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Creatures, Myths & Legends

Could the Tibetan brown bear explain sightings of the Yeti ?

By T.K. Randall
November 4, 2022 · Comment icon 18 comments

Is there an unknown biped lurking in the Himalayan wilds ? Image Credit: Pixabay / Bernell
A conservation researcher believes that a rarely seen species of bear could account for sightings of the legendary creature.
Believed to reside in the remote mountains and forests of Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal, the Yeti has long remained a spiritual and cultural staple for the people who live in the vicinity of the Himalayas.

Sometimes referred to as the Abominable Snowman, this elusive ape-like hominid became a major part of Western popular culture after climbers reported finding trails of large footprints in the snow during expeditions to climb some of the most treacherous and remote mountains on Earth.

But while the local people remain adamant that the Yeti is the real deal, scientists remain unconvinced and the fact remains that no definitive evidence of its existence has ever been forthcoming.

Madhu Chetri, a researcher with Nepal's National Trust for Nature Conservation, believes that sightings of the creature over the years might have a more conventional explanation in the form of the Tibetan brown bear - an extremely rare and endangered species that still clings on in the region.

"It's because of their physical description, their footprint, and how they're bipedal when they spot something interesting or unnatural," he said.
"Local people, particularly nomadic families, have shown me several times hair samples and footprints of Tibetan brown bears in the highland pastures saying this belongs 'to Yeti'."

"Also, signs of digging for Himalayan marmots can be seen in the upper Mustang - people generally say this is done by a 'Mithe' which means Yeti."

It could certainly be argued that the bears themselves are just as elusive as the Yeti, with a 2011 list of threatened species in Nepal recording a mere 20 individuals across the entire country.

Even so, these bears do actually exist and perhaps their scarcity could account for the surprise and awe that an unsuspecting local might feel if they happened to see one.

It's not a stretch to imagine that they'd believe they had caught sight of the Yeti.

Whether this accounts for all such sightings, however, remains unclear.

Source: | Comments (18)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #9 Posted by jethrofloyd 1 year ago
Comment icon #10 Posted by Portre 1 year ago
They should show side by side photos of the Tibetan Brown bear with photos of the Yeti, oh, right, not enough blurry bear pictures. 
Comment icon #11 Posted by DieChecker 1 year ago
I think especially the footprints could be from bears. Many yeti sightings, I believe, are actually humans. The local monks are known to go on long walks in the mountains to center themselves. A human footprint + sun + time, can look like the historic yeti footprints.
Comment icon #12 Posted by stereologist 1 year ago
That's not what is happening is it?
Comment icon #13 Posted by stereologist 1 year ago
That's supposing someone is being observant. Can you be sure that people reporting yeti is thinking that a snout is normal or not?
Comment icon #14 Posted by jethrofloyd 1 year ago
If people were so observant, especially from a distance, Yeti would be called Snouti, not Yeti.
Comment icon #15 Posted by OpenMindedSceptic 1 year ago
One researcher dismisses many locals and claims they're wrong.  I'd be keeping my powder dry if I were the researcher and do more research first.
Comment icon #16 Posted by the13bats 1 year ago
Famous mountaineer Reinhold messner saw a yeti but he wasnt one to jump to conclusions, afterall he had climbed Everest more than once with no oxygen and wondered could what he saw been a hallucination. The fellow did his own research one thing he learned was each indigenous tribe when asked what is "yeti" it was always a type of bear. The monks all said yeti is type of bear then sykes dna testing showed all yeti evidence tested to being either other known creatures or you guessed it, "type of bear". Messner like myself surfing his and others coat tails are content that yeti is a type of bear,... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by Hankenhunter 1 year ago
It's possible I suppose, but bears do not walk like a true biped. For one thing they can't swing their "arms" at their sides like a true biped.  Their paws always face forward. They also don't walk long distances on two feet. They do it to get a better scent, and to see better, then go back to four legs on the ground. I've seen bears walking, and in no way do they walk like true biped. 
Comment icon #18 Posted by the13bats 1 year ago
But all we have of the bipedal stride is stories. Youtube has many videos of bears up on two walking fairly long ways and some looking far too human until they go down to all 4

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