Nepal officials have rejected the Indian Army’s ‘Yeti’ claims saying that the locals as well as experts in and around Makalu-Barun Conservation Area have confirmed that the ‘footprints’ are that of wild bear and not mythical ‘Abominable Snowman’. A report by The Hindustan Times on Thursday quoted a senior official of the Nepal Army saying that there is no truth in such claims of presence of the Himalayan ‘bigfoot’. “We tried to ascertain the fact, but locals and porters claimed that it is the footprints of wild bear that frequently appear in that area,” Nepal Army spokesperson, Brigadier General Bigyan Dev Pandey was quoted as saying by HT.
The Indian Army had released a series of photos that reignited the Yeti lore. The army took to Twitter and posted a bunch of photographs from its official Twitter handle on April 29. “For the first time, an #IndianArmy 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,” the army said in a tweet along with the photos.
The Makalu-Barun National Park is in the heart of eastern Nepal and is located near world’s fifth highest peak – Mt Mukalu. According to a BBC report, Yetis are an example of cryptozoology: the search for creatures that cannot be said to exist because of a lack of evidence. The report also states that “there is no hard evidence of the existence of an unknown primate in the Himalayas, and plenty of reason to suspect that it can't possibly exist.”
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. 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.
In the first ever systematic genetic survey, the 2014 paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B studied mitochondrial RNA sequencing to see if the Yeti claims were right. Two Himalayan samples, one from Ladakh, the other from Bhutan, had their closest genetic affinity with a Palaeolithic polar bear, Ursus maritimus. Otherwise the hairs were from a range of known extant mammals. In simpler words, the samples were that of bear and not of Yeti as claimed.
Another study in 2017 published by Proceedings of the Royal Society B had a smiling finding. Researchers analysed 24 mitochondrial DNA samples of hair, tissue, bone, and faeces of Himalayan brown bears and purported Yeti collected from the Tibetan Plateau-Himalaya region. “ Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequences determined clade affinities of the purported yeti samples in this study, strongly supporting the biological basis of the yeti legend to be local, extant bears,” the 2017 study said.