Wildman of West Asia.

Etymology: Kabardian (Circassian) word, said to mean "forest man." Seemingly derivative of the Mongolian Almas; possibly borrowed from the Mongolian-speaking Kalmyks to the north in Kalmykia.

Variant names: Almasty, Gubganana (for the female).

Physical description: Height, 5-6 feet. Weight, up to 500 pounds. Reddish, shaggy body-hair. Long, tangled head-hair. Slanted and reddish eyes. Flattened nose. Prominent cheekbones. Receding lower jaw. Females have breasts. Short, bowed legs. Splayed feet. Babies are allegedly born pink and hairless but are covered in short hair by the age of one.

Behavior: Active primarily at dusk and at night; sleeps in the daytime. Seen most frequently in July and August. Often mumbles. Call is a cry of tremendous power. Extremely bad smell. Omnivorous but primarily vegetarian, liking grasses, especially hemp and corn, and melons and cherries. Also known to eat frogs, lizards, rats, horse dung (possibly for the salt content), and the placenta of domestic animals. Rests in chance refuges in the winter (empty cabins, barns) and makes nests of weeds, rags, leaves, and grass in the summer. Has been observed braiding horse's manes. Sometimes wears tattered clothing around the waist, apparently acquired from local people.

Habitat: Remote mountains and woodlands.

Distribution: The Russian Caucasus Mountains, from Abkhazia in Georgia and the Kabardin-Balkar Republic in the west, south to Armenia, and east through the Dagestan Republic to Azerbaijan.

Significant sightings: Erjib Koshokoyev and other policemen nearly trapped a female in a hemp field in the Caucasus Mountains south of Nal'chik in October 1944.

In 1956, N. Ya. Serikova was staying at a collective farm in the zolsk area of the Kabardin-Balkar Republic, Russia. She was listening to the sounds of a wedding party next door when an Almasti came into the room, screeched twice, and left the hut, slamming the door behind it. Apparently, it frequented a nearby house, where an old woman had befriended it.

Russian researcher Marie-Jeanne Kofman found a set of tracks in the Dolina Narzanov Valley in the north Caucasus in March 1978.

While he remained hidden in a barn in Ku-ruko ravine, Kabardin-Balkar Republic, Russia, on August 25, 1991, biologist Gregory Panchenko observed an Almasti enter through a window and plait a horse's mane. The horse did not offer any resistance. After a short time, during which it made high-pitched, twittering sounds, the Almasti departed through an open window above the barn door. Panchenko verified that the horse's mane had new and clumsily plaited braids that were not there the day before.

In the summer of 1992, French filmmaker Sylvain Pallix and Marie-Jeanne Kofman orga nized an expedition to the Kabardin-Balkar Republic under the auspices of the Russian Society of Cryptozoology to investigate recent Almasti reports. Although the organizers had a falling out, the French team managed to get some fieldwork done with the help of Kabardinian teacher Muaed Mysyrjan. Eyewitness Doucha Apsikova took the team to the place where she had seen an Almasti only a few days previously. Researcher Andrei Kozlov made plaster casts of the footprints found at the site.

Possible explanations: Though not a particularly rich region for fossil hominids, the area does have Homo erectus (Dmanisi in Georgia), archaic human (Azych in Azerbaijan), and Neanderthal (Sakhazia and Dzhruchula) sites.

Sources: Marie-Jeanne Kofman, "Sledy ostaiutsia," Nauka i Religiia, 1968, no. 4, pp. 105-124; Odette Tchernine, The Yeti (London: Neville Spearman, 1970), pp. 18-23, 159-165; Bernard Heuvelmans and Boris F. Porshnev, L'homme de NĂ©anderthal est toujours vivant (Paris: Plon, 1974), pp. 178-190; John Colarusso, "Ethnographic information on a Wild Man of the Caucasus," in Marjorie Halpin and Michael M. Ames, eds., Manlike Monsters on Trial (Vancouver, Canada: University of British Columbia Press, 1980), pp. 255-264; Myra Shackley, Still Living? Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1983), pp. 109-116; Marie-Jeanne Kofman, "Brief Ecological Description of the Caucasus Relic Hominoid (Almasti) Based on Oral Reports by Local inhabitants and on Field investigations," in Vladimir Markotic and Grover Krantz, eds., The Sasquatch and Other Unknown Hominoids (Calgary, Alta., Canada: Western Publishers, 1984), pp. 76-86; "Interview: Does a Wildman Exist in the Caucasus? A Soviet Investigator Gives Her Views," ISC Newsletter 7, no. 2 (Summer 1988): 1-4; Marie-Jeanne Kofman, "L'Almasty, yeti du Caucase," Archaeologia, June 1991, pp. 24-43; Dmitri Bayanov, In the Footsteps of the Russian Snowman (Moscow: Crypto-Logos, 1996), pp. 24-31, 39-42, 53-62; Hans-M. Beyer, "With the President in the Caucasus," 1996, http://www.stgr-primates. de/caucasus1996.html; Anatoli Schmidt, Karl

C. Beyer, and Andreas Braun, "The Koffmann-Pallix-Expedition Almasty 92 in 1992," 1999,

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