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By Caroline Radnofsky and Nidhi Dutt
The Indian army says it has discovered footprints in the Himalayas that appear to be belong to a yeti.
Measuring 32 inches by 15 inches, they were found near Mount Makalu base camp on April 9, military officials posted on Twitter late Monday.
A spokesman for the country’s defense ministry told NBC News on Tuesday that photographs taken by the army’s mountaineering expedition team had been passed on to “the scientific community” for verification.
The announcement, which referred to the yeti as a “mythical beast,” was met with mixed reaction online.
Some noticed that the photos appeared to show the footprints in a straight line, one behind the other, similar to what might be expected from a model.
Tarun Vijay, a former Indian lawmaker, tweeted his congratulations. However, he cautioned against describing the yeti as a “beast.” He added: “Show respect for them.”
Molecular biologist Ross Barnett told NBC News said that if DNA samples were collected, they could potentially be analyzed to determine what kind of animal was responsible by the footprints.
Research carried out by Barnett and fellow ancient genetics expert Ceiridwen Edwards found that re-analysis of DNA samples taken from reported yeti sightings matched brown bears local to the Himalayan region.
Whether or not the origin of the footprints was narrowed down, Barnett was confident yeti sightings would continue.
“You can’t kill a legend with anything as mundane as facts,” he said.
Mount Makalu is the world’s fifth highest mountain. It is located on the border between Nepal and China and is about 12 miles south of Mount Everest.