Kaptar

Wiidm an of West Asia.

Etymology: Avar (North East Caucasian) word.

Variant names: Kara-pishik, Keetar, Kheeter, Meshe-adam (Azerbaijani/Turkic, "forest man"), Tukhli-adam, Veshshi-adam.

Physical description: Height, 5-7 feet. Covered in 1-inch-long hair. Color varies from reddish-brown in smaller individuals to dark brown, dark gray, black, and silvered. Head-hair reaches to shoulders. Only slightly hairy on the face. Wide shoulders. Slightly stoop-shouldered. Long arms. Palms and soles free of hair. Fingers thick and large. Females have breasts.

Behavior: Bipedal. Cry consists of several repeated high- and low-pitched sounds, somewhat plaintive. Prefers the cold; sweats in a warm environment. Harbors body lice unlike those found on humans. Bathes in rivers.

Tracks: Length, 9-10 inches. Large big toe, 3.5 inches long. Other four toes slightly splayed. Narrower at the heel.

Distribution: Dagestan Republic, Russia; Caucasus Mountains, Azerbaijan.

Significant sightings: In December 1941, Lt. Col. Vazghen Sergeyevich Karapetian of the Soviet Army Medical Corps inspected a captured wildman 18 miles from Buynaksk in Dagestan, Russia. It was brought to him because local authorities thought it might be a German spy in disguise. The creature was nearly 6 feet tall and covered with shaggy, brown fur like a bear's. Karapetian gave his opinion it was a wildman and no spy, and he never heard anything about the incident again.

In July 1957, V. K. Leontiev was inspecting game in an area near the head of the Jurmut River, Dagestan, when he came across huge footprints in the snow. That night, he heard something make a strange cry, and the next day, he saw and took a shot at a 7-foot-tall Kaptar. He pursued it for several minutes, but it outpaced him up a steep slope. He measured and sketched the many prints it left behind.

On August 20, 1959, veterinarian Ramazan Omarov encountered a male Kaptar on a mountain path in Dagestan.

On September 18, 1959, anthropologists Yuri I. Merezhinskiy and Marie-Jeanne Kofman

A KAPTAR, or wildman, examined in 1941 by Lt. Col. Karapetian of the Russian Army Medical Corps in the Caucasus Mountains. (Fortean Picture Library)

staked out a spot near Balakon in northwestern Azerbaijan in the hopes of photographing an albino Kaptar said to frequent the area. They were accompanied by an old hunter named Hajji Magoma. Soon, they saw and heard the white-haired creature splashing in a stream and making laughing noises. Instead of taking its picture, however, Merezhinskiy shot at it with a revolver he had concealed. The Kaptar escaped, and Magoma never took visitors back to the area.

Possible explanation: Hominid fossils from this region are sparse but promising. An archaic human mandible has been found at Azych, Azerbaijan, in association with Early Paleolithic hand axes. Neanderthal toolkits occur in several caves in the region, and a probable Homo erectus mandible 1.5 million-900,000 years old was found in 1991 at Dmanisi in Georgia.

Sources: Boris F. Porshnev and A. A. Shmakov, eds., Informatsionnye materialy, Komissii po Izucheniyu Voprosa o "Snezhnom Cheloveke," 4 vols. (Moscow: Akademiia Nauk SSSR, 1958-1959); Ivan T. Sanderson, Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life (Philadelphia: Chilton, 1961), pp. 289-296; Tekhnika Molodezhi, 1966, no. 8; Boris F. Porshnev, "Problema reliktovykh paleoantropov," Sovetskaia Etnografiia 2 (1969): 115-130; Bernard Heuvelmans and Boris F. Porshnev, L'homme de Neanderthal est toujours vivant (Paris: Plon, 1974), pp. 164170; Dmitri Bayanov, In the Footsteps of the Russian Snowman (Moscow: Crypto-Logos, 1996), pp. 15-18, 24, 31-33.

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