BBC magazine has a story out today that Bigfoot researchers are using to explain why we don’t have reports of the yeti in Bhutan (and, subsequently, Bigfoot in the US Northwest). Is it a GOOD reason or just a convenient excuse for the lack of evidence?
Until recently it was common for people in Bhutan to share stories of their encounters with the Himalayan yeti. But with the arrival of modernity, villagers no longer need to climb high into the mountains, where they once saw traces of the yeti – or thought they did. So a legend is slowly fading away.
Maybe they don’t see it because it’s fading out of the culture or out of need. It’s been demystified. It’s a legend that no longer is necessary. Note some of the CLEARLY mythological features of the yeti, or “Migoi”, described in the piece: backwards facing feet, hair that falls in its eyes if it runs downhill, and it is unable to fit through small doorways because it can’t bend.
The Migoi is known for its phenomenal strength and magical powers, such as the ability to become invisible and to walk backwards to fool any trackers.
These are old ideas and indicate a myth not an actual animal, even if the ideas had some features of real animals. There seems little doubt that the traditional stories were told as such but what is the evidence that traces of the yeti were “common”? Or, evidence that it was a genuine unique beast.
Instead, the story reads, to me, that with the advent of electricity came a new look on life. Times are changing.
US Bigfooters say it makes sense – people are less apt to leave social areas and venture out into the wilderness where the elusive creatures are. Really? Is that a valid explanation when many MORE people visit remote areas to search for adventure. They also bring supplies and cameras. Some deliberately are out looking for the creatures. 600-700 people a year attempt the very dangerous Mount Everest climb. That’s more than in the past when the yeti legend became know to the outside world. Plus, it’s a mistake to equate this remote culture of the mountains with those of the U.S. and Canada.
Are there less people in the backcountry these days? How would we know? I would see reasons to disagree when more people are prepared to attempt it.
Others say that the sightings happen, just aren’t reported. Or that the animals are better at hiding. Or, most unlikely, that the sightings are actively suppressed by officials. There is NO evidence of of any of these; it’s speculation with no foundation to take it seriously. All these ideas skirt the main issue that, for a quiet culture in a more modern world, the Bhutanese may be giving up the monster stories. And, the reason why we don’t find Bigfoot either is because there is simply no creature to find.
As I wrote in a five-part series focusing on water monsters and folklore traditions, it’s a mistake to equate legendary, perhaps spiritual creatures, with real flesh and blood animals still living today that can be captured. Such a view short-changes traditions and culture and leads to a zoological dead end.
Even knowledge of the local fauna does not preclude a myth existing. A culture can hold understanding of real creatures and belief in mythical creatures at the same time. It is dangerous to assume that an outsider can make full sense of the difference with just the stories.
The yeti is not some huge monkey but it is so much more than that.