11 - LIVING APE-MEN?
Northwestern North America
Central and South America
Yeti: Wildmen of the
The Almas of Central Asia
Wildmen of China
Wildmen of Malaysia and
Mainstream Science and
Reviewing the fossil hominids of China, we found signs that humans
may have coexisted with more apelike hominids throughout the
Pleistocene. This may be true even today. Over the past hundred or
so years, researchers have accumulated substantial evidence that
creatures resembling Neanderthals, Homo erectus, and the
australopithecines even now roam wilderness areas of the world.
Professional scientists have
(1) observed wildmen in natural
(2) observed live captured specimens
(4) collected physical evidence for wildmen,
including hundreds of footprints
They have also interviewed
nonscientist informants and investigated the vast amount of wildman
lore contained in ancient literatures and traditions.
For some researchers, the study of creatures such as wildmen comes
under the heading of a genuine branch of science called
cryptozoology. Cryptozoology, a term coined by the French zoologist
Bernard Heuvelmans, refers to the scientific investigation of
species whose existence has been reported but not fully documented.
The Greek word kryptos means "hidden," so cryptozoology literally
means "the study of hidden animals."
There exists an International
Society of Cryptozoology, the board of directors of which includes
professional biologists, zoologists, and paleontologists from
universities and museums around the world. The purpose of the
society, as stated in its journal Cryptozoology, is,
investigation, analysis, publication, and discussion of all matters
related to animals of unexpected form or size, or unexpected
occurrence in time or space."
A typical issue of Cryptozoology
usually contains one or more articles by scientists on the topic of
Is it really possible that there could be an unknown species of
hominid on this planet? Many will find this hard to believe for two
reasons. They suppose that every inch of the earth has been quite
thoroughly explored. And they also suppose that scientists possess a
complete inventory of the earth's living animal species.
suppositions are incorrect.
First, even in countries such as the United States, there remain
vast unpopulated and little-traveled areas. In particular, the
northwestern United States still has large regions of densely
forested, mountainous terrain, which, although mapped from the air,
are rarely penetrated by humans on the ground.
Second, a surprising number of new species of animals are still
being found each year—about 5,000 according to a conservative
estimate. As might be suspected, the great majority of these, some
4,000, are insects.
Yet Heuvelmans in 1983 noted:
in the mid-1970's, there were discovered each year, around 112 new
species of fish, 18 new species of reptiles, about ten new species
of amphibians, the same number of mammals, and 3 or 4 new species of
Reports of wildmen go back a long time. Many art objects of the
Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, and Etruscans bear images of
semi-human creatures. For example, in the Museum of Prehistory in
Rome, there is an Etruscan silver bowl on which may be seen, among
human hunters on horses, the figure of a large, ape-man-like
During the Middle Ages, wildmen continued to be depicted
in European art and architecture.
A page from Queen Mary's Psalter,
composed in the fourteenth century, shows a very realistically
depicted hairy wildman being attacked by a pack of dogs.
NORTHWESTERN NORTH AMERICA
For centuries, the Indians of the northwestern United States and
western Canada have believed in the reality of wildmen, known by
various names, such as Sasquatch.
In 1792, the Spanish
botanist-naturalist Jose Mariano Mozino, describing the Indians of
Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island, Canada, stated:
"I do not know
what to say about Matlox, inhabitant of the mountainous district, of
whom all have an unbelievable terror. They imagine his body as very
monstrous, all covered with stiff black bristles; a head similar to
a human one, but with much greater, sharper and stronger fangs than
those of the bear; extremely long arms; and toes and fingers armed
with long curved claws."
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt included an intriguing
report in his 1906 book The Wilderness Hunter. The incident took
place in the Bitterroot Mountains, between Idaho and Montana.
Wildman reports still come out of this region.
According to Roosevelt, in the early to middle 1800s a trapper named
Bauman and his partner were exploring a particularly wild and lonely
An unknown creature ravaged their camp several times—at night,
when they could not see the large animal clearly, and in the day,
when they were absent. One day, Bauman found his partner dead in the
camp, apparently killed by the creature. The creature left
footprints that were quite humanlike. And unlike a bear, which
normally walks on all four legs, this creature walked on two legs.
Taken on its own, the Bauman story is not very impressive as
evidence for the existence of wildmen in North America, but when
considered along with the more substantive reports it acquires
On July 4, 1884, the Colonist, a newspaper published in Victoria,
British Columbia, carried a story about a strange creature captured
near the town of Yale.
The Colonist reported:
"'Jacko,' as the
creature has been called by his capturers, is something of the
gorilla type, standing about four feet seven inches in height and
weighing 127 pounds. He has long, black, strong hair and resembles a
human being with one exception, his entire body, excepting his hands
(or paws) and feet is covered with glossy hair about one inch long.
His forearm is much longer than a man's forearm, and he possesses
That the creature was not a gorilla seems clear—its weight was too
small. Some might suppose that Jacko was a chimpanzee. But this idea
was apparently considered and rejected by persons who were familiar
with Jacko. In 1961, zoologist Ivan Sanderson mentioned
made in another paper shortly after the original story was
published, and which asked . . . how anybody could suggest that this
'Jacko' could have been a chimpanzee that had escaped from a
Additional reports of creatures like Jacko came from the
same region. For example, Alexander Caulfield Anderson, a surveyor
for the Hudson Bay Company, reported that some hairy humanoid
creatures had several times thrown rocks at his party as they
surveyed a trade route in 1864.
