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Representation of a yeti and the Indian army photo of Yeti footprints

Indian Army Claims of ‘Yeti’ Footprints Causes Social Media Frenzy

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A tweet from the Indian army has unleashed a storm of controversy on social media.  It claimed on the microblogging site that an Indian military expedition found footprints that belong to the fabled Yeti. The response to the claim has been mixed, to say the least, and some have expressed doubts while others have outright mocked the claims.

The Indian Army's Additional Directorate General of Public Information official Twitter account tweeted that soldiers had found footprints of the Yeti also known as the abominable snowman. It reads as follows:

The Indian army account has some six million followers and its tweet was widely shared and picked up by several media outlets.

Expedition in the Himalayas

An Indian army team made the purported find on April 9, near the Makalu Base Camp in the Himalayan nation of Nepal.  They were taking part in the first Indian expedition to the remote Mount Makalu, the fifth highest peak in the world situated to the south of Mount Everest .  This is regarded as one of the most challenging and dangerous peaks in the Himalayas and the mountain is approximately 29,000 feet high (8485m).

As they were trekking through the snow, the 26-man unit came across what they claimed are traces of the Yeti. The alleged footprints were found in drifts of snow on a mountainside in the Makalu-Barun National Park not far from the border with Tibet.  The Economic Times reports that the abominable snowman’s footprints ‘measured 32 inches by 15 inches’ (81 centimeters by 38 centimeters).

The mysterious footprints found near Mount Makalu Basecamp. (Tweet by ADG PI Indian Army )

The Story of the Yeti or Abominable Snowman

The Yeti is a figure from Nepali folklore and mythology and has been described as a large half man and a half ape figure who is covered by fur. In the west, the Yeti story became well-known after an English explorer produced what he claimed was a photograph of the creature’s footprint. The Yeti became known subsequently as the ‘abominable snowman’ and has become part of popular culture.

The Nepali version of the story is that the Yeti first appeared to a religious hermit and they helped him to survive, over 300 years ago.  There have been many sightings of the Yeti but nearly all of them have been in the Makalu-Barun National Park, where the Indian military expedition made their ‘find’.

Photograph of an alleged yeti footprint found by Michael Ward. Photograph was taken at Menlung glacier on the Everest expedition by Eric Shipton in 1951. ( Public Domain )

Photograph of an alleged yeti footprint found by Michael Ward. Photograph was taken at Menlung glacier on the Everest expedition by Eric Shipton in 1951. ( Public Domain )

Many have attempted to locate the creature, including the conqueror of Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary but they all found nothing. Scientists have examined alleged remains of the yeti and they have found no evidence for such a creature. They examined relics of the mysterious beast that were kept in monasteries and also yeti exhibits from museums and they discovered that they all came from a number of common animals such as brown bears or dogs. According to the BBC, Bryan Sykes an Oxford Professor believes that the most “likely explanation for the ape man myth ‘is that the animal is a hybrid of polar bears and brown bears”.

Purported Yeti scalp at Khumjung monastery. (Nuno Nogueira/ CC BY SA 2.5 )

Purported Yeti scalp at Khumjung monastery. (Nuno Nogueira/ CC BY SA 2.5 )

Social Media Storm

The tweet started a frenzy on social media. According to Aljazeera “Indian social media was abuzz with skeptical and even hilarious reactions from users on the discovery”. The tweet became the number two trending tweet in the vast country, where the microblogging site has up to 30 million monthly users.  Some tweeted that they were disappointed with the Indian military for being so gullible and for believing in stories and legends.

One Twitter user, according to the Deccan Times , posted with all “due respect, institutions such as yours should be more responsible and careful before going ahead and declaring the sighting of any footprints as 'Yeti's'!”

One wonders why then, when National Geographic produces documentaries and articles on the subject – even one article titled, “This Man Searched for the Yeti for 60 Years—and Found It”, there wasn’t a similar outburst.

Perhaps because the content there included the results of all DNA testing on physical evidence speculated to be yeti turned out to be dogs or bears.

Some users have expressed disbelief and very few appear to believe that the Indian army has actually found evidence for the yeti. The majority of the responses on social media were mocking.  Many have openly ridiculed the claims and have posted funny comments and images on the alleged find, which have proven to be very popular.

The storm on social media was so great that the army issued a statement to the Times of India newspaper. They stated that they handed over the photographs of the prints to scientists. They also claimed that they had made the tweet to “excite scientific temper and rekindle the interest”, reports the BBC.

At the moment, judging by the response, the Indian army is probably regretting the tweet. However, it has no doubt helped to revive interest in the story of the yeti.

Top image: Representation of a yeti and the Indian army photo of Yeti footprints.               Source: anibal

/Adobe Stock, ADG PI Indian Army

By Ed Whelan

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