INDIA-The Indian army has claimed to have found footprints of the yeti, sparking jokes and disbelief on social media. The army tweeted to its nearly six million followers on Monday that it had discovered “mysterious footprints of mythical beast ‘Yeti’ at the Makalu Base Camp [in the Himalayas]”.

The yeti - a giant ape-like creature - often figures in South Asian folklore. There is no evidence proving yeti exist but the myth retains a strong appeal in the region.

Is the Himalayan Yeti a real animal?

Why don’t people see the yeti any more? And the army has now added to the legend by sharing pictures of “footprints” in the snow on an official Twitter account. Although the footprints were discovered on 9 April, the army made the discovery public only after deciding that it matched earlier theories about the yeti, according to a report in the Times of India.

Reacting to the disbelief on social media, the army said the “evidence” about the yeti had been “photographed “ and “handed over to subject matter experts”.

“So, we thought it prudent [to go public] to excite scientific temper and rekindle the interest.”

The yeti, also known as the Abominable Snowman, is a legendary creature that is said to inhabit the upper reaches of the Himalayas. Stories of people seeing the yeti or its footprints are common in parts of India, Nepal and Bhutan. In 2013, research by a British scientist concluded that the legendary Himalayan yeti may in fact be a sub-species of brown bear.

Twitter users reacted with disbelief that the Indian army would make such a bold claim about the footprints of a “mythical beast”.

This must be vetted thoroughly before the decision to declare something as ridiculous as this is made.

Either I’m missing the joke, or the Indian Army is claiming that it’s found what it believes is evidence of a literal yeti. For the first time, #Indian Army Mountaineering Expedition Team has sited Mysterious Footprints of mythical beast ‘Yeti’ measuring 32x15 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. There have been numerous attempts in recent years to solve the mystery of the yeti. In 2011, DNA tests on a “yeti finger” taken from Nepal to London half a century ago found it to be human bone.