Here are some recorded sightings of yetis, Bigfoot and other legendary beasts covered in my book about the Yeti. What is interesting is that some of the “legendary” beasts were later found to be real, such as the gorilla. Could this mean that other creatures exist, but we haven’t got a live speciment yet? You decide…

Are Yetis real?

They could be. Sir David Attenborough is convinced: ‘I believe the Abominable Snowman may be real,’ said the TV naturalist. ‘There are footprints that stretch for hundreds of miles and we know that in the 1930s a German fossil was found with these huge molars that were four or five times the size of human molars. They had to be the molars of a large ape, one that was huge, about 10 or 12 feet tall. It was immense.

It is not impossible that it might exist. If you have walked the Himalayas, there are these immense rhododendron forests that go on for hundreds of square miles which could hold the yeti. If there are some still alive and you walked near their habitat, you can bet that these creatures may be aware of you, but you wouldn’t be aware of them.’

Who thinks Yetis are real?

The New Scientist magazine, reporting on a photograph of a yeti footprint on May 12, 1960, was confident that the creature existed. Like Attenborough, the writer concluded that it could be a giant ape: ‘The Abominable Snowman might well be a huge, heavily- built bipedal primate similar to the fossil Gigantopithecus. . . the Snowman must be taken seriously.’

Is there a Russian Yeti?

There are stories of Russian wild men and women called the Almasty. In November 2013, Channel 4 broadcast an Icon Films programme about the Almasty which concentrated on a Russian wild woman named Zana. Here, surely, was the best evidence yet for a Russian yeti: a female who was captured, imprisoned and who even gave birth.

With modern DNA sampling, her descendants could be tracked down and tested. Was she in fact a surviving Neanderthal? And is that what the yeti really is? After analysis it was found that Zana did indeed have Neanderthal DNA…but so do we all.

Russian Yeti sightings.

An 11-year-old boy and his friends filmed a yeti in the Kemerovo region of southern Siberia. Yevgeny Anisimov was with two friends in a snow-filled wood about 18 miles from the coal-mining city of Leninsk-Kuznetsky.

They saw large footprints ahead of them: ‘They got very inquisitive about the tracks and followed the trail, filming them on the mobile-phone camera,’ said Yeti expert Igor Burtsev. ‘They continued walking for a bit and got closer to the bushes where suddenly they saw a yeti, some 50 metres away from them. It noticed them as well, sharply moved, bent down, then to the left, and ran left. The boys, scared, ran in the opposite direction.’

The Russian mobile-phone footage, filmed through branches, shows a hair-covered bipedal creature turning suddenly towards them. Yevgeny yelled: ‘I’m the nearest, I’m going to be eaten!’ and started running. Burtsev, claimed he had checked the footage with experts, and it was genuine. ‘It is a first time in Russian modern history that someone manages to film the Yeti so clearly,’ he said. ‘I don’t doubt it was a Yeti. It stood in a typical pose with its back slightly bent, and its long arms down.’

Bigfoot or Yeti

Is Bigfoot real?

This is the North American cousin of the yeti, the Bigfoot. ‘I’m sure that they exist,’ said the celebrated primatologist Jane Goodall on NPR radio. ‘I’ve talked to so many Native Americans, who’ve all described the same sounds, two who’ve seen them.’

Bigfoot sightings

A bulldozer driver, Jerry Crew, was making a new trail near Bluff Creek in the forests of Humboldt County, northwest California on 27 August 1958. A bulldozer driver, Jerry Crew, was making a new trail near Bluff Creek in the forests of Humboldt County, northwest California.

Returning to work in the morning, he found enormous footprints 16 inches long completely encircling his machine. The paces were correspondingly large: up to 60 inches, twice his own length of stride. These footprints disappeared into the woods.

