|Posted on March 14, 2011 at 11:04 PM|
EVENTS AND STUDIES 9th Century
In 1832, the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal published trekker B. H. Hodgson's account of the Yeti in northern Nepal. His native guides spotted a tall, bipedal creature covered with long dark hair, which seemed to flee in fear. Hodgson did not see the creature, but concluded it was an orangutan.
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."
Early 20th Century
The frequency of reports increased during the early 20th century, when Westerners began making determined attempts to scale the many mountains in the area and occasionally reported seeing odd creatures or strange tracks.
In 1925, N.A. Tombazi, a photographer and member of the Royal Geographical Society, allegedly saw a creature at about 15,000 ft near Zemu Glacier. Tombazi later wrote that he observed the creature from about 200 or 300 yards, 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 Pangboche Scalp
Dr. Biswamoy Biswas examined the Pangboche Yeti scalp during the Daily Mail Snowman Expedition of 1954. On March 19, the Daily Mail "Snowman Expedition" of 1954, printed an article which described expedition teams obtaining hair specimens from a scalp found in Pangboche monastery. The hair was analysed by Professor Frederic Wood Jones, F.R.S, D.Sc., (who died on September 29 1954), an expert in human and comparative anatomy.
The research consisted of taking microphotographs of the hairs and comparing them with hairs from known animals such as bears and orangutans. Professor Woods-Jones concluded that the hairs of the Pangboche scalp were not actually from a scalp. He contended that some animals do have a ridge of hair extending from the pate to the back, but no animals have a ridge (as in the Pangboche relic) running from the base of the forehead across the pate and ending at the nape of the neck.
The hairs were black to dark brown in colour in dim light, and fox red in sunlight. None of the hairs had been dyed and were probably exceedingly old. During the study, the hairs were bleached, cut into sections and analysed microscopically. Wood-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.
The Pangboche Hand
The Pangboche Hand is an artifact which supporters contend is from a Yeti, while critics argue it is a fraud, based upon a probable misunderstanding of the history of the sacred relic.
Tom Slick first heard accounts of the possible existence of a "Yeti hand" held as a ritual artifact in the monastery at Pangboche during one of his first "Abominable Snowman" treks in 1957. The Slick expeditions were the first to bring photographs of the hand back to the West. On later Tom Slick-sponsored expeditions in and around the Himalayas, his associates gathered more information on the "Pangboche hand," and an effort to further examine the possible piece of evidence of a cryptid was planned.
In 1959, a member of Slick's expedition that year, Peter Byrne, reportedly stole pieces of the artifact after the monks who owned it refused to allow its removal for study. Byrne replaced human bones for the bones he removed from the "Pangboche hand," rewrapping the hand to disguise his theft.
Byrne smuggled the bones from Nepal into India, after which actor Jimmy Stewart allegedly smuggled the hand out of the country in his luggage.
Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman rediscovered this story while writing Tom Slick's biography in the 1980s. Coleman confirmed details of the incidents with written materials in the Slick archives, interviews with Byrne, and correspondence with Stewart. Byrne later confirmed the Pangboche hand story via a letter from Stewart that Byrne published in a general book on Nepalese wildlife.
Loren Coleman chronicled his research into the unknown history of the "Pangboche Hand" in two of his books, Tom Slick and the Search for Yeti (Boston/London: Faber and Faber, 1989) and most recently in his Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology (Fresno, CA: Linden Press, 2002).
London University primatologist W. C. Osman Hill conducted a physical examination of the pieces that Byrne supplied. His first findings were that it was hominid, but then later in 1960 he decided that the Pangboche hand was more in line with what he would find from a Neandertal.
During the high-publicity 1960 World Book expedition, which had many goals including gathering intelligence on Chinese rocket launchings, controversy regarding the hand was inspired by Sir Edmund Hillary and Marlin Perkins who took a sidetrip in Nepal to investigate and debunk the Yeti. What was unknown to Hillary when he examined the Pangboche hand was that he was looking at a combination of original and human bones placed there by Byrne. Naturally, Hillary determined the artifact was a hoax.
In 1991, in conjunction with Coleman's research, it was discovered that the Slick expedition consultant, an American anthropologist by the name of George Agogino, had retained samples of the Yeti hand. The NBC program "Unsolved Mysteries" obtained samples and determined they were similar to human tissue, but not human, and could only verify they were "near human." After the broadcast of the program, the entire hand was stolen from the Pangboche monastery, and reportedly disappeared into a private collection via the illegal underground in the sale of antiquities. George Agogino, before his death on September 11, 2000, transferred his important files on the Pangboche Yeti hand to Loren Coleman.