In 1901, Mike King, a well-known lumberman, was working in an
isolated region in northern Vancouver Island. As King came over a
ridge, he spotted a large humanlike creature covered with
reddish-brown fur. On the bank of a creek, the creature was washing
some roots and placing them in two orderly piles beside him. The
creature then left, running like a human being. Footprints observed
by King were distinctly human, except for the "phenomenally long and
In 1941, several members of the Chapman family encountered a wildman
at Ruby Creek, British Columbia. On a sunny summer afternoon, Mrs.
Chapman's oldest son alerted her to the presence of a large animal
coming down out of the woods near their home. At first, she thought
it was a large bear. But then, much to her horror, she saw that it
was a gigantic man covered all over with yellow-brown hair. The hair
was about 4 inches long. The creature moved directly towards the
house, and Mrs. Chapman rounded up her three children and fled
downstream to the village.
In October of 1955, Mr. William Roe, who had spent much of his life
hunting wild animals and observing their habits, encountered a wildman. The incident took place near a little town called Tete
Jaune Cache in British Columbia. One day, said Roe in a sworn
statement, he climbed up Mica Mountain to an old deserted mine and
saw, at a distance of about 75 yards, what he first took to be a
When the creature stepped out into a clearing, Roe realized
that it was something different:
"My first impression was of a huge
man, about six feet tall, almost three feet wide, and probably
weighing somewhere near three hundred pounds. It was covered from
head to foot with dark-brown silver-tipped hair. But as it came
closer I saw by its breasts that it was female."
In 1967, in the Bluff Creek region of Northern California,
Patterson and Bob Gimlin managed to shoot a short color film of a
female Sasquatch. They also made casts of her footprints, which were
14 inches long.
Several opinions have been expressed about the film. While some
authorities have said it is an outright fake, others have said they
think it provides good evidence in favor of the reality of the
Sasquatch. Mixed opinions have also been put forward.
Dr. D. W.
Grieve, an anatomist specializing in human walking, studied the film
and had this to say:
"My subjective impressions have oscillated
between total acceptance of the Sasquatch on the grounds that the
film would be difficult to fake, to one of irrational rejection
based on an emotional response to the possibility that the Sasquatch
Anthropologist Myra Shackley of the University of Leicester observed
that the majority view seems to be "that the film could be a hoax,
but if so an incredibly clever one." But this explanation could be
used to dismiss almost any kind of scientific evidence whatsoever.
All one has to do is posit a sufficiently expert hoaxer. Therefore
the hoax hypothesis should be applied only when there is actual
evidence of hoaxing, as at Piltdown, for example. Ideally, one
should be able to produce the hoaxer. Furthermore, even a
demonstrated case of hoaxing cannot be used to dismiss entire
categories of similar evidence.
As far as Sasquatch footprints are concerned, independent witnesses
have examined and reported hundreds of sets, and of these more than
100 have been preserved in photographs and casts. Critics, however,
assert that all these footprints have been faked. Undoubtedly, some
footprints have been faked, a fact the staunchest supporters of the
Sasquatch will readily admit. But could every single one of them be
In 1973, John R. Napier, a respected British anatomist, stated that
if all the prints are fakes
"then we must be prepared to accept the
existence of a conspiracy of Mafia-like ramifications with cells in
practically every major township from San Francisco to Vancouver."
Napier declared that he found the prints he himself studied
"biologically convincing." Napier wrote:
"The evidence that I have
examined persuades me that some of the tracks are real, and that
they are manlike in form. . . . I am convinced that the Sasquatch
Grover S. Krantz, an anthropologist at Washington State University,
was initially skeptical of Sasquatch reports. In order to determine
whether or not the creature really existed, Krantz studied in detail
some prints found in 1970 in northeast Washington State. In
reconstructing the skeletal structure of the foot from the print, he
noted that the ankle was positioned more forward than in a human
Taking into consideration the reported height and weight of an
adult Sasquatch, Krantz, using his knowledge of physical
anthropology, calculated just how far forward the ankle would have
to be set.
Returning to the prints, he found that the position of
the ankle exactly matched his theoretical calculations.
I decided the thing is real," said Krantz. "There is no way a faker
could have known how far forward to set that ankle. It took me a
couple of months to work it out with the casts in hand, so you have
to figure how much smarter a faker would've had to be."
Krantz and wildman expert John Green have written extensive reports
on the North American footprint evidence. Typically the prints are
14 to 18 inches long and 5 to 9 inches wide, giving a surface
roughly 3 to 4 times larger than that of an average human foot.
Hence the popular name Bigfoot. Krantz estimated that to make
typical Sasquatch prints a total weight of at least 700 pounds is
Thus a 200-pound man would have to be carrying at least
500 pounds to make a good print.
