Physical Descriptionchimpanzee

An odd lot of mystery PRIMATES reported mostly in the southeastern and midwestern United States.

Etymology: Term used by Loren Coleman since the 1960s to distinguish these creatures from Bigfoot or Hairy Bipeds. Abbreviated as Nape (Napes, plural).

Variant names: Abominable chicken man (in Oklahoma), Brush ape, Fouke monster, Knobby (in North Carolina), Little red men of the Delta, Manimal, OLD SHEFF, Skunk Ape, Traverspine Gorilla.

Physical description: Chimpanzee- or gorillalike. Height, 4-7 feet. Brown to black hair, occasionally gray or white. Green eyes. Long arms. No tail.

Behavior: Nocturnal. Stooping gait. Walks bipedally as well as on all fours. Can leap 20-40 feet in a single bound. Swims readily. Call is a trumpeting howl or a high-pitched screech. Musky odor.

Tracks: Length, 7-11 inches. Up to 7 inches across. Some show an opposed big toe, set at nearly right angles to the smaller toes. Others are just knuckle prints or are three-toed. Habitat: Swamplands and riverine forests. Distribution: A partial list of places where North American apes have been reported follows:

Alabama—Clanton, Walnut Creek.

Arkansas—Cash, Central, Fouke, Hamburg, Mountain Home.

California—Mount Tamalpais.

Florida—Anclote River, Brooksville, Everglades, Hernando County.

Illinois—Decatur, Elizabeth, Enfield, Gum Creek, Prairie du Long Creek.

Indiana—Boone County, Hardin Ridge Recreation Area, Harrison County, Lake Monroe.

Iowa—Humboldt County, Lockridge.

Labrador, Canada—Traverspine River.

Kansas—Crawford County.

Kentucky—Trimble County.

Louisiana—Crowley.

Missouri—Kinloch.

New Jersey—Boonton.

New York—Huntington, Mineola.

North Carolina—Toluca.

Ohio—Gallipolis, Lorain, Risingsun.

Oklahoma—Calumet, El Reno, Lawton.

Pennsylvania—Adams County, Blair County, Downington, Penn Hills, Snyder County, verona, York County.

Tennessee—Jackson.

Texas—Gatesville.

Significant sightings: In January 1869, near Gallipolis, Ohio, a "gorilla" attacked a man riding in a carriage.

Gorillas were reported in Snyder, Adams, and York Counties of south-central Pennsylvania from December 1920 to February 1921.

In June 1931, a 4-foot gorilla was reported at a Lewis and valentine's nursery near Mineola, Long Island, New York. Armed posses combed the woods but found only some apparently bipedal tracks with an opposed big toe. Scattered reports continued in the neighborhood until mid-July.

In the summer of 1941, Rev. Lepton Harpole was hunting along Gum Creek near Mount vernon, Illinois, when he saw a baboonlike animal jump down from a tree and walk on two legs toward him. He struck it with his rifle and fired shots to scare it away. For the next few months, residents heard terrifying screams at night in the woods along various creeks in Jackson and Okaw Counties, but hunting parties failed to find anything but occasional tracks.

Zack Clothier's reconstruction of the foot of a NORTH AMERICAN APE. Modeled from a photograph of a footprint discovered by Loren Coleman in the summer of1962, in a dry side branch of Steven's Creek, near Decatur, Illinois. (Loren Coleman)

Gorilla-like footprints found near El Reno, Oklahoma, in December 1970 after a mystery animal raided a chicken coop. (Lawrence Curtis)

In 1957, James Meacham saw a small ape with reddish-orange fur in a tree near Jackson, Tennessee. He watched it for five minutes before he fired fourteen rifle bullets into it at close range, most of which apparently hit. The animal did not budge until Meacham walked toward it, then it quickly moved off through the trees.

In the spring of 1962, Loren Coleman discovered an apelike footprint in a dry creek bed near Decatur, Illinois. It was 10 inches long and had a fully opposed large toe.

Ralph Chambers, of Elfers, Florida, saw an apelike animal several times along the Anclote River in 1966 and 1967. It had a putrid odor that alternately terrified and enraged his dogs.

Late at night on May 1, 1971, Mrs. Bobby Ford of Fouke, Arkansas, saw a hairy, clawed hand reaching through the front window of her home. She screamed, and her husband ran outside and took a potshot at something that walked on two legs. The local policeman arrived and found some catlike tracks. Later the same night, the 6-foot, black-haired creature returned to lurk around the house and grabbed Bobby Ford, who panicked and ran inside, knocking down the door and knocking himself unconscious. Three-toed tracks turned up on June 14 in a soybean field southeast of town.

