Many people feel scared of the Himalayas specifically the region between Nepal and Tibet? Locals out there speak quietly and avoid leaving home during nighttime. Perhaps, it’s the huge ape-man Yeti that scares people more than anything.
Believe it or not but in the frozen wasteland of the Himalayas, which is world’s top location, there lives a man-monster. It is referred to as the Abominable Snowman and has been named as the Yeti.
Yeti is a terrifying creature that still remains a mystery despite countless studies, searches and researches. It is a giant creature that many have already encountered. But, it cannot be captured because it vanishes within seconds in swirling winds and snowy maelstrom. It wouldn’t be wrong to state that Yeti’s remains the most enduring of all mysteries to date.
It isn’t something that has been discovered only recently. Stories of an Abominable Snowman have already been part of the Himalayan folklore for centuries. Yet, we are still struggling to find a definitive proof of its existence.
It isn’t that scientists haven’t yet tried to locate the Yeti. Many international teams of scientists have attempted to understand if Yeti is for real or just a myth. Even after decades, they couldn’t offer a logical explanation for the many sightings of a man-monster. Naturally, there have been many theories to explain Yeti. Some claim it is a myth, while some believe it is the missing link of the human race. So, what really is Yeti, let’s find out.
What is Yeti? What are Its Characteristics?
As mentioned above Yeti is a man-like beast that lurks around the snowy mountain ranges of the Himalayas. Most of its sightings have been observed around the Nepali and Tibetan regions of the Himalayas. For Tibetans, Yeti is a man-bear, which they refer to as ‘miché’. They also use the term ‘mirka’ for Yeti, which means wild man. Nepali call it Meh-teh” or “Migoi,” which means the wild man of the snows. Conversely, Chinese refer to Yeti as ‘Yeren’ or the wild man. There are actually many names given to Yeti in different cultures. In Vietnam, it is called Batutut, and in Scotland, it is known as Fear Liath. North Americans call it Bigfoot and Sasquatch, Australians have named it Yowie and Mongolians refer to Yeti as Almas.
Regardless of the many names, the widely used name of this creature is Yeti or the Abominable Snowman. Characteristics wise, it is a shaggy, very large ape-man. It is called the Bigfoot because it has huge feet. Yeti has sharp, almost saber-like teeth while white or grey colored fur covers its body. Yeti has always been sighted alone roaming around the snowy mountain ranges.
All the sightings reported so far explain similar characteristics of the Yeti. Most people claim that it appears like a mixture of human and a beast. Quite often, it is claimed to be a supernatural creature from the past eras. According to many legends and folktales, the Yeti attacks on villages in cold nights. It kills the villagers brutally, and whoever tries to fight it gets dismembered. Moreover, people have reported about disappearances of individuals too.
Apart from Nepal and Tibet, the Yeti has also been seen around India, Mongolia, and Bhutan. This means it lives within the Himalayas and can be seen anywhere around the region. It is often theorized that the Yeti is a Chu-The, or Langur Monkey living at lower altitudes. It can also be Tibetan blue bear or the brown bear that is found in the Himalayas. Yeti sightings have remained constant for centuries. The most recent sighting was reported in 2016 when people spotted Yeti-like creature at the Formigal Ski resort, Spain.
According to reports, the Yeti seems to be nocturnal as it only attacks in the night. People who have encountered Yeti in real life claim that it whistles and growls. It is so powerful that with just a single punch it can kill many. According to folklore, whoever sees the ‘mirka’ will die only by looking at this creature. Even if someone isn’t so weak hearted, the Yeti will kill him in minutes. Witnesses have claimed that Yeti has an extremely foul stench; it is so fetid that people feel nauseated.
The most commonly given explanation of the Yeti is that it is some kind of a missing link. It could be a thing that is tied in the evolutionary cycle of transformation from an ape to a man. Or, it could be a demi-god.
Is Yeti for real? Does it exist?
Explorers and scientists have collected numerous samples from the sites where the Yeti is believed to have been sighted. These samples include hair, fur, teeth, and feces. DNA samples have been collected from them. On the basis of these acquired pieces of evidence, it can be claimed that there is something out there. However, whether it is the terrifying man-monster Yeti or just normal animals roaming the Himalayas, it isn’t yet clear. The best explanation scientists give is that the Yeti is actually Himalayan black or brown bear. A study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and conducted by Charlotte Lindqvist from the University of Buffalo in New York did explain some points.
