Atop Earth’s highest mountain above sea level
hardly seems like an easy place to live.
Mount Everest’s tall peaks, freezing temperatures,
fierce winds, and ever-present snow
make it hard to support life.
And while it’s true that very few plants or animals can survive there,
the most famous resident certainly seems at home—the Yeti.
The huge, hairy monster has been spotted
walking across Asian mountains from China to the Himalayas.
Some say it looks like an ape, others a bear,
and others even insist
it’s an unidentified humanoid species.
The first report of a “wild man” in the Himalayas
appeared in the Western world during the 19th century–
but didn’t really get much attention.
But in the 20th century a few expeditions,
some reported tracks,
and one very famous photograph
began a crazed hunt for the Yeti.
I’m Dr. Emily Zarka, and this is Monstrum.
我是Emily Zarka博士 这里是怪物理论
It’s generally believed
Yeti is a mispronunciation of the word
yeh teh from Tibetan Sherpa dialect,
meaning either “cliff dwelling bear”
or “animal of rocky places.”
Regardless, when you hear “yeti”
you probably picture the huge creature
with fluffy white fur that pops up in movies all the time —
the one commonly called the “Abominable Snowman”.
“Abominable! Can you believe that?
Do I look abominable to you?”
But there’s no real folklore that supports that version
before the 20th century.
Written accounts of the Tibetan legend of the yeti
dated back to the 12th century.
Also called a “wild man,”
many accounts describe the creature as an ape-like being,
over six feet tall, walking on its back legs
with reddish-brown fur covering its muscular body.
Explanations range from a real animal
displaced in search of food,
to a purely fictional folklore creature.
Tibetan tradition recognizes a variety of yeti.
One said to walk on two legs,
and another larger yeti that preys on livestock, and walks on four legs.
有的体型更大 四脚爬行 捕食牲畜
Yeti are believed to live in the alpine forests
below the snow line,
although they will brave higher altitude for food and shelter.
They don’t eat or hunt humans (although they may steal food from them),
preferring the mosses, frogs, and pikas that live on the mountain.
In many stories, the yeti is nocturnal
and emits a high-pitched screech or whistle;
in Tibetan tradition, it is more common to
hear a yeti than to see one.
The two-legged meh teh appears in Buddhist temple decorations
and religious painted scrolls.
According to a religious and historical Tibetan text from the 12th century
these “wild people” and humans come from shared ancestors,
although the meh teh is neither fully human nor fully animal.
This is why much of the art in Tibetan temples shows
the “yeti realm” of rebirth
between humans and animals.
And Tibetan Buddhist stories feature yetis as both kind
and malevolent characters.
One popular tale from the Himalayas tells
of an injured yogi helping a “wild man”
with an infected foot from a splinter.
The yogi kindly removes the splinter and cleans the wound.
The grateful yeti thanks the yogi by bringing him a tiger,
which the man skins and offers to a monastery.
后来 瑜伽士剥下虎皮 送给了寺庙
Legends are often born
when we blur the lines between fiction and real life events.
In the 17th-century, a Buddhist religious leader(Lama Sangwa Aorje)
17世纪 一位佛教领袖(喇嘛Sangwa Aorje)
walked from India to Nepal
to reside in a cave as a religious hermit.
While living there, he claimed friendly yetis would bring him food and water,
隐居期间 他声称 友好的雪人送来食物和水
allowing him a life of quiet meditation.
When one of the yetis died, he kept the scalp as a holy relic
in the temple he built in 1667.
This real-life relic became a part of blessing rituals for the temple monks.
Later, a yeti hand was added to the collection,
another tribute to the creatures that made the temple possible.
The temple monks refused to allow anyone to
remove the relics for hundreds of years,
but in 1959, explorer Peter Byrne stole a few finger bones from the hand,
但是1959年 探险家Peter Byrne用人的指骨
substituting them with human ones.
So, yeti legends and stories were culturally important long
before the Western world was even aware of their existence.
In reality, the yeti entered into Western thought as a footnote.
Literally, a footnote in a book.