But that is only the beginning. There are reports of series of
prints extending from three-quarters of a mile up to several miles,
in deserted regions far away from the nearest roads. The stride
length of a Sasquatch varies from 4 to 6 feet (the stride length of
an average man is about 3 feet).
Try walking a mile with at least
500 pounds on your back and taking strides 5 feet long.
"A footprint machine, a kind of mechanical stamp, has been
suggested," stated Napier, "but an apparatus capable of delivering a
thrust of approximately 800 lb per square foot that can be
manhandled over rough and mountainous country puts a strain on one's
Some of the reported series of tracks were in fresh
snow, enabling observers to verify that no other marks were made by
some machine paralleling the prints or hovering over them. In some
cases, the distance between the toes of the footprints varied from
one print to the next in a single series of prints. This means that
besides all the other problems facing a hoaxer, he would have had to
incorporate moving parts into his artificial feet.
On June 10, 1982, Paul Freeman, a U.S. Forest Service patrolman
tracking elk in the Walla Walla district of Washington State,
observed a hairy biped around 8 feet tall, standing about 60 yards
from him. After 30 seconds, the large animal walked away. Krantz
studied casts of the creature's footprints and found dermal ridges,
sweat pores, and other features in the proper places for large
primate feet. Detailed skin impressions on the sidewalls of the
prints indicated the presence of a flexible sole pad.
In the face of much good evidence, why do almost all anthropologists
and zoologists remain silent about Sasquatch? Krantz observed, "They
are scared for their reputations and their jobs."
"One of the problems, perhaps the greatest problem, in
investigating Sasquatch sightings is the suspicion with which people
who claim to have seen a Sasquatch are treated by their neighbors
and employers. To admit such an experience is, in some areas, to
risk personal reputation, social status and professional
In particular, he told of "the case of a highly
qualified oil company geologist who told his story but insisted that
his name should not be mentioned for fear of dismissal by his
company." In this regard, Roderick Sprague, an anthropologist from
the University of Idaho, said of Krantz:
"It is Krantz's willingness
to openly investigate the unknown that has cost him the respect of
many colleagues as well as timely academic promotion."
The majority of the Sasquatch reports come from the northwestern
United States and British Columbia.
"One is forced to conclude,"
said Napier, "that a man-like life-form of gigantic proportions is
living at the present time in the wild areas of the north-western
United States and British Columbia."
There are also numerous reports
from the eastern parts of the United States and Canada.
"That such a
creature should be alive and kicking in our midst, unrecognized and
unclassifiable, is a profound blow to the credibility of modern
anthropology," concluded Napier.
It might also be said that it is a
blow to the credibility of biology, zoology, and science in general.
CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA
From southern Mexico's tropical forests come accounts of beings
called the Sisimite. Wendell Skousen, a geologist, said the people
of Cubulco in Baja Verapaz reported:
"There live in the mountains
very big, wild men, completely clothed in short, thick, brown, hairy
fur, with no necks, small eyes, long arms and huge hands. They leave
footprints twice the length of a man's."
Several persons said that
they had been chased down mountainsides by the Sisimite. Skousen
thought the creature may have been a bear. However, upon questioning
the natives carefully, he decided it was not. Similar creatures are
reported in Guatemala, where, it has been said, they kidnap women
People in Belize (formerly British Honduras) speak of semi-human
creatures called Dwendis, which inhabit the jungles in the southern
part of their country. The name Dwendi comes from the Spanish word
Duende, meaning "goblin."
Ivan Sanderson, who conducted research in
Belize, wrote in 1961:
"Dozens told me of having seen them, and
these were mostly men of substance who had worked for responsible
organizations like the Forestry Department and who had, in several
cases, been schooled or trained either in Europe or the United
States. One, a junior forestry officer born locally, described in
great detail two of these little creatures that he had suddenly
noticed quietly watching him on several occasions at the edge of the
forestry reserve near the foot of the Maya Mountains. . . .
little folk were described as being between three foot six and four
foot six, well proportioned but with very heavy shoulders and rather
long arms, clothed in thick, tight, close brown hair looking like
that of a short-coated dog; having very flat yellowish faces but
head-hair no longer than the body hair except down the back of the
neck and midback."
The Dwendis appear to represent a species
different from the large Sasquatch of the Pacific Northwest of North
From the Guianas region of South America come accounts of wildmen
called Didis. Early explorers heard reports about them from the
Indians, who said they were about five feet tall, walked erect, and
were covered with thick black hair.
In 1931, Nello Beccari, an anthropologist from Italy, heard an
account of the Didi from Mr. Haines, the Resident Magistrate in
British Guiana. Heuvelmans gave this summary of what Haines related
"In 1910 he was going through the forest along the Konawaruk, a tributary which joins the Essequibo just above its
junction with the Potaro, when he suddenly came upon two strange
creatures, which stood up on their hind feet when they saw him. They
had human features but were entirely covered with reddish-brown fur.
. . . the two creatures retreated slowly and disappeared into the
After giving many similar accounts in his book about wildmen,
"The most significant single fact about these
reports from Guiana is that never once has any local person—nor any
person reporting what a local person says—so much as indicated that
these creatures are just 'monkeys.' In all cases they have specified
that they are tailless, erect, and have human attributes."
