Bigfoot Encounters


Jordi Magraner
Association Troglodytes, Valence, France  

(Magraner was murdered in the mountains of Pakistan in the summer of 2002...)


North Pakistan is close to Asian regions already known to be rich in stories of wild hairy men, identified by eyewitnesses as being different from modern men. A study was carried out in 1987-1990 in the Chitral district, a region that had not been surveyed before, in order to locate the existence of possible eyewitness accounts and perhaps actually see one of the beings concerned. A method was devised which included, among other things, preparing a questionnaire concerning their anatomy, based on descriptions of a corpse examined in 1968 by Heuvelmans in the United States. After a 19 months exploration, the expedition came back richer by 27 eyewitness accounts and a composite portrait. According to the collected information, no articulate language was noticed, but rather, powerful guttural sounds were reported. The synthetic result of these reports does not enable us to support the hypothesis that it is of purely mythical origin without any natural grounds. Both anatomical data of fossil men and the prehistory of central Asia do not contradict the existence of prehistoric populations in high altitudes of Pamir and Hindu Kush. This was true at least until the first millenary B.C. The question is whether oral statements could not be relative to survivors of these very late prehistoric populations, already described by the Iron Age populations of Sakas, the first shepherds of the Bactriane.


The importance of unknown living hominids for the debate on language origins arises from the fact that the witnesses systematically claim that these beings are deprived of any articulate speech. The most important part of the present contribution is based on the results of an expedition organized in Northern Pakistan from 1987 to 1990 and a scientific study developed on the field (Magraner, 1991). These results can be correlated with the central Asia prehistory and the process of hominization specific of these Eurasian lands.


Problematics of the relic hominids' existence.

Without a scientific background, the mention of oral statements about the existence of apparently unknown hominids, different from anatomically modern Homo sapiens often gives rise to suspicion. This is legitimate. Only a systematic study conducted in a rigorous way can allow scientific inferences about these unknown hominids.

The question of the existence today of prehistoric hominids is made more difficult by the continuous convergence of negative conditions, connected with the history of the theory of evolution and of the Eurasian civilization during the 20th Century. In the Western world, there has been no research programme, planned and financed by a scientific institution, or research laboratory. Such was not the case, however, in the U.S.R.R. and Mongolia, the two countries most directly concerned with these huge tracts of wild territory and the areas which may well provide shelter for such groups of prehistoric-looking hominids. The Soviet records on the existence of these people in Central Asia are considerable. There is a report of about 400 pages entitled "present situation concerning relic hominids," written by the Soviet Commission for the "Study of the Snow Man", created in 1958 upon  the insistent requests addressed by Professor Porchnev to the Praesidium of the Soviet Academy of Science. In addition to this report, there are eight "Data Books" on the subject, in Russian, also compiled by the Commission. The latter had two main objectives. The first was to gather a maximum amount of information, collected on Soviet soil and near Soviet frontiers, and the second was to organize an expedition to Pamir to find witnesses, and possibly one of the beings concerned. The expedition took place in 1958, with the participation of several groups of research scientists, including zoologists, theologians and archaeologists. Unfortunately, the expedition which was not directed by Porchnev, wound up in a number of sub-expeditions, each of them focused on a participation group study, bearing no relation to the initial subject. In January 1959, the Praesidium decided not to renew the expedition. The official pretext was that Paleolithic sites had been discovered in these lands, implying that the wild hairy men could not possibly have lived there for tens of thousands of years due to "the well-known law of incompatibility concerning the co-existence of neighboring species on the same territory" (Porchnev, 1974). It was not a matter of discrediting the existence of these beings, which was not in fact denied. It was simply a necessity imposed by the conditions of an enormous organization that had lost sight of its initial objective. Historical truth never lies, however, and we shall see that prehistorical research in Pamir finally confirmed the views of Porchnev, making the Praesidium's argument obsolete.

The world "relic" was first used by Porchnev to define these people, who belong to a very late stage of an evolution prior to that of modern man. The anatomical details correspond to a hominid and not to a big ape. So it is wiser, in the specific case of Pamir-Hindu Kuch, to speak of relic hominids.

The fact that there are no publications available in English probably explains why so little is known of this report, or rather these "reports," since the same applies to those relating the investigations of two other Academies, the Mongolian and the Chinese, directly concerned with the accumulations of stories. They set up research programmes and reported the findings to Porchnev in 1959 (Porchnev 1974).

In order to measure the importance of these stories, too hastily shelved in the Western world on the pretext that they originated from native populations, steeped in legend, a list of scientific and military witnesses is given in Table 1. All these were witnesses who had been compelled to travel to these wild regions for their work. At this point, scientists, in all honesty, should begin to ask themselves what prompted the initial stories. Why should a Marshall of the Soviet army or a radio-meteorologist take the risk of talking about something so obviously open to suspicion, if they had not seen, touched, or described a wild man in an official report?

Porshnev’s principal concern was precisely to try and understand the origins of articulate language since these beings had none. The existence of prehistoric humans in central Asia directly affects the question concerning the origins of language.

Thus, relic hominids, better known under the name of "wild men" or "hairy men," seem to be living in different areas of Asia and especially in Central Asia.

