A Nazi versus the Yeti

By Loxton, Daniel | Skeptic (Altadena, CA), Summer 2003 | Go to article overview
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A Nazi versus the Yeti


Loxton, Daniel, Skeptic (Altadena, CA)


Oddly enough, the history of the yeti has a Nazi connection. During the 1930s, a German scientist named Ernst Schafer spent years studying wildlife in and around the Himalayas. He conducted much of the early research on the giant panda, the Asiatic black bear, and the brown bears of the high mountains.

Although he heard a lot about yetis, he became convinced that the creatures called yeh-teh, meh-teh, or dzu-teh in Nepal, dremu in Tibet, and migio in Western China were all Himalayan brown bears. Schafer wrote of yeti encounters that made the connection clear. In at least one case he actually returned to the den of a yeti with a first-hand witness (a herdsman who had described a yeti as being as big as a yak, as hairy as a bear, and upright on two legs). Schafer was able to convince the frightened man to lead him back to the cave where he had seen the creature and its footprints.

When the creature stuck its huge head out from the cave, Schafer shot it at point blank range with an automatic rifle, killing it instantly. There was no doubt: this particular yeti was a mighty Tibetan brown bear.

Schafer observed and shot a number of these "yetis," collecting bear skins for European museums. At the time, this research and specimen collecting made him the world's leading authority on these rare, powerful animals.

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