U.S. State Dept’s yeti instructionsIn 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reported seeing large footprints while scaling Mount Everest, and determined that they belonged to that legendary beast of the Himalayas, the yeti. It marked the beginning of an Abominable Snowman craze in the West. The British newspaper, The Daily Mail, established a “Snowman Expedition” led by mountaineer John Angelo Jackson, who made the first trek from Everest to Kanchenjunga. He tracked and photographed a number of large, unidentifiable footprints in the snow, which he pronounced to be yeti tracks. Subsequent expeditions by British and American mountaineers came home with they suspected were yeti scalps, and even yeti feces. The Abominable Snowman was long part of Nepalese lore, but had become such an obsession in the West that the U.S. State Department announced guidelines for what to do if an American citizen were to encounter a yeti in Nepal: (1) A royalty of 5,000 Indian rupees was to be paid to the Nepalese government to fund an expedition to search for said yeti. (2) The yeti may be photographed but not killed, unless in self-defense. All photos or the corpse of the yeti must be surrendered to the Nepalese government immediately. (3) All accounts of the yeti sighting should be considered property of the Nepalese government, and may not be distributed to the press without the government’s consent. While the yetis (and their North American cousin, the sasquatch) retain a dedicated following, there may be some bad news for Snowman faithful, popping up in the scientific community, 65 years after Hillary’s historic find. A team of scientists in Buffalo, NY, recently announced findings of their DNA study of supposed yeti bones, teeth, and hair, and found that they came from various species of local bears. “Our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the Yeti legend can be found in local bears, and our study demonstrates that genetics should be able to unravel other, similar mysteries,” said study lead scientist Charlotte Lindqvist of the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences. Much of the evidence was found to have belonged to the Himalayan brown bears, Tibetan brown bears and Asian black bears. Big Foot believers beware.
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