Yeti may be descendant of giant ape

(Investigator 63, 1998 November.

Reprinted courtesy of The Advertiser 1998, April 4)


LONDON. He is a fearsome sight – and, far from being mythical his descendants may still be stalking the Earth.

Fossil evidence supports the claim that the yeti may be more than a folk legend.

Tales of the abominable snowman have intrigued adventurers and baffled scientists for 150 years. Until now, any evidence has been inconclusive or obviously fake.

But after studying teeth and bones unearthed across Central Asia, Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London believes the elusive beast of the Himalayas could have been inspired by a prehistoric giant ape.

Up to 2.5m tall with massive arms, short stumpy legs and striking red hair, the ape wandered across South-East Asia – probably balancing on its knuckles, gorilla style.

This week, the museum unveiled a slightly larger-than-life robot model of the ape. Controlled by computer, it glares, snarls and chews on a piece of bamboo.

The model forms part of the Myths and Monsters exhibition, which examines the evidence for beasts of legend.

Other animatronic models show how giants and dragons may have been inspired by fossilised remains of dinosaurs and mammals.

Scientists have unearthed four jawbones over the past 50 years, along with hundreds of teeth.

"It overlapped with humans so our ancestors would have seen these creatures," said Dr Stringer, an expert on human evolution. He added that it would be wrong to assume that yeti-like modern-day descendants could not survive without being discovered.

"There are species of jungle deer and wild cattle that have only been found in the last ten years," he said.

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