Did Zana (a 19th century Russian "ape-woman") belong to a relict hominid population?

In his 2015 book, "The nature of the beast: The first scientific evidence on the survival of apemen into modern times" (on Amazon.com), author Bryan Sykes, Emeritus Professor from the University of Oxford, claims that Zana's DNA appeared to be purely African despite bearing little genetic resemblance to any modern group living in Africa.

Now Professor Bryan Sykes at the University of Oxford says he believes Zana had a strain of West African DNA that belonged to a subspecies of modern humans.

Sykes explained that while the woman, said to stand 6 feet 6 inches tall, was genetically 100 percent African, she showed little physical or genetic resemblance to any group living in modern Africa.

Sykes has published a book, The Nature of the Beast, in which he writes that Zana's ancestors could have come out of Africa more than 100,000 years ago and lived for many generations in the remote Caucasus region.

-"DNA Test Suggests Russian Apewoman Zana Was Truly A Yeti", TechTimes (2015-04-06)

Sykes is quoted as describing her DNA as "unparalleled" and that he believes "her ancestors came out of Africa over 100,000 years ago and lived in the remote Caucasus for many generations".

  • 3
    Q: what do they call evidenced based cryptozoology? A: regular zoology. But in all seriousness, I read the relevant part of the Wikipedia page along the lines of: IF they exist, it COULD be surviving ancient hominids. It also explicitly states that it is speculation (i.e. without any substantial evidence). I am not sure there is an actual notable claim here. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 15:21
  • @Jordy I specifically meant the DNA evidence. I'll edit my post to include this. Of course I'm skeptical(!) but it wasn't clear to me whether the DNA supported the thesis or not. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 15:24
  • @Nat I've added a link to a newspaper story which quotes an Oxford professor. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 15:42
  • 1
    It looks like they're claiming that a group of people from Africa split away from the rest of the human genetic pool (so no interbreeding) for about 100,000 years. Then, around 1850, there just so happens to be only 1 member of this sub-species left. And since she left behind descendants, she was clearly able to breed - just, her ancestors for 100,000 years happened to not do so before they mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind no evidence of their 100,000-year-long bloodline.
    – Nat
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 19:22
  • 3
    From the little I know of genetics. some haplogroups may suggest one or other region of the world as the ancestral origin but it's not and cannot be an exact science. The folk belief that you can know where your ancestors came from with your DNA is a myth, no doubt "amplified" by the marketing of certain companies. The huge red flag here is genetically 100 percent African but having little physical or genetic resemblance to any group living in modern Africa. What we know colloquially as "African DNA" is from modern humans therefore his statement is illogical.
    – user41580
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 23:56


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