Yeti? Not Yet!

April 20, 2010

Reports of a strange animal found by Chinese trappers and dubbed an "Oriental Yeti" surfaced in early April 2010. Photos depicted the caged creature — discovered in Sichuan province — as it was being sent to Beijing for scientific identification.

Unfortunately, its whitish appearance was its only trait in common with the Yeti, the name the Sherpa tribespeople of the Himalayan Mountains give to the legendary man-beast known in the West as the Abominable Snowman. Unlike the Yeti, the Chinese creature is relatively small, four-footed, thick-tailed, decidedly unapelike, and hairless — a condition that scientists believe was due to mange.

Mange (a skin disease caused by a parasitic mite) has long been known to give a mysterious appearance to an ordinary creature — in this instance, apparently a Himalayan weasel, although others suggest a civet or marten. (See "Case closed: Sichuan mystery beast identified, maybe," online at .)

For example, a "Bigfoot" that my wife Diana Harris and I pursued in February 2008 (renting a cabin in the north Pennsylvania forest) turned out to have been, most likely, a black bear with mange. As cryptozoologist Loren Coleman told The Christian Science Monitor (April 6, 2010), some of the hairless quadrapeds that have turned up as "chupacabras" in the United States may simply be dogs, cats, or other animals with mange.

Various ape-man bipeds are reported around the world and I have sought to track them. In addition to going on various expeditious for the North American Bigfoot or Sasquatch (most recently in Northern California-see my blog, "Bigfoot and ETs: Developing Mythologies," June 22, 2009), I have also searched for Australia’s fabled Yowie in its various reputed habitats, where it is known also as "The Hairy Giant of Katoomba" and the "Killer Man-Ape of the Blue Mountains." I also once perused a specimen frozen in a block of ice, allegedly found floating in the Bering Sea by Russian sealers. On exhibit in a carnival sideshow, it was more reliably traceable, so to say, to a tropical rubber plantation.

These and other encounters are detailed in my new book, tentatively titled Tracking the Man-Beasts (forthcoming next year).