Many stories originated from different lands, ethnic communities, civilizations and religions relate statements of encounters with these beings, as near to us as Europe (Tyson 1699, Linneus 1758, Latreille 1795, Schiltberger 1859, Satounine 1899, Porchnev 1963, Porchnev and Chmakov 1958-1959, Delamare Deboutville and Botosanéanu 1970, Gomez Tabanera 1978). For instance during the XIX century, numerous European scientific descriptions relate encounters with children or adults characterized by an abundant pilosity and a lack of articulate speech with some cases relevant to the existence of hairy wild children (Debay 1860).

Contrary to the stories which travel around the world (Elwes 1915, Sanderson 1961, 1967, Bordet 1955, Obroutchev 1957, Bawden 1959, Dyhrenfurth 1959, Hill 1961 ...), the consistency of the Central Asian statements, and their analyses, show that they may well go beyond folklore and myths (Khahklov, 1914, Porchnev, 1974 p. 108-109). In this case despite the important heterogeneity of the witnesses, many of the descriptions stay homogenous.

Victim of excessive media coverage, which develop later in the fifties and mingled with the image of the Snow Man, the real problem, that is to say the plausible existence of unknown hominids in Central Asia, has not caught the attention of the Western scientific community. Nevertheless, these field investigations have created a renewal of strong interest in Tajikistan (C.E.I.) with the Tastl's expedition (Bayanov, 1984). But there were no sufficient data and no publications concerning the methodology.

The North Pakistan expedition

It was necessary to work out a scrupulous and methodic approach before reaching an opinion on this problem. So it occurred to us to collect new oral statements, but this time with a full scientific method specific of zoological investigations. This study was done in Northern Pakistan, with the assistance of Yannik and Erik L'Homme for a period of nineteen months (Magraner 1991, L'Homme 1991, map 1).

This study was not only done to complete the proof in favor of the existence of hominids sensu lato. Its finality was to characterize in the field the elements that can provide proof of such an existence. These elements include on one hand the study of the ecological and human background, and, on the other hand, the use of an analytical system applicable to these oral statements. To complete such a project, it was necessary to elaborate a working base.

Thus a questionnaire concerning the presumed external anatomy of these beings was drawn up. From all the existing statements about all these relic hominids from Asia, only the meticulous examination of the frozen man, named "Homo pongoides" by Heuvelmans (1969), gives the most complete description of the physical characteristics of these beings (Heuvelmans, 1974).

The corpse was preserved in ice and shown on fair grounds in Minnesota (U.S.A.). It was already in a state of decomposition when Heuvelmans was able to examine it and to collect data from people who had seen it unfrozen. The orbits were empty and bloody, the limbs broken and wounded, the back of the skull was smashed in, revealing a part of the brain. Although the origins of the hairy dead body with unusual hands and feet for a modern man, were the cause of increasing disinformation concerning the value of the specimen, the genuine knowledge, derived from the first months of calm observation, confirms the keen scientific interest shown by the scientists who examined the photographs at great length. From December 17 to 19, during 11 hours, Heuvelmans described, noted, observed and photographed the corpse. On January 4, the anthropologist C.S. Coon examined the photographs and wrote: "It is a whole body and not a composite creation or a model. Moreover, not only is it a hominid but it is also a kind of Man, even if some of the anatomic features are altogether surprising, and of the utmost interest to specialists in physical anthropology" (Coon, 1969). The first scientific memorandum was sent on January 14 to the Belgian Royal Institute of Natural Sciences, where it was submitted to the Director, A. Capart, and to the head of the Institution's Anthropological Section, F. Twiesselmann. The memorandum was immediately sent for priority printing and was published less than one month later. On February 5 and February 9, a text on the study was sent to W.C. Osman-Hill and J.R. Napier, who was then director of the Primate Biology Program at the Smithsonian Institution. The latter announced that they were interested and a team was appointed to perform an autopsy. On February 20, the showman who owned the corpse was informed of its sudden importance and refused all access, once and for all. The secretary general of the Smithsonian Institute wrote him directly on March 13 stating that, according to Dr. Heuvelmans description and photographs, it was of "great interest to the scientific community" and could well "turn out to be an eminent contribution to human knowledge." On May 5, Professor Murril of the Anthropological Department of Minnesota went to examine the corpse in turn and told Napier of his stupefaction (Heuvelmans, 1974). But the traveling showman obstinately continued to refuse to give scientists access to the body, and the affair quickly died out. The discovery of the corpse remains valid, nevertheless. The scientists who were able to see it, or who examined the photographs thoroughly, have never had any doubt about its value and strangeness.

After having discussed this matter with Heuvelmans and examined the original color pictures of the frozen man, the above mentioned scientists had no doubt about the study and the genuineness of the corpse.

In conclusion, if such individual has indeed existed, it would be logical to use its descriptive features as basic reference data. This basis has to permit the field confrontation of the statements in order to invalidate or confirm the anatomical convergence of both descriptions (table 2).

In addition to these previous observations, we know the existence of a Tibetan zoological dictionary discovered by the paleoanthropologist Vleck (1959), who seriously studied the question after having seen an anatomical description of a hairy wild man (figure 1). During the nineteen-twenties a little military unit under the control of the soviet officer Topilsky, killed a hairy wild man in the mountains of Pamir (Yazgoulem valley, map 2). The medical assistant wrote a forensic report giving meticulous anatomical details of the body and the head (Topilsky, 1964).

