Now, a team of scientists say they are "95%" sure that Russia's wintry expanse is home to the mythical yeti, otherwise known as the abominable snowman.
More than a dozen scientists and yeti enthusiasts flew in from Canada, Estonia, Sweden and the US to exchange findings with their Russian counterparts at a day-long conference in the town of Tashtagol, some 2,000 miles east of Moscow in the Kemerovo region. Locals there have reported an increase in sightings of a creature in recent years.
A two-day expedition to the region's Azassky cave and Karatag peak over the weekend "collected irrefutable evidence" of the yeti's existence there, the Kemerovo government claimed in a statement. "In one of the detected tracks, Russian scientist Anatoly Fokin noted several hairs that might belong to the yeti," it added. Scientists also found footprints, a presumed bed and various other markers.
"Conference participants came to the conclusion that the artefacts found give 95% evidence of the habitation of the 'snow man' on Kemerovo region territory," the statement said.
"I know they exist – I see them every day," a conference participant, Robin Lynn, said by telephone from Kemerovo. She says she has a family of 10 yeti-like creatures living on her land in the US state of Michigan.
Evidence of yeti life of the creature has allegedly been found in the Himalayas and North America, where it is know as sasquatch, or bigfoot. John Binderangel, a Canadian wildlife biologist who has been studying the yeti for 30 years, said the Siberian expedition offered further proof of the beast's existence.
"We were shown some twisted willow branches that are referred to as markers – they were convincing evidence of this hominoid," he said. "There were also some tracks, but we're not quite sure what to make of them." Conference participants called for the launch of a campaign to "work out a more serious relationship [to the yeti] in society and mass media", the Kemerovo government said. They also proposed opening a university research centre.
The Kemerovo government has hosted a number of stunts aimed at boosting the region's reputation as a yeti centre.
Last month, it welcomed former heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev on a search for the yeti. The 7ft "beast from the east" reportedly failed in his quest.
Source: Guardian UK