Under the leadership of Lindqvist, the team of researchers from New York examined about 9 samples of Yeti. These samples were collected from different museums and private collections. Specimen included a tooth collected from the Reinhold Messner Mountain Museum, Italy and a piece of skin of Yeti’s hand obtained from a monastery. After carrying out extensive DNA work, the tooth was concluded to be of a domestic dog. The skin sample was from a subspecies of Asian black bear and Himalayan brown bear. This research led to the creation of a brand new family tree of Asian bear subspecies.
Another scientist from the Oxford University, Bryan Sykes, found a 100% genetic match to a prehistoric era polar-bear-like creature after examining two hair samples. A geneticist by profession, Sykes claims that the creature that the samples were matched with, existed about 40,000 years back.
“It seems more likely that the two hairs reported here are from either a previously unrecognized bear species, color variants of Ursus maritimus (polar bear), or U. arctos/U. maritimus hybrids” wrote Sykes.
This means, there might be extraordinary bears from the Pleistocene period roaming the mountains. Sykes believes that this could be the biological foundation of the Abominable Snowman. He is currently planning to explore the Himalayas to find more specimens or even catch the Yeti alive. He will also be writing a book to provide details of his findings. The book has been titled The Yeti Enigma. But, going by his latest findings, it can be assumed that the Yeti might be descendent of ancient polar bears.
Evidence that Prove Yeti is Real:
There have been many sightings of the Yeti some of which were discredited for being hoax while some still believed to be actual occurrences. We must not forget that Yeti related stories have been surfacing for centuries. So, there have been countless sightings, all of which are difficult to list here. So, we will be listing the most authentic incidents that hint at the fact that Yeti is for real.
19th Century Sightings:
People identified mysterious footprints on the icy trails of the Himalayas many times during the 19th century. The most prominent being the experience of B. H. Hodgson in 1832, when he was exploring Nepal’s upper regions. According to Hodgson, his Sherpa guides were terrified after seeing a huge, non-human creature fully covered in dark hair. The creature vanished within seconds leaving the armed team of Hodgson in terror. Hodgson wrote about the incident in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. His initial response was that the team sighted an Orangutan. They were bewildered that an ape was found in the freezing Himalayas. For your information, apes are native species of tropical climate such as that of Sumatra and Borneo.
In 1921, an expedition from the British Mount Everest reconnaissance went to the relatively less known northeastern region of the Everest, the Lhagba La. The expedition was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury. While trekking, the group came across mysterious, inexplicable tracks. Howard-Bury later wrote about the tracks. He stated that these were identified in the soft snow and resembled the tracks of a barefoot man. He also stated that the tracks could be of metoh kangmi, which means man-bear of the snows. Sherpa guides accompanying Howard-Bury claimed that the tracks were of the Wild Man of the Snows.
During the same period, N.A. Tombazi reported about seeing an elusive snowman quite closely. He was at the Zemu Glacier, which is nearly 15,000 miles above the sea level. Tombazi claimed to have seen the creature from just 200 feet distance and stated that it resembled a man but wasn’t actually human. He described his experience of directly looking at the Yeti in these words:
“It showed up dark against the snow, and as far as I could make out, wore no clothes.” The creature then vanished suddenly.
In 1934, a British explorer namely Frank Smythe visited the Tibetan Himalayas and reported about seeing a tall, hairy creature. Sherpa guides informed him that it could be the legendary Yeti that lived in the barren upper parts of the Himalayas. Smythe also identified large-sized footprints in the snow. Every time he found the footprints, his team of loaders panicked and refused to move ahead.
In 1951, Eric Shipton, a well-known mountaineer, managed to photograph a Yeti footprint. He discovered the footprint at the base of the Mount Everest. This photograph gained worldwide attention and generated much curiosity within the masses. We must not forget that the acclaimed mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary also reported about seeing a snowy-man. Sir Hillary happens to be the first person to scale Mount Everest.
In 1958, a scientist in America Dr. Norman Dyrenfurth claimed that he has discovered culled food scraps, footprints, and body hair from caves. He believed that the Yeti was a human-like creature and that there were two species of the Yeti. One species stands tall at 8ft while the other one is shorter, perhaps has the average height of a human.
