Apelike Monsters

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Apelike Monsters

Sightings of monstrous apelike creatures lurking in the darkness of forests and mountainous regions of the world have been reported since the Middle Ages. In 840 c.e., Agobard, the Archbishop of Lyons, told of three such demons, "giant people of the forest and mountains," who were stoned to death after being displayed in chains for several days. In his Chronicles, Abbot Ralph of Coggeshall Abbey, Essex, England, wrote of a "strange monster" whose charred body had been found after a lightning storm on the night of St. John the Baptist in June 1205. He stated that a terrible stench came from the beast with "monstrous limbs."

Villagers of the Caucasus Mountains have legends of an apelike "wildman" going back for centuries. The same may be said of the Tibetans living on the slopes of Mt. Everest and the Native American tribes inhabiting the northwestern United States. The Gilyaks, a remote tribe of Siberian native people, claim that there are animals inhabiting the frozen forests of Siberia that have human feelings and travel in family units. Based on the eyewitness descriptions of hundreds of reliable individuals around the world who have encountered these creatures, it would seem that the creatures are more humanlike than apelike or bearlike. For one thing, these giants are repeatedly said by witnesses to have breasts and buttocks. Neither apes nor bears have buttocksnor do they leave flatfooted humanlike footprints.

In 1920, the term "abominable snowman" was coined through a mistranslation of the Tibetan word for the mysterious apelike monster yeti, "wildman of the snow." For the next two decades, reports of the creature were common in the Himalayan mountain range, but it was not until the close of World War II (193945) that world attention became focused on the unexplained humanlike bare footprints that were being found at great heights and freezing temperatures. The Himalayan activity reached a kind of climax in 1960 when Sir Edmund Hillary (1919 ), conqueror of Mt. Everest, led an expedition in search of the elusive yeti and returned with nothing shown for his efforts but a fur hat that had been fashioned in imitation of the snowman's scalp.

The humanlike creaturewhether sighted in the more remote, wooded, or mountainous regions of North America, South America, Russia, China, Australia, or Africais believed by some anthropologists to be a two-footed mammal that constitutes a kind of missing link between humankind and the great apes, for its appearance is more primitive than that of Neanderthal. The descriptions given by witnesses around the world are amazingly similar. Height: six to nine feet. Weight: 400 to 1,000 pounds. Eyes: black. Dark fur or body hair from one to four inches in length is said to cover the creature's entire body with the exception of the palms of its hands, the soles of its feet, and its upper facial area, nose, and eyelids.

Some question the existence of giant apelike creatures because there is so little physical evidence besides casts of huge humanlike footprints. Some researchers respond by pointing out that Mother Nature keeps a clean house. Scavengers soon eat the carcasses of the largest forest creatures and the bones are scattered. Zoologist Ivan T. Sanderson suggested that if these beings are members of a subhuman race, they may gather up their dead for burial in special caves. Dr. Jeanne-Marie-Therese Koffman agreed that the creatures might bury their dead in secret places. It may be, she theorized, that they may throw the corpses of the deceased into the rushing waters of mountain rivers or into the abysses of rocky caverns. Others remind the skeptical that it is not unusual for certain of the higher animals to hide the bodies of their dead. Accounts of the legendary "elephants' graveyard" are well-known; and in Ceylon, the phrase "to find a dead monkey" is used to indicate an impossible task.

Proving the existence of such creatures may seem to many scientists to be an impossible task, but persistent searchers for undeniable evidence of the apelike beings feel that proof is right around the next corner in some darkened forest.

Delving Deeper

bord, janet, and colin bord. unexplained mysteries of the 20th century. chicago: contemporary books, 1989.

coleman, loren. mysterious america. boston: faber & faber, 1985.

dash, mike. borderlands. new york: dell books, 2000.

sanderson, ivan t. abominable snowmen: legend come to life. philadelphia: chilton, 1961.