Thus the most important thing was to develop a basis for the research investigations, so that, in the present case as in all other scientific process, one would have the use of as complete a set of morphological criteria as possible attributed to the wild and hairy man.

For the study area, the selection was Northern Pakistan where the district of Chitral seems to be the wildest part, seldom visited by tourists. This district, at the gate of central Asia, whose old name was Little Kachgar, is adjacent to the Chinese Kachgar or Great Kachgar. The latter was defined by Porchnev (1974) as one of the most favorable permanent habitat zones of the Wild Men. Moreover this area was never submitted to intensive research on the question. The population could not have been influenced by previous investigators. All the oral statements we investigated were original.

Northern Pakistan constituted an unknown land both from the ethnological and the ecological point of view (fauna and flora). Two prospections were made in the district of Chitral, one from December 1987 to September 1988, and the other from January to October 1990. Each of these field trips was carried out by a team of two persons.


In the first step the ecological and ethological data were defined so that one could visualize the context in which these statements were made. This methodology allows us to establish a confrontation between the natural and human environment and the credibility of statements about the existence of the wild men. The second step was to select the reliable witnesses. Two types of informants were retained:

- first the "direct observer," i.e., a person who says he has seen such a being

- and second the "direct informant," the one who heard the information directly from an observer.

Experience has shown that a piece of information ceases to be plausible beyond the direct informant. No money was ever offered. On the other hand, we were able to keep the oral statements, which provided no real answer to different questions concerning the important features. This was a way to accept their good faith.

The third step was the collection of the statements. The finding of witnesses was a great time consumer. It was necessary to speak the local language in order to eliminate the interpretations and/or deformations by translators. The stories were directly collected in Khowar (or Chitrali) and written in a report with:

1 - The basic information on the informant (the name, age, address, ethnic origin, and profession) with description of the place of observation (local name, natural environment, elevation, date and hour ...). The record also included the contents of the oral statement itself with the kind of observation (presence clues, or observation of one or more individuals, sex, age, distance and duration of the observation, number of individuals and their size...).

2 - the spontaneous story of the witness repeated several times without any stimulation from the investigator.

3 - A questionnaire with sixty three points related to the external anatomy specific to these hominids. This is the questionnaire that comes from the descriptive characters given by Heuvelmans.

4 - A first identikit picture based on intervention-free responses and indications spontaneously given by witnesses.

5 - A final identikit picture made out on the basis of iconographic indicators chosen by the witness, namely, different species of living primates Homo sapiens, great apes and the local Macaca mulatta, bears and drawn reconstitutions of hominids and fossil primates and also three representations of wild and hairy men, including "Homo pongoides".

Results (table 2)

1) Natural environment: the vast stretches of the Hindu Kuch mountain range. In the Chitral district, this includes seventeen summits over 6,000 m. covering a total area of 14 903 km2. Winter in the Southern highlands is characterized by extremely cold spells (-20C), and heavy snowfall. Winter in the North is typically continental, i.e., long and barren. Plant and animal life in the area are Palaearctic on the whole, with some influence from the Eastern region. There are two clearly defined patterns - the South, mainly covered in dry evergreen-oak of conifer forests, and the North consisting of typical, Central Asian steppe.

2) Human background: there has never been any great civilization in North Pakistan (Durand 1899, Graziosi 1964). The country is still strongly marked by a feudal type of society. The district of Chitral is isolated because it is lacking in communication infrastructures. The local population is made up of various ethnic groups including a majority of Chitrali who are sedentary and live exclusively in the bottom of the valleys, and the Gujars, who are nomadic shepherds at the lowest end of the social scale, and who live on higher ground. Generally speaking, the population is Muslim, except for the Kalashi, who are polytheist. Population density is very sparse, with only 11 inhabitants per square kilometer in the valleys; the population in the high regions is insignificant.

These first results taken as a whole, show that the geomorphological and ecological backgrounds consist of a huge wild region likely to contain unknown species, where the persistence of isolated pockets is a possibility. In conclusion, only shepherds, and especially nomads living high up in the mountains, are in a position to meet unknown species or, possibly, wild humans.

3) Reported information (table 3): the name given to the wild men varies according to the area. The Chitrali call them Jangali Mosh ('man of the forest, wild man'). The name Almasti ('the one who eats a lot') is rare. The most common name in the South is the word Barmanu ('the strong or muscular man') and is etymologically close to the Hindi word Ban Manus, meaning 'Man of the forest.' It may have been initiated by the Gujars.

We have 27 stories in our possession, 21 of which come from direct observers and 6 from direct informants. In all, 29 people have witnessed 31 contacts with wild hairy men (24 encounters and 7 traces observed). The adult informants are between 24 and 70 years old. More than 90 % of the stories relate experiences over the past twenty years, including 60 % during the last 5 years, of which 3 date from 1990. This increase in the number of reports is due to a massive arrival over the last 20 years of Gujar nomads. In fact, 69 % of the witnesses (n=20) are shepherds, including 75% Gujars (n=15), i.e., 52 % of the total number of witnesses (n=29). There is, consequently, a great increase in the number of people who are frequently in the highlands, hence a significant rise in the probability of meeting wild hairy men. (tab.2).

