April 2, 2010


["Abominable Snowman" (disambiguation). Yeti (Abominable Snowman Migoi, Meh-teh et al.) The Yeti or Abominable Snowman is a mythological creature and an ape-like cryptid said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal and Tibet. The names Yeti and Meh-Teh are commonly used by the people indigenous to the region, and are part of their history and mythology. Stories of the Yeti first emerged as a facet of Western popular culture in the 19th century. The scientific community largely regards the Yeti as a legend, given the lack of evidence, yet it remains one of the most famous creatures of cryptozoology. The Yeti may be considered a sort of parallel to the Bigfoot legend of North AmericaPurported Yeti scalp at Khumjung monastery -  from Wikipedia"]

By:Michael A. Cremo and Richard L. Thompson 

Diaries and other papers of British officials residing in the Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent during the nineteenth century contain sporadic references to sightings and footprints of wildmen called Yeti. The Yeti were first mentioned by B. H. Hodgson, who from 1820 to 1843 served as British resident at the Nepalese court. Hodgson reported that in the course of a journey through northern Nepal his bearers were frightened by the sight of a hairy, tailless, humanlike creature.

Many will suggest, on hearing a report like this (and hundreds have been recorded since Hodgson's time), that the Nepalese mistook an ordinary animal for a Yeti. The usual candidates for mistaken identity are bears and the langur monkey. But it is hard to imagine that lifelong residents of the Himalayas, intimately familiar with the wildlife, would have made such mistakes. Myra Shackley observed that Yeti are found in Nepalese and Tibetan religious paintings depicting hierarchies of living beings. "Here," said Shackley (1983, p. 60), "bears, apes, and langurs are depicted separate from the wildman, suggesting there is no confusion (at least in the minds of the artists) between these forms."
After reviewing the available reports, Ivan Sanderson (1961, p. 358) compiled the following composite description of the Yeti: "Somewhat larger than man-sized and much more sturdy, with short legs and long arms; clothed in long rather shaggy fur or hair, same length all over and not differentiated. Naked face and other parts jet black; bull-neck and small conical head with heavy brow-ridges; fanged canine teeth; can drop hands to ground and stand on knuckles like gorilla....heel very wide and foot almost square and very large, second toe longer and larger than first, and both these separated and semi-opposed to the remaining three which are very small and webbed."

Areas where the Yeti have been sighted in Central Asia and the Himalayas are shaded with vertical black bars (after Shackley 1983, pp. 78 - 79)

During the nineteenth century, at least one European reported personally seeing a captured animal that resembled a Yeti. A South African man told Myra Shackley (1983, p. 67): "Many years ago in India, my late wife's mother told me how her mother had actually seen what might have been one of these creatures at Mussorie, in the Himalayan foothills. This semi-human was walking upright, but was obviously more animal than human with hair covering its whole body. It was reportedly caught up in the snows. ... his captors had it in chains."

During the twentieth century, sightings by Europeans of wildmen and their footprints continued, increasing during the Himalayan mountain-climbing expeditions of the 1930s. In 1938, H. W. Tilman followed a trail of footprints for a mile on a glacier, at an elevation of 19,000 feet. Speaking of one of his Sherpa guides, Tilman stated: "Sen Tensing, who had no doubt whatever that the creatures ... that made the tracks were 'Yetis' or wild men, told me that two years before, he and a number of other Sherpas had seen one of them at a distance of about 25 yards at Thyangbochi. He described it as half man and half beast, standing about five feet six inches, with a tall pointed head, its body covered with reddish brown hair, but with a hairless face. ... Whatever it was that he had seen, he was convinced that it was neither a bear nor a monkey, with both of which animals he was, of course, very familiar" (Heuvelmans 1962, pp. 136-137).
During the Second World War, a man named Slavomir Rawicz escaped from a Siberian prisoner-of-war camp and made his way by foot to India. In The Long March (1956), a book describing his experiences, Rawicz stated that while traveling across the Himalayas, he encountered two wildmen, six feet in height and covered with long reddish hair. However, explorers familiar with the region traversed by Rawicz have pointed out some inconsistencies in his account of his journey. For example, he took an inordinate amount of time to travel a certain section of the route even at his own stated rate of progress. Critics thus insinuated that Rawicz's book, including the story of the wildmen, was largely if not completely fictional (Shackley 1983, pp. 54-55).
In November of 1951, Eric Shipton, while reconnoitering the approaches to Mt. Everest, found footprints on the Menlung glacier, near the border between Tibet and Nepal, at an elevation of 18,000 feet. Shipton followed the trail for a mile. Already well known as a mountaineer, Shipton could not easily be accused of publicity-seeking. A close-up photograph of one of the prints has proved convincing to many. Myra Shackley (1983, pp. 55-56) wrote: "Indeed, even the doubters admit that Shipton's famous footprints, seen on the Menlung Glacier in 1951, cannot readily be explained away."
The footprints were quite large. John R. Napier considered the possibility that the particular size and shape of the best Shipton footprint could have been caused by melting of the snow. Napier, however, noted (1973, p. 140): "Eric Shipton agrees that melting and sublimation might be responsible for the appearance, but he points out quite correctly that it would be reasonable to expect the narrow ridges behind and between the little toes to be the first features to disappear in these circumstances." For Napier, Shipton's observation appeared to rule out the snow-melting explanation, or at least make it far less likely. Napier proposed another possibility: "that the footprint is double — two tracks superimposed. But a double — what? I don't know."

