This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
By means of mitochondrial 12S rRNA sequencing of putative “yeti”, “bigfoot”, and other “anomalous primate” hair samples, a recent study concluded that two samples, presented as from the Himalayas, do not belong to an “anomalous primate”, but to an unknown, anomalous type of ursid. That is, that they match 12S rRNA sequences of a fossil Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus), but neither of modern Polar Bears, nor of Brown Bears (Ursus arctos), the closest relative of Polar Bears, and one that occurs today in the Himalayas. We have undertaken direct comparison of sequences; replication of the original comparative study; inference of phylogenetic relationships of the two samples with respect to those from all extant species of Ursidae (except for the Giant Panda, Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and two extinct Pleistocene species; and application of a non-tree-based population aggregation approach for species diagnosis and identification. Our results demonstrate that the very short fragment of the 12S rRNA gene sequenced by Sykes et al. is not sufficiently informative to support the hypotheses provided by these authors with respect to the taxonomic identity of the individuals from which these sequences were obtained. We have concluded that there is no reason to believe that the two samples came from anything other than Brown Bears. These analyses afforded an opportunity to test the monophyly of morphologically defined species and to comment on both their phylogenetic relationships and future efforts necessary to advance our understanding of ursid systematics.
Eliécer E. Gutiérrez and Ronald H. Pine. "No need to replace an “anomalous” primate (Primates) with an “anomalous” bear (Carnivora, Ursidae)." Zookeys. 2015; (487): 141–154.
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