Siberian scientists have found the well-preserved furry limb of a mysterious creature that might be the legendary Yeti. The paw was found frozen in permafrost, high up in the remote Altay mountains. Like the Alps, the Altays are becoming warmer and melting, exposing the preserved bodies of frozen people and animals.
“I turned the limb over and examined the sole of the foot, and I thought it looked unusual,” says mountain climber Sergey Semenov. “So I decided to bring it back with me.”
Scientific tests and X-rays show the bones are several thousand years old, but no one has been able to identify the creature. There’s a long tradition of Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, sightings in the area. The creature probably walked on snow, since the sole of the foot is furry.
A newly-discovered kind of ape has been found in the Congo as well. “It’s a new, mystery ape, and we are doing the DNA fingerprinting to find out more,” says zoo director Lee Simmons.
Barry Bedlan writes that scientists are analyzing fecal samples to see if these apes are a new species or a hybrid mix between chimpanzees and gorillas. It is biologically possible for a chimpanzee and a gorilla to produce offspring.
The apes are 5 to 6 feet tall and have feet nearly 14 inches long. They were first seen last year by primatologist Shelly William, in a forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They have bodies similar to those of gorillas, but facial characteristics like a chimpanzee. They sleep on the ground at night like gorillas, but eat a fruit-rich diet like chimpanzees. “I can’t speculate yet as to what they are. Their behavior is so unusual. It’s a puzzle?I feel like Dr. Doolittle in the land of Oz,” says Williams, who has captured them on video.
The mystery apes have no predators, not even humans. “The people are very afraid of them. They call them the ‘lion killers’ because they are huge creatures,” Williams says. “The folklore is they could kill lions.”
Williams collected fecal samples from the animals’ nests and brought them to the Omaha zoo, where they are being compared with the DNA of gorillas, bonobos and chimps. Geneticist Ed Louis says, “If this ends up being a new species of ape, that would be amazing. Even if it’s a hybridization, that would be fascinating. However, at this point we don’t even know what we?re dealing with.”
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