Jerry thought it was a hoax until the same pattern of footprints appeared three days running, together with a giant pile of faeces ‘of absolutely monumental proportions. He was ready with plaster on the third occasion and made casts of the left and right footprints, then took them (but not the dung) to the local newspaper, the Humboldt Times of Eureka. But what to call the beast? Jerry looked at the enormous plaster casts and said ‘Bigfoot’.

Bigfoot evidence  

Bigfoot hunter Roger Patterson and his friend Robert Gimlin looked for Jerry Crew’s Bigfoot and returned with footage of Bigfoot. They had been riding up Bluff Creek on horseback and disturbed a creature which they filmed.

The footage shows a large ape-like bipedal figure with short brownish hair covering its body. The creature walks away, looking back at the camera, and disappears. It was the first moving pictures of Bigfoot anyone had seen. The short film created a sensation and can be seen on YouTube here

Minnesota Iceman Bigfoot

In 1969, Ivan T. Sanderson got a tip-off about the finding of a corpse of a Bigfoot in Minnesota. “In this coffin, which was glass-covered and brightly lit with strip lights, there was a huge block of ice, about half of it as clear as the air in the room, the rest frosty or darkly opaque. In the ice was the corpse of a large, powerfully built man, or ‘man-thing’, completely clothed in dark, stiff hair about three inches long. My informant urged me to go take a look at it, since he, felt that it was the real thing.”

Bigfoot specimen

Ivan T. Sanderson then wrote about what he saw “I must admit that even I, who have spent most of my life in this search, am filled with wonder as I report the following. There is a comparatively fresh corpse, preserved in ice, of a specimen of at least one kind of ultra-primitive, fully-haired man-thing, that displays so many heretofore unexpected and non-human characteristics as to warrant our dubbing it a ‘missing link’.

Legendary beast sightings

  • The gorilla was a legendary creature seen in the fifth century BCE by Hanno the Navigator, who described ‘a savage people, the greater part of whom were women, whose bodies were hairy, and who our interpreters called Gorillae. We pursued but could take none of the males; they all escaped to the top of precipices, which they mounted with ease, and threw down stones.’
  • The name gorilla was derived from Ancient Greek Γόριλλαι (gorillai), meaning ‘tribe of hairy women’. An Andrew Battel of Leigh, Essex, traded in the Kingdom of Congo during the 1590s and described ‘a kind of Great Apes, if they might be so termed, of the height of a man but twice as bigge in features of their limes with strength proportionable, hairie all over, otherwise altogether like men and women in the whole bodily shape’. This was a good description of the gorilla, but the animal was regarded as mythical until 1902 when Captain Robert von Beringe shot and recovered two mountain gorilla specimens in the course of an expedition to establish the boundaries of German East Africa. When standing on two legs, they look remarkably like the speculative pictures of the yeti I have seen.
  • The ‘African unicorn’, the okapi, was only discovered in 1901. It turned out to be a relative of the giraffe.
  • Giraffes were regarded as fabulous until the mid-nineteenth century.
  • A hairy pig thought to be extinct since the Pleistocene, the Chacoan peccary, was found trotting around happily in Argentina as late as 1971.
  • Live giant pandas weren’t seen in Europe until 1916.
  • Komodo dragon – the existence of the Komodo dragon was disbelieved until 1926.

So there were plenty of precedents for legendary animals such as the yeti eventually being accepted by scientists once they had been found (and then shot) by Westerners.

Loch Ness monster sightings

The original sighting was reported in a letter to the Inverness Courier on 4 August 1933 by a Mr George Spicer, a director of the tailors Todhouse, Reynard & Co. Ltd, who was touring Scotland on holiday from London.

In the letter, he recounted how he and his wife were driving along the south shores of the loch when ‘I saw the nearest approach to a dragon or prehistoric animal that I have ever seen in my life. It crossed my road about fifty yards ahead and appeared to be carrying a small lamb or animal of some kind. It seemed to have a long neck which moved up and down, in the manner of a scenic railway, and the body was fairly big, with a high back.’

Loch Ness Monster