The Yeti or Abominable Snowman is an apelike 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.
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 can be considered a Himalayan parallel to the Bigfoot legend of North America.
Pranavananda states that the words "ti", "te" and "teh" are derived from the spoken word 'tre' (spelled "dred"), Tibetan for bear, with the 'r' so softly pronounced as to be almost inaudible, thus making it "te" or "teh".
Other terms used by Himalayan peoples do not translate exactly the same, but refer to legendary and indigenous wildlife:
Nepalese have various names for Yeti like "Bonmanche" which means "wild man" or "Kangchenjunga rachyyas" which means "Kanchanjunga's demon."
A bit of confusion exists between Howard-Bury's recitation of the term "metoh-kangmi" and the term used in Bill Tilman's book Mount Everest, 1938 where Tilman had used the words "metch", which may not exist in the Tibetan language, and "kangmi" when relating the coining of the term "Abominable Snowman". Further evidence of "metch" being a misnomer is provided by Tibetan language authority Professor David Snellgrove from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London (ca. 1956), who dismissed the word "metch" as impossible, because the consonants "t-c-h" cannot be conjoined in the Tibetan language." Documentation suggests that the term "metch-kangmi" is derived from one source (from the year 1921). It has been suggested that "metch" is simply a misspelling of "metoh".
Like the legend itself, the origin of the term "Abominable Snowman" is rather colourful. It began when Mr Henry Newman, a longtime contributor to The Statesman in Kolkata, using the pen name "Kim", interviewed the porters of the "Everest Reconnaissance expedition" upon their return to Darjeeling,. Newman mistranslated the word "metoh" as "filthy" or "dirty", substituting the term "abominable", perhaps out of artistic license. As author Bill Tilman recounts, "[Newman] wrote long after in a letter to The Times: The whole story seemed such a joyous creation I sent it to one or two newspapers'".
An early record of reported footprints appeared in 1889 in L. A. Waddell's Among the Himalayas. Waddell reported his guide's description of a large apelike creature that left the prints, which Waddell concluded were actually made by a bear. Waddell heard stories of bipedal, apelike creatures, but wrote that of the many witnesses he questioned, none "could ever give ... an authentic case. On the most superficial investigation it always resolved into something that somebody had heard of.
In 1925, N. A. Tombazi, a photographer and member of the Royal Geographical Society, writes that he saw a creature at about near Zemu Glacier. Tombazi later wrote that he observed the creature from about , for about a minute. "Unquestionably, the figure in outline was exactly like a human being, walking upright and stopping occasionally to pull at some dwarf rhododendron bushes. It showed up dark against the snow, and as far as I could make out, wore no clothes." About two hours later, Tombazi and his companions descended the mountain, and saw what they assumed to be the creature's prints, described as "similar in shape to those of a man, but only six to seven inches long by four inches wide... The prints were undoubtedly those of a biped."
The hairs were black to dark brown in colour in dim light, and fox red in sunlight. None of the hairs had been dyed. During the study, the hairs were bleached, cut into sections and analysed microscopically. Jones was unable to pinpoint the animal from which the Pangboche hairs were taken. He was, however, convinced that the hairs were not of a bear or anthropoid ape. He suggested that the hairs were not from the head of a coarse-haired hoofed animal, but from its shoulder.
In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reported seeing large footprints while scaling Mount Everest. Hillary would later discount Yeti reports as unreliable. In his first autobiography Tenzing said that he believed the Yeti was a large ape, and although he had never seen it himself his father had seen one twice, but in his second autobiography he said he had become much more skeptical about its existence.
During the Daily Mail Snowman Expedition of 1954 the mountaineering leader John Angelo Jackson made the first trek from Everest to Kangchenjunga during which he photographed symbolic paintings of the Yeti at Tengboche gompa. Jackson tracked and photographed many footprints in the snow, most of which were identifiable. However, there were many large footprints which could not be identified. The flattened footprint-like indentations were attributed to erosion and subsequent widening of the original footprint by wind and particles.
Beginning in 1957, wealthy American oilman Tom Slick funded a few missions to investigate Yeti reports. In 1959, supposed Yeti feces were collected by Slick's expedition; fecal analysis found a parasite which could not be classified. Bernard Heuvelmans wrote, "Since each animal has its own parasites, this indicated that the host animal is equally an unknown animal.
In 1960, Hillary mounted an expedition to collect and analyze physical evidence of the Yeti. He sent a supposed Yeti "scalp" from the Khumjung monastery to the West for testing, whose results indicated the scalp was manufactured from the skin of a serow, a goat-like Himalayan antelope. But some disagreed with this analysis. Anthropologist Myra Shackley disagreed with this on the grounds that the "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 1970, British mountaineer Don Whillans claims to have witnessed a creature when scaling Annapurna. While scouting for a campsite, Whillans heard some odd cries which his Sherpa guide attributed to a Yeti's call. That night, Whillans saw a dark shape moving near his camp. The next day, he observed a few human-like footprints in the snow, and that evening, viewed with binoculars a bipedal, apelike creature for 20 minutes as it apparently searched for food not far from his camp.
