March 24, 2011

Siberia Plans Yeti Institute

Kemerovo in western Siberia announced its plans to open "a scientific institute for researchers to study yetis," AFP reports.

The final decision will be made later this year after it hosts the international conference on yetis in the town of Tashtagol, states the regional government's education and science department.

Despite opposition, the administration of the Russian coal-mining region of Kemerovo says, "Organizing an institute or a scientific center would be a logical continuation of research into the yeti."

Yetis are more commonly known as Abominable Snowmen. These are hairy, ape-like mythical creatures that are usually thought to inhabit the Himalayas. However, the Russians call these creatures Snow Men and are believed to be found in remote areas such as the southern mountains of Kemerovo near Tashtagol in Siberia.

According to yeti researcher Igor Burtsev, there are about 30 Russian scientists studying yetis and they could plan to work together at the institute.

"We think that the yeti is a separate branch of human evolution. It lives in harmony with nature," Burtsev says.

The region's state university has denied Burtsev's claim that the yeti institute would be part of its school, as reported in the ITAR-TASS. The university says that "studying yetis is not among the research interests of the scientific teams at Kemerovo State University."

In the past, the Kemerovo region has used yeti sightings to help promote tourism in the area. An annual Yeti Day is held; and, this year's ice sculpture competition theme is called "In the World of the Yeti."