From the eastern slopes of the Andes in Ecuador come reports of the
Shiru, a small fur-covered hominid-like creature, about 4 to 5 feet
In Brazil, people tell of the large apelike Mapinguary, which
leaves giant humanlike footprints and is said to kill cattle.
YETI: WILDMEN OF THE HIMALAYAS
Writings of British officials residing in the Himalayan region of
the Indian subcontinent during the nineteenth century contain
sporadic references to sightings and footprints of wildmen called
The Yeti were first mentioned by B. H. Hodgson, who from 1820
to 1843 served as British resident at the Nepalese court. Hodgson
reported that in the course of a journey through northern Nepal his
bearers were frightened by the sight of a hairy, tailless, humanlike
Many will suggest, on hearing a report like this (and hundreds have
been recorded since Hodgson's time), that the Nepalese mistook an
ordinary animal for a Yeti. The usual candidates for mistaken
identity are bears and the langur monkey. But it is hard to imagine
that lifelong residents of the Himalayas, intimately familiar with
the wildlife, would have made such mistakes.
Myra Shackley observed
that Yeti are found in Nepalese and Tibetan religious paintings
depicting hierarchies of living beings.
"Here," said Shackley,
"bears, apes, and langurs are depicted separate from the wildman,
suggesting there is no confusion (at least in the minds of the
artists) between these forms."
During the nineteenth century, at least one European reported
personally seeing a captured animal that resembled a Yeti.
African man told anthropologist Myra Shackley:
"Many years ago in
India, my late wife's mother told me how her mother had actually
seen what might have been one of these creatures at Mussorie, in the
Himalayan foothills. This semi-human was walking upright, but was
obviously more animal than human with hair covering its whole body.
It was reportedly caught up in the snows... his captors had it
During the twentieth century, sightings by Europeans of
their footprints continued, increasing during the Himalayan
In November of 1951, Eric Shipton, while reconnoitering the
approaches to Mt. Everest, found footprints on the Menlung glacier,
near the border between Tibet and Nepal, at an elevation of 18,000
feet. Shipton followed the trail for a mile. A close-up photograph
of one of the prints has proved convincing to many. The footprints
were quite large. John R. Napier considered and rejected the
possibility that the particular size and shape of the best Shipton
footprint could have been caused by melting of the snow.
In the end,
Napier suggested that the Shipton footprint was the result of
superimposed human feet, one shod and the other unshod. In general,
Napier, who was fully convinced of the existence of the North
American Sasquatch, was highly skeptical of the evidence for the
Yeti. But, as we shall see later in this section, new evidence would
cause Napier to become more inclined to accept the Himalayan wildmen.
In the course of his expeditions to the Himalaya Mountains in the
1950s and 1960s, Sir Edmund Hillary gave attention to evidence for
the Yeti, including footprints in snow. He concluded that in every
case the large footprints attributed to the Yeti had been produced
by the merging of smaller tracks of known animals.
To this Napier,
himself a skeptic, replied:
"No one with any experience would
confuse a melted footprint with a fresh one. Not all the prints seen
over the years by reputable observers can be explained away in these
terms; there must be other explanations for footprints, including,
of course, the possibility that they were made by an animal unknown
In addition to Westerners, native informants also gave a continuous
stream of reports on the Yeti. For example, in 1958 Tibetan
villagers from Tharbaleh, near the Rongbuk glacier, came upon a
drowned Yeti, said Myra Shackley in her book on wildmen. The
villagers described the creature as being like a small man with a
pointed head and covered with reddish-brown fur.
Some Buddhist monasteries claim to have physical remains of the
Yeti. One category of such relics is Yeti scalps, but the ones
studied by Western scientists are thought to have been made from the
skins of known animals. In 1960, Sir Edmund Hillary mounted an
expedition to collect and evaluate evidence for the Yeti and sent a
Yeti scalp from the Khumjung monastery to the West for testing. The
results indicated that the scalp had been manufactured from the skin
of the serow, a goat-like Himalayan antelope.
But some disagreed
with this analysis. Shackley said they,
"pointed out that hairs from
the scalp look distinctly monkey-like, and that it contains
parasitic mites of a species different from that recovered from the serow."
In the 1950s, explorers sponsored by American businessman
obtained samples from a mummified Yeti hand kept at Pangboche,
Tibet. Laboratory tests were inconclusive, but Shackley said the
hand "has some curiously anthropoid features."
In May of 1957, the Kathmandu Commoner carried a story about a Yeti
head that had been kept for 25 years in the village of Chilunka,
about 50 miles northeast of Kathmandu, Nepal.
In March of 1986, Anthony B. Wooldridge was making a solo run
through the Himalayas of northernmost India on behalf of a small
third world development organization. While proceeding along a
forested snow-covered slope near Hemkund, he noticed fresh tracks
and took photographs of them, including a close-up of a single print
that resembled the one photographed by Eric Shipton in 1951.
Pressing onward, Wooldridge came to a recent avalanche and saw a
shallow furrow, apparently caused by a large object sliding across
the snow. At the end of the furrow, he saw more tracks, which led to
a distant shrub, behind which stood "a large, erect shape perhaps up
to 2 meters [about 6 feet] tall."
