It’s nearly May, but the Indian Army appears to be trying to sneak in one last April Fool’s joke under the wire. Or at least that’s what it would seem if it weren’t legitimately claiming that one of its expedition teams just discovered yeti footprints in the Himalayas.
The Indian Army prompted a flurry of questions on Monday after tweeting one of its Mountaineering Expedition Teams had come upon a series of enormous footprints near the Himalayan Malaku Base Camp that it believes belong to… a yeti. It’s a bold and arguably outrageous claim it accompanied with a collection of photos to serve as supposed evidence of the discovery.
For the first time, an #IndianArmy Moutaineering Expedition Team has sited Mysterious Footprints of mythical beast 'Yeti' measuring 32×15 inches close to Makalu Base Camp on 09 April 2019. This elusive snowman has only been sighted at Makalu-Barun National Park in the past. pic.twitter.com/AMD4MYIgV7
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) April 29, 2019
According to the tweet, the footprints measured 32 by 15 inches, which is by all accounts freaking huge. But it’s tough to discern how exactly the army concluded they belong to a yeti, seeing as there is no footage or confirmed sighting of the elusive, mythical beast, which is known by other names like “bigfoot” and “abominable snowman” in various parts of the world.
Unsurprisingly, folks on social media were quick to crack jokes about the alleged discovery. Others criticized the Indian Army for using its platform to propagate rumors and shut down the claims by pointing out that the tracks don’t look like they were made by a creature that walks on two legs.
Some speculated there may be a much simpler explanation for them.
This definitely isn’t the first time that explorers have spotted supposed yeti tracks in and around the Himalayas, an area famously thought to be home to the ever-elusive (and to be clear, never-confirmed-to-exist) creature. Back in 1951, British explorer Eric Shipton took a photo of what he thought were giant primate-like footprints in the snow there, and set off what is thought to be the first wave of yeti fever around the world.
The Indian Army reportedly released the latest photos in an effort to “excite a bit of a scientific temper,” according to one anonymous official who spoke to Agence France-Presse, per CBS News. “We will share whatever we get with the domain experts to analyze. We will be contacting the team on the satphone in the evening for more details about it. The idea is to find out more, to look for an answer,” they said.
Previous analysis of presumed yeti “samples” of hair, bone, and skin found in the region have been determined to belong to Himalayan brown or black bears, which are notably not, well, yetis.
Still, for those still holding out hope that yetis do indeed roam the world unseen, you’re in good company with the Indian Army.