4) Geographical distribution of information (map 2): the greater parts of the encounters occur in the forest areas of the Chitral district, (26 contacts out of 31). The most frequent are in the resinous forests, followed by cedar and fir-tree woods. They are mainly located between at altitudes between 1,500 and 4,500 meters, and even more so between 2 000 and 3 000 meters. Meetings appear to be linked with an environment and a life-style (shepherds-nomads), more than with an ethnic identity.

5) Distribution according to the circadian cycle: Compared and pieced together, all these different items of information result in a coherent synthesis which can be seen as reflecting a possible rhythm of life followed by these wild people. The frequency of these reports is in negative correlation with human activity. This authorizes us to assume that there is an ethno-ecological separation between the known ethnic categories and the wild populations, and that the ecological niche of the forest and sub-alpine levels is divided along a circadian shift.

6) Distribution according to the seasons. Encounters are rare in the winter although there are always people in the highlands, even if in smaller numbers. The explanation for this may be that the local population is less exposed to such occurrences during winter, or because the wild people tend to migrate during that season.

7 - Anatomical descriptions (figure 1).

All collected physical characteristics and iconographic indicators chosen by the witnesses are in accordance with the specimen described by Heuvelmans. Systematically, the oral statements stress the human appearance, permanent bipedalism and abundant pilosity on the body except on the face and knees, presence of hands and feet. Lastly, the witnesses speak about a very unpleasantly strong body odor like that of carrion.

The head is voluminous, elongated and hunched into the shoulders, with prominent cheekbones, the face is hairless, the nape is vigorous. The nose is turned up, nostrils are broad and open foreword and there is no labionasal fissure. The inferior edge of the mandible, particularly in males, is delimited by pilosity, which runs toward the neck and shoulders. The supraorbital arch is particularly proeminent, the eyes are very wide set, the mouth without lips is broad and the manducatory system is well developed. The witnesses indicate the lack of forehead and large but human teeth (no large canine teeth like fangs). The chin is not evident.

8 - The results concerning language are interesting.

The voice is strong; the expression contains some cries and guttural sounds without identifiable articulate speech. One of the witnesses, who tried to neutralize a young individual, reports the utterance of "ahas" without articulate sounds. Other oral statements indicate the existence of a well developed throat, an important space above the jaw. We can add to the statements a personal field analysis of the perception of sounds attributable to the sought-after hominids. This was greatly helped by experience about behavior and vocalizations of vertebrates, acquired through many zoological trips. Cries have been heard twice in 1988, in the mountain forest of Chitral. The first time at six or seven hundred meters, the second time at two hundred meters. These sounds where uttered at nightfall. They were very powerful and echoed through the mountains like plaintive human calls. The voices were rather guttural and high-pitched; their tone called to mind a teen-ager or a woman. The emissions of sound lasted, less than one minute. We had no time to record these cries.

No animal in Chitral is able to produce such sounds. Even the jackal living in this country cannot produce such a powerful whine, and this is important. Moreover jackals howl during long periods, sometimes all night long. The whines also call to mind the moan of certain marine birds such as Laridae (gulls) or Procellaridae (Shearwaters), but no such birds live in the Kashgarian Mountains, even during migration periods. Gulls and Shearwaters keep away from forestland. The next day, shepherds who had heard the cries, maintained it was a "Forest Man" (a wild Man).


The geomorphological, ecological and human context does not refute the possibility of the existence of unknown and above all relic hominid populations which can live far from modern Homo sapiens. Ranov (1972) who is one of the better specialists of the Central Asian prehistory observes that "the mountainous background of Central Asia (...) is no doubt one of the most inaccessible parts of the world. Living conditions there are very difficult for modern man and must also have been so for prehistorical mankind." The oral statements seem hardly compatible with a mythic story serving a cosmogonic explanation of the Universe. The mythic component is not supported, because, beside the stories of such encounters, there exist no narratives, no legends, no illustrations conveyed by local populations which evoke such "wild men." The most significant pieces of information to tackle the problem of their identity with are those related to the head. If the matter is a myth, we think that:

- first; it should be characterized by well distinct and precise features on the face,

- then these features should be systematically quoted in each oral statement in order to establish a spontaneous recognition.

This is only for generalities, which draw just a silhouette with more than 50 % of the oral statements describing only the pilosity, the human appearance, the permanent bipedalism, the dark skin, the bent silhouette and the proportions of the different parts of the body. In short this identity-kit picture does not present inconsistencies compared with the well known data of anthropology concerning living and fossil humans. Conversely, we know that the anthropomorphic illustrations with mythic functions, add different features taken from the animal kingdom which fire the imagination.

Some hypotheses about the taxonomical identity:

These beings described in the oral statements can be included among hominids because of their anatomical characteristics and, above all, because of the lack of big canine teeth, permanent bipedalism and human proportions of the body. This feature excludes these populations from apes, since during hominization big canine teeth disappeared at the australopithecine stage. The relic hominids of Chitral are identical to the "pongoïde" hominid described in Heuvelmans:

- in the illustrations each witness systematically and exclusively chose the "Homo pongoides", (fig. 2).

- in the questionnaire each one of the "Homo pongoides" characteristics is found again in the oral statements from Chitral.

In the light of such data, it seems that "Homo pongoides" is not any more an isolated case, nor a mystification. We have a convergence of data which allow us to support the existence of populations of similar living men at least in Northern Pakistan.

