Oxford University's Bryan Sykes told the BBC Thursday that he conducted DNA tests on hairs from two unidentified animals in northern India and Bhutan. They were a 100 percent match to the DNA taken from the jawbone of an ancient polar bear found in Svalbard, Norway.
The ancient polar bear DNA dates from 40,000 to 120,000 years ago, at a time when the polar bear and brown bear were becoming different species.
Sykes thinks that the unidentified animals could be polar bear-brown bear hybrids still roaming the Himalayas today.
“This is a species that hasn’t been recorded for 40,000 years," Sykes said. "Now, we know one of these was walking around ten years ago. And what’s interesting is that we have found this type of animal at both ends of the Himalayas. If one were to go back, there would be others still there.”
Sykes said that hunters who have described encounters with animals they thought were Yetis could have misinterpreted the actions of an unusually aggressive bear.
“The fact that the hunter, who had great experience of bears, thought this one was in some way unusual and was frightened of it, makes me wonder if this species of bear might behave differently," he said. "Maybe it is more aggressive, more dangerous or is more bipedal than other bears."