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Bigfoot expert weighs in on 'Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives'

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Discovery is continuing its trend of pitting man against monster in "Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives." First Discovery tried to convince viewers that mermaids were real and rather terrifying in "Mermaids: The Body Found." Then the network brought an ancient shark back to life in "Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives." And now the network is making the case that a yeti was responsible for the notorious Dyatlov Pass incident.

According to a May 29 report by HitFix, there's at least one expert who believes that it's possible that a yeti played a part in the deaths of nine college students. In 1969, the group of students set out on a ski trek in a remote area of the Ural Mountains. While they were camping in an area that the local Mansi tribe referred to as "Dead Mountain," the hikers encountered something that terrified them. They cut their tent from the inside and fled into the brutal cold to escape whatever it was. Unfortunately, leaving the warmth of the tent would prove to be a fatal mistake.

The hikers' bodies were found in three separate groups. At first it seemed as though they had all frozen to death after fleeing from the tent partially clothed (some of them didn't even have shoes on). However, a few of the hikers had sustained serious injuries like fractured skulls and crushed ribs. One of the hikers was even missing her eyes and tongue.

"Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives" presents the theory that the hikers fled from their tent because they encountered a yeti. The special even hypothesizes that the primate was responsible for some of the injuries the hikers sustained. But did it really feast on a hiker's tongue after scaring her to death?

Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) curator, Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, appears in "Russian Yeti," so HitFix asked him about the possibility of the creature playing a part in the Dyatlov Pass incident. "Many, many hypotheses about what transpired and what happened to these people exist," he said. "Some have hung the yeti theory on the presence of footprints and that, when you look at the cameras, they found this single shot of a ghostly figure emerging from the treeline."

Meldrum was more interested in talking about the temperament of the yeti. "There's been a lot of discussion about whether any of these wild men figures, if indeed they exist, whether they pose a threat to humans," he said. Meldrum pointed out that gorillas used to be viewed as monsters, but now they're seen as gentle giants that are victims of deforestation. It's almost impossible to find accounts of gorillas killing humans even though they're certainly capable of it.

"Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives" doesn't paint its tongue-eating yeti as a murderous monster – instead it comes off as a very rare creature that avoids humans. However, something bizarre happens that makes it feel threatened, and this occurrence is what makes the Dyatlov Pass incident such a hot topic among conspiracy theorists. A yeti might have been the least of the hikers' worries.

You can check out a sneak peek above that features Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum talking about the yeti. "Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives" airs June 1 on the Discovery Channel at 9 p.m. ET.

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