A first assessment is imperative: their particular and very specialized anatomical characteristics cannot be compared with those of any living human form, but they call to mind for the skull the very particular forehead anatomy of sub-fossil Australian populations and the extended human anatomy of the Veddoid which include populations from India (Vedda) to Japan (Ainu) (Riquet, 1986). The prehistorian Weidenreich (1943) already compared such living men with Sinanthropus (Far-East Homo erectus) (fig. 3) and supported the hypothesis of a specific Asian center of hominization. In India just the Saldhana skull illustrates the anatomy of Homo erectus.

- the relic hominids of Chitral could not have emerged spontaneously or recently. Their speciation is at least as old as that of modern humanity. Such very ancient origins lead us to assume that an identity or continuity with the fossil hominids.

- numerous similarities emerge with the anatomical and structural background of the most recent fossil hominids, which is the classic notion of archaic Homo sapiens. Fundamentally it is the Homo erectus and neanderthalensis ontogenetic background because archaic Homo sapiens has no ontogenetic reality (Dambricourt Malassé, 1987, 1988, 1993). Such reconsideration about the adult identity of Neanderthal Man is supported in Saban (1984) and Heim (1986) and the exclusion of Neanderthal Man from Homo sapiens taxonomy was recently developed in Stringer (1990). Thus we can support the hypothesis of Asian relic populations emerging from the old ontogenetic background different from classic Sapiens, that is Cro-Magnoids, different from the ancient and sub-fossil Australoids specific of the South-Eastern Asia (fig. 3).

Now there is the question of cultural components: those of relic hominids are unknown and seem to be limited. The lack of articulate speech is not in accordance with the conclusions of some authors which assume the hypothesis that the middle palaeolithic man such as Kebara, for instance, was able to develop an articulate language. A language limited to guttural sounds is not conform to the picture we develop concerning the relationships between the language and the culture of any human being.

The emerging problematics offer some very important prospects and can give rise to new questions about the hominization processes. Without analyzing this problem too quickly, we nevertheless take into account that culture inheritance is closely linked to the process of learning phases., which implies that the basic ground of culture or knowledge is unstable and very flimsy. We can assume that culture inheritance can be lost through several generations if the ethological equilibrium is disrupted for the many reasons we will analyze. Language is not innate. Lenneberg (1967) has shown that cerebral areas involved in the process of language learning, lose their potentialities if they are not stimulated before puberty. In the present case the lack of both complex language and cultures is coherent.

Given such descriptive results, it was necessary to compare the oral statements with the Paleoanthropological point of view and the prehistoric data of Central Asia.

Pieces of information that allow us to establish links between these living hominids and the fossil men different from modern Homo sapiens are few, but sufficient. The oral statements describe an external physiognomy whereas paleoanthropologists analyze the internal organization, the skeleton. Nevertheless we find common features whithin the descriptive anatomy of the head, that is: the lack of chin, the less developed forehead, the prominent supraorbital arch, and a voluminous throat (fig. 4). Moreover the well- developed pilosity does not contradict the biological deductions established on the more active reconstructed endocranian inductions (Heim, 1986; Dambricourt Malassé et Deshayes, 1992). This description is coherent. The large thoracic cage and the lack of waist constitute a coherent description because this characteristic is specific of human populations adapted to life in altitude (Arnaud and Larrouy, 1986).

The extinction of the late Eurasian Homo erectus and the emergence of Proto-cromagnoids.

We know that late populations of the evolved Homo erectus (i.e. H. neanderthalensis) lived in Western Europe at least until 30,000B.P. (St. Césaire in France, Zafaraya in Spain) as well as in Central Asia in their geographical variability (Techik Tach, Uzbekistan, estimated age, 40 000 B.P). Next to this Asian Neanderthalian Mousterian civilization, is the prehistoric site of Darrai Kurr (Hindu Kush, Afghanistan, 30 000 B.P.) with a Cro-Magnoids temporal bone in association with an occidental Mousterian culture. In both cases, civilizations come from from the West and are allochthonous (Vinogradov and Ranov, 1985). On the other hand Homo erectus is known in Central Asia since the Middle Paleolithic with the human fossil bones of Sel'oungour (Islamov, 1990) and evolves during Paleolithic until the Neolithic with very few contacts. When acculturation is evident, it comes from Eastern Asia and neither from the Near East nor Europe. These autochthonous cultures were either Acheulean in the North (Uzbekistan) or more archaic (pebble culture) in the South (Tadjikistan, Pamir, Hindu Kush).

Necessarily the extinction of the ancient European populations is more recent than 30 000 years B.P. On the other hand we can assume that this extinction was not uniform, and occurred with different timings, from Western to Eastern Europe. Then we can suppose that the evolutionary "wave" of Cro-Magnoids, allochthonous or autochthonous, generated numerous ethological pressures of the older and archaic populations which became relic. It is clear that 30 000 years ago, important endemic populations of the late Homo neanderthalensis organization hybridized in Europe with modern Homo sapiens (Mladec, Gambier, 1987, Hahnofersand, Saban 1982). Thus since 30 000 years B.P. these endemic populations have strongly regressed. But we do not know when the last groups of the relic populations disappeared and what occurred in Central Asia.

