There are reports this week that DNA analysis has identified a genetic match between two ‘yeti hair’ samples from the Western Himalayas and Bhutan and the jawbone of an ancient Nordic polar bear.*
This follows hot on the heels of discoveries involving giant squid and other creatures previously thought to have been extinct or mythical.
Obviously there is cause for skepticism. But if science can explain yetis and sea monsters, then why shouldn’t we at least keep an open mind about the long-disputed Australian drop bear?
Instead of continuing to deny their existence, why not accept the possibility that drop bears may have evolved to the point where they:
- have diversified their diet to include animal proteins (providing far more nutrients and energy than the leaves of eucalypts and other Australian natives)
- can conceal themselves so well as to almost totally avoid detection
- can successfully defend themselves against tourists and other potential predators in the harsh Australian bush?
Perhaps this species has simply taken practical Darwinian steps to ensure its own survival, instead of relying on the noble intentions of conservation groups dedicated to saving them (especially given that these animals probably fail the ‘cute and cuddly’ test).
Contrast this with the ‘evolutionary cul-de-sac’ that pandas (and koalas) have gone down.
Maybe we also need to give some credence to rumours that the bushranger Ned Kelly built his armour for protection against drop bears (not just bullets) and that the real reason why the Japanese never landed troops in Australia during World War 2 was because of their fear of drop bears?
And seriously consider whether drop bears were responsible for the disappearance of three schoolgirls while picnicking at Hanging Rock?**
Why not? Last week, you probably didn’t believe in the Yeti.
Recommended reading on this topic: Janssen, V. (2012). ‘Indirect tracking of drop bears using GNSS technology’ in Australian Geographer, 43 (4). pp. 445-452. (Make sure you read the list of references)
* e.g. ‘The ‘yeti’ comes in from the cold with link to ancient polar bear’ by Anjana Ahuja, The Telegraph (published on 17 Oct 2013. Accessed 18/10/13)
** ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ is one of Australia’s great unsolved (and fictitious) mysteries describing the disappearance of three girls on St Valentines Day in 1900 in Central Victoria.
Photo credit: Pip Marks