A new chapter was written in the legend of the Yeti on Monday after the Indian Army claimed it had discovered fresh “mysterious footprints” of the mythical creature. The two-legged white, shaggy ape-like animal, described to be 10-20 feet tall, has a very definitive appearance despite never having been sighted and no real evidence of it.
As the tale goes, the Yeti or ‘Abominable Snowman’ roams the high peaks of the Himalayas in Nepal and India. Similar to the legends of Big Foot or Sasquatch in North American and the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland, most of the literature on the Yeti comes from folklore.
The Sherpas, an ethnic community in Nepal, believed the creature was dangerous and coined the word Yeti, meaning ‘wild-man’. Stories of the Yeti, as they were passed from generations, were used as lessons to warn children of wild animals and against wandering away from the community. There are also reports to suggest that this fiction was created to make Sherpas stronger against the harsh weather.
Locals also refer to the Yeti as Meh-Teh (man-bear) and Kang-mi (snowman).
The first Western documentation of the Yeti was by British explorer Charles Howard-Bury in 1921, and later by Henry Newman. Both their accounts of the creature sparked great interest and led to several expeditions to South East Asia. In many accounts, explorers claimed to have encountered the Yeti or seen its footprints in the snow.
The Yeti was described as having a “squarish” head with “reddish-brown hair”, being bipedal, emitting a “loud high-pitched cry” etc. In 1951, Eric Shipton caught on camera footprints left behind by the Yeti, which showed a thumb-like impression instead of a toe. Sir Edmund Hillary, in 1960, brought back what he thought was the Yeti’s scalp, shaped like a helmet, but it was later proved to be from a serow, a goat-like animal. In 2010, Chinese hunters caught a hairless, four-legged animal which they said was the Yeti, but was identified as a civet that had lost its hair after suffering from a disease. In 2011, researchers claimed they had found the Yeti’s finger; but its DNA proved to be from a human.
As each episode revived the tale of the Yeti, scientists and environmentalists were quick to debunk it and attribute it to some species in the mountains, including bears, cows or even horses.
However, you can’t deny it makes for a great story. From Tintin and Scooby Doo to Monsters Inc, the Yeti has been recreated several times in popular culture.
Later Tuesday, Army sources shared fresh images from Mount Makalu in which mountaineering expedition members could be seen measuring and examining the mysterious footprints.