Paleoanthropologists rely on the conditions of conservation and on the demography of the fossil populations. Logically the demography of the last Eurasian Homo neanderthalensis quickly slows down, the probability to find fossilized bones decreases. Yet from 20 000 BP to the XX th century, what could be the conditions to preserve the remainders? Only areas, never occupied by modern Man, inappropriate for cultivations and breeding, without any conquest and great civilizations. Central Asia offers such conditions from Middle Paleolithic until XXth century. Moreover we can add that the Central Asian prehistoric populations were adapted to an ecological way of life too specific for migrating far from the climatic context, thus to be isolated in altitude.

Dubitative questions are relevant to the social and cultural fabrics, the limited size of the surviving groups and the possibility of an instinctive life where the cultural factor is reduced. This is the ecological, prehistorical and historical context that can explain the hypothetical survivance of prehistoric Asian populations in North Pakistan, as well as in the Pamir with a progressive decomposition of the social and cultural fabric. It is obvious that we should take into account the local development of the prehistoric men, and not the models of Western Europe.


Prehistory of Central Asia
How far can you stretch coincidence?

It is a fact that the skeptical attitudes adopted towards survival of extinct hominids in Eurasia, in the 20th century, are based on theories that are specific to Western Europe. For the purpose of forming an opinion concerning the information reported in Hindu Kuch, the only prehistorical data which could prove to be contradictory would have to come from what has been revealed in Central Asia itself. It so happens that the patterns of cultural evolution in that part of Eurasia do not coincide with trends in Western Europe, strongly influenced by the arrival of modern Homo sapiens, and already different from Central Europe.

The prehistorical occupation of Upper Asia is of a specific kind and is directly conditioned by the geomorphological context which bears no resemblance to those conditions in western Eurasia. Upper Asia consists of high mountain ranges, including the Pamir-Altai, the Karakoram, the Tien-Chan and the Hindu Kush.

For several years, Ranov has been studying the prehistory of the Afghan-Tadjik depression, i.e. the geographical area between Kelif and Tash Kurghan (map 1). This area also includes Chitral. The Chitral valley provides easy communication with Pamir whereas, in the south, the passage to the plains of Pakistan is particularly hazardous, and even impossible in winter. The Chitral district therefore belongs to a very complex geomorphological structure linking it on one side to the very high mountains of Pamir-Altai, opening westward in the direction of the Aral Sea and Western Europe and, on the eastern side, towards the Tarim basin and Mongolia.

An anatomically extinct hominid lived in Central Asia, as is shown by the fossils of Sel'ungur in Uzbekistan, dating from the Lower Paleolithic Age (Islamov, 1990). The authors consider these people to be an ancient race of Neanderthal men (fragment of an adolescent's humerus, more robust than Techik Tach), which, according to the current opinion, shared by leading prehistorians and paleoanthropologists, corresponds to the Eurasian Homo erectus (Bonifay and Vandermeersch 1989). This Uzbekistan hominid was the founder of an Acheulean stone cutting tradition (producing bifacial tools). He came into contact with the Tadjikistan tradition, located just to the south, a more ancient form composed primarily of flaked tools and choppers (no bifacial tools, chopping industry).

The Tadjikistan culture was then characterized by a very long tradition of choppers and chopping tools which was to last for thousands of years, right through the Middle Paleolithic to the Bronze Age.

It is this local feature that we now wish to investigate further. It already caught the attention of Ranov and Sidorovo, Jusupov and Filimonova in relation to the origin of the populations associated with this long and ancient cultural phylum. It is also something that should induce us to be vigilant about and to revise our thinking on the possible exceptional survival of human populations, endowed with a robust anatomy and still featuring certain extinct characteristics.

From the Lower to the Middle Paleolithic

Mousterian industry, imported from the Near East, made its appearance and led to the Middle Paleolithic culture. These individuals had various physiques, including the one at Teshik Tash (tomb of a Neanderthal child, 40 000 B.P.) basically Levalloisian, and the ones at Aman Kutan and Darrai-kur (temporal bone 30 000 B.P., Angel, 1972) (map 1). One single Mousterian facies seems to be of local origin, influenced not by the Near East but by Eastern Asia and dominated by the pebble culture (Soanian-Mousterian). The Mousterian culture then spread to the high country with its narrow gorges, and mostly wooded slopes (1500 m). It is on this Soanian-Mousterian culture, which has no equivalent in Europe or in the Near East, that we should concentrate our investigations. Of local origin, or influenced through imports from Eastern Asia, no link can be established with modern Homo sapiens, whose ancestry includes Mousterian origins since this combination is only known to have existed in the Near East (Qafzeh, Skhul, dating back some 95 000 years, Mercier et al. 1993, Yokoyama et al. in press).

The pattern of cultural evolution in Central Asia is complicated but the main trend seems to be that there were already cultural traditions when the new technologies reached the Central Asia, coming from the east and the west, which means that the native traditions were conservative. In addition, the contacts between the native populations and nomadic migrant people were not systematic. They took place in the bordering areas, the plains and the low valleys of the Caspian depression, with later incursions into the high valleys, the Mounts of Gissar and the high tablelands of Pamir. Hence, little by little, what can be described as a series of cultural implants, with their accompanying innovations, were inserted in the former layers. This caused a degree of acculturation in certain cases but, precisely, not in all of them.

