The Seven Biggest Mysteries About The Yeti, Revealed

You probably don’t believe that the Yeti exists. Largely considered a creature of myth, the monstrous beast has become a cultural archetype in folklore and tall tales — relegated to children’s campfire stories and creature-of-the-week episodes of X-Files or Buffy. For most of us, the Yeti is just a good yarn to share around the campfire. Nothing more.

But all stories have to come from somewhere, right? The Yeti represents a fundamental link between who man is and what man was. There’s a reason he’s also been called “the missing link.” If an intelligent, bipedal, ape-like creature really does exist, then what would that say about the origins of mankind? Are we animals? Are we dangerous? Are we as far removed from the wild as we’d like to believe?

What If The Yeti Is Real?

This is the question that adventurer Josh Gates hopes to answer as he embarks on a quest to explore the mysteries of the Yeti in an upcoming Travel Channel series. Expedition Unknown: Hunt for the Yeti will delve into the most credible accounts and recorded sightings in history (including one by Gates himself), supported by access to ancient artifacts and newly discovered evidence. While many Yeti sightings have been busted, there remains a large amount of physical evidence to support the existence of the Yeti, evidence that in no way could have been fabricated. Tracks, hairs, tree damage, and other remains have been found and documented thoroughly, compiling a great deal of physical evidence.

While it may seem highly unlikely to some, the existence of the Yeti is a mystery worth solving to those of us brave enough to look. So here’s a peek of what you have to look forward to:

Whether or not you believe in the Yeti, whether or not you believe that a creature like the Yeti could even exist, the mysteries that surround such a creature remain unsolved. From blurry photographs to enormous footprints to localized fairytales, the Yeti has baffled historians and explorers for decades. So let’s explore some of these mysteries of the unknown…

Where Does The Yeti Come From?

While stories of wild mountain monster men come from every corner of the earth, the earliest and most frequent accounts come from Nepal. The word “Yeti,” actually originates from the Nepali word for “mountain man.” Many believe that the mythos of the Yeti came from the spiritual texts of some pre-Buddhist groups near the Himalayas. These groups revered a “God of the Hunt,” who was occasionally referenced as the “Glacier Being.” The being was described as a creature, part man and part bear, who roamed the wilderness alone. Interesting twist: he was even thought to be friendly.

It was these stories that inspired the 1983 Yeti expedition, led by noted historians Daniel C. Taylor and Robert L. Fleming Jr. While exploring Nepal’s Barun Valley, their troupe discovered large, human-like footprints, large nests built between trees, and colorful reports from Barun Valley locals that referenced an enormous, bear-like creature. While the final results of this expedition concluded that the creature was, in fact, a feral bear (boring), many believe that the expedition uncovered significant evidence that points towards the existence of the Yeti. That’s why, if you’re planning to track down the Yeti, you’d better start in Nepal.

Where Do Yeti Live Today?

The nests that Taylor and Fleming found in the trees of Nepal were obviously not made by bears. If they were, in fact, made by Yeti, then it would indicate that Yeti are capable of building and maintaining treetop dwellings. While many reports from North America show evidence of Yeti living in caves, it makes sense that they might revert to living in trees when needed. Even more, Yeti are — like humans — a primate species and, like primates, a Yeti’s hands and feet would be naturally adept at climbing. The nests that the Taylor and Fleming expedition found — if used by Yeti — would provide more protection than sleeping in a cave, like some kind of large, missing-link tree house. Having said that, it’s a house you probably do not want to disturb…

How Intelligent Are Yeti?

On the spectrum of intelligence, we can assume that a Yeti would fall somewhere between an ape and a human. Smart enough to stay hidden, but dumb enough not to wear pants. But can they communicate? Can they learn? Do they mate for life? Do they bury their dead? Consider the Skookum body print. The cast of the body print was made in the year 2000, during a Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) expedition to the Skookum Meadows in Washington state. The cast that was made was more than 40 percent larger than the average six-foot tall human, and possible proof that the Yeti (or creatures like the Yeti) bury their dead. This discovery is significant because, if Yeti bury their dead, it means they are at least partially self-aware and have a developed idea of life and death. That level of intelligence is rare in the animal kingdom, and could also explain why the Yeti has been so difficult to capture. Of course, it should be noted that the Skookum body print shows zero evidence of pants.

Why Hasn’t Anyone Captured A Yeti?

Have you ever tried to capture a bear? Of course not, that would be ridiculous, bears are horrifying. Now imagine a bear that can stand upright, think strategically, and who has opposable thumbs. Essentially, that’s a Yeti, and it’s as impossible to catch as it sounds. And, like many animals, the Yeti has evolved to blend in with its surroundings. Additionally, once we accept that the Yeti could be a highly intelligent creature, it follows that the Yeti would be extremely wary of being seen. In other words, it is possible that we haven’t captured a Yeti because the Yeti doesn’t want to be captured at all. And even if we were to have definitive proof that Yeti exist, we wouldn’t rightly know how to subdue and capture one alive. Without basic biological information — like exact size, weight, and muscle to fat ratio — it would be difficult to tranquilize any animal without risking death. And who wants a dead Yeti?

Fine, But Why Isn’t There Any Photographic Evidence?

The Yeti are famous for always being blurry in photographs. Many have claimed that this is proof that the Yeti is a hoax, that these photographs are purposefully out of focus in order to hide the truth. The trope of the blurry Yeti picture dates back to the now infamous footage from Roger Patterson. The film is blurry, unreliable, and almost certainly a hoax.

But consider what you would do, if you were in the woods and all of a sudden you came across the missing link. If you were fast enough, you might have time to pull out your phone, open the camera, and snap a picture. But would it be a clear, perfectly framed photo? Probably not.

Is The Yeti Dangerous?

When depicted in media, the Yeti is generally presented as a monster. This tradition began in 1977’s Yeti, a low-budget movie that focused on a giant, man-like monster terrorizing a small community. Yes, it is a terrible, awful, so-bad-it’s-good film, but it is also proof that our initial reaction to the existence of the Yeti is fear.

Currently, there is no evidence that suggests that Yeti make a habit of harming, or hunting, or even confronting humans. If real, the Yeti would be largely non-confrontational, secretive, and quiet. Much like gorillas — who do not hunt or consume other animals — Yeti show physical attributes inline with other predators. Of course, if you were to ever encounter a Yeti in the wild, it’s fair to assume that such a creature would feel compelled to protect their young, their homes, or even themselves from any intruder. So, after snapping a blurry picture of a Yeti in the wild, it is recommended that you run away as fast as you possibly can.

Seriously, Though… Is The Yeti A Hoax?

You don’t have to be a skeptic to be skeptical of the Yeti. Like the death of Paul McCartney, many believe that any evidence to support the existence of the Yeti to be totally fake. It’s undeniable that many photos, videos, and other forms of evidence for the Yeti have been fabricated. But is the whole thing just made up? Maybe Josh Gates will deliver us all an answer. Tune in to find out.

Join Josh Gates in the revealing new four-part series Expedition Unknown: Hunt for the Yeti. New episodes on Wednesdays 9/8c on Travel Channel.