Reports of a large apelike creature in the United States and the Canadian provinces are to be found in the oral traditions of native tribes, the journals of early settlers, and accounts in regional frontier newspapers, but wide public attention was not called to the mysterious beast until the late 1950s when roadbuilding crews in the unmapped wilderness of the Bluff Creek area north of Eurka, California, began to report a large number of sightings of North America's own "abominable snowman." Once stories of giant humanlike monsters tossing around construction crews' small machinery and oil drums began hitting the wire services, hunters, hikers, and campers came forward with a seemingly endless number of stories about the shrill-squealing, seven-foot forest giant that they had for years been calling by such names as Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Wauk-Wauk, Oh-Mah, or Saskehavis.

In North America, the greatest number of sightings of Bigfoot have come from the Fraser River Valley, the Strait of Georgia, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia; the "Ape Canyon" region near Mt. St. Helens in southwestern Washington; the Three Sisters Wilderness west of Bend, Oregon; and the area around the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation, especially the Bluff Creek watershed, northeast of Eureka, California. In recent years, extremely convincing sightings of Bigfoot-type creatures have also been made in areas of New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida.

Reports of Bigfoot-type creatures in California go back to at least the 1840s when miners reported encountering giant two-legged beastlike monsters during the gold rush days. Sightings of the Oh-Mah, as the native tribes called them, continued sporadically until August 1958, when a construction crew was building a road through the rugged wilderness near Bluff Creek, Humboldt County, and discovered giant humanlike footprints in the ground around their equipment. For several mornings running, the men discovered that something had been disturbing their small equipment during the night. In one instance, an 800-pound tire and wheel from an earthmoving machine had been picked up and carried several yards across the compound. In another, a 300-pound drum of oil had been stolen from the camp, carried up a rocky mountain slope, and tossed into a deep canyon. And in each instance, only massive 16-inch footprints with a 50-to-60-inch stride offered any clue to the vandal's identity.

When media accounts of the huge footprints were released, people from the area began to step forward to exhibit their own plaster casts of massive, mysterious footprints and to relate their own frightening encounters with hairy giantsstories that they had repressed for decades for fear of being ridiculed. Not to be outdone, Canadians began telling of their own startling encounters with Sasquatch, a tribal name for Bigfoot, that had been circulating in the accounts of trappers, lumberjacks, and settlers in the Northwest Territories since the 1850s. Long before the frontier folk discovered the giant of the woods, the Sasquatch had become an integral element in many of the myths and legends of the native people.

Perhaps the most remarkable and most thoroughly documented account of a Sasquatch from those early days in Canada occurred in 1884 and was recorded in the Daily British Colonist, July 4, 1884. In the immediate vicinity of Number 4 tunnel, 20 miles from Yale, British Columbia, a group of railroad men captured a creature that could truly be called half-man and half-beast. The men called him "Jacko" and described him as looking much like a gorilla, standing about four feet, seven inches and weighing 127 pounds. The only sound that issued from him was a kind of half-bark and half-growl. Jacko was described as having long, black, strong hair and resembling a human being with the exception that his entire body, except his hands and feet, were covered with glossy hair about one inch long. His forearm was much longer than a man's forearm, and he possessed extraordinary strength.

The man who became Jacko's "keeper," George Telbury of Yale, announced his intention to take the man-beast to London, England, to exhibit him. All traces of Jacko vanished after the rash of news stories recounting the details of his capture.

On October 20, 1967, near Bluff Creek, north of Eureka, California, Bigfoot hunters Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin managed to shoot several feet of movie film of what appears to be a female Bigfoot. With its glossy black hair shining in the bright sun, the Bigfoot walks away from the camera with a stride that is human. It has pendulous breasts, and it looks back at the cameraman as it walks steadily toward a growth of trees. It does not appear to be frightened, but it is obvious that it wishes to avoid contact. Experts say that the creature in the filmstrip is over seven feet tall and estimate its weight at around 400 pounds. It left footprints 17 inches long, and it had a stride of 41 inches. Patterson and Gimlin felt that they had at last provided the scientific community and the world at large with proof of Bigfoot's existence.

