Wildman of East Asia.
Etymology: Mandarin Chinese (Sino-Tibetan), "wild man."
Scientific names: Pongo erectus and Yeren sinensis, proposed by Grover S. Krantz in 1998.
Variant names: Mao-RéN, SUet-jùen (Cantonese Chinese, "snowman"), Xue-rén (Mandarin Chinese, "snowman"), Yeren.
Physical description: There seem to be two basic types—one is bipedal, and the other is quadrupedal, slightly smaller, and may be equivalent to the RÉN-XlÔNG. Height, 4-8 feet, with an average of 6 feet 6 inches. Greatest reported height is 10 feet. Weighs as much as 500 pounds. Covered with hair, 1-4 inches long. Color varies from black in Yunnan Province to white in Tibet and reddish-brown in Hubei Province; grayish-brown and yellowish-brown has also been reported. Head is the size of a human's. Long head-hair, 12-21 inches long. Hair on the front of the head stands up; on the back it hangs down. High, sloping forehead. Narrow face overgrown with short hair, including the nose. Black eyes. Ears are larger than a human's. Nose is like an orangutan's or a human's but upturned or flared. High cheekbones. Protruding teeth and jaws. Everted lips. Broad shoulders (females, 3 feet wide). Females have breasts. Waist, 18 inches across. Long, red hair on the arms. Palms and soles are hairless. Long hands and fingernails. Fingers are about 6 inches long. Thumb is only slightly separated. Calves are thickset and longer than the thighs. Feet are more than 12 inches long and 6-7 inches wide. Large buttocks. No tail.
Hair analysis: Microscopic, keratin content, and particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) tests have been performed on alleged Ye-rén hair samples. These indicate that the hairs are chemically and structurally distinct from those of known animals in comparative samples, including humans and nonhuman primates. A higher
Chinese poster that asks, "Have you seen the wildman?" (Yf-REN). (Fortean Picture Library)
primate is suggested.
Behavior: Walks bipedally as well as on all fours. Rubs against a tree to scratch its back. Travels singly or in pairs. Runs swiftly. Cry resembles a neigh or bray; also a shrill "wu, wu." No language. Eats berries, wild chestnuts, tender stems, saplings, roots, maize, and insects. Lives in caves. Smiles and chatters when meeting a human.
Tracks: Two types: (1) 8 inches long, with big toe separated from smaller four and pointing outward, and (2) 12-19 inches long, with width tapering from 4.5 inches at the toes to 2.5 inches at the heel. Toes are oval and webbed. Length of the toes is one-fourth that of the entire foot. Stride, 3-5 feet.
Habitat: Lives in the higher mountains during the summer and moves to deciduous woodlands and gorges in the winter and spring.
Distribution: Primarily Sichuan and Hubei Provinces (especially Shennongjia Forest Re serve), China. Also reported in Guizhou, Yunnan, Shaanxi, Zhejiang, Gansu, Fujian, and Anhui Provinces.
Significant sightings: Biologist Wang Zelin saw a Wildman that was killed by hunters near Niangniangba, Gansu Province, in 1940. It was a female covered with grayish-brown hair and stood about 6 feet tall. Its face was overgrown with hair. Its teats were reddish, suggesting it had been breast-feeding a young one recently.
On two separate days, geologist Fan Jingquan watched two Wildmen, a female and a young one, as they were picking wild chestnuts near Baoji, Shaanxi Province, in the early 1950s. The smaller one was about 5 feet tall and bold enough to approach closely.
In 1961, a Ye-ren was reportedly killed by road workers in the Xishuangbanna Nature Preserve area, Yunnan Province. The Chinese Academy of Sciences conducted an investigation and failed to obtain any direct evidence, though sightings persist in the area.
Yin Hongfa encountered a Ye-ren in a forested area east of Dahei Mountain, Yunnan Province, on May 1, 1974. It stretched out its arms to grab Yin, but he grabbed it by its head-hair and hacked its left arm with a machete. It ran away into the forest, leaving twenty to thirty strands of hair in Yin's hand.
Six officials traveling by jeep encountered a Wildman near Chunshuya village in the Shen-nongjia Forest, Hubei Province, at 1:00 A.M. on May 14, 1976. They got out and started to surround it, but it slipped away into the woods.