In 1970 Don Whillans, a British mountaineer claimed that while exploring Annapurna he witnessed a mysterious creature. Whillans was searching for a campsite when he heard some shrieks. These were attributed to the Yeti by his Sherpa guide. Whillans also saw a dark shape nearby his camp in the night. In the morning, Whillans inspected the area where he had witnessed something moving and discovered human-like footprints. In the evening, he used his binoculars to check out the area. Surprisingly, he viewed an ape-like, bipedal creature lurking closer to the camp, probably searching for food. The creature was present near the camp for about 20 minutes after which it vanished.
In 1983, Daniel C. Taylor also encountered the Yeti while he was in Nepal. A Himalayan conservationist, Taylor was accompanied by Robert L. Fleming Jr., a Himalayan natural historian. The duo was on an expedition to the Barun Valley, Nepal. They were actually trying to find out more about the footprints identified in Barun Valley in 1972 by Cornin and McNeely. They discovered more footprints that appeared to be of a hominoid having a hallux and bipedal gait.
In December 2007, an American TV presenter Joshua Gates found a series of footprints while recording for his show Destination Truth. The footprints were discovered in the Nepali region of the Everest. A single footprint measured around 33cm or 12” in length, and had five toes that were 25cm or 19.8”wide. The crew made casts of the footprints to initiate a further probe. A research was carried out by Idaho State University’s Jeffery Meldrum. It was concluded that the footprints weren’t fake or man-made. After forensic analysis in 2009, it was declared that the hair samples contain an unidentified DNA sequence.
Tourists claim to have seen a huge Yeti-like monster while roaming the slopes at the Formigal ski resort. It is located in the northeast of Spain. They even captured the footage on camera. The video evidence shows a very large, shaggy, white colored figure walking on two legs. The creature can be seen walking between the fir trees and casually moving ahead on the snowy slopes. As soon as the video went viral, debates over the reality of the creature started. Some claim it to be a polar bear and some suggested that it could be a camouflaged soldier roaming the mountains. Some assessed that it might be a man wandering along in a white furry suit. Nonetheless, resort’s owner Aramon frantically launched a search operation at the exact site of the sighting but couldn’t find anything.
What does Science have to Say about Yeti?
Scientists do not believe in the existence of a creature like Yeti. They completely reject the rhetoric that a prehistoric ape race is still living in the snowy wilderness of the Asian Himalayas. According to numerous studies conducted to find out the truth, the examined specimen belonged to different species of bear. However, since nothing has been proven as yet, so even scientists cannot claim anything with utmost surety. According to the director of the Center for Fortean Zoology, Jonathan Downes:
“I think there is still a possibility that there are unknown species of higher primate which are still awaiting discovery in what used to be Soviet Central Asia.”
The Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes checked 57 samples to identify the truth about Yeti. In 2013, Sykes checked the samples with all the published DNA sequences and compared with the genome of other animals. A majority of the samples turned out to be of normal, already-known animals such as horses, bears, and cows. But, two of the samples provided a 100% match with the jawbone of a Pleistocene polar bear, which startled Sykes. The polar bear lived about 40,000 to 120,000 years ago. Each of the two samples was taken from Bhutan and India.
Nevertheless, Sykes concluded that the creature could be a hybrid of a brown bear and a polar bear. Sometime later, the same samples were re-examined by scientists Ceiridwen Edwards and Ross Barnett. Their analysis revealed that the samples belonged to a rare subspecies of the brown bear, called the Himalayan bear. Another duo of researchers Ronald H. Pine and Eliécer E. Gutiérrez concluded after assessing the same samples that:
“There is no reason to believe that Sykes et al.’s two samples came from anything but ordinary brown bears.”
Most recently, in 2017 a team of researchers examined about 9 Yeti specimens. These included tooth, feces, bone, skin, and hair samples. These samples were collected from different sites, caves, and monasteries around the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. 8 out of the 9 samples were from Asian black bears, Tibetan brown bears or Himalayan brown bears. The 9th sample came from a dog. Some scientists claim that the samples could be of a now extinct, giant ape called Gigantopithecus.
Hence, so many studies conducted on the specimen concluded that the creature isn’t a monster but a bear. It could be anything from the commonly found wildlife sighted in and around the Himalayas.
Top Myths and Legends about it
Yeti’s legend has its origin in ancient pre-Buddhist religious proceedings. In fact, the Yeti was worshipped by the mountain villagers back then as a supernatural entity. It was believed to be the god of the hunt. The Yeti was depicted in form of totems that were swathed everywhere on the temples, shrines and village walls. In those totems, the Yeti was depicted as a fearsome ape-human hybrid.