After his examination of the Patterson-Gimlin film, Dr. John R. Napier, director of the Primate Biology Program of the Smithsonian Institution, commented that while he saw nothing that pointed conclusively to a hoax, he did express some reservations about the exaggerated, fluid motion of the creature. He also said that he thought the Bigfoot was a male, in spite of the pendulous breasts, because of the crest on its head, a signature of male primates.

Dr. Osman Hill, director of Yerkes Region Primate Research Center at Emory University, stated his opinion that the Bigfoot in the filmstrip was hominid (humanlike) rather than pongoid (apelike). If the being in the film was a hoax, Hill commented, it had been incredibly well done.

Technicians at the Documentary Film Department at Universal Pictures, Hollywood, agreed with the scientists' assessment and said that it would take them a couple of million dollars to duplicate the monster on the filmstrip. First, they stated, they would have to create a set of artificial muscles, train an actor to walk like the thing on the film, then place him in a gorilla skin.

Most scientists remained skeptical, and the controversy raged for 30 years. On October 19, 1997, just prior to a press release by the North American Science Institute that would announce their analyses that the creature depicted on the film was genuine, stories appeared in the media claiming that John Chambers, the academy award-winning makeup artist of The Planet of the Apes (1968), had been responsible for creating the gorilla suit that had fooled the monster hunters. According to Howard Berger of Hollywood's KNB Effects Group, it was common knowledge within the film industry that Chambers had designed the costume for friends of Patterson who wanted to play a joke on him. Mike McCracken Jr., an associate of Chambers, stated his opinion that he (Chambers) was responsible for designing the gorilla suit.

Roger Patterson died in 1972, never doubting that he had caught a real Bigfoot on film. And none of the individuals who allegedly asked John Chambers to design a gorilla costume in order to hoax Patterson have ever stepped forward and identified themselves. Chambers himself, who was living in seclusion in a Los Angeles nursing home when the story of the gorilla suit hoax broke, refused to confirm or deny the reports.

Chris Murphy, a Bigfoot researcher, told the Sunday Telegraph (October 19, 1997) that "very high computer enhancements of the film show conclusively that, whatever it was, it was not wearing a suit. The skin on the creature ripples as it walks."

Other Bigfoot experts have declared the Patterson-Gimlin film to be an authentic documentary of a genuine female hominoid. Two Russian scientists, Dmitri Bayanov and Igor Bourtsev, minutely analyzed every movement of the female Bigfoot on the controversial film and concluded that it had passed all their tests and their criteria of "distinctiveness, consistency, and naturalness." Who, they ask rhetorically in their chapter in The Sasquatch and Other Unknown Hominoids, "other than God or natural selection is sufficiently conversant with anatomy and bio-mechanics to 'design' a body which is perfectly harmonious in terms of structure and function?"

On September 22, 2000, a team of 14 researchers that had tracked the elusive Bigfoot for a week deep in the mountains of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington State found an extraordinary piece of evidence that may end all arguments about whether or not the creature exists. There, in a muddy wallow near Mt. Adams, was an imprint of Bigfoot's hair-covered lower body as it lay on its side, apparently reaching over to get some fruit. Thermal imaging equipment confirmed that the impression made by the massive body was only a few hours old.

The team of Bigfoot hunters who discovered the imprintDr. LeRoy Fish, a retired wildlife ecologist with a doctorate in zoology; Derek Randles, a landscape architect; and Richard Noll, a tooling metrologistnext made a plaster cast of what appeared to be impressions of the creature's left forearm, hip, thigh, and heel. More than 200 pounds of plaster were needed to acquire a complete 3-1/2 x 5-foot cast of the imprint. Dr. Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University stated that the imprint had definitely not been made by a human getting into the mud wallow.

On October 23, Idaho State University issued a press release stating that a team of investigators, including Dr. Meldrum; Dr. Grover Krantz, retired physical anthropologist from Washington State University; Dr. John Bindernagel, Canadian wildlife biologist; John Green, retired Canadian author and longtime Bigfoot hunter; and Dr. Ron Brown, exotic animal handler and health care administrator, had examined the plaster cast obtained from the mud wallow and agreed that it could not be "attributed to any commonly known Northwest animal and may present an unknown primate."

