Saturday, February 06, 2016

Apemean (Hairy Hominoids): Shadow of Humanity

All over the world, myths and sightings about mysterious Apemen abound. The most famous of these hairy hominoids are Yeti (the Abominable Snowman) of Asia and Bigfoot (Sasquatch) of North America, both of whom have captured the public imagination. Meanwhile, Australia has Yowie, Europe Wudewasa (Woodwose), Southeast Asia Orang-Pendek, South America Mapinguary, and Africa Ngoko. Many stories about these various Apemen speak of their wild nature, hairiness, and strength. Today, sightings of these hairy hominoids come from the world’s wild places – the jungles, swamps, forests, and mountains. However, people still see these wild “men” even in settled areas from time to time.

What makes Apemen different from other myths about fantastic animals is that They are believed to exist. In fact, Apemen dwell on the knife’s edge between myth and reality. Throughout the centuries, ordinary people have reported their encounters with these hominoids. Sir Edmund Hillary of Mt. Everest fame reported seeing giant foot prints of a Yeti in Nepal in the 1950s. In 2004, an elderly woman in Florida encountered a Skunk Ape in her backyard. Meanwhile, The Cryptozoic and Rare Animal Research Center of Vietnam is searching for Nguoi Rung. However Apemen continue to remain elusive as to what or who they are.

Although stories about hairy hominoids have been told for thousands of years, They only recently came into the consciousness of modern Western people. “Abominable Snowman” which referred to Yeti, was coined by Henry Newman writing in a Calcutta newspaper in 1921. He was reporting on several sightings by British officers in Tibet. His article about what their Sherpas had described, prompted the Abominable Snowman craze. More Europeans wanted to travel to Asia to see this mysterious inhabitant of the mountains.

Meanwhile, Bigfoot (Sasquatch) came into public consciousness in the 1950s with articles in men’s adventure magazines. Added to these reports were the films of Roger Patterson in 1960s depicting a walking hairy “man.” That spurred the public to think that Apemen lived amongst them, and perhaps had observed their comings and goings. Afterwards reports flooded in about people’s encounters with various man-like mammals.

Since that time, many people have speculated as to what Apemen are. Are they humans, apes, or something else altogether. Theories have ranged from small apes to surviving Gigantopithecus, a prehistoric primate. Could these Apemen be relic populations of other human species such as the Neanderthals?

Cryptozoologists (scientists who study unknown animals) have grouped Apemen into several species ranging from relatives of humans to unknown apes. “Neo-giants” such as Bigfoot (Sasquatch) are considered human. “True Giants” such as Grendel (of “Beowulf”) are believed to be relatives of Gigantopithecus. “Marked Hominids,” who have two-toned hair and other markings, are thought to be Homo heidelbergensis, predecessors of modern humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans. Enkidu (of “Gilgamesh Epic”) is considered a Neanderthaloid, from a relic population of Neanderthals. Almas and Yeren of Asia are believed to be Erectus Hominids, descendants of Homo erectus of the Pleistocene. “Proto-pygmies” are considered human with the discovery in Indonesia of Homo floresiensis, “the Hobbit.” Meanwhile, “Undiscovered Primates” such as Skunk Ape, Ngoloko, and Mapinguary are considered to be unknown apes.

Other scientists have expressed opinions about Apemen as well. Noted primatologist Jane Goodall keeps an open mind saying that “there is a lot more evidence that they do exist than not.” Furthermore, she surmises that they could possibly be a link between humans and gorillas. Meanwhile, zoologist Morris Goodman notes that “genetically humans are only slightly remodeled apes.” Perhaps the hairy hominoids do fill the breach between apes and humans.

Cloaked in mystery, Apemen exist just outside sensible human perceptions. As “wildmen,” They are beyond the fringes of ordinary life. In European folklore, They were the people who left the towns to wander in the wilderness, becoming less human each day. In their efforts to shed their worldliness and become closer to God, desert saints became hairy anchorites, a type of Apemen.

Noted cryptozoologist Loren Coleman said that seeking Bigfoot (and other Apemen) is important, and when They are found, “we shall never look at humans in the same way again.” Understanding Bigfoot will govern how humans think of themselves. Apemen therefore are the Shadow for humankind. Apemen are the “other,” that we are both fearful of and curious about. Perhaps They are our cousins, reminding us that we too are a part of nature. Hairy hominoids urge people to come to a new understanding of their place on the Earth.
Science Notes:

1. The founder of the science of cryptozoology, Bernard Heulvelmans defined a cryptid as “a hidden animal which by definition is very incompletely known.” Nessie of Loch Ness is considered a cryptid, whereas the Tengu of Japan is a mythological animal.

2. Hominid refers to the family of humans, the Hominidae. Bigfoot and Yeti are considered hominids. Hominoids include apes and humans. Orang-Pendek and Skunk Ape are hominoids.

3. Bigfoot and Sasquatch refer to the same hominid. The American name is Bigfoot, and the Canadian, Sasquatch.

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