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Abominable Snowman actually a bear? A geneticist makes the case.

Abominable Snowman: Using DNA samples from purported yeti pelts, a British geneticist has suggested that the mythical apelike beast is actually a heretofore undiscovered species of bear. 

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Sykes — whose research has not yet been published in any peer-reviewed journal — stops short of saying that the Himalayas are home to an ancient breed of polar bear. "There's more work to be done on interpreting the results. I don't think it means there are ancient polar bears wandering around the Himalayas," he told the Telegraph.

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"It could mean there is a subspecies of brown bear in the High Himalayas descended from the bear that was the ancestor of the polar bear," Sykes added. "Or it could mean there has been more recent hybridization between the brown bear and the descendant of the ancient polar bear."

Scientists recently discovered that polar bears and brown bears are more closely related than was previously thought. Mitochondrial DNA analysis from 2011 suggested that brown bears from Ireland may have given rise to the modern polar bear, but more recent research finds that — due to a long history of interbreeding — the genetic lines of polar bears and brown bears are muddled at best.

Though further study is needed to determine whether or not a yeti actually exists, Sykes' research is "much better science" than most other yeti investigations, Benjamin Radford, LiveScience's Bad Science columnist and deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, told LiveScience.

"What's different about the Sykes study is that he's using good science and genetic testing," Radford added. "It is certainly much more plausible that a bear was mistaken for a Yeti than that there exists a giant, bipedal hominid race that no one has discovered!"

Follow Marc Lallanilla on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescienceFacebook & Google+. Original article onLiveScience.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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