According to the university press release, after the cast had been cleaned, "extensive impressions of hair on the buttock and thigh surfaces and a fringe of longer hair along the forearm were evident." In addition, Meldrum, associate professor of anatomy and anthropology, identified what appeared to be "skin ridge patterns on the heel, comparable to fingerprints, that are characteristic of primates."

While the cast may not prove without question the existence of a species of North American ape, Meldrum said that it "constitutes significant and compelling new evidence that will hopefully stimulate further serious research and investigation into the presence of these primates in the Northwest mountains and elsewhere."

Delving Deeper

Bord, Janet, and Colin Bord. Unexplained Mysteries of the 20th Century. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989.

Byrne, Peter. The Search for Big Foot: Monster, Myth or Man? Washington, D.C.: Acropolis Books, 1976.

Coleman, Loren. Mysterious America. Boston: Faber & Faber, 1985.

. "Top Cryptozoolgical Stories of the Year 2001." The Anomalist, January 4, 2001. [Online] http://www.anomalist.com/features/topcz2001.html.

Green, John. On the Track of the Bigfoot. New York: Ballantine Books, 1973.

Sanderson, Ivan T. Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life. Philadelphia: Chilton, 1961.

Orang Pendek

Sumatra has an ancient tradition of apemen known as orang pendek ("little man") or orangutan ("man of the woods"), sometimes referred to as the "Sumatran Yeti." According to tradition, the first recorded sighting of orang pendek dates back to 1295 when Marco Polo (12541324) saw it on one of his expeditions to the island. While many naturalists regard the tales of the orang pendek as native folklore, in 1916 Dr. Edward Jacobson wrote in a Dutch scientific journal of his encounter with one of the creatures. Since Jacobson's sighting, there have been many accounts of people seeing the orang pendek, including that of a Mr. van Herwaarden, who spotted one while scouting the forests for good lumber in 1923. Most witnesses describe the creature as standing about five feet tall and as being covered with short dark hair. It is definitely bipedal, and its arms are proportioned more like that of a human, rather than the extended arms of an ape. Remarkably, the orang pendeks have been heard conversing with one another in some unintelligible language.

Debbie Martyr, former editor of a London newspaper, went in search of the elusive Sumatran apeman and returned in March 1995 with numerous consistent eyewitness accounts of the orang pendek and plaster casts of its footprints. She stated that she even saw the creature for herself on three occasions. The first time that she sighted the orang pendek, she admitted that she was so shocked that she didn't snap a picture. She hadn't really expected to see an actual bipedal erect primate. She remarked that the orang pendek is wonderfully camouflaged because its colors correspond to those of the forest floorbeige, tawny, rust red, yellow tan, and chocolate brown. If the creature remains immobile, she said, it is impossible to see.

The orang pendek may be the most likely of the Bigfoot-type creatures to be proved to be real. Too many scientists have heard its calls, followed its trails through the jungle, and caught glimpses of the creature. On October 29, 2001, the London Times reported that an early analysis of hair samples taken by a British expedition to the mountain rainforest near Gunung Kerinci in western Sumatra did not appear to have come from any known primate in the area. Adam Davies, the leader of the expedition, stated that he had no doubt that orang pendek truly exists.

Delving Deeper

Henderson, Mark. "Team 'Find Traces of Sumatran Yeti.'" The Times, October 29, 2001. [Online] http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,2-2001373 161,00.html.

Heuvelmans, Bernard. On the Track of Unknown Animals. New York: Hill and Wang, 1958.

"Man-Beast Hunts in the Far East." Fortean Times 83 (October/November 1995): 1819.

Martyr, Deborah. "An Investigation of the Orang-Pendek, the 'Short Man' of Sumatra." Cryptozoology 9 (1990): 5765.

Sanderson, Ivan T. Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life. Philadelphia: Chilton, 1961.