In 1832 British naturalist Brian H. Hodgson
1832年 英国博物学家Brian H. Hodgson
writing about mammals in Nepal,
noted that no monkeys could be found
in the northern and central regions,
But a footnote mentioned that during one expedition
frightened local shooters fled
what they believed to be a “wild man.”
He was told the creature moved upright,
当地人告诉Brian H. Hodgson
was covered with long dark hair, and had no tail.
这个怪物直立行走 一身长长的黑毛 没有尾巴
Still no monkeys,
but the tale of the curious humanoid
gave Hodgson pause.
In 1889, the first mention of yeti footprints
1889年 英国探险家Laurence A Waddel
appeared in “Among the Himalayas”,
by British explorer Laurence A Waddel.
He writes that according to Tibetans
the large tracks were made by what they identified as “hairy wild men
who are believed to live amongst the eternal snows.”
At the turn of the 20th Century, the first exploration and hunting parties
descended on the Himalayas in search of the mysterious, hairy “wild man.”
But it wasn’t until Lieutenant Colonel Charles Howard-Bury’s
1921 Mt. Everest exploration
that the press started to pay attention.
Howard-Bury and five others
saw tracks in the snow that they could not identify.
Local laborers accompanying them
identified the tracks as belonging to “the Wild Man of the Snows.”
Howard-Bury believed the prints
in the snow were from a grey wolf,
but when he and his team were interviewed by journalist Henry Newman,
the reporter found no excitement in that explanation
and instead focused on the Tibetan “boogey man”
with his backward facing feet and long matted hair.
He mistranslated Metoh-Kangmi,
which roughly means “man-bear snow-man,” as “filthy snow-man”
which he decided sounded better as “abominable snowman.”
Something about the name captured the public’s imagination
and interest in the creature snowballed.
But expeditions to search for the yeti became difficult
because of political and religious tensions after China invaded Tibet,
leading to thousands of deaths.
Until in 1951, an agreement was made
affirming China’s sovereignty over Tibet
but allowing their political system to remain unchanged
and religious freedom to stay protected–including the belief in the the meh teh.
With a more stable political climate,
explorers once again poured in to hunt for the monster.
Most notable was the 1951 Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition led by Eric Shipton,
which produced the single most famous piece of yeti evidence—
a photograph of a footprint.
Dubbed the “Shipton print,” the widely published photo shows
a huge human-like footprint in the snow
reportedly discovered on Mount Everest at 18,000 feet.
It was printed everywhere.
Newspapers, science journals, and popular magazines around the world
plastered it across their pages.
In 1952, a year after Shipton’s famous photograph,
a Swiss exploration team found
possibly Yeti tracks at 16,000 feet.
A porter even claimed to be attacked by a Yeti
but the rest of the team didn’t corroborate his story.
The monster search craze reached such a level
that the Nepalese government, seeing an opportunity to exploit Yeti,
began offering special Yeti hunting licenses.
In 1954 the popular British newspaper The Daily Mail
funded a Himalayan Yeti-finding expedition.
Texas oilman and monster hunter Tom Slick
德克萨斯石油商 怪物猎人Tom Slick
also threw his cowboy hat into the ring.
His bio included hunts for Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.
In the 1950’s, he dedicated three expeditions to the yeti,
and Life Magazine offered him $25,000
for the rights to any photos he took of the creature.
After 1959, tensions in the area came to a head again,
and a Tibetan uprising led to a Chinese crack-down on Yeti expeditions
for fear of espionage.
For a decade, it was difficult to travel into the country to look for the Yeti,
but two expeditions managed to wiggle through the cracks.
Between 1960 and 1961
Edmund Hillary and Marlin Perkins
Edmund Hillary和Marlin Perkins
led expeditions with a team of scientists
who examined the infamous yeti relic hand,
and ID’ed it as coming from a modern human,
although at the time they didn’t know
Byrne had swapped out the finger bones.
Shockingly, the monks at the temple also
allowed them to take the famous yeti scalp—
but only if one of their elders could accompany it,
using the opportunity to raise money to build schools in Nepal.
In 1960, separate examinations of the scalp
1960年 科学家在伦敦 芝加哥和巴黎
in London, Chicago, and Paris
found that is was a fake relic made from serow flesh.