Wooldridge, realizing it might be a Yeti, moved to within 150 meters
(about 500 feet) and took photos.
"It was standing with its legs
apart," he stated, "apparently looking down the slope, with its
right shoulder turned towards me. The head was large and squarish,
and the whole body appeared to be covered with dark hair."
Wooldridge's opinion, the creature was definitely not a monkey,
bear, or ordinary human being.
Wooldridge observed the creature for 45 minutes but had to leave
when the weather worsened. On the way back to his base, he took more
photographs of the footprints, but by this time they had become
distorted by melting.
On his return to England, Wooldridge showed his photographic
evidence to scientists interested in the wildman question, including
John Napier. At a distance of 150 meters, the creature appeared
quite small on the 35 mm film, but enlargements did show something
Describing the reactions of those who saw his photos,
"John Napier, a primatologist and author of the
1973 book Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality, has
reversed the skeptical position he had previously expressed, and now
describes himself as a Yeti devotee.
Myra Shackley, an archaeologist
and author of the 1983 book Wildmen: Yeti, Sasquatch and the
Neanderthal Enigma, has seen the full sequence of photographs, and
believes that the whole experience is very consistent with other
reports of Yeti sightings. Lord Hunt, leader of the successful 1953
Mount Everest Expedition, who has twice seen Yeti tracks himself, is
THE ALMAS OF CENTRAL ASIA
The Sasquatch and the
Yeti, from the descriptions available, are
large and very apelike. But there is another wildman, the Almas,
which seems smaller and more human. Reports of the Almas are
concentrated in an area extending from Mongolia in the north, south
through the Pamirs, and then westward into the Caucasus region.
Similar reports come from Siberia and the far northeast parts of the
Early in the fifteenth century, Hans Schiltenberger was captured by
the Turks and sent to the court of Tamerlane, who placed him in the
retinue of a Mongol prince named Egidi.
After returning to Europe in
1427, Schiltenberger wrote about his experiences, which included
"In the mountains themselves live wild people, who have
nothing in common with other human beings. A pelt covers the entire
body of these creatures. Only the hands and face are free of hair.
They run around in the hills like animals and eat foliage and grass
and whatever else they can find. The lord of the territory made Egidi a present of a couple of forest people, a man and a woman.
They had been caught in the wilderness."
A drawing of an Almas is found in a nineteenth-century Mongol
compendium of medicines derived from various plants and animals.
Myra Shackley noted:
"The book contains thousands of illustrations
of various classes of animals (reptiles, mammals and amphibia), but
not one single mythological animal such as are known from similar
medieval European books. All the creatures are living and observable
today. There seems no reason at all to suggest that the Almas did
not exist also and illustrations seem to suggest that it was found
among rocky habitats, in the mountains."
In 1937, Dordji Meiren, a member of the Mongolian Academy of
Sciences, saw the skin of an Almas in a monastery in the Gobi
desert. The lamas were using it as a carpet in some of their
In 1963, Ivan Ivlov, a Russian pediatrician, was traveling through
the Altai mountains in the southern part of Mongolia. Ivlov saw
several humanlike creatures standing on a mountain slope. They
appeared to be a family group, composed of a male, female, and
child. Ivlov observed the creatures through his binoculars from a
distance of half a mile until they moved out of his field of vision.
His Mongolian driver also saw them and said they were common in that
After his encounter with the Almas family, Ivlov interviewed many
Mongolian children, believing they would be more candid than adults.
The children provided many additional reports about the Almas. For
example, one child told Ivlov that while he and some other children
were swimming in a stream, he saw a male Almas carry a child Almas
In 1980, a worker at an experimental agricultural station, operated
by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences at Bulgan, encountered the dead
body of a wildman:
"I approached and saw a hairy corpse of a robust
humanlike creature dried and half-buried by sand. . . . The dead
thing was not a bear or ape and at the same time it was not a man
like Mongol or Kazakh or Chinese and Russian."
The Pamir mountains, lying in a remote region where the borders of
Tadzhikistan, China, Kashmir, and Afghanistan meet, have been the
scene of many Almas sightings. In 1925, Mikhail Stephanovitch
Topilski, a major-general in the Soviet army, led his unit in an
assault on an anti-Soviet guerilla force hiding in a cave in the
One of the surviving guerillas said that while in the cave
he and his comrades were attacked by several apelike creatures. Topilski ordered the rubble of the cave searched, and the body of
one such creature was found.
"At first glance I
thought the body was that of an ape. It was covered with hair all
over. But I knew there were no apes in the Pamirs. Also, the body
itself looked very much like that of a man. We tried pulling the
hair, to see if it was just a hide used for disguise, but found that
it was the creature's own natural hair. We turned the body over
several times on its back and its front, and measured it. Our doctor
made a long and thorough inspection of the body, and it was clear
that it was not a human being."
"The body," continued Topilski, "belonged to a male creature 165-170
cm [about 5 feet] tall, elderly or even old, judging by the greyish
color of the hair in several places. . . . The color of the face was
dark, and the creature had neither beard nor moustache. The temples
were bald and the back of the head was covered by thick, matted
hair. The dead creature lay with its eyes open and its teeth bared.