Skunk Ape

With the rash of media reports about Bigfoot sightings beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Floridians began coming forward to make their encounters with their "Skunk Ape" known. As with Bigfoot in the Northwestern United States and Sasquatch in Canada, legends of an apelike monster that haunts the more remote areas of Florida have been in circulation since the early days of that state's history. And as with the legends of the hairy giants of the North, members of Native American tribes insisted the centuries-old tales were true.

On December 5, 1966, Orlando Sentinel staff writer Elvis Lane wrote about two hunters who claimed to have wounded the monster. Although it left a trail of blood, the creatureat that time dubbed the "Florida Sandman," in contrast to the "Abominable Snowman"seemed relatively unscathed by their volley, and the two men fled in the opposite direction. In another report, Lane described how the son of a ranch hand had gone to investigate the sounds of someone opening their garage and had surprised the hairy giant raising the door. When the young man shouted his alarm, the monster threw a heavy tire at him.

Area residents also complained about the Sandman or Skunk Ape peeping in their windows at night. Others said that they had had garbage cans upset by a huge creature that retreated into the night when they clicked on yardlights. The more observant eyewitnesses described the nocturnal marauder as standing between six and seven feet tall and weighing somewhere between 300 and 400 pounds. Nearly every witness mentioned the terrible stench that accompanied the giant intruder.

According to some of its pursuers, the creature lives in muddy and abandoned alligator caves deep in the steamy Everglades swamp. The alligators leave the rotting remains of their kills behind to putrefy in the heat of their hideaways, and the Skunk Apes absorb the stench into their hair, thus accounting for their awful smell. Although the Skunk Ape is said to be primarily a vegetarian and often steals produce from area gardens, Everglades hunters claim to have seen the giant kill a deer and split open its belly to get at the liver and entrails.

In 1980, large footprints, complete with the impression of toes, were found in the Ocala National Forest. The sheriff's department estimated that the unknown creature that had made the prints was about 10 feet tall and weighed around 1,000 pounds.

On Monday evening, July 21, 1997, Vince Doerr, chief of the Ochopee Fire Central District, told the Miami Herald that he had seen "a brown-looking tall thing" run across the road ahead of him. He was certain that the thing was not a bear. Ochopee borders the Everglades, and a few days after Doerr's sighting, a group of six British tourists and their guide, Dan Rowland, saw a Skunk Ape on Turner River Road, just north of the town. According to Rowland's statement in the Miami Herald (July 28, 1997), the unknown apelike creature was between six and seven feet tall, "flat-faced, broad-shouldered, covered with long brown hair or fur and reeking of skunk." The seven witnesses observed the Skunk Ape "in a slough covered with bald cypress trees." Rowland added that "it loped along like a big monkey or gorilla, then it disappeared into the woods."

In February 2001, the Sarasota Sheriff's Department received an anonymous letter containing some photographs of an apelike creature that had been taken by a woman who feared that an orangutan was running loose in the area of Myakka State Park and might harm members of her family. Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, who examined the pictures along with animal welfare specialist David Barkasy, said that they appeared to be good graphic evidence for the unknown anthropoid known as the Florida Skunk Ape. According to Coleman, "The photographs clearly show a large, upright dark orangutan-like animal among the palmettos, showing eye-shine and typical anthropoid behavior of fright due to the woman's flash camera."

Delving Deeper

Coleman, Loren. Mysterious America. Boston: Faber & Faber, 1985.

. "Top Cryptozoolgical Stories of the Year 2001." The Anomalist, January 4, 2001. [Online] http://www.anomalist.com/features/topcz2001.html.

Otto, Steve. "Absolute Kinda Irrefutable Proof of Skunk Ape." Tampa Tribune, February 13, 2001. [Online] http://news.tbo.com/news/MGACIN7J3JC.html.

Sanderson, Ivan T. Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life. Philadelphia: Chilton, 1961.


Tales of hairy monsters existing in the Asian wilderness can be found in the writings of several venerable Chinese scholars who linked these creatures to the "time of the dragon," the presumed genesis of Asian civilization. Despite an occasional report by a European visitor to the region, the apelike creatures did not receive any sort of widespread notoriety until the beginning of the twentieth century.

