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After so much UFO buzz on mainstream media, how about a refreshing switch to Cryptozoology? The Indian Army has made the stunning revelation that one of their Mountaineering expedition teams camping near Mount Makalu in Nepal –the 5th highest mountain in the world– found a set of anomalous snow tracks measuring 32 by 15 inches (81 by 38 cm) earlier this month, which they interpreted as evidence of the legendary ‘Abominable Snowman’, more commonly referred to as the Yeti.t

American scholar Daniel C. Taylor was quoted by Reuters saying that in his opinion the tracks had likely been done by a bear and not an undiscovered giant primate, a statement that is in accordance to the thesis he presented in his book Yeti: The Ecology of a Mystery –which also serves as a personal memoir of his life-long obsession with the Himalayan legend (Taylor has also explored the Makalu-Barun area extensively):

“If that is the footprint of an animal or a single animal, it’s the size of a dinosaur,” he told Reuters, adding that repeated measurements of the footprints were required to ascertain their origin.

“One needs to really confirm those measurements of the footprint size because we know for sure that there are no dinosaurs living in the Barun valley.”

Quite the skeptoid remark. And yet our own friend of the Daily Grail, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, was also interviewed by BBC World in relation to this news –the segment hasn’t run yet as per the publication of this article– and in his opinion the reported size of the prints in contrast with the relatively short length of the strides could have been the result of snow melting and enlarging the tracks of one of the many (non-primate) animals inhabiting that particular region of the Himalayas –a tahr, takin, serow, goral, or even one of the several species of bear that are native to Nepal. This melting hypothesis has also been used to explain footprints found by other mountaineering expeditions in the past.

Seasoned readers of the Grail will no doubt remember that the Yeti/bear controversy gained special notoriety a few years ago thanks to British geneticist Bryan Sykes, who after testing several alleged Yeti hair samples came to the conclusion that the culprit for the legend of the Abominable snowman was an undiscovered species of bear –a hybrid between the Himalayan brown bear and their distant polar cousins. Unfortunately for Sykes his results were refuted by many of his colleagues, and the last I heard from him was he had gotten involved with some ‘Bigfoot habituationists’ –people who claim to regularly interact with Bigfoot by making the creatures accustomed to a given ‘habitat’– and had had a few impressive experiences, but he never dared to come on the record with them for fear of further damaging his scientific reputation –for more on this story, listen to this episode of Binnall of America with cryptozoologist Adam Davies.

The somewhat-mocking way the mainstream media is handling the discovery of this recent set of tracks by the Indian Army highlights the many misconceptions surrounding the Yeti, whose legend was distorted and manipulated by Westerner explorers from the start, and whose image has been further appropriated by pop culture. In this article written by Loren Coleman, for example, it is explained that there are actually three types of ‘Yetis’ –a small one, a human-sized one and a giant one (the Dzu-teh is the bigger one, and the most likely candidate to be a bear).

Another misconception is that the Himalayas are all covered with snowy mountains, when in fact there are jungles in the Eastern Himalayas where gibbons live, so perhaps there is still hope to find an undiscovered primate in those remote regions of the world –although it would more than likely not be of giant size… and definitely NOT white.