The eyes were dark and the teeth were large and even and shaped like
The forehead was slanting and the eyebrows were very
powerful. The protruding jawbones made the face resemble the Mongol
type of face. The nose was flat, with a deeply sunk bridge. The ears
were hairless and looked a little more pointed than a human being's
with a longer lobe. The lower jaw was very massive. The creature had
a very powerful chest and well developed muscles."
In 1957, Alexander G. Pronin, a hydrologist at the Geographical
Research Institute of Leningrad University, participated in an
expedition to the Pamirs, for the purpose of mapping glaciers. On
August 2, 1957, while his team was investigating the Fedchenko
glacier, Pronin hiked into the valley of the Balyandkiik River.
"At noon he noticed a figure standing on a rocky
cliff about 500 yards above him and the same distance away. His
first reaction was surprise, since this area was known to be
uninhabited, and his second was that the creature was not human. It
resembled a man but was very stooped. He watched the stocky figure
move across the snow, keeping its feet wide apart, and he noted that
its forearms were longer than a human's and it was covered with
Pronin saw the creature again three days later,
walking upright. Since this incident, there have been numerous
wildman sightings in the Pamirs, and members of various expeditions
have photographed and taken casts of footprints.
We shall now consider reports about the Almas from the Caucasus
region. According to testimony from villagers of Tkhina, on the
Mokvi River, a female Almas was captured there during the nineteenth
century, in the forests of Mt. Zaadan. For three years, she was kept
imprisoned, but then became domesticated and was allowed to live in
She was called Zana. Shackley stated:
"Her skin was a greyish-black color, covered with reddish hair, longer on her head
than elsewhere. She was capable of inarticulate cries but never
developed a language. She had a large face with big cheek bones,
muzzle-like prognathous jaw and large eyebrows, big white teeth and
a 'fierce expression.'"
Eventually Zana, through sexual relations
with a villager, had children. Some of Zana's grandchildren were
seen by Boris Porshnev in 1964. In her account of Porshnev's
investigations, Shackley noted:
"The grandchildren, Chalikoua and
Taia, had darkish skin of rather Negroid appearance, with very
prominent chewing muscles and extra strong jaws."
interviewed villagers who as children had been present at Zana's
funeral in the 1880s.
In the Caucasus region, the Almas is sometimes called Biaban-guli.
In 1899, K. A. Satunin, a Russian zoologist, spotted a female
Biaban-guli in the Talysh hills of the southern Caucasus. He stated
that the creature had "fully human movements." The fact that Satunin
was a well-known zoologist makes his report particularly
In 1941, V. S. Karapetyan, a lieutenant colonel of the medical
service of the Soviet army, performed a direct physical examination
of a living wildman captured in the Dagestan autonomous republic,
just north of the Caucasus mountains.
"I entered a
shed with two members of the local authorities. . . . I can still
see the creature as it stood before me, a male, naked and
bare-footed. And it was doubtlessly a man, because its entire shape
was human. The chest, back, and shoulders, however, were covered
with shaggy hair of a dark-brown color. This fur of his was much
like that of a bear, and 2 to 3 centimeters [1 inch] long.
was thinner and softer below the chest. His wrists were crude and
sparsely covered with hair. The palms of his hands and soles of his
feet were free of hair. But the hair on his head reached to his
shoulders partly covering his forehead.
The hair on his head,
moreover, felt very rough to the hand. He had no beard or moustache,
though his face was completely covered with a light growth of hair.
The hair around his mouth was also short and sparse. The man stood
absolutely straight with his arms hanging, and his height was above
the average—about 180 cm [almost 5 feet 11 inches]. He stood before
me like a giant, his mighty chest thrust forward.
His fingers were
thick, strong and exceptionally large. On the whole, he was
considerably bigger than any of the local inhabitants. His eyes told
me nothing. They were dull and empty—the eyes of an animal. And he
seemed to me like an animal and nothing more."
It is reports like
this that have led scientists such as British anthropologist Myra Shackley to conclude that
the Almas may represent surviving
Neanderthals or perhaps even Homo erectus. What happened to the
wildman of Dagestan?
According to published accounts, he was shot by
his Soviet military captors as they retreated before the advancing
WILDMEN OF CHINA
"Chinese historical documents, and many city and town annals,
contain abundant records of wildmen, which are given various names,"
states Zhou Guoxing of the Beijing Museum of Natural History.
today, in the area of Fang County, Hubei Province," says Zhou,
"there are still legends about 'maoren' (hairy men) or 'wildmen.'"
In 1922, a militiaman is said to have captured a wildman there, but
there are no further records of this incident.
In 1940, Wang Zelin, a graduate of the biology department of
Northwestern University in Chicago, was able to directly see a
wildman shortly after it was shot to death by hunters. Wang was
driving from Baoji, in Shanxi Province, to Tianshui, in Gansu
Province, when he heard gunfire ahead of him.
