NEW DELHI (AFP) - Pictures of a "Yeti footprint" the Indian Army posted on social media triggered a barrage of jokes on Tuesday (April 30).
"For the first time, an #IndianArmy Moutaineering Expedition Team has sited Mysterious Footprints of mythical beast 'Yeti'," an apparently serious - though misspelled - tweet on the army's official account said on Monday, alongside three images of prints in the snow.
It added the "elusive snowman has only been sighted at Makalu-Barun National Park in the past", referring to footprints reported by British explorer Eric Shipton in 1951 on the west side of Mount Everest.
According to folklore, the abominable snowman lives in the Himalayas but no proof of the enormous creature has ever been produced.
Social media users were quick to jump on the Indian military for its tweet.
"With all due respect, institutions such as yours should be more responsible and careful before going ahead and declaring the sighting of any footprints as 'Yetis'!", said Kushal Prajapati.
"There's been lots of research done on Bigfoot/Yeti (including sighting/footprints) with none proving its existence," he added.
"Seriously disappointing to see Army propagating such foolish myths into reality. Expected better from you guys," said another comment.
Several Twitter observers asked why there was only one footprint when the beast would probably have had two feet.
Others, were more forgiving, though still tongue-in-cheek.
"Congratulations, we are always proud of you. Salutes to the #IndianArmy Mountaineering Expedition Team," wrote Tarun Vijay, a leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
But Vijay said the snowman should not be referred to as "a beast".
The army said the footprints measured 81 by 38 centimetres and were spotted by a team on April 9 close to the Makalu Base Camp, an isolated area on the Nepal-China frontier.
An army official told AFP that pictures were released to "excite a bit of a scientific temper".
"We will share whatever we get with the domain experts to analyse. We will be contacting the team on the satphone in the evening for more details about it. The idea is to find out more, to look for an answer," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The yeti is traditionally described as an ape-like creature, taller than a human, that lives in the Himalayas, Siberia, and parts of Central and East Asia.
Most scientists have written the creature off as a centuries-old myth originating in Tibet.
Forensic results of previous samples have proved to be from prehistoric bears.