The discovery appeared to dampen the spirits of yeti hunters
and expeditions began to wane.
None of the expeditions were able to
bring back conclusive evidence of a Yeti.
Enter Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
the 1964 Christmas television special,
whose fluffy white, arguably adorable yeti
reignited the popularity.
The fanged, white, furry character
这个长着尖牙 毛茸茸 身子是白色
with blue hands and feet at first seems scary,
until it’s revealed that it’s only suffering from a toothache.
the character Bumble is explicitly called an abominable snow monster
It’s my opinion this is the thing that created the white-haired snow monster
westerners identify as a yeti,
the one most often seen in pop culture today.
In the 70s, the Chinese government sent
more than 100 people to investigate the Yeti.
After they found nothing,
they even allowed Western expeditions into Tibet again
but those didn’t reveal anything either.
In the same decade, the famous Shipton photograph
became widely viewed as a fake.
One team member of the 1951expedition even told a journalist
that it was very possible the photo was a hoax given that Shipton
“definitely liked to take the mickey out of people”
and “would think that was quite a good joke.”
But some of the expeditions over the years did return with more than photos.
Newly discovered fragments of bones, skin, teeth,
新发现的骨头 皮肤 牙齿
and fecal matter were all brought back and investigated,
but nothing conclusive developed.
It seems that every time some new scientific insight attempts to answer,
“Is the yeti real?”
the world pays attention.
Take the Bhutan discovery for example.
In 2001, a British zoologist collected a few strands of hair
from a hollow cedar tree in Bhutan.
Under DNA analysis, the hair could not be identified
as coming from any animal known to science.
Was this conclusive proof that some yet-
unidentified creature lived in the Himalayas?
Not exactly. In 2014, yeti made the news again
when a study showed that the hair actually
came from an extinct paleolithic polar bear.
In 2017, a team of scientists analyzed another 24 supposed yeti specimens
taken from the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau,
including bone, tooth, skin,
疑似雪人标本 包括骨骼 牙齿 皮肤
hair, and fecal samples.
All but one of the samples (which came from a dog)
were from bears,
including Himalayan bears who occupy the northwestern plateau.
plateau Himalayan Bears have paler reddish brown fur
which seems awfully like the hair
in the descriptions of the original Tibetan yetis
Interestingly, the scientists discovered that
the Himalayan brown bear came from a unique evolutionary lineage
that diverged from all other brown bears around 650,000 years ago.
So, in their report, the scientists say
that the study’s findings “strongly suggest”
that yeti’s are based on local brown and black bears.
I happen to agree.
Bears also play a really important role
in Tibetan mythology and lore.
There’s belief in a half-human and half-brown bear creature called the mi-dred.
In Upper Tibet among the Chinese Na-khi people, apes, marmots, brown bears,
在西藏北部的纳西族中 类人猿 土拨鼠 棕熊
and mi-dred are “the four brothers who are like humans but are not human.”
They were believed to have the same ancestry
because they are all capable of standing on their back legs.
Folklore tells of brown bears abducting women
and producing children with them, and brown bears leaving human footprints.
Tibetan folklore, religion, scientific discoveries,
西藏民间传说 宗教 科学发现实际上都记载了
there’s actually a lot going on with this monster—it’s kind of amazing.
Both the snarling, bloodthirsty yeti we see in some depictions
其中 人们看到了咆哮 嗜血的雪人形象
and the kinder, helpful versions we see in others
have some basis in Himalyan folklore,
but ultimately they only touch the surface.
The more dangerous representations
promote a healthy sense of wariness around bears,
or serve as warnings of the very real dangers
of the snow and high altitude.
And the kinder, helpful versions of the yeti
speak to the Buddist belief
that all living things have a purpose and a place in the world.
Around 65,000 years ago. 6,500 thousand years ago. Right?
大约65000年前 650万年前 对吧?
“650,000–” -Holy Moly! 6,500,000!
“650,000.” Six–650,000. Wow.
-“650000” -650万 哇
Atop Earth’s highest mountain above sea level