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The Yeti (aka Abominable Snowman) creature

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Reports of the Yeti creature

Reports of a large, human-like creature in the Himalayas have been told as far back as 1832 (or arguably even earlier).  In that year, B.H. Hodgson wrote in The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal of a human-like biped that walked erect and was covered in dark brownish hair.  He stated that the local people, called Sherpas, told him it was a demon…

Sherpa Description of the Creature

The local Sherpas believed there are actually two different types of yetis.  Dzu-teh which is 7-8 feet tall and meh-teh which is only 5-6 feet tall.  Most describe yeti as being 6 feet tall, ape-like with human characteristics, covered with short brownish-red hair (and occasionally described as having white spots on his chest).  The creature’s hair is longer on the shoulders and walks slightly slumped.  He is described as having a broad face and large mouth.  Most reports indicate he has large teeth, but no fangs.  His head is usually described as being conical shaped with a pointed crown.  He has large, long arms that almost reach to his knees.

Expedition Reports

The remoteness of the area has led to the creation of several organized expeditions to search for the elusive creatures.  In 1889, Major L.A Waddell found human-like footprints in the snow one morning.  His photographs were published that year in Among the Himalayas.  His Sherpa guides matter-of-factly told him they were the prints of a hairy wild man that was often seen in the area.  Waddell wrote in Among the Himalayans, “the belief in these creatures is universal among Tibetans.”

After the Waddell expedition, Yeti expeditioners, including many from the Western countries, continued to report sightings of the strange creature in the area.   In September 1921, on a mountaintop near Tibet at 20,000 feet, Lt. Col. C.K. Howard-Bury found strange footprints in the snow.  Howard-Bury, who was on an expedition to Mount Everest, described the prints as being 3 times the size of a man’s.  His Sherpa sidekicks told him that they were from “a manlike thing that is not a man.”  A newspaper columnist wrote a piece based on Howard-Bury’s report.  In his piece, the columnist mistakenly translated Howard-Bury’s Sherpa description for the animal as ‘abominable snowman‘.  The name has stuck ever since.

The modern name “Yeti” came about in 1925.  N.A. Tombazi, a British photographer and member of the Royal Geographical Society, recorded a strange account on the Zemu Glacier:

“The intense glare and brightness oft he snow prevented me from seeing anything for the 1st few seconds, but I soon spotted the ‘object’ referred to about 200-300 yards away down the valley to the east of our camp. Unquestionably, the figure in outline was exactly like a human being, walking upright and stopping occasionally to uproot or pull at some dwarf rhododendron bushes. It showed up dark against the snow and, as far as I could make out, wore no clothes. Within the next minute or so it had moved into some thick scrub and was lost to view.”

Tambazi immediately examined the area and found 16 footprints, shaped like a man’s, 6-7 inches long and 4 inches wide.  It was from this account the term “Yeti”, from the Sherpa yeh-teh, meaning “the thing”, became known.

A collection of historic Yeti reports

Alexander the Great was said to have witnessed a Yeti during his conquest of the Indus Valley in 326 BC.  Legend says that Alexander the Great wanted to take the specimen home with him, but local natives told him the creature could not survive at lower altitudes.

During World War II, Slawomir Rawicz, a Polish soldier, escaped from a Siberian gulag and began a long walk across the Himalayas in order to reach the safety of India.  In his reports of the trek, he documented that at one point, his path had been blocked for hours by two Yetis who seemed to be doing nothing but shuffling around in the snow.

In 1951, Eric Shipton, an experienced mountain climber, was attempting to summit Mount Everest when he discovered several unusually large animal footprints.  Photographs were taken and published but detractors claimed that the footprints were normal bear footprints that had been distorted by the melting snow.

Two years later, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reported seeing large footprints while scaling Mount Everest. Hillary later mounted an expedition in search of the creature, which he said his father had once seen.

Beginning in 1957, wealthy American oilman Tom Slick funded a few missions to investigate Yeti reports. In 1959, supposed Yeti feces were collected by one of Slick’s expeditions.  Analysis of the feces revealed a parasite which could not be classified. Cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans wrote, “Since each animal has its own parasites, this indicated that the host animal is equally an unknown animal.” The United States government thought that finding the Yeti was likely enough to create three rules for American expeditions searching for it: (1) obtain a Nepalese permit, (2) do not harm the Yeti except in self-defense, and (3) let the Nepalese government approve any news reporting before announcing the animal’s discovery.

After visit to India, James Stewart, the actor, is said to have helped smuggle parts of the supposed remains of a yeti from India to London, by concealing them in his luggage.  The so-called Pangboche Hand (see below) was among the parts Stewart smuggled out of the country.

A collection of modern-day Yeti reports

Sightings continue to this day.  In 1970 on Mount Annapurna, Don Whillans, a British Mountaineer, heard eerie cries that his Sherpa guides told him were the screams of a “yeti.”  Don spotted a dark figure on a nearby ridge, and when he examined the area the next day, he found large footprints buried 18 inches in the snow.  He knew from the depths of the prints that the animal must have been extremely large and heavy and this was confirmed when he witnessed the creature pulling branches and leaves from a nearby tree.  He had no doubt that what he was seeing was not a human creature or an ape since he observed the entire event for over 20 minutes through a pair of binoculars.

Two years later, on December 17, 1972, the Edward Cronin expedition (officially known as the Aruri Valley expedition) awoke to find strange tracks passing between their tents.  The tracks were carefully examined and found to be 9 inches long by 4 3/4 inches wide.  They were human-like with 5 toes and a large heel.  They attempted to follow the tracks but soon had to abandon their search when the terrain became so rough they could no longer continue.  They stared helplessly as the tracks were seen to disappear over a heavily wooded ridge.  It was obvious to them that whatever made the tracks was much stronger and more adept to the harsh environment that they were.

In 1986, Reinhold Messner, a celebrated mountaineer known for being the first man to climb Everest without an oxygen tank, claimed to have had a terrifying face-to-face encounter with a yeti in Tibet.  His sighting so rattled him that he became a lifelong researcher of the cryptid species.  Messner’s research led to a drawing in a 300-year-old Tibetan manuscript of a “Chemo” – another local name for the yeti, with text alongside it which was translated to read: “The yeti is a variety of bear living in inhospitable mountainous areas.”

In early December 2007, American television presenter Joshua Gates and his team (Destination Truth) reported finding a series of huge footprints in the Everest region of Nepal.  They noted that the footprints resembled descriptions of Yeti prints. Each of the footprints measured 33 cm (13 in) in length with five toes that measured a total of 25 cm (9.8 in) across. Casts were made of the prints. The footprints were examined by Jeffrey Meldrum of Idaho State University, who believed them to be too morphologically accurate to be fake or manmade. Later in 2009, Gates made another investigation during which he discovered hair samples. A forensic analyst concluded that the hair contained an unknown DNA sequence.

On 20 October 2008 a team of seven Japanese adventurers photographed footprints which could allegedly have been made by a Yeti. The team’s leader, Yoshiteru Takahashi claims to have observed a Yeti on a 2003 expedition and is determined to capture the creature on film.

Yeti physical evidence exists in large numbers

As with the North American Bigfoot, much physical evidence of Yeti also exists.  Tibetan monks in Pangboche had long claimed to possess the hand of a yeti creature.  In 1959, a Westerner named Peter Byrne sought to analyze the hand.  After a little persuasion, the monks agreed to let Peter examine the hand in private.  Peter, apparently a not-so-honest kind of guy, stole a finger and thumb off of the hand.  In it’s place, he stitched a human finger and thumb that he snuck into the complex.  The yeti parts were then smuggled into India.  From there, the famous film actor, James Stewart, and his wife Gloria, wrapped the parts in underwear and buried them deep in their suitcases.  The yeti souvenirs made it across the remaining borders and into England in a suitcase.  The British primatologists W.C. Osman Hill, analyzed the parts and at first declared them human.  Later he changed his analysis and reported that they were probably from a Neanderthal.  Zoologist Charles A. Leone and anthropologist George Agogino then took their turn in examining the ill-obtained specimens and stated that they were from a human hand with very primitive characteristics.  Blood tests obtained from the skin of the finger, indicated that the parts were neither human nor primitive.  Today the hand is known as the Pangboche Hand (a Pangboche scalp was later discovered at the same monastery).

Fecal droppings were also obtained during Peter Byrne’s 1959 expedition.  When examined in the laboratory, they were shocked to discover an unknown parasite.  They deduced that since the parasite was previously unknown, the hosts that the fecal droppings came from would therefore also be ‘unknown’.

On 19 March 1954, the Daily Mail printed an article which described expedition teams obtaining hair specimens from what was alleged to be a Yeti scalp found in the Pangboche monastery. The hairs were black to dark brown in color in dim light, and fox red in sunlight. The hair was analyzed by Professor Frederic Wood Jones, an expert in human and comparative anatomy. During the study, the hairs were bleached, cut into sections and analyzed microscopically. The research consisted of taking microphotographs of the hairs and comparing them with hairs from known animals such as bears and orangutans. Jones concluded that the hairs were not actually from a scalp. He contended that while some animals do have a ridge of hair extending from the pate to the back, no animals have a ridge (as in the Pangboche “scalp”) running from the base of the forehead across the pate and ending at the nape of the neck. Jones was unable to pinpoint exactly the animal from which the Pangboche hairs were taken. He was, however, convinced that the hairs were not of a bear or anthropoid ape.

In the 1970’s, an experienced bear hunter came across an animal that greatly frightened him.  The hunter was familiar with all types of bears in the area and knew this creature was unlike any creature he had come across before.  The hunter shot the animal and kept its remains which were later turned over to scientists for analysis.

In the yearly 2000’s, a Yeti expedition into the Himalayas found an unusual brownish colored hair that matched no native animal in the area.

Large prehistoric ape fossils were soon discovered in the Himalayan foothills giving rise to the theory that the strange creature must be some sort of unknown ape.  Some speculated that the creature may have evolved from one of these prehistoric apes.  What is definitely known is that something strange exists in the Himalayan mountains – an elusive creature that continues to puzzle scientists…

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