The Middle Paleolithic Age fits in with this pattern. Some men of these cultures correspond to geographical variants of a more evolved Homo erectus and are reminiscent of the Neanderthal men from the Near East (Teshik-Tash). Others, like Darrai-kur did not possess Neanderthal characteristics, but we do not know whether they were proto Cro-Magnon of a later, more evolved form of Homo erectus specific to Central Asia.

From the Middle to the Upper Paleolithic

Some Mousterian traditions evolved on the spot, without outside contacts or fundamental changes, developing cultures contemporary to the European Upper Paleolithic Age. This applies precisely to Darri-Kur, which supplied the fragment of a temporal bone without specific Neanderthal characteristics, while the Aurignacian, the work of Homo sapiens, arrived to Kara Kamar from Central Europe, where he originated (Koslowski, 1988). The fragment of temporal bone is interesting in that it is characterized by an adaptation to height, as reported by Angel (1972). "this scroll is for a tendon forming the origin of the levator veli palatini, one of the muscles which help to open the Eustachian tube to equalize middle ear and outside atmospheric pressures in a change of altitude, such as occurs in the eastern part of Afghanistan". Similarly, the internal acoustic space is extraordinarily developed.

In Europe there is no sign of this persistence of the Mousterian culture. Central Europe had its own cultural evolution with the transformation on the spot of the Mousterian and Aurignacian ones, in which the biological factor is the substantiated presence of Homo sapiens. In Western Europe we see, on the contrary, the famous Chatelperronian stage which is specific to the contact between the Mousterian industry, produced by the Neanderthal Europeans, and the renovated techniques conveyed by Homo sapiens (Farizy, 1990). This phase of acculturation marks the arrival of modern Homo sapiens between 40 000 B.P. and 30 000 B.P. (Gambier, 1989) related to the possible migratory movements caused by a warming of the climate (recession of the polar ice-cap inlandsis (Koslowski, 1987).

In Central Asia and, more precisely, in the Afghan-Tadjik depression, no gradual transition or acculturation between the Mousterian and more sophisticated techniques of stone-slicing is observed at that time: "None of the upper paleolithic sites in the region show evidence of such techniques as blunted edges, of blunt-backed blades" (Vinogradov and Ranov, 1985).

Although these waves of modern Homo sapiens migrations radiated from the Balkan epicentrum (Central Europe), taking with them the techniques developed by Aurignacian man, they did not produce the same effects in Central Asia as in Western Europe.

The European Mousterian/Aurignacians cultural tradition was linked with the fast replacement of Neanderthal peoples by Homo sapiens. This cultural shift did not appear in Central Asia for the autochthonous Soanian Mousterian tradition. One may wonder, therefore, whether these waves of migrating Aurignacians (Homo sapiens) by penetrating the high valleys of the Pamir-Altai range, were not more conducive to the development of isolated pockets due to the geomorphological background. On the other hand, the Mousterian/Soanian tradition shows affinities with a Sibero-Mongolian Upper Paleolithic (Ranov, 1993) that is in accordance with an eastern origin of these archaic populations rather than with the western one. This means that we do not know what kind of human beings lived in these high valleys during the Upper Paleolithic , whether they were of a single type or diverse according to their geographical distribution, reflecting that of the different cultures. It is just as feasible that several isolated groups of humans may have lived in the highlands at the same time, belonging to the more highly developed kind of Homo erectus, specific to Central Asia, or to the Neanderthal species originating from Europe and the Near East. Or maybe they were, a cross between the two fundamental types of anatomy, one archaic and the other evolved (Homo sapiens sapiens), like those found in Central Europe at Hahnofersand ( 36 000 B.P., Saban, 1982) and in Mladec, Zlaty Kun (30 000 B.P., Gambier, 1988).

From the Upper Paleolithic to the Mesolithic and Neolithic

The Upper Paleolithic Age in Central Asia is not homogeneous either. Like the Middle Paleolithic Age, it reveals separate cultures at different stages of evolution: "the co-existence of two cultures placed in similar ecological conditions, but with different industries, forms the most difficult aspect of the problem" (Vinogradov and Ranov, 1985). One of them, located in the mountain valleys of Gissar and Pamir, continued through the upper Paleolithic. This was the Darri-Shur site (different from Darri-Kur), of which the special feature is "the low percentage of objects that can be qualified as a survival of the Upper Paleolithic Age, and, on the contrary, the persistence of a high percentage of pebbles". Remains consist of coarse flakes, choppers, nucleus on pebbles : "no other Mesolithic or Neolithic site in the territory considered bears any similarity to Darrai Shur" (Vinogradov and Ranov, 1985).

This tradition of mountain dwellers who cut themselves off from the cultural evolution in the plains lasted during the whole of the Neolithic Age, through to the proto-historic Bronze Age, keeping both the worked pebble element and the Soanian-Mousterian element to form two neighboring groups, called the Civilizations of Gissar in Tadjikistan, and Markansou in Pamir (map 1.) (Ranov, 1972, Gupta 1979). These evolutionarily independent cultures were "probably linked to two independent historical developments as well as two different economic bases" (Ranov, 1972).

We can therefore observe a unique and very slow, antiquated cultural evolution, based on the chopper and the chopping tool, which evolved towards a special type of Mousterian civilization, crossing the Upper Paleolithic Age as if it did not exist, and finally reached the Neolithic stage with precisely just a few Upper Paleolithic elements and a majority of choppers and instruments made of flaked stone. This is a cultural phylum with no discontinuities. It appears to have been isolated from the successive waves of men carrying different cultures who finally came to settle in the immense haven offered by the deep valleys of Central Asia.

