Wednesday 2 September 2009

The Batutut , ape , bigfoot or neanderthal?

There have been reported sightings of the Batutut ,sometimes referred to as the Ujit or sedapa , since 1918 in the wilds of Vu Quang nature reserve Vietnam and Malaysia and Borneo. It is described as very hairy, about 4 or 5 feet tall with a protruding belly, thick shoulders and a leathery neck. The female Batutut are said to have long pendulous breasts. They are bipedal ,walking upright with an awkward gait. Village people in Barisan Mountains in Sumatra tell of an encounter with a Batutut. A hairy creature about 50 feet away stood and gravely stared at the people and then nonchalantly walked away. This was early in the twentieth century, and L. C. Westenek, a governor of Sumatra, received a written report about an encounter with the wildman. The overseer of an estate in the Barisan Mountains, along with some workers, observed the Sedapa or wildman.. The overseer said he saw "a large creature, low on its feet, which ran like a man, and was about to cross my path; it was very hairy and it was not an orang-utan; but its face was not like an ordinary man's. It silently and gravely gave the men a disagreeable stare and then ran calmly away" (Sanderson 1961, pp. 216-217).There are even reports that people were able to sit with a Batutut, offer the creature food and hear it murmur unintelligible words.

In 1918, a hunter, Mr. Van Heerwarden, reportedly saw tracks very similar to that of a bare footed human. He searched the area but failed to find any people in the forest.. Several years later in 1923 he saw similar footprints. He followed the prints and then spotted a wild man in a tree: "I discovered a dark and hairy creature on a branch. ... The sedapa was also hairy on the front of its body; the colour there was a little lighter than on the back. The very dark hair on its head fell to just below the shoulder-blades or even almost to the waist....Had it been standing, its arms would have reached to a little above its knees; they were therefore long, but its legs seemed to me rather short. I did not see its feet, but I did see some toes which were shaped in a very normal manner. ... There was nothing repulsive or ugly about its face, nor was it at all apelike" (Sanderson 1961 , pp. 222-223). After observing it for a while, Van Heerwarden allowed the creature to run away.

A 1947 sighting by a French colonist refers to the animal as a L'Homme Sauvage (wild man).

Dr. John Mackinnon claimed to have first observed tracks in 1970 that led him to believe that a hominid similar to the Meganthropus lived there. In his 1975 book In Search Of The Red Ape he described his experiences and findings. During an expedition to the Malaysian state of Sabah the British zoologist found several short, broad, human like footprints. “I stopped dead,” MacKinnon writes in his book ,“My skin crept and I felt a strong desire to head home” “farther ahead I saw tracks and went to examine them….I found two dozen footprints in all.” Mackinnon would later report that he was very happy to leave the scene of these footprints stating, “I was uneasy when I found them, and I didn’t want to follow them and find out what was at the end of the trail. I knew that no animal we know about could make those tracks. Without deliberately avoiding the area I realize I never went back to that place in the following months of my studies.”( He would later become renowned for his discovery of new mammals in Vietnam during the 1990’s).

During the Vietnam War, a group of soldiers reported seeing a 5 foot tall creature, covered in reddish fur, which they called a Rock Ape. This account was reported and retold in the 2001 book Very Crazy GI – Strange but True Stories of the Vietnam War, written by veteran P.J. Jorgenson.

In 1982, Tran Hong Viet of Pedagogic University of Hanoi reported that he had found similar footprints to those that MacKinnon discovered near Chu Mo Ray in the Sa Thay

District while making an extensive post war inventory of natural resources. While collecting near Chu Mo Ray in Sa Thay District, he came across the prints. A photo of the cast of the print was later published by Fortean News of the World (Japan Fortean Information Society).(see photo left)

So an ape or a man? Some say it is a rare ape others a Neanderthal who still lives in remote areas. Most apes walking on two legs walk awkwardly so it could be an explanation but most of the people who saw the creature would be capable of recognising a local ape ,so the mystery remains.

Quotes from :Abominable Snowmen, by Ivan T. Sanderson, [1961]

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