Napier (1973, p. 141) concluded: "Something must have made the Shipton footprint. Like Mount Everest, it is there, and needs explaining. I only wish I could solve the puzzle; it would help me sleep better at night. Of course, it would settle a lot of problems if one could simply assume that the Yeti is alive. ... The trouble is that such an assumption conflicts with the principles of biology as we know them." In the end, Napier suggested that the Shipton footprint was the result of superimposed human feet, one shed and the other unshod. In general, Napier, who was fully convinced of the existence of the North American Sasquatch, was highly skeptical of the evidence for the Yeti. But, as we shall see later in this section, new evidence would cause Napier to become more inclined to accept the Himalayan wildmen.
In the course of his expeditions to the Himalaya Mountains in the 1950s and 1960s, Sir Edmund Hillary gave attention to evidence for the Yeti, including footprints in snow. He concluded that in every case the large footprints attributed to the Yeti had been produced by the merging of smaller tracks of known animals, by superimposition and melting. To this Napier (1973, pp. 57-58), himself a skeptic, replied: "The signs of melting are so obvious that no one with any experience would confuse a melted footprint with a fresh one. Not all the prints seen over the years by reputable observers can be explained away in these terms; there must be other explanations for footprints, including, of course, the possibility that they were made by an animal unknown to science."

But although Napier was unwilling to completely reject the existence of an unknown hominid, he was nevertheless inclined to regard this as the least probable or desirable alternative. In 1956, Professor E. S. Williams photographed some prints on the Biafo glacier in the Karakoram mountains. Napier, who thought it likely that they were the superimposed prints of the front and rear paws of a bear, said (1973, p. 130): "It is impossible to state categorically that Williams's prints are those of a bear and not of a Yeti, but in the spirit of Bishop of Ockham it seems more reasonable to explain a phenomenon in terms of the known rather than the unknown."
Of course, in avoiding the relatively straightforward explanation that a peculiar set of tracks in snow was made by an unknown animal, one is forced to come up with all kinds of speculative hypotheses about the superimposition of prints of various animals and humans, or the transformation of such prints by melting, in a manner not clearly understood. And this would also appear to be a violation of a key aspect of Ockham's razor — namely, that the simplest of competing theories is preferable to the more complex.
In addition to Westerners, native informants also gave a continuous stream of reports on the Yeti. Lord Hunt, who headed a Mount Everest expedition in 1953, told of an incident recounted by the Tibetan Buddhist abbot of the Thyangboche monastery: "he gave a most graphic description of how a Yeti had appeared from the surrounding thickets, a few years back in the winter when the snow lay on the ground. This beast, loping along sometimes on its hind legs and sometimes on all fours, stood about five feet high and was covered with gray hair" (Shackley 1983, p.62).
In 1958, Tibetan villagers from Tharbaleh, near the Rongbuk glacier, came upon a drowned Yeti, said Myra Shackley in her book on wildmen. The villagers described the creature as being like a small man with a pointed head and covered with reddish-brown fur (Shackley 1983, p. 1983).