On June 6, 1977, Pang Gensheng was approached by a hairy man 7 feet 6 inches tall in the Qinling-Taibaishan Reserve, Shaanxi Province. They confronted each other for an hour until Pang hit it in the chest with a stone, whereupon it went down a gully muttering "go-ro, go-ro."
In 1977, the Chinese Academy of Sciences conducted a survey of Fang County and the Shennongjia Forest Reserve and turned up a few footprints, head-hair, and feces. A revived investigation in 1979 and 1980 turned up the skeleton of a "monkey child" in neighboring Sichuan Province, though it most likely was a deformed human.
On October 23, 1984, a small, hairy "wild-man" threw sand and stones at two young women of Shuitou village near Rulin in western Hunan Province. The next day, thirty-two peasants and eleven hunting dogs tracked down and netted the creature in a neighboring county but not before it clawed the ear off one of its captors. The animal was exhibited in several cities before it was turned over to the Chinese Wild-man Research Institute and identified as a Rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta).
Another scientific expedition to Shennongjia Forest from April to July 1995, headed by Wang Fangchen, recovered more hair samples, while a further search in June 1997 turned up hundreds of large footprints.
In August 1999, Chinese officials investigating Ye-ren sightings found giant footprints in the Shennongjia Reserve.
Present status: In October 1994, the Chinese government set up a scientific committee to study Ye-ren evidence. Since 1995, the China Travel Service in Hubei Province has offered a large reward for a specimen, dead or alive, with lesser prizes for photographs, hair, or feces. Possible explanations:
(1) The Stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides) is found from Bhutan to Vietnam. In China, it is known to be present in Jiangxi, Anhui, and Qinghai Provinces. It has dark-brown hair and a hairless, red face. A diurnal quadruped that prefers rocky mountain environments, it often raids crops for potatoes and rice. An outsize variety or subspecies could account for some sightings. See Ren-XiOng.
(2) The Golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) has a thick, dark-brown coat and light-colored hair on its underside, ranging from orange to buff. It has a human-looking face. The head and body is 2 feet 6 inches long, with a tail of roughly equal length. It lives in Tibet and the Sichuan, Shaanxi, Gansu, northern Guizhou, and Hubei Provinces of China at altitudes up to 11,000 feet. It is present in the Shennongjia Forest. Some alleged Ye-ren hairs probably come from this monkey.
(3) The Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) was present in China during the Pleistocene and is thought to have persisted into historical times. A surviving population might account for the red-haired, quadrupedal variety of Ye-ren.
(4) The Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) has long, black fur with a distinct, white V on its chest. Some old stories about the killing of a Wildman may actually involve bears.
(5) A surviving Ramapithecus, an extinct primate that lived in northern India, Kenya, and Southern Europe in the Late Miocene, 16—5 million years ago. At once thought ancestral to humans, Ramapithecus is now seen as closely related to (or identical with) Sivapithecus, ancestor to the orangutan. Other Miocene apes probably related to the dryopithecines are known from Gansu and Yunnan Provinces in China.
(6) Lufengpithecus was a medium-sized primate that lived in the Late Miocene, 9-7 million years ago. Skulls, mandibles, and teeth have been found at the only known site at Lufeng, Yunnan Province. Although some have considered it close to the orangutan lineage, its precise relationship remains unclear.
(7) Paranthropus robustus, an australopith that lived in South Africa 1.8-1.5 million years ago in the Early Pleistocene, has been suggested as a Ye-ren candidate. However, there is no evidence that it ever migrated to Asia.
(8) An evolved Gigantopithecus, a huge fossil ape that lived 1 million-500,000 years ago in China and Vietnam. It is known only from jaw fragments and isolated teeth. Liucheng County in Guangxi Province has yielded three mandibles and more than 1,000 teeth. It had a massive jaw and low-crowned, flat molars with thick enamel caps adapted for chewing coarse vegetation. Its estimated height was 9-10 feet tall, and it could have weighed 900-1,200 pounds. However, no weight-bearing bones have been recovered, and it is possible that the animal's teeth and jaws were disproportionate to its body size. In any case, it seems too robust for the Ye-ren.
