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Yeti or snow monster? What science has to say on Himalayan 'footprint' mystery


New Delhi, May 01: Yeti, a mythical ape-like creature is what an Indian Army team claims to have seen during a Himalayan expedition.

In a tweet, the Army had said, "For the first time, an Indian Army Moutaineering Expedition Team has sited Mysterious Footprints of mythical beast 'Yeti' measuring 32x15 inches close to Makalu Base Camp on 09 April 2019. This elusive snowman has only been sighted at Makalu-Barun National Park in the past."

While claims and counter-claims have been part of the Yeti lore, the army's claim forced the world to sit back and ponder over it.

In Nepali folklore, Yeti is a mythical ape-like creature taller than an average human that is said to inhabit the Himalayas, Siberia, Central and East Asia.

 Army to send pictures of 'Yeti' footprints to domain expert

Army to send pictures of 'Yeti' footprints to domain expert

The Indian Army will send pictures and videos of large "mysterious footprints" captured by its personnel in the higher Himalayas to domain experts.

Stories of the Yeti first emerged as a facet of Western popular culture in the 19th century.

Given the lack of evidence of its existence, the scientific community has generally regarded the Yeti as a legend.

 Scientific tests

Scientific tests

In one genetic study, researchers matched DNA from hair samples found in the Himalaya with a prehistoric bear from the Pleistocene epoch.

Though the hunt for the mythical beast stretches back centuries, tales of a wild hairy beast roaming the Himalayas captured the imagination of climbers in Nepal in the 1920s, prompting many, including Sir Edmund Hillary, to go looking for the creature.

Sightings have been reported for centuries. Footprints have been spotted and stories have been passed down from generation to generation.

A 2017 DNA study of purported Yeti samples from museums and private collections provided insight into the origins of this Himalayan legend.

 Himalayan bears behind Yeti?

Himalayan bears behind Yeti?

The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, analysed nine Yeti specimens, including bone, tooth, skin, hair and faecal samples collected in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau.

Of those, one turned out to be from a dog. The other eight were from Asian bears one from an Asian black bear, one from a Himalayan brown bear, and the other six from Tibetan brown bears.

Our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the Yeti legend can be found in local bears, and our study demonstrates that genetics should be able to unravel other, similar mysteries, said lead scientist of that study, Charlotte Lindqvist, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences.

 The mystery unresolved

The mystery unresolved

Lindqvist's team was not the first to research the Yeti DNA, but past projects ran simpler genetic analyses, which left important questions unresolved.

This study represents the most rigorous analysis to date of samples suspected to derive from anomalous or mythical hominid'-like creatures, Lindqvist and her co-authors wrote in their paper.

Genetic samples yet to establish yeti's existence

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