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Mountaineering and wildlife officials in Nepal said Monday they doubted whether footprints found by a United States team from a science fiction programme were those of a Yeti.
The host and crew from "Destination Truth" spent around a week in the foothills of Mount Everest and returned to the capital Kathmandu last week with claims that they had found footprints belonging to the legendary creature.
"The footprints may be from a Himalayan bear," Ang Tshering Sherpa, the president of Nepal Mountaineering Association told AFP after looking at pictures of the prints.
"It is believed that Yetis have only four toes but the footprints recorded by the US team have five toes," said Sherpa, whose father went unsuccessfully looking for the legendary beast in the 1950s.
The Yeti -- described as massive half-human, half-ape-like creature -- has captured the imagination of explorers and climbers in the Himalayas for generations.
Dozens of costly expeditions have taken place, none of which have proved the existence of the beast.
After seeing what he thought was a fleeting glimpse of a Yeti in 1986, climbing legend Reinhold Messner began investigating the myths and stories that surround it.
In his 1998 book "My Quest for the Yeti," Messner concludes that it only exists in peoples' imaginations and the Himalayan black bear was probably behind most sightings.
"Destination Truth" -- which investigates the existence of mythical creatures -- is being made for an American science fiction channel.
Host Joshua Gates told AFP Saturday that the programme would further investigate the footprints, which were found last week on the bank of the Manju River, 150 kilometres (94 miles) northeast of Kathmandu.
"The footprint is 13 inches (33 centimetres) long and the toes span nine inches (23 centimetres) across," Gates told AFP at a hotel in Kathmandu.
"This is really an intriguing piece of evidence and we all feel a little bit unable to explain what we saw," he said.
But Laxmi Manandhar, a spokesman at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, told AFP: "People living in the high Himalayas believe in this strange creature called a Yeti but nobody has actually seen it.
"The footprint castings brought by the US television crew are strange, but there is no supporting evidence to back up the claim that these are footprints of the Yeti."