An image shared by the Army purportedly showing the footprints of a Yeti.  

With no bones, teeth, hair, nail or other body parts recovered so far to allow for detailed scientific studies, existence of Yeti in the Himalayas as shown by the photographs of giant footprints by the Indian Army is not borne out by hard evidence but just belief.

In contrast, the discovery of Homo luzonensis, a small-bodied hominin on April 10 this year from the island of Luzon in the Philippines was based on studies carried out on seven teeth and six small bones that were recovered. The hominin lived at least 50,000-67,000 years ago in the island.

The discovery of Denisovans, an extinct species of human, in 2008 was based on fragmentary remains. Genetic studies carried on a small finger sample suggested that they survived for thousands of years and died out just 40,000 years ago.

Similarly, in the case of ‘hobbits’ (Homo floresiensis), which was discovered in 2004 in Flores, Indonesia and found to have survived till as recently as 12,000 years ago, the confirmation of its hominin nature came from studying a variety of bones. Fairly complete cranium and mandible, right leg, less complete bones of the left leg, hands and feet, and fragments of vertebral column, ribs, sacrum (triangular bone at the base of the spine) among others were recovered and studied.

Two studies on Himalayan samples

While there are only claims of sightings of Yeti and giant footprints on snow, results from two studies based on samples collected from the Himalayas do not provide any evidence in support of Yeti. Both studies have indicated that samples belonged to bears.

An August 2014 paper in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B studied two hair samples — one from Ladakh and the other from Bhutan. These had close genetic affinity to polar bears or a previously unrecognised bear species.

A November 2017 study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B analysed 24 mitochondrial DNA samples of hair, tissue, bone, and faeces of Himalayan brown bears and purported Yeti collected from the Tibetan Plateau-Himalaya region. Eight of the nine purported Yeti samples matched regional bear populations, including the Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus). The results “strongly suggest that the biological basis of the Yeti legend is local brown and black bears”, the researchers concluded.

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 2:59:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/believing-in-yeti-without-any-scientific-basis/article26996157.ece

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