(9) Homo erectus fossils are known from many sites in China. The earliest are a cranium and mandible dated at roughly 1 million years ago, found at Lantian in central Shaanxi Province; a few stone tools and possible indications of fire have been recovered from similar strata in the area. Other important erectus finds are the famous Zhoukoudian fossils (Peking man) and crania and teeth from various sites in Hubei, Yunnan, and Sichuan Provinces. Archaic Homo sapiens fossils have been discovered in Dali County, Shaanxi Province, and at Jinniushan Mountain, Liaoning Province; these date to about 200,000 years ago.
(10) Grover Krantz has argued that the Sangiran 4 skull found in Java in the late 1930s displays anomalies (a massive sagittal crest, for example) that indicate it may have belonged to an unknown bipedal orangutan, a possible Ye-ren candidate. However, most paleoanthropologists consider Sangiran 4 to be within the acceptable range of Homo erectus variation.
(11) Persons with certain birth defects or physical deformities are known in China as "monkey babies" and are thought to be the result of a mating between a Wildman and local women. Frank Poirier witnessed one of these individuals in Xhin Xhan County, Hubei Province. The individual was not particularly hirsute, but he had a slouched back and a misshapen forehead and could not speak articulately.
(12) A composite of several different known animals and two unknowns. Cryptids that seem more monkey- or apelike (Fei-Fei, Ren-XiOng, Xing-Xing) and even a Giant hominid (ShAn-Gui) also tend to confuse the situation.
Sources: Qu Yuan, The Nine Songs: A Study of Shamanism in Ancient China, ed. Arthur Waley (San Francisco, Calif.: City Lights Books, 1973); "Kto zhe on? Riad zametok o 'snezhnom cheloveke,'" Tekhnika molodezhi, 1959, no. 4, pp. 31-34, and 1959, no. 5, pp.
37—39; Zhou Guoxing, Lang hai, hsueh jen, huo ti hua shih (T'ien-chin, China: T'ien-chin Jen Min Ch'u Pan She, 1979); Yuan Zhenxin and Huang Wanpo, "'Wild Man'—Fact or Fiction?" China Reconstructs 28 (July 1979): 56-59, reprinted in Pursuit, no. 52 (Fall 1980): 142-144; Yuan Zhenxin and Huang Wanpo, Wild Man: China's Yeti, Fortean Times Occasional Paper no. 1 (London: Fortean Times, 1981); Zhou Guoxing, "The Status of Wildman Research in China," Cryptozoology 1 (1982): 13-23; Frank E. Poirier, Hu Hongxing, and Chung-min Chen, "The Evidence for Wildman in Hubei Province, People's Republic of China," Cryptozoology 2 (1983): 25-39; Paul Dong, The Four Major Mysteries ofMainland China (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1984), pp. 173-203; Christopher S. Wren, "On the Trail of the 'Wild Man' of China," New York Times, June 5, 1984; J. Richard Greenwell and Frank E. Poirier, "Further Investigations into the Reported Yeren: The Wildman of China," Cryptozoology 8 (1989): 47-57; Wang Bo, Ye ren zhi mi xin tan (Chongqing, China: Ke Xue Ji Shu Wen Xian Chu Ban She Chongqing Fen She, 1989); Adventure: The Wildman of China (video) (Mystic Fire Video, 1990); Frank E. Poirier and J. Richard Greenwell, "Is There a Large, Unknown Primate in China? The Chinese Yeren or Wildman," Cryptozoology 11 (1992): 70-82; Zhou Liu, "Wildman: No Wild Fancy," 15-part series, China Sports, January 1993-March 1994; Du Yonglin, Ye ren: Lai zi Shennongjia di bao gao (Beijing, China: Zhongguo San Xia Chu Ban She, 1995); Zang Yongqing, Ye ren mi zong (Shenyang, China: Lioning Ren Min Chu Ban She, 1996); Grover S. Krantz, "The 1997 Yeren Investigation in China," Cryptozoology 13 (1997-1998): 88-93; "Chinese Wildman Returns," Fortean Times, no. 130 (January 2000): 8-9; Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, Bigfoot/Yeren Reports from China, http://www.bfro.net/gdb/asia/ china/as_ch001.htm.
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