Kikomba

Wiidm an of Central Africa.

Etymology: Konjo, Nyanga, and Kanu (Bantu) word.

Scientific names: Paranthropus congensis, pro posed by Charles Cordier in 1963; Kikomba leloupi, suggested by Bernard Heuvelmans in 1980.

Variant names: Abamaanji, Apamandi (Komo/Bantu), Kakundakari (possibly the female or young individuals), Tshingombe (Tembo/Bantu), Zaluzugu (Lega-Mwenga/ Bantu).

Physical description: Height, 5 feet 2 inches. Light skin. Covered in black hair. Long, black head-hair. Broad shoulders. Pronounced sexual dimorphism, if the Kakundakari is indeed the female.

Behavior: Bipedal. Uses a walking stick. Holds its long hair away from its eyes while walking. Howls more terrifyingly than a gorilla. Sometimes screams or barks like a Water chevrotain (Hyemoschus aquaticus). Steals game from traps. Eats honey from beehives, roots, and ginger-fruit. Knocks down trees in search of insects. Said to attack humans either by hitting them with its fists or an old axe handle or by wrestling.

Tracks: Length, 8-12 inches. Second toe larger than the first and third.

Distribution: Kivu Region, Democratic Republic of the Congo; possibly in Kenya, if it corresponds to the cryptid designated by Jacqueline Roumeguere-Eberhardt as hominid X1.

Significant sighting: In January 1960, a local man encountered a Kikomba along a path near the Umate gold mine in a mountainous area of Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Charles Cordier drove 45 miles to the spot, where he found a humanlike footprint 8 inches long. Another time, near Tulakwa, he found several tracks 12 inches long. Possible explanations:

(1) A large, solitary male Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes).

(2) Surviving robust australopith, suggested by Bernard Heuvelmans. Australopiths were a family of Pliocene fossil hominids that persisted into the Early Pleistocene, 4.4-1.4 million years ago. More than 2,000 individual fossils are known. Three species of "robust" hominids are known in the genus Paranthropus: P. aethiopicus (East Africa), P. boisei (East Africa), and P.

274 kigezi turaco robustus (South Africa). Five other "gracile" species have been placed in the genus Australopithecus. The distinction between gracile and robust genera is now seen as unwarranted, since body size is largely speculative. Robustness originally referred to the heavy structure of the skulls. Paranthropus had apelike skulls, sagittal crests anchoring massive jaw muscles, small incisors and canine teeth, enormous cheek teeth, and molarized bicuspids. They were vegetarians, based on the molar size, and probably ate leaves, fruit, tubers, seeds, and insects. P. robustus's cranial capacity was 450-550 milliliters. The few postcranial bones that have been found indicate a wide range of body sizes, probably due to sexual dimorphism. Paranthropus may have had the ability to manipulate stone tools, which some think makes them responsible for the early Oldowan tool industry, dating from 2.6-2.5 million years ago. (3) Surviving Homo ergaster, the first known hominid with an essentially human body form. A complete skeleton was discovered in West Turkana, Kenya, in 1984. It lived 1.8-1.5 million years ago in East Africa. Its close resemblance to the Asian Homo erectus has led some to equate the two. Adults may have been 5 feet 7 inches tall, with slender torsos, long limbs, and narrow hips and shoulders. The cranium was high and rounded, with distinct browridges. The chewing teeth were smaller than those of Homo habilis. Cranial capacity was 850 milliliters. A meat-eater, ergaster may have been the first hominid to fashion a hand axe, perhaps 1.5 million years ago (Acheulean culture). Sources: Charles Cordier, "Deux anthropoïdes inconnus marchant debout, au Congo ex-Belge," Genus 29 (1963): 2-10; Charles Cordier, "Animaux inconnus au Congo," Zoo 38 (April 1973): 185-191; Bernard Heuvelmans, Les bêtes humaines d'Afrique (Paris: Plon, 1980), pp. 570-598; Jacqueline Roumeguère-Eberhardt, Les hominidés non-identifiés des forêts d'Afrique: Dossier X (Paris: Robert Laffont, 1990).

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