Bigfoot believed living in China

Yearlong trek yields traces of what some say is undiscovered species

© Los Angeles Times

Yuan Zhenxin, a paleoanthropologist, is convinced that Bigfoot exists in central China and says that these plaster casts of foot prints prove it.

BEIJING -- Yuan Zhenxin keeps up his search for Bigfoot. Yuan is convinced that between 1,000 and 2,000 of the apelike creatures roam the forests of central China, particularly the Shennongjia Nature Reserve in Hubei province.

Yuan dabbles in stories of abduction, including those of two farmers who say they were kidnapped by Bigfoot but escaped to tell the tale.

Another person claimed to have spent two hours in conversation with the creature, who reportedly gesticulated and mimicked bird sounds. "They're very clever," said Yuan, a retired paleoanthropologist and member of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Yuan describes Bigfoot as more than 6 1/2 feet tall, with reddish brown hair, long limbs and a rather nasty case of body odor.

In 1976-77, the government sponsored a Bigfoot expedition to Shennongjia consisting of 100 people, including army personnel.

That trip and others yielded numerous samples of what Yuan maintains are the hair, footprints and feces of an undiscovered species, possibly descended from a giant ape whose fossilized teeth can still be found in the region. "They're a cousin of humans," he said of Bigfoot, known in Chinese as "wild man."

But money for such study has dwindled, because fewer and fewer of Yuan's fellow scientists are willing to approve funding without more conclusive proof. Yuan and his supporters have been forced to dig into their own pockets to keep three informal research centers operating.

One of Yuan's colleagues even divorced his wife, sold his home and moved permanently to Shennongjia to carry on the work. (Los Angeles Times)

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