Eight samples were found to be from bear species, while a ninth was from a dog
Scientists have shown that the legendary, mysterious 'abominable snowman' is... most likely a bear.
Researchers analysed nine alleged 'yeti' samples - including bone, tooth and hair - that had been collected in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau.
Eight of the samples were found to be from bear species - Asian black bears, Himalayan brown bears or Tibetan brown bears - while the final sample was from a dog.
The authors - who have published their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal - conclude: "This study represents the most rigorous analysis to date of samples suspected to derive from anomalous or mythical ‘hominid’-like creatures, strongly suggesting that the biological basis of the yeti legend is local brown and black bears."
Lead scientist Charlotte Lindqvist of the University at Buffalo observed: "Our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the yeti legend can be found in local bears, and our study demonstrates that genetics should be able to unravel other, similar mysteries."
She suggests that studying samples can offer more information about endangered bear species such as the Himalayan brown bears, explaining: "Further genetic research on these rare and elusive animals may help illuminate the environmental history of the region, as well as bear evolutionary history worldwide - and additional ‘yeti’ samples could contribute to this work.”
Ms Lindqvist also pointed out that science has previously helped identify the roots of stories about mythical creatures - such as the researchers who discovered that the so-called 'zebra giraffe' (or okapi) resembled the 'African unicorn' described in legends.
Stories about 'abominable snowmen' have their roots in Nepalese folklore, with stories of apparent sightings & 'evidence' reaching the western world when explorers visited in the 19th and 20th centuries.