The Russians are setting out to do what no one has done before: Find Yeti.
Yeti, otherwise known as Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman or Sasquatch, has titillated explorers for over a century, with sightings of large footprints in mud or snow.
But the governor of Siberia's Kemerovo region, Aman Tuleyev, has taken the notion seriously and will host a conference with scientists from Russia, the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Estonia, Mongolia and China evaluating evidence of the Bigfoot. The gigantic legend is thought by some to still roam densely wooded areas in western North America, the North Caucasus between Russia and Turkey and parts of Siberia.
When Homo sapiens started populating the world, it viciously exterminated its closest relative in the hominid family, Homo neanderthalensis. Some of the Neanderthals, however, may have survived to this day in some mountainous wooded habitats that are more or less off limits to their archfoes, Igor Burtsev, director of the Moscow-based International Centre of Hominology told The Voice of Russia radio. No clothing on them, no tools in hands and no fire in the household. Only round-the-clock watchfulness for a Homo sapiens around.
Yeti sightings in the Russian region are up three times from 20 years ago, according to reports. Explorers have also found what they believe is evidence, such as rudimentary twig huts, twisted branches and trees and also footprints of up to 35 centimeters (14 inches).
Skeptics say the claim of a Yeti is junk science and previous sightings are easily debunked.
The evidence points more towards hoaxing and delusion than real discovery, states the Skeptic's Dictionary, an online source to debunk junk science. Some believers dismiss all such criticism and claim that Bigfoot exists in another dimension and travels by astral projection. Such claims reinforce the skeptic's view that the Bigfoot legend is a function of passionate fans of the paranormal, aided greatly by the mass media's eagerness to cater to such enthusiasm.
The Kemerovo conference will include an international expedition to scour the Siberian region for giant snow men.
The expedition is the first of its kind since 1958, when explorers from the Soviet Academy of Sciences crisscrossed the south of Western Siberia trying to catch or at least spot a Yeti.
Kemerovo officials said the expedition could also have potential for Yeti tourism.