Wednesday 16 September 2009

Orang Pendek -man or ape?

Orang Pendek( translates as "short person" in Indonesian) is the name given to an animal that people have been reprting sightings of around Kerinci-Seblat National Park in central Sumatra. Witnesses describe Orang Pendek as an ape, about 3 to 4 feet tall, with short red hair all over it’s body that walks on two legs.

Westerners have reported seeing the creature since 1923, but numerous expeditions have failed to capture or film one, but have found footprints and hairs said to come from the creature. Some have theorised it is a small primitive man others a form of orang utang.

More attention has been recently focussed on the orang-pendek because of the discovery of the Indonesian "hobbit" or Homo floresiensis on the nearby island of Flores in 2003. Homo floresiensis is a small species of human that was known to have survived until 12,000 years ago. There is some dispute however on whether it was a species of small humanoid or simply suffering from a genetic disorder or disease that produced the small stature.

The first recorded sighting of the orang pendek is said to date back to 1295 when Marco Polo visited the island of Sumatra on one of his expeditions and saw Indonesians with an ape-like man.

In 1923, on the island of Poleloe Rimau in Sumatra, a Dutch explorer, Mr Van Herwaarden,saw a creature whilst out hunting.. The creature was subsequently described in Tropical Nature 13 published in 1924:

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. It was fairly think and very shaggy. The lower part of its face seemed to end in more of a point than a man’s; this brown face was almost hairless, whilst its forehead seemed to be high rather than low. Its eyebrows were frankly moving; they were of the darkest colour, very lively, and like human eyes. The nose was broad with fairly large nostrils, but in no way clumsy. Its lips were quite ordinary, but the width of its mouth was strikingly wide when open. Its canines showed clearly from time to time as its mouth twitched nervously. They seemed fairly large to me, at all events they where more developed than a man’s. The incisors were regular. The colour of the teeth was yellowish white. Its chin was somewhat receding. For a moment, during a quick movement, I was able to see its right ear, which was exactly like a little human ear. Its hands where slightly hairy on the back. Had it been standing, its arms would have reached to a little about its knees, they where 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. The specimen was of the female sex and about five feet high. There was nothing repulsive or ugly about its face, nor was it at all apelike.

After watching the creature for some time, Van Herwaarden climbed the tree causing the Orang Pendek to move out to a branch and then drop to the ground. He picked up his his gun, raised it to shoot the creature, but found himself unable to fire, citing that he would have felt like a murderer for killing something so human like

Debbie Martyr, a former editor of a London newspaper, went on an expedition to find the Orang Pendek in 1995 She documented numerous eyewitness accounts of the orang pendek and plaster casts of what were said to be it's footprints. She stated that she saw the creature for herself on three occasions. The first time that she sighted the orang pendek, she said she was so shocked that she didn't snap a picture. She hadn't really expected to see an actual bipedal primate.

On October 29, 2001, the London Times reported that an early analysis of hair samples taken by a British expedition to the mountain rainforest near Gunung Kerinci in western Sumatra did not appear to have come from any known primate in the area. Adam Davies, the leader of the expedition, stated that he had no doubt that orang pendek truly exists. Dr. Hans Brunner, a hair analysis expert from Australia, compared the hairs to those of other primates and local animals and concluded that they originated from a previously undocumented species of primate. Dr. Todd Disotell, a biological anthropologist from New York University, recently performed DNA analysis on the hairs and found nothing but human DNA in the sample. He stressed, however, that contamination by people who handled the hairs could have introduced this DNA and that the original DNA could have decomposed”.

So a new species of Ape or a primitive human? I think an ape is more likely but there is a lot of evidence that something is out there

See these articles for more info:

Fresh evidence has been found in the jungles of Sumatra supporting claims that a mythical 'jungle yeti' may exist, claim two UK explorers.:

News of the CFZ’z new expedition that sets off this week:

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