During an expedition into the Himalayas in 1906, botanist H. J. Elwes was astonished to glimpse a hairy figure racing across a field of snow below him. The scientific establishment dismissed his report until several scholars discovered the journals of Major Lawrence Waddell, who, during his 1887 expedition, reported having found humanlike tracks in the snow.

The First Everest Expedition was launched in 1921, led by Colonel C. K. Howard-Bury. The climbing party of six British men and 26 native porters was crawling slowly up the north face of Everest, near the Lhakpa La Pass, when Howard-Bury spotted tracks in the morning snow. Most of them were easily recognizable as those of rabbits or foxes, but one set of indentations was peculiar, appearing as if a man walking barefoot had made them. A Sherpa guide identified the tracks as belonging to the Yeti or the "mehteh kangmi," the man-beast of the mountains who lived in the snow.

Later, when Howard-Bury telegraphed his reports to Calcutta, he mentioned the incident briefly. Unfortunately, the telegraphic facilities were very primitive and the words "mehteh kangmi" were garbled into "metch kangmi." The expedition's assistants in Calcutta were confused by the term and asked a Calcutta newspaper columnist to translate the term. The columnist told them that "metch" was a term of extreme disgust, so it might be translated as the "horrible snowman" or the "abominable snowman."

A reporter for one of England's most sensational newspapers was in the office when the telegram was translated. He raced for the cable office in Calcutta, wiring his paper that the First Everest Expedition had encountered a frightening creature known as the "abominable snowman." Thus the hairy wild men of the Himalayas were named in error and the term has persisted to this day. When Howard-Bury and his unsuccessful mountain climbers admitted defeat on Mt. Everest, they returned to civilization and discovered that newspaper reporters were eager for more information about the abominable snowmen.

In the 1930s scientists studied the reports of explorer Frank Smythe's discovery of Yeti tracks in the snow at 14,000 feet. The footprints measured 13 inches in length and were five inches wide. Famed mountaineer Eric E. Shipton claimed that he saw similar tracks on his expedition to Everest in 1936.

World War II (193945) stopped mountaineering and scientific exploration of the formidable Himalayas, but in 1942, Slavomir Rawicz and four other men escaped from a Communist prison camp in Siberia and struck out on a "long walk" toward India. They reported meeting two Yeti during their incredible journey.

Sightings of Yeti mushroomed in the 1950s as several scientists seriously investigated the snowmen. In 1950, natives reported Yeti in three different locations, including a sighting by a large group of monks near Thyangboche. A Yeti also ventured out of the forest and hung around the Thyangboche Monastery until it was finally chased away by monks who blew bugles, struck gongs, and shrieked at it. The following year, Eric Shipton discovered tracks and photographed them while on his way to Everest with an expedition.

In 1952, Sir Edmund Hillary and George Lowe found "snowman" hair in a high mountain pass, and tracks were reported by a Swiss expedition. In 1954, an expedition financed by the London Daily Mail set out to capture a Yeti. They found tracks in several different locations, but returned without their prize. Three other scientific groups also reported finding tracks.

In 1957, the first expedition sponsored by the American millionaire Tom Slick found hair and footprints at several locations. Two porters said Yeti had been sighted in those regions earlier that year. Peter and Bryan Bryne said they had seen a snowman when the Slick Expedition was in the Arun Valley. In 1958, Gerald Russell and two porters with the Second Slick Expedition encountered a small snowman near a river, and in the following year, tracks were reported by the Third Slick Expedition, as well as by members of a Japanese expedition.

Sir Edmund Hillary, the man who conquered Mt. Everest, created a sensation when he returned with the alleged scalp of a Yeti. Hillary later proved that the so-called scalp was actually goat skin, and he declared that snowman tracks were made by foxes, bears, and other animals that became enlarged when the snow is melted by the sun.

