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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

DALE DRINNON: Brief Note On The Shipton Yeti Track

Western interest in the Yeti (Abominable Snowman) peaked dramatically in the 1950s. While attempting to scale Mount Everest in 1951, Eric Shipton took photographs of a number of large prints in the snow, at about 6,000m (20,000ft) above sea level, and repeated photos of the best-preserved individual track. These photos have been subject to intense scrutiny and debate. Some argue they are the best evidence of yeti's existence, while others contend the prints are those of a mundane creature that have been distorted by the melting snow
These photographs are probably the most famous evidence of the elusive yeti to date.

Eric Shipton cast, photographed and sketched this type specimen single track of an alleged yeti, which measured 13 inches toe to heel. The footprint was found in 1951 on Menlung Glacier.

Additional yeti tracks similar in shape to Shipton's came along about the same time: Lord John Hunt, Sir Edmund Hillary, Frank Smythe, H.W. Tilman, and Peter Byrne who found a string of tracks in 1948 on one of his first expeditions near the area of the Zemu Glacier at an altitude of 15,000 feet.
None of these tracks resembled the imprint in snow of the local brown bears - bear tracks show claws and the yeti does not. Shipton's photograph show no claws.
Shipton, Michael Ward, and Sen Tensing found these tracks during the exploratory 1951 expedition in which the team worked out the now famous route over the Khumbu Glacier to assault Mount Everest.
The thing is, there is a sort of a legend going around that all that was done was to photograph the track. In this case, the track was also cast in plaster of paris and brought back from the expedition. Ivan Sanderson was in possession of a copy of the print cast in cement and contained in a large and heavy box: he mentioned having the cast in his writings (together with a similar sasquatch footprint cast in another similar box, and those boxes were heavy, let me tell ya!). The detailed description of yeti and sasquatch footprints in his book Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life come from him having the casts to examine.

I have handled the Shipton Yeti footprint casts, in both positive and negative versions. There are 'reproductions' in circulation, which are mock-ups meant to represent the track. They do not represent the imprint faithfully in detail. The main thing about such reproductions is that they depict a relatively flat bottom with a smooth sole to the foot. The footprint is not all of one depth overall, it is much deeper off to the outside edge (darker in all the photographs of the footprint), which in the cast forms almost a ledge more than an inch deeper. The middle of the sole is shallower but has deep longitudinal wrinkles running through it, and the texture is not smooth but irregular. The toes are deeper again and as might be expected, the bigger toes are deeply imprinted while the smaller ones on the outside edge are barely printed at all.

The main concern I had was to see if the irregularities at the centre of the sole of the foot might be blurred claw marks. After I inspected both the negative and the positives of the track (the mold and the cast) it seems to me that they were not claw marks. At the SITU headquarters in the mid-1970s and shortly after Sanderson's death, Steve Mayn, Marty Wolf and I discussed the irregularities in Sanderson's copy of the footprint-in-the-box and we decided it was most likely scar tissue left because the foot had been injured going over irregularities such as sharp stones.

Which is why you can't go by the two greater toes the track shows. In my opinion the foot has been broken and the second toe healed improperly, and in part I have that opinion because it seems the sole of the foot shows other evidence of injury.

The footprint had been somewhat melted before preservation, though, and that seems to have been partly the reason why the outside of the heel was so much deeper than the rest of the track.

1 comment:

shiva said...

I very clearly see an overlay of 2 footprints (or of 1 footprint over a "print" from something else) in this photograph.

Ignore the rightmost "big toe" and the irregular part at the bottom left. If you take the "second" toe as actually being the big toe, you will very clearly see a large-but-easily-within-normal-range male human footprint, pointing slightly (maybe 10 degrees) to the left of "vertical".

The foot that made this print looks like it would approximately fit the empty boot laid to the left of the print. It looks like the print was made on top of either a more "blurred" print from the same foot or some other natural depression in the snow.

Once i had seen that human foot the first time, i can't "unsee" it...