He got out of the car
to satisfy his curiosity and saw a corpse. It was a female creature,
six and a half feet tall and covered with a coat of thick
grayish-red hair about one and a quarter inches long. The hair on
its face was shorter. The cheekbones were prominent, and the lips
jutted out. The hair on the head was about one foot long.
According to Wang, the creature looked like a reconstruction of the
Chinese Homo erectus.
Ten years later, another scientist, Fun Jinquan, a geologist, saw
some living wildmen.
Zhou Guoxing stated:
"With the help of local
guides, he watched, at a safe distance, two local Wildmen in the
mountain forest near Baoji County, Shanxi Province, in the spring of
1950. They were mother and son, the smaller one being 1.6 meters
[5.25 feet] in height. Both looked human."
In 1957, a biology teacher in Zhejiang province obtained the hands
and feet of a "manbear" killed by local peasants. Zhou Guoxing later
examined them. Although he did not think they were from a wildman,
he concluded that "they came from an unknown primate."
In 1961, workers building a road through the heavily forested
Xishuang Banna region of Yunnan province in southernmost China
reported killing a humanlike female primate.
The creature was
1.2-1.3 meters (about 4 feet) tall and covered with hair. It walked
upright, and according to the eyewitness reports, its hands, ears,
and breasts were like those of a female human. The Chinese Academy
of Sciences sent a team to investigate, but they were not able to
obtain any physical evidence. Some suggested that the workers had
come upon a gibbon.
But Zhou Guoxing stated:
"The present author
recently visited a newsman who took part in that investigation. He
stated that the animal which had been killed was not a gibbon, but
an unknown animal of human shape."
In 1976, six cadres from the Shennongjia forestry region in Hubei
province were driving at night down the highway near the village of
Chunshuya, between Fangxian county and Shennongjia. On the way, they
encountered a "strange tailless creature with reddish fur."
Fortunately, it stood still long enough for five of the people to
get out of the car and look at it from a distance of only a few
feet, while the driver kept his headlights trained on it. The
observers were certain that it was not a bear or any other creature
with which they were familiar. They reported the incident in a
telegram to the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
Over the years, Academy officials had received many similar reports
from the same region of Hubei province. So when they heard about
this incident, they decided to thoroughly investigate the matter. A
scientific expedition consisting of more than 100 members proceeded
to Hubei province.
They collected physical evidence, in the form of
hair, footprints, and feces, and recorded sightings by the local
inhabitants. Subsequent research has added to these results.
Altogether, more than a thousand footprints have been found in Hubei
province, some more than 19 inches long. Over 100 wildman hairs have
been collected, the longest measuring 21 inches.
Some have sought to explain sightings of wildmen in the Shennongjia
region of Hubei province as encounters with the rare golden monkey,
which inhabits the same area. The golden monkey might very well
account for reports of creatures glimpsed for a moment at a great
distance. But consider the case of Pang Gensheng, a local commune
leader, who was confronted in the forest by a wildman.
Pang, who stood face to face with the creature, at a distance of
five feet for about an hour, said:
"He was about seven feet tall,
with shoulders wider than a man's, a sloping forehead, deep-set eyes
and a bulbous nose with slightly upturned nostrils. He had sunken
cheeks, ears like a man's but bigger, and round eyes, also bigger
than a man's. His jaw jutted out and he had protruding lips. His
front teeth were as broad as a horse's. His eyes were black. His
hair was dark-brown, more than a foot long and hung loosely over his
His whole face, except for the nose and ears, was covered
with short hairs. His arms hung down to below his knees. He had big
hands with fingers about six inches long and thumbs only slightly
separated from the fingers. He didn't have a tail and the hair on
his body was short. He had thick thighs, shorter than the lower part
of his leg. He walked upright with his legs apart. His feet were
each about 12 inches long and half that broad—broader in front and
narrow behind, with splayed toes."
WILDMEN OF MALAYSIA AND INDONESIA
In 1969, John McKinnon, who journeyed to Borneo to observe
orangutans, came across some humanlike footprints. McKinnon asked
his Malay boatman what made them. "Without a moment's hesitation he
replied 'Batutut,'" wrote McKinnon.
Later, in Malaya, McKinnon saw
some casts of footprints even bigger than those he had seen in
Borneo, but he recognized them as definitely having been made by the
same kind of creature. The Malayans called it Orangpendek (short
fellow). According to Ivan Sanderson, these footprints differ from
those of the anthropoid apes inhabiting the Indonesian forests (the
gibbon, siamang, and orangutan). They are also distinct from those
of the sun bear.
Early in the twentieth century, L. C. Westenek, a governor of
Sumatra, received a written report about an encounter with a type of
wildman called Sedapa. The overseer of an estate in the Barisan
Mountains, along with some workers, observed the Sedapa from a
distance of 15 yards. The overseer said he saw "a large creature,
low on its feet, which ran like a man, and was about to cross my
path; it was very hairy and it was not an orangutan."
In a journal article about wildmen published in 1918, Westenek
recorded a report from a Mr. Oostingh, who lived in Sumatra. Once
while proceeding through the forest, he came upon a man sitting on a
log and facing away from him.