Late 20th Century
Western interest in the Yeti peaked dramatically in the 1950s. While attempting to scale Mount Everest in 1951, Eric Shipton took photographs of a number of large prints in the snow, at about 19,685 ft above sea level. These photos have been subject to intense scrutiny and debate. Some argue they are the best evidence of Yeti's existence, while others contend the prints to be from a mundane creature, and have been distorted by the melting snow.
In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reported seeing large footprints while scaling Mount Everest. But Hillary would later discount Yeti reports as unreliable.
During the Daily Mail Snowman Expedition of 1954, the largest search of its kind, the mountaineering leader John Angelo Jackson, made the first trek from Everest to Kangchenjunga during which he photographed symbolic paintings of the Yeti at Thyangboche 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 1959, actor Jimmy Stewart, while visiting India, reportedly smuggled remains of a supposed Yeti, the so-called Pangboche Hand, by concealing it in his luggage when he flew from India to London.
In 1960, Sir Edmund Hillary mounted an expedition to collect and analyse physical evidence of the Yeti. He sent a Yeti "scalp" from the Khumjung monastery to the West for testing, whose results indicated the scalp to be manufactured from the skin of the serow, a goat-like Himalayan antelope. But some disagreed with this analysis. Myra Shackley said 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 very 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. Nothing was seen again.
In his book Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality, primatologist John Napier provides firsthand reports and analysis on the subject, and 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 mundane 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 Prof. 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 1997, 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.
Enthusiasts speculate that these reported creatures could be present-day specimens of the extinct giant ape Gigantopithecus, as the only evidence recovered from Gigantopithecus (other than teeth) are jawbone remains indicating a skull atop a vertical spinal column (as in hominines and other bipedal apes such as Oreopithecus). However, while the Yeti is generally described as bipedal, most scientists believe Gigantopithecus to be quadrupedal, and so massive that walking upright would have been even more difficult for the now extinct primate than it is for its extant quadrupedal relative, the orangutan.
Cryptozoologist's Note: The largest known great ape on the continent of Asia is the Orangutan. The orangutans are two species of great apes known for their intelligence and their long arms and reddish-brown hair. Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, they are currently found only in rainforests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, though fossils have been found in Java, Vietnam and China. They are the only extant species in the genus Pongo and the subfamily Ponginae (which, in evolutionary classification, also includes the extinct genera Gigantopithecus and Sivapithecus). Their name derives from the Malay and Indonesian phrase orang hutan, meaning "person of the forest". Orangutans are the most arboreal of the great apes, spending nearly all of their time in the trees. There is significant sexual dimorphism between females and males: females can grow to around 4 ft 2 in and weigh around 100 lbs, while fully mature males can reach 5 ft 9 in in height and weigh over 260 lbs. Fully mature males can be distinguished by their prominent cheek phalanges and longer hair.
The gorilla, the largest of the living primates, is a ground-dwelling omnivore that inhabits the forests of Africa. Gorillas are divided into two species and either four or five subspecies. Gorillas move around by knuckle-walking. Adult males range in height from 5 ft 5 in – 5 ft 9 in, and in weight from 310–440 lb. Adult females are often half the size of a silverback, averaging about 4 ft 7 in tall and 220 lb. Occasionally, a silverback of over 6 ft and 500 lb has been recorded in the wild. Gorillas have a facial structure which is described as mandibular prognathism, that is, their mandible protrudes farther out than the maxilla.
The Common Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), also known as the Robust Chimpanzee, is a great ape. The name troglodytes, Greek for 'cave-dweller', was coined by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in his Handbuch der Naturgeschichte (Handbook of Natural History) published in 1779. Colloquially, it is often called the chimpanzee (or simply 'chimp'), though technically this term refers to both species in the genus Pan: the Common Chimpanzee and the closely-related Bonobo, or Pygmy Chimpanzee.
Common Chimpanzees are found in the tropical forests and wet savannas of Western and Central Africa. They once inhabited most of this region, but their habitat has been dramatically reduced in recent years. Adults in the wild weigh between 88 and 143 lb; males can measure up to 63 inches and females to 51 inches, and although lighter than humans they have a pull five to six times stronger.
Just as the orangutan, with its long reddish hair, is the largest known living species of primate in the east, and the gorilla, with its primarily black coloration, is the largest known living primate in the west, why is it so inconceivable that in each of these parts of the world there not only existed in the past but may still exist today at least two correspondingly larger species of primates, the Yeti and the Sasquatch, with many of the same physical characteristics as their smaller cousins, and possibly both variations on the thought-to-be-extinct Gigantopithecus?