Oct. 21, 2008: A footprint was found in the snow on the Mount Dhaulagiri in northern Nepal by a group of Japanese mountaineers during a 2008 expedition. They claimed it was of the legendary Yeti -- and said it could prove the long-rumored existence of a giant ape living in the Himalayan peaks.AP Photo / The Yeti Project Japan / Kyodo News
KEMEROVO, Russia – Scientists from several countries, including Russia and the U.S., will gather in the Kemerova region of Siberia to hunt down the Yeti, after alleged sightings of the legendary creatures increased threefold in the area over the past 20 years.
Scientists from Russia, the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Estonia, Mongolia and China were invited to evaluate evidence of the creatures -- the existence of which has never been proven -- at a conference later this week, according to Russian radio station the Voice of Russia.
Alleged sightings of Yetis in Kemerovo and the neighboring Altai region, about 1,988 miles (3,200 kilometers) east of Moscow, are up three times compared to 20 years ago, with scientists estimating that there is a current population of at least several dozen in the area.
Other evidence of the existence of the creatures -- such as basic twig huts, twisted branches and footprints of up to 35 centimeters (14 inches) -- also has been found in the area.
A group of scientists from the conference will be sent out to search the region's mountains to examine the evidence and try spot a Yeti.
It will be the first expedition of its kind since 1958, when scientists from the Soviet Academy of Sciences scoured Western Siberia trying to catch a Yeti.
Igor Burtsev, who heads the Moscow-based International Center of Hominology, said, "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 arch foes."