They have eluded explorers, hunters and scientists who have been searching the Himalayan mountains for the mysterious yeti for over a century.
Now it seems we are no closer to knowing what creature lies behind the mysterious sightings and footprints that have led to the legend of the
Scientists had claimed DNA from 'yeti' hair found in the Himalaya matched the genetic sequence from a fossil polar bear that died 40,000 years ago
They claimed that the hair may belong to an undiscovered species of bear
The new research concludes the hair may belong to a common brown bear
A key piece of evidence that suggested many of the sightings were due to an unknown type of bear living in the Himalaya has now been ruled out.
Biologists used DNA analysis to examine claims that hair samples attributed to yetis appeared to belong to a scientifically undiscovered species of bear.
The researchers conclude, however, that from the colour and shape of the hair samples, they were likely to have come from common Himalayan brown bears rather than an unknown species of bear.
This means that the identity of the species behind yeti sightings is still a mystery.
Dr Eliécer Gutiérrez, an evolutionary biologist at the Smithsonian Institution, said one of the hair samples had apparently come from a bear that had been shot by hunters.
He said: 'We have concluded that there is no reason to believe that the two samples came from anything other than Brown Bears.
'What strikes us as odd is that an “experienced hunter”, who was very familiar with the Brown Bear, could mistake the animal that he had shot for anything other than a bear of some sort and, specifically, for a “yeti”.
'Corroboration and documentation of, as well as other information concerning, the anecdote of this bear being shot by the hunter and the subsequent history of the hair that was saved would be most welcome.'
In 2014 Professor Bryan Sykes, a geneticist at the University of Oxford, found that DNA extracted two samples of 'yeti' hair from the Himalaya were a 100 per cent match with a 40,000 year old fossil polar bear but not to modern species of polar bear.
However, subsequent analysis by researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that the hair was not from a polar bear.
Professor Sykes and his colleagues maintained, however, that the hair samples must be from an otherwise unknown species of bear living in the Himalaya.
Writing in the journal ZooKeys, they said: 'The molecular data obtained and analyzed by Sykes are not informative enough to suggest the possibility that a taxonomically unrecognized type of bear exists in the Himalayas.