In August 1981, Soviet mountain climber Igor Tatsl told the Moscow News Weekly that he and his fellow climbers had seen a Yeti and that they had attempted a friendly, spontaneous contact with the creature. Tatsl went on to state that his team had made a plaster cast of an imprint of a Yeti's footprint that they had found on a tributary of the Varzog River. This particular river rushes through the Gissar Mountains in the Pamiro-Alai range of Tadzhik in Central Asia. In Tatsl's considered opinion the Yeti may quite likely be humankind's closest evolutionary relative. He further believed that their senses were more highly developed than those of the human species.

Russian scientists have sponsored serious efforts to track down the Yeti for more than a quarter of a century. Although each Russian province may have its own name for the mysterious giants of the mountainin Dagestan, "kaptar"; in Azerbaijan, "mesheadam"; in Georgia, "tkys-katsi"; while the Chechens, Ingushes, Kabardins, and Balkars call it the "almasti"each startled eyewitness seems to describe the same strange beast.

The Chinese call the snowman "yeren," and in 1977, 1980, and 1982, expeditions searching for the manbeast set out to track down their quarry in the Shennongjia Forest Park in western Hubei province. In September 1993, a group of Chinese engineers claimed to have seen three yeren walking on trails in the Shennongjia Forest Park.

In October 1994, the Chinese government established the Committee for the Search of Strange and Rare Creatures, including among its members specialists in vertebrate paleontology and palaeanthropology. A loose consensus among interested members from the Chinese Academy of Sciences maintains that the yeren are some species of unknown primates. The largest cast of an alleged wildman footprint is 16 inches long, encouraging estimates that the yeren itself would stand more than seven feet tall and weigh as much as 660 pounds. The scientific committee has also studied and examined eight hair specimens said to have come from yeren ranging through China and Tibet. The analyses of the hairs, varying in color from the black collected in Yunnan province and the white collected in Tibet to the reddish brown from Hubei, indicate a nonhuman source, but no known animal.

In April 1995, a yeren expedition of 30 members led by Professor Yuan Zhengxin set out for the Hubei mountains. Although the enthusiastic Professor Zhengxin expressed confidence that the well-equipped group would capture a yeren within three years, by July most of the expedition members had returned to Beijing with little more than some possible hair samples to show for their three-month safari.

In January 1999, Feng Zuoguian, a zoologist for the Chinese Academy of Sciences, announced through the state-run China Daily newspaper that China was officially proclaiming its firm opposition to any outsiders who attempted to organize expeditions to capture the Yeti or the yeren. According to the official proclamation, after much debate in December 1998 the members of the Chinese scientific community had decreed once and for all that the creatures do not exist.

However, in spite of the official pronouncement from the Chinese Academy of Sciences that neither the Yeti nor the yeren exist, anthropologist Zhou Guoxing reminded his colleagues that unidentifiable hair specimens and 16-inch casts of footprints had been found during scientific expeditions to the Shennongjia region. In his opinion, even if 95 percent of the reports on the existence of the wild man are not credible, it remains necessary for scientists to study the remaining five percent.

In April 2001, British scientists on the trail of the Yeti announced the best evidence yet for the existence of the mysterious creature of the Himalayasa sample of hair that proved impossible to classify genetically. Dr. Rob McCall, a zoologist, removed strands of the Yeti hair from the hollow of a tree and brought them back to Britain to be analyzed. Dr. Bryan Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics at the Oxford Institute of Molecular Medicine, one of the world's leading authorities on DNA analysis, stated that they could not identify the DNA that they had discovered in the hair and that they had never before encountered DNA that they couldn't recognize.

Delving Deeper

Bord, Janet, and Colin Bord. Unexplained Mysteries of the 20th Century. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989.

Dash, Mike. Borderlands. New York: Dell Books, 2000.

Henderson, Mark. "'Yeti's hair' Defies DNA Analysis." The Times, April 2, 2001. [Online] http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,2-108351,00.html.

Heuvelmans, Bernard. On the Track of Unknown Animals. New York: Hill and Wang, 1958.

Sanderson, Ivan T. Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life. Philadelphia: Chilton, 1961.