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Are Yeti and Bigfoot the Same Thing?

Bigfoot area warning sign on tree in forest
CineBlade/Shutterstock

Whether they’re only beasts of mythology, or there is some reality to the tales of these massive man-like beasts, there are some differences between the Yeti and Bigfoot. They look different, and they reside in different places.

The Mythic Bestiary, a book by Tony Allan, lists both the Yeti and Bigfoot under the section “Apemen.” They are both considered humanoids of the fur-covered variety, but they do have differences.

There is no single tale of a Yeti or a Bigfoot. Sasquatch and Abominable Snowmen stories thrive in many areas around the world.

What is Sasquatch?

You’re out in the woods late at night, maybe heading back from a hunting trip or just camping out during a beautiful summer night. You hear a noise in the trees, and you point your flashlight toward the commotion. Something tall, hairy, and man-like is slinking off into the distance. It looks brown or black, it’s taller than most of the people you know, and you feel a sudden twinge of fright.

Maybe what you just saw was a bear, coming to scope out some food scraps you forgot to lock in the car, but it was frightened off by your flashlight. Or, maybe it was Sasquatch.

Sasquatch, a term that has become synonymous with the word Bigfoot, comes from the Halkomelem language used by the First Nations people of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Sesquac means wild man, and the early people of the coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest claimed many sighting of wild, hairy, man-like beasts living in the wilderness and hiding from people. They saw Sasquatch as possibly a supernatural being.

Sasquatch started being referred to as Bigfoot much later and may have been coined in the 1950s. The story of Bigfoot in modern times began with a letter to a journalist about the discovery of giant footprints.

Of course, we now know that you can buy devices to fake giant footprints and give your friends a scare, but does that discredit the logger letter sent to the Humbolt Times in 1958? Not necessarily.

The name Bigfoot stuck after that newspaper article, but that wouldn’t be the only sighting of the footprints of a mysterious ape-like man-creature, and possibly wasn’t even the first. According to a story on the Ancient Origins website, some hunters shot and photographed a Bigfoot creature in Canada 1894. That photo is possibly the oldest on record of a sasquatch.

There is a book titled Bigfoot Casebook by Janet and Colin Bord that lists more than 1,000 Bigfoot sightings, ranging from 1818 to 1980, and you can be sure there have been more since. While Sasquatch seems to be a star on TV commercials more than anything right now, there is still a mystery when it comes to the seven-foot-tall hairy-beast sighting reported by campers and hunters all over the Americas.

Aside from faking footprints, there’s also the chance that at least modern-day sightings are hoaxes. Unless you can catch the Bigfoot and tackle him to find out if there’s a person in a costume within, there’s no way to know if it’s real or fake.

What is Yeti?

You’re hiking or climbing a snowy mountain. It’s cold out, but you’re dressed for this. As you reach the top and remove your protective gear, off the in the distance, you see something large, white, and hairy walking along on two legs. Is it a polar bear (they don’t have those up here, do they?), or is it the Abominable Snowman?

Where one would generally describe Bigfoot as a tall man-like or ape-like creature with brown or dark-colored fur, the similarities of Yeti to his warm-weather cousin stop at the coloring. Most people report the Yeti or Abominable Snowman as being covered in white hair. Maybe this helps him blend into the snowy mountains he calls home.

The story of the Yeti seems to date back to around 1832, according to most accounts, but was likely part of ancient tales even before then. The Yeti appears to reside strictly in the Himalayans. Another cryptid who’s story is a mixture of strange sightings and mythology; the Yeti was once worshipped by the early people of the Himalayan area, who called them Glacier Beings.

Instead of being thought of as an ape-like creature with the habits of man (walking on two legs), the Yeti seems to be more bear-like in the descriptions of people who believe they’ve seen one.

Yeti is also sometimes known by the name the Abominable Snowman, a term first used in a newspaper article in 1921. The Abominable snowman mentioned by Henry Newman in The Statesman was about a creature seen on Mount Everest during an expedition. The original report was only of footprints, large ones.

While the Yeti was once claimed only to be found in the Himalayans, it seems that similar Abominable Snowmen are sighted on other snowcapped mountain ranges. And, while both the Yeti and Bigfoot have large feet and hair bodies, they are not interchangeable.

Now that you know the two are different, the big test is distinguishing whether they are real or only tales made up to tell around the campfire at night.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »