Monday 31 August 2009

Revisiting the Yeren

Central and Southern China northwest Hubei province is said to be the home of China’s wildman or bigfoot known as the Yeren.. The remote Shennongjia is an area of approximately 1,250 sq. miles, comprising steep, rugged mountains mostly up to 8,000 ft with the highest peaks at 10,000 ft. The Wildman has been a part of the folklore of southern and central China for centuries. Chinese literary works and folk legends for over 2000 years include references to big hairy manlike creatures which lived in the vast forests of the Quinling-Bashan-Shennongjia.

The yeren is described as bipedal and can walk upright. The height of the creature is estimated between five to seven feet, with the entire body covered with red to dark brown fur. The yeren has a large belly, but is reported to be able to move quickly and run fast. The facial region resembles a cross between an ape's and a human's. Large footprints, about 16 inches long, displaying five toes like humans, have been found.

A 17thC account from Hubei province reads: “In the remote mountains of Fangxian County, there are rock caves, in which live hairy men as tall as 10 feet. They often come down to hunt dogs and chickens in the villages. They fight with whoever resists.”

Regional officials have recorded nearly four hundred sightings in and around the region since the 1920’s; with a number of these sightings being reported by very credible witnesses. In 1940, biologist Wang Tselin claimed to have examined the corpse of a Yeren that had been killed in the Gansu region. He stated that the specimen was a female, over 6 feet tall, with features that appeared to be a cross between ape and human. Geologist Fan Jingquan reported seeing a pair of Yeren, what he thought was a mother and son, in the forests of the Shanxi province in 1950.

In 1961, a team of road builders reportedly killed a female Yeren in the forests of Xishuang Banna. Officials from the Chinese Academy of Sciences where called out to investigate the creature, but when they arrived the body had disappeared.

A 1976 encounter by several local bureaucrats brought the Yeren into the international spotlight. They reported that in the early morning of May 14, whilst on their way home they encountered a “strange, tailless creature with reddish fur” in the Hubei province. The driver pursued the creature with his car, forcing the creature to run up a hill. Roughly halfway up the hill it slipped and came to rest in front of the car. The passengers then left the vehicle and approached the creature to examine it . They described the creature as being over six feet tall, covered in thick brown and purple-red wavy hair, having a fat belly and pronounced buttocks. The eyes were human-like, but the face bearing much more resemblance to that of an ape. This lead to a group of scientists and the army mounting several expeditions into the forest. The searches did not bring back any solid proof, but at one point during an expedition a search party did encountered a Yeren, as they moved closer to capture the creature a solider reportedly shot himself in the leg, the shot brought expedition members from all directions to the location and the Yeren disappeared.

Solid physical evidence of the Yeren was supposedly discovered in 1980 in the form of the preserved hands and feet of an unknown hominid creature. Reportedly, villagers had killed the Yeren in the Zhejiang province in 1957, and a biology teacher had the foresight to remove and preserve the extremities. However upon examination of the hands and feet, researcher Zhou Guoxing, said that they had come from a large macaque monkey.

Another large scale expedition to find the Yeren was launched in 1980 and operated until 1985 near Songbai in the Shennongjia Forest. More than two hundred footprints were discovered and documented on Mount Quiangdao. These foot prints where roughly 18 inches in length with the average stride between footprints being 6 feet. Eyewitness accounts where also recorded but no Yeren was captured or photographed.

In 1999, a hunter reported seeing a huge fast moving creature covered in long red hair in the hubei province’s Shennongjia Nature Reserve.

You can see all the newspaper articles on the latest expeditions and sightings here:

The majority of Yeren researchers believe the creature is a surviving specimen of Gigantopithecus blacki, a genus of ape that lived in the area as recently as 100 thousand years ago. Some researchers believe the Yeren to be an undiscovered species of Orangutan which evolved over thousands of years to walk upright. Sceptics believe that sightings of the Yeren are nothing more than the misidentification of already known animals such as the rare golden monkey or gibbon whose face it thought to look quite human

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