How Stuff Works: Bigfoot
The Yeti is also said to roam the Himalayas, sometimes going by the name of Meh-Teh, or the "Abominable Snowman." Not to be outdone, Australia has the Yowie, and South America, a mythical beast called Mapinguari. Malaysians, meanwhile, fear the orang minyak, or "oily man" monster.
Why do so many disparate cultures have their own version of a "wild man"?
Although no one knows for certain how the various legends got started, they appear to have arisen independently in each culture rather than being spread by travelers or through trade, said Benjamin Radford, deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine and author of three books on myths and mysteries, including "Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries" (Rhombus, 2010). [The Best Bigfoot Hunting Expeditions]
Most of the myths trace back much further than the 1950s, when the explorer Eric Shipton photographed what he took to be "Abominable Snowman" footprints on Mount Everest. "While the famous Abominable Snowman snow track photographs ... led to worldwide interest in the creature, they didn't create the beast but instead for the first time offered tantalizing, tangible evidence of a regional legend," Radford told Life's Little Mysteries.