In Nepali folklore, the Abominable Snowman is also identified as an ape-like creature that is quite taller than normal humans. It is believed to be living in the Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal region of the Himalayas. In their stories, the Yeti is referred to as Meh-Teh and appears quite frequently in Nepal’s history and mythology. In most of these stories, the Yeti is an ancient creature believed to be a figure of extreme danger.
Upon hearing the stories of such a fearsome creature, Alexander the Great demanded to see it after he conquered the Indus Valley. This was the era of 326 B.C., and the story is shared by the National Geographic. The locals however, discouraged the idea because of the reason that the Yeti cannot survive at such a low altitude.
In Bhutan’s folklore, tales about the Yeti appeared in the late 18th century where the creature was described as half-human, half-animal.
The legend of the Yeti specifically as an Abominable Snowman got originated in 1921 and Henry Newman was the one to use the term. Newman was a journalist for the BBC. While interviewing a team of British explorers who had returned from an expedition to the Mount Everest, he got to know about giant footprints. The explorers told him that the footprints were attributed to the metoh-kangmi, which means man-bear snowman. Newman mistranslated metoh as filthy and used a better alternative to this word while creating the report. This alternative was Abominable. After the term Abominable Snowman appeared in the paper, a worldwide frenzy was generated. This is how the legend of the Abominable Snowman was born.
In the traditional stories of the Sherpa tribe, there is mentioning of the Yeti. These stories can be found in the book titled Folk tales of Sherpa and Yeti. The Yeti appears in 12 tales and in each of them it has been described as a tall, aggressive, and dangerous figure.
Yeti in Popular Culture:
When there is such an intriguing, unsolved mystery out there in the snowy wilderness, how can Hollywood stay behind? There are many movies and TV series made on the Yeti. The trend was started by W. Lee Wilder with the 1954 movie The Snow Creature. Then in 1957, Peter Cushing starred in a movie titled The Abominable Snowman. Acclaimed director Val Guest collaborated with writer Nigel Kneale to create a teleplay for BBC-TV titled The Creature and later transformed it into a movie. The movie was titled The Snow Creature.
In 1961, the Yeti was depicted in a short film of the Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck series, which was titled The Abominable Snowman.
The long-running British sci-fi TV series Doctor Who shows the Yeti as the monsters in 1967 and 68.
In comic series Tintin in Tibet, which is the 20th volume of The Adventures of Tintin, the Yeti makes an appearance.
In the video game SkiFree, which has been developed by Microsoft, the player is pursued by a Yeti that aims to eat him. Another video game Mr. Nutz also depicts the Yeti as the main character’s nemesis titled Mr. Blizzard. The Titan Quest is yet another video game in which the Yeti appears as a beast enemy in Act III.
At the Disney Animal Kingdom, part of the magnanimous Walt Disney World, there is a Yeti themed ride. It features a 25ft tall animated Yeti that makes an appearance during the ride.
The Yeti also has a version of Lego Minifigures dedicated to the folklore. The 11 set Yeti series of Lego was released in 2011 and then the creature appeared as Master Builder in The Lego Movie.
A novel titled The Abominable has been written by Dan Simmons that is entirely based on the Sherpas legend of the Yeti.
Monsters Inc. also has a Yeti. In the 2001 movie, the main characters are captured by a Yeti when they are exiled to the Himalayas. The Yeti was claimed to have been banished there. In also makes an appearance in the movie’s prequel.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) also features an army of Yetis that is summoned to protect the mythical Shangri-La city. In the movie, the Yetis are shown as 9ft tall.
The recently released Smallfoot (2018) shows Yetis too. The creature can be seen donning horns over the head and doesn’t have a nose.
It is quite obvious that despite so many attempts to find out the truth, the Abominable Snowman continues to remain a mystery. Or, we can say that the fiendish creature still remains at-large. The freezing, snowy mountain ranges of the Himalayas are definitely difficult to explore fully. The rocks and ice prevent expeditors and researchers from solving the mystery. This is why there is such a dearth of hard evidence. And when there is an unsolved mystery, there will be believers. So far, it has been difficult to deter believers that nothing like the Yeti exists. So, whether the creature is real or not, we cannot be sure as yet. Perhaps, all we can suggest is that if you ever plan to visit the Himalayas, be very careful during the night.
Featured Image Credit: Bob Bekian/Flickr Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobbekian/5752674741