"I suddenly realized
that his neck was oddly leathery and extremely filthy. 'That chap's
got a very dirty and wrinkled neck!' I said to myself. . . . Then I
saw that it was not a man."
"It was not an orangutan," declared Oostingh. "I had seen one of
these large apes a short time before."
What was the creature if not
an orangutan? Oostingh could not say for sure. As we have seen, some
have suggested that wildmen may represent surviving representatives
of the Neanderthals or Homo erectus.
If there is uncertainty about what kinds of hominids may be around
today, how can we be so sure about what kinds of hominids may or may
not have been around in the distant past?
Empiric investigation of the fossil record may not be a sure guide.
As Bernard Heuvelmans stated in a letter (April 15, 1986) to our
researcher Stephen Bernath:
"Do not overestimate the importance of
the fossil record. Fossilization is a very rare, exceptional
phenomenon, and the fossil record cannot thus give us an exact image
of life on earth during the past geological periods. The fossil
record of primates is particularly poor because very intelligent and
cautious animals can avoid more easily the very conditions of
fossilization—such as sinking in mud or peat, for instance."
The empiric method undoubtedly has its limitations, and the fossil
record is incomplete and imperfect.
But when all the evidence,
including that for very ancient humans and living ape-men, is
objectively evaluated, the pattern that emerges is one of continuing
coexistence rather than sequential evolution.
Native informants from several countries in the western part of the
African continent, such as the Ivory Coast, have given accounts of a
race of pygmy-like creatures covered with reddish hair. Europeans
have also encountered them.
Wildman reports also come from East Africa. Capt. William Kitchens
reported in 1937:
"Some years ago I was sent on an official
lion-hunt in this area (the Ussure and Simibit forests on the
western side of the Wembare plains) and, while waiting in a forest
glade for a man-eater, I saw two small, brown, furry creatures come
from dense forest on one side of the glade and disappear into the
thickets on the other.
They were like little men, about 4 feet high,
walking upright, but clad in russet hair. The native hunter with me
gazed in mingled fear and amazement. They were, he said, agogwe, the
little furry men whom one does not see once in a lifetime."
they just apes or monkeys? It does not seem that either Kitchens or
the native hunter accompanying him would have been unable to
recognize an ape or monkey. Many reports of the Agogwe emanate from
Tanzania and Mozambique.
From the Congo region come reports of the Kakundakari and Kilomba.
About 5.5 feet tall and covered with hair, they are said to walk
upright like humans. Charles Cordier, a professional animal
collector who worked for many zoos and museums, followed tracks of
the Kakundakari in Zaire in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
said Cordier, a Kakundakari had become entangled in one of his bird
"It fell on its face," said Cordier, "turned over, sat up,
took the noose off its feet, and walked away before the nearby
African could do anything."
Reports of such creatures also come from southern Africa.
Pascal Tassy, of the Laboratory of Vertebrate and Human Paleontology, wrote
"Philip V. Tobias, now on the Board of Directors of the
International Society of Cryptozoology, once told Heuvelmans that
one of his colleagues had set traps to capture living
Tobias, from South Africa, is a recognized
authority on Australopithecus.
According to standard views, the last australopithecines perished
approximately 750,000 years ago, and Homo erectus died out around
200,000 years ago. The Neanderthals, it is said, vanished about
35,000 years ago, and since then fully modern humans alone have
existed throughout the entire world.
Yet many sightings of different
kinds of wildmen in various parts of the world strongly challenge
the standard view.
MAINSTREAM SCIENCE AND WILDMAN REPORTS
Despite all the evidence we have presented, most recognized
authorities in anthropology and zoology decline to discuss the
existence of wildmen. If they mention wildmen at all, they rarely
present the really strong evidence for their existence, focusing
instead on the reports least likely to challenge their disbelief.
Skeptical scientists say that no one has found any bones of wildmen;
nor, they say, has anyone produced a single body, dead or alive. But
hand and foot specimens of reputed wildmen, and even a head, have
been collected. Competent persons report having examined bodies of
wildmen. And there are also a number of accounts of capture. That
none of this physical evidence has made its way into museums and
other scientific institutions may be taken as a failure of the
process for gathering and preserving evidence. The operation of what
we call a knowledge filter tends to keep evidence tinged with
disrepute outside official channels.
However, some scientists with solid reputations, such as Krantz,
Napier, Shackley, Porshnev, and others, have found in the available
evidence enough reason to conclude that wildmen do in fact exist,
or, at least, that the question of their existence is worthy of
Myra Shackley wrote to our researcher Steve Bernath on December 4,
"As you know, this whole question is highly topical, and there
has been an awful lot of correspondence and publication flying
around on the scene. Opinions vary, but I guess that the commonest
would be that there is indeed sufficient evidence to suggest at
least the possibility of the existence of various unclassified
manlike creatures, but that in the present state of our knowledge it
is impossible to comment on their significance in any more detail.
The position is further complicated by misquotes, hoaxing, and
lunatic fringe activities, but a surprising number of hardcore
anthropologists seem to be of the opinion that the matter is very
So there is some scientific recognition of the
wildman evidence, but
it seems to be largely a matter of privately expressed views, with
little or no official recognition.