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Indian Army Finds 'Mysterious Footprints', Assumes a Yeti is Around

A study published in 2017 suggested that the yeti of speculation could in fact be a brown bear.

New Delhi: In a rather surprising declaration, the Indian Army has claimed that it saw “mysterious footprints” while on a mountaineering expedition – belonging to none other than the “mythical beast ‘yeti'”.

In a tweet, the public information branch of the army has attached photographic proof of this sighting, including one of ‘footprints’ in the snow in a neat, straight line (almost as if this ‘mythical beast’ was hopping on one leg or practicing the catwalk).

The abominable snowman, as the yeti is also sometimes called, certainly isn’t a figment of the Indian Army’s imagination. It has been part of popular folklore in the Himalayas for generations. There are stories galore of this creature terrorising mountaineers, campers and animals. Many have spent years of their lives obsessing over what it could be and where its home is.

According to Rajat Pandit, a journalist with the Times of India, the army says it has the requisite evidence to prove the footprints belong to a yeti. According to other sources, the full note in which this claim was embedded is as follows:

Ladies & gentlemen,
• The story is based on physical proofs of on the spot narration, photos and videos.
• We got the inputs about 10 days back and yet we held on to it. Please do have a look at photos and videos (getting full tomorrow) that may surprise you.
• But then we decided that there are photographic evidences which match with earlier theories.
• Tweeted as we thought prudent to excite scientific temper and rekindle the interest. Some of us who reject the story, surely shall have a definite answer to the evidences.
• As they say nature, history and science never write their final story.

Is the Indian Army justified, then, in thinking that it has spotted this mythical creature’s footsteps after a long hiatus?

Not quite, and here’s why.

Also read: Searching for the Abominable: Is It a Man? Is It an Ape? It’s a… Bear?

In late 2017, a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B suggested that the yeti of speculation could in fact be a brown bear. So far, that analysis – which Janaki Lenin detailed in this article for The Wire – remains the most convincing of the many theories that have been advanced. It was based on samples collected from people living in Nepal’s Upper Mustang, from the famous mountaineer Reinhold Messner, and from museums. Lenin wrote then:

Most of the yeti samples belonged to two bear species: the Himalayan brown bear and the Tibetan brown bear. The hand belonged to an Asian black bear. Only the tooth from the Nazi trophy didn’t belong to a bear. It came from a less exotic source: a dog.

It is unclear at the moment what the source of the footprints the army personnel spotted is. But given how much research has gone into trying to determining what exactly this creature is, it is strange that the Indian Army only wanted to quote one ‘source’ – the urban myth itself – in its efforts to “excite scientific temper”.

While most people on Twitter found this amusing, if not on the verge of the ridiculous, one of Modi’s own chowkidars had a different bone to pick.

BJP leader and former MP Tarun Vijay wasn’t upset that the army wasn’t keeping itself up to date on scientific research. He just thought that calling the yeti a ‘beast’ was unfair, perhaps even anti-national.

Predictably, others on Twitter were less impressed by this ‘discovery’, although they did like the opportunity to have a laugh.