On April 25, 1973, Henry McDaniel and his wife, of Enfield, Illinois, shot at a grayish, monkeylike animal with short arms and pink eyes that jumped 50 feet in three leaps.

Some local boys were riding motorbikes on trails in the Penn Hills area outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 22, 1973, when they heard something large moving in the woods nearby. The next day, a father of one of the boys, named Baird, found some fresh, apelike tracks, 11 inches long, with an opposed toe.

On January 30, 2002, Penny Howell and three friends saw a shaggy, black-haired, apelike animal about 5 feet tall and standing in a crouch south of Lake Monroe, Indiana. It had a patch of white fur on its head and neck. When it saw them, it turned and moved into the woods. It left four-footed tracks with claws, about 5 inches long.

Present status: Distinctions between North American apes, Devil Monkeys, Hairy Bipeds, and BlGFOOT are nebulous and possibly arbitrary. In general, North American apes are tailless and resemble chimpanzees; DEVIL MONKEYS are tailed and resemble baboons; HAIRY Bipeds cover a wide range of descriptions from apes to wildmen and paranormal entities; BlG-FOOT is a robust, tall hominid with a range that seems restricted to the Pacific Northwest. Possible explanations:

(1) Feral Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) escaped from zoos or traveling circuses or transported to the United States on slave ships in the nineteenth century. However, chimps and other apes do not swim, and they avoid water.

(2) Feral pet monkeys, though these would have tails and would not run on two legs.

(3) A misidentified American black bear (Ursus americanus).

(4) A surviving Miocene ape, Dryopithecus, as suggested by Loren Coleman. Dryopithecus was a European primate that lived 13-9 million years ago in several localities between Spain and the Caucasus. Recent evidence indicates that it diverged from the primate line shortly before Gigantopithecus and the ancestors of the Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus). It had robust limbs, a small stature, and an undeveloped browridge. Its appearance in the New World would require an anthropological paradigm shift.

Sources: Friedrich Gerstäcker, Western Lands and Western Waters (London: S. O. Beeton, 1864); "A Gorilla in Ohio," Mankato (Minn.) Weekly Record, January 23, 1869; Jesse W. Harris, "Myths and Legends from Southern Illinois," Hoosier Folklore 5 (March 1946): 14-20; Jerome Clark, "'Manimals' Make Tracks in Oklahoma," Fate 24 (September 1971): 60-67; "Arkansas Has a Problem," Pursuit 4 (October 1971): 89-90; The Legend ofBoggy Creek (film), dir. Charles B. Pierce (Howco International Pictures, 1972); Allen V. Noe, "ABSMal Affairs in Pennsylvania and Elsewhere," Pursuit, no. 24 (October 1973): 84-89; Smokey Crabtree, Smokey and the Monster (Fouke, Ark.: Days Creek Production, 1974); Mark A. Hall, "Stories of 'Bigfoot' in Iowa during 1978 as Drawn from Newspaper Accounts," Minnesota Archeologist 38 (1979): 2-17; Jennie Palmer, "Knobby: Where Is He? What Is He?" Gastonia (N.C.) Gazette, January 29, 1979; Charlotte (N.C.) News, January 4-March 13, 1979; Loren Coleman, "The Occurrence of Wild Apes in North America," in Vladimir Markotic and Grover Krantz, eds., The Sasquatch and Other Unknown Hominoids (Calgary, Canada: Western Publishers, 1984), pp. 149-173; John Robert Colombo, Mysterious Canada (Toronto, Canada: Doubleday, 1988); Mark A. Hall, "The Yeti," Wonders 2, no. 4 (December 1993): 74, 88-92; Chad Arment, "Friedrich Gerstäcker's 'Wild Men of the Woods,'" North American BioFortean Review 1, no. 1 (April 1999): 22-25, http://www.strangeark.com/nabr/ NABR1.pdf; Chad Arment, "A Pennsylvania 'Gorilla' Flap," North American BioFortean Review 2, no. 2 (2000): 22-25, http://www. strangeark.com/nabr/NABR4.pdf; Loren Coleman, Mysterious America, rev. ed. (New York: Paraview, 2001), pp. 184-187, 206-220; Sunni Thibodeau, "The Fouke Monster: 30 Years Later," Texarkana (Tex.) Gazette, June 24, 2001.

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