Some researchers and experts in cryptozoology (the study of hidden or unknown creatures like Bigfoot the Loch Ness monster) propose that sightings and stories of the Yeti could be attributed to bear encounters.
While polar bears are not native to the Himalayan region, there have been suggestions that rare occurrences of polar bears drifting far south on ice floes might explain some reports of Yeti sightings.
However, due to the significant geographic distance between the polar bear's natural habitat and the Himalayas, as well as the logistical challenges of such long-distance migration, this seems unlikely.
The Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus) — closely related to the Tibetan blue bear (Ursus arctos pruinosus) — is known for its shaggy, reddish brown fur and its adaptation to high-altitude environments.
It's conceivable that observations of these brown bears, combined with the challenging conditions of the mountainous terrain, could have contributed to the creation of the Yeti legend. For example, distant sightings of a bear standing on its back legs, which bears occasionally do, could have been interpreted as a human-like figure by those unfamiliar with the species.
Over time, stories of encounters with the Himalayan bear might have distorted or merged with local folklore to create the larger-than-life image of the Yeti. While the existence of the Yeti remains unproven, it's an intriguing example of how nature, culture and myth can intersect to shape legends.