Some Buddhist monasteries claim to have physical remains of the Yeti. One category of such relies is Yeti scalps, but the ones studied by Western scientists are thought to have been made from the skins of known animals (Shackley 1983, pp. 65-66). In 1960, Sir Edmund Hillary mounted an expedition to collect and evaluate evidence for the Yeti and sent a Yeti scalp from the Khumjung monastery to the West for testing. The results indicated that the scalp had been manufactured from the skin of the serow, a goat-like Himalayan antelope. But some disagreed with this analysis. Shackley (1983, p. 66) said they "pointed out that hairs from the scalp look distinctly monkey-like, and that it contains parasitic mites of a species different from that recovered from the serow." In the 1950s, Western explorers sponsored by American businessman Tom Slick obtained samples from a mummified Yeti hand kept at Pangboche. Shackley (1983, p. 66) stated: "detailed investigation of small skin samples back in European laboratories failed to reach a diagnosis. Local rumour maintains that the hand comes from a rather poorly mummified lama, but it has some curiously anthropoid features."

In May of 1957, the Kathmandu Commoner carried a story about a Yeti head that had been kept for 25 years in the village of Chilunka, about 50 miles northeast of Kathmandu. The head reportedly had been severed from the corpse of a Yeti slain by Nepalese soldiers, who had hunted down the creature after it had killed many of their comrades (Shackley 1983, p. 66). Concerning another specimen, Shackley noted that Chemed Rigdzin Dorje, a Tibetan lama, spoke of the existence of a complete mummified Yeti.

Over the years, sightings continued. In 1970, mountaineer Don Willans was researching an approach to Annapurna, a high peak in northern Nepal. He found some tracks and at night saw an apelike creature bounding across the snow. Napier (1973, p. 135), still skeptical, said it could have been a langur monkey.
In 1978, Lord Hunt, who headed the British Mt. Everest expedition of 1953, saw Yeti tracks and heard the high-pitched cry the Yeti is said to make. Lord Hunt, described by Shackley as "a vigorous champion of the Yeti," had come upon similar tracks in 1953. In both 1953 and 1978, the tracks were found at altitudes of 15,000 to 20,000 feet, too high for the either the black or red bears of the Himalayas. Shackley (1983, p. 56) stated: "The tracks seen by Lord Hunt in 1978 were very fresh, and it was possible to see the impression of the toes, convincing him that the footprint represented the actual size and shape of the feet, about 13¾ in, long and 6¾ in. broad. ... This is especially interesting since it has, of course, been frequently contended that such tracks are made either by other animals (bears or langurs being the most favoured), or by the impressions of human feet which have become exaggerated in the melting snow."
It is interesting to note that science has recognized the existence of many fossil species on the strength of their footprints alone. Heuvelmans (1982, p. 3) stated: "The hypotheses and reconstructions of cryptozoology (regarding animals actually alive) are no more daring, questionable, fantastic, or illegitimate than those upon which paleontology has based its reconstructions of the fauna of past ages. ... It seemed perfectly legitimate to give the scientific name Chirotherium to a fossil genus known only by its tracks, found in Germany, England, France, Spain, Italy, and the United States, and of which some 20 species have been described. Yet, at the same time, it seemed ridiculous, premature, and absurd to describe scientifically the Himalayan Yeti, known not only by many tracks not identifiable with any known animal, but also by morphology and behavior as related by numerous eyewitnesses."
In 1986, Marc E. Miller and William Caccioli, of the New World Explorers Society, retraced the route of Hillary's 1960 Yeti expedition, visiting the Buddhist monasteries at Khumjung, Thyangboche, and Pangboche. At Khumjung, Miller and Caccioli interviewed Khonjo Khumbi, the village elder who accompanied Hillary to the United States with the famous Yeti scalp. Khonjo told Miller and Caccioli that in the course of his travels through Tibet he had seen whole Yeti furs. The High Lama of the Thyangboche monastery also said he had seen such furs in the homes of great hunters.
Miller and Caccioli (1986, p. 82) reported that they received possible Yeti chest hairs from an elderly woman of Khumjung village in Tibet: "We were told that her son was carrying potatoes along a trail in 1978, and was allegedly attacked by a Yeti. The Yeti was described as a large male, nearly 7 feet tall, and covered with dark and reddish hair. During the course of the attack, the young man took his potato hoe and struck the Yeti across the chest. The Yeti fled into the higher mountain region. The young man struggled back to Khumjung village to his mother, and described his encounter with the Yeti. His wounds were serious, and he later died."

From: Forbidden Archaeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race, (Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing, 1996).