In 1984, famed mountaineer David P. Sheppard of Hoboken, New Jersey, was near the southern Col of Everest and claims to have been followed by a large, furry man over the course of several days. His sherpas, however, say they saw no such thing. He claims to have taken a photograph, but a later study of it proved inconclusive.
There is a famous Yeti hoax, known as the snow walker film, created by Fox television network, in an attempt to deceive the public. The footage was created for Paramount's UPN show, Paranormal Borderland, ostensibly by the show's producers. The show ran from March 12 to August 6, 1996. Its origins had nothing to do with Fox Television, although Fox purchased and used the footage in their later program on The World's Greatest Hoaxes.
In early December 2007, American television presenter Joshua Gates and his team reported finding a series of footprints in the Everest region of Nepal resembling descriptions of Yeti. Each of the footprints measured in length with five toes that measured a total of across. Casts were made of the prints for further research. The footprints were examined by Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, of Idaho State University, who believed them to be too morphologically accurate to be fake or man made. Dr. Meldrum also stated that they were very similar to a pair of bigfoot footprints that were found in another area.
On July 25, 2008, the BBC reported that hairs collected in the remote Garo Hills area of North-East India by Dipu Marak had been analyzed at Oxford Brookes University in the UK by primatologist Anna Nekaris and microscopy expert Jon Wells. The tests were inconclusive, though ape conservation expert Ian Redmond told the BBC that there was similarity between the cuticle pattern of these hairs and specimens collected by Edmund Hilary during Himalayan expeditions in the 1950s and donated to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and that it was possible that the hairs came from a previously unrecognized primate. DNA analysis is currently being conducted.
In his book Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality, primatologist John Napier argues that amongst the evidence for the Yeti, "unlike the Sasquatch, there is little uniformity of pattern, and what uniformity there is incriminates the bear."
After reviewing eyewitness accounts and physical evidence, many cryptozoologists have concluded that Yeti reports are misidentification of already known creatures. Even well-financed expeditions have turned up no positive evidence of its existence. One well publicized expedition to Bhutan reported that a hair sample had been obtained that, after DNA analysis by Professor Bryan Sykes, could not be matched to any known animal. Analysis completed after the media release, however, clearly showed that the samples were from the Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) and the Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus).
In 1986, South Tyrolean mountaineer Reinhold Messner claimed to have a face-to-face encounter with a Yeti. He has since written a book, My Quest for the Yeti, and claims to have actually killed one. According to Messner, the Yeti is actually the endangered Himalayan Brown Bear, Ursus arctos isabellinus, that can walk upright or on all fours.
In 2003, Japanese mountaineer Makoto Nebuka published the results of his twelve year linguistic study postulating that the word "Yeti" is actually a corruption of the word "meti", a regional dialect term for "bear". Nebuka claims that the ethnic Tibetans fear and worship the bear as a supernatural being. Nebuka's claims were subject to almost immediate criticism, and he was accused of linguistic carelessness. Dr Raj Kumar Pandey, who has researched both Yetis and mountain languages, said "it is not enough to blame tales of the mysterious beast of the Himalayas on words that rhyme but mean different things.
Film appearances include the 1957 British horror film The Abominable Snowman, the 1990 Bollywood film Ajooba Kudrat Kaa, which tells the story of a girl who befriends a giant Yeti, the 2001 Pixar film Monsters, Inc. where, going by the name Abominable Snowman, it appears as a monster that has been banished to the human world, and as a superheroic figure in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
Appearances in television include the long-running American Christmas television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, as "The Bumble", and as the Yeti in "The Abominable Snowmen", a six part serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. Other television programs include the Bugs Bunny cartoon "The Abominable Snow Rabbit", the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episode "That's Snow Ghost", The Mighty Boosh episode "Call of the Yeti", and the 1965 Jonny Quest episode "The Monster in the Monastery".
In literature the Yeti has appeared in Tintin in Tibet, by Hergé, where the creature saves Tintin's friend Chang Chong-Chen. The Yeti features in The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, the 38th book in R. L. Stine's Goosebumps franchise, and as a plot point in Terry Pratchett's book Thief of Time, and has been featured in a gamebook in the Choose Your Own Adventure series. The Abominable Snowman is also a character in the Marvel Comics Universe.
The Yeti has appeared in multipe video games including Pokémon (as the Abomasnow in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl), Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2, Tomb Raider II, Spyro: Year of the Dragon, Metal Slug 3, World of Warcraft, the MMORPG MapleStory, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise.
The Yeti is featured in the theme ride Expedition Everest at Walt Disney World Resort's Animal Kingdom. The Yeti, in the form of a computer generated shadow and a large robotic creature, attacks a mountain train.