Thus, Middle and Upper Paleolithic men from the Near East imported new technologies without this having any influence on the other cultures: "The men from the West must have made contact on their arrival with local populations, and the nature of the relations which grew up between these two groups is the most difficult question to solve for the moment". (Vinadograv and Ranov, 1985). In the plains we find Neolithic and Mesolithic traces reminiscent of sites in the Near East, while in the mountainous regions, Gissar and Markansou Civilizations were typified by "a long persistence of the pebble industry." The Markansou Civilization in Pamir is the highest up (4 000 meters) and the most recent. They reached the high valleys after migrating, but kept the typical cultural features of Gissar: "the outstanding feature of the material found is the small number of blades and the persistence of Mousterian bifacial stone cutting."

This is an important feature because, as previously remarked, laminar stone cutting is considered by prehistorians to be a more sophisticated technique than the Mousterian type (Boëda 1990). Hence the fact that it is rarely found during protohistorical times automatically raises the question as to the human identity of the peoples who belonged to that culture. Who were these men who obviously came at a later date in prehistory, after the Neolithic Age, and chose to cut themselves off in the high plateaus of Pamir, despite the very inhospitable climate in these areas?

No other evidence is necessary therefore to enable us to understand the observed data, which speak for themselves.

Such a prolonged cultural continuity implies extended isolation, and the absence of all contact with the populations who carried these revived traditions. According to Jusupov and Filimomova (1985), "one can conclude with relative assurance, that the Neolithic culture of Hissar (Guissar) developed in situ, taking root in the earlier local cultures (...). As regards the economic basis of the carriers of the Hissar culture, the problem remains entirely unsolved. The authors of this document believe that they were hunting and fruit-gathering nomads."

For Ranov and Sidorovo (1979): "the roots of this Neolithic culture, go well back into the local autochthonous cultures of the Upper Paleolithic, and even Mousterian."

Moreover, Ranov (1985) published a later conclusion: "No reply has yet been found to several questions. One of them, and certainly not the least, is the search for a single solution to the problem of the economic bases of the Hissar culture (... of which) the period between the 3rd and the beginning of the 2nd millenary is still largely unknown, if not totally unexplored."

Who are the men of Markansou?

It is astonishing that no one has already raised the obvious question as to what type of human being could possibly have been associated with such an ancient tradition? Gissar and Markansou have affinities with Eastern Asia, where human fossils associated with the tradition of early stone splitting on prepared pebbles were not found before reaching China and they were specific Asian Homo erectus. It is certainly not always possible to link a type of human with a given culture, but the question must nevertheless be raised with regard to Central Asia after the Middle Paleolithic. We cannot get around this question by presuming that it is not relevant because there is no more reason to believe that the Gissar men were modern Gracile Homo sapiens. On the contrary, it is logical to suppose that there is a homogeneous human phylum consisting of men with extent anatomies, insofar as the Gissar element is the continuation of an Asian tradition, installed prior to the Mousterians, hence before the possible arrival of modern Homo sapiens from the Near East. It is logical too, considering that there was no transition from the Mousterian to the Upper Paleolithic and that, on the contrary, the Old Stone working technique persisted.

The exceptional conditions of isolation and the adaptation to high altitude in the mountains of Central Asia undoubtedly explain the particularities of their cultural evolution and, even more so, the special aspects of their biological evolution. Before imposing the West European model (i.e., rapid substitution), we should therefore consider the possible survival of isolated autochthonous populations having an extinct type of anatomy, either in proto Cro-Magnoid form like Skhul and Qafzeh, or of an unknown type specific to central Asia and unknown at the present time.

It is also feasible to suppose that, as in Central Europe but for longer periods, co-existence occurred in these inhospitable areas, encouraged by their vastness and that, although unsuitable for Neolithic settlement, these territories became the ultimate refuge of extinct populations, submitted elsewhere to the pressure of modern Homo sapiens expansion. Thirty thousand years ago, men lived in Central Asia. They were adapted to a life in hard living conditions at a considerable height. Later on during the Bronze Age, the descendants of these men whose antiquated culture astonishes us, could have cut themselves off in sites between 3 000 and 4 000 metres high.

They could have done so physiologically for they had been living in high mountainous grounds for a long time, and, culturally because they carved silex of a reasonably good quality. They took with them a tradition that was unknown in Western Europe and the Near East, largely dominated by the Mousterians. We do not know who where the men of Markansou and reasonably they can be characterized by an archaic anatomy. Gracile Homo sapiens, remained for a very long time in the plains and in medium height valleys until the 20th century when Pamir-Altai, that had accommodated these populations unknown during the Bronze Age, was still one of the wildest and harshest areas in Eurasia. During the Bronze Age, Sakas who nomadized in Pamir and Hindu Kush, and who speak a language rich in animal metaphors, describe the men who lived in altitude and slept half a year as having "goat feet" that is to say, "agile feet."

That men came and lived in isolation in the high plateaus of Pamir at a very late date is therefore a historical and a prehistorical fact that cannot be disregarded. They knew only the ancient techniques of stone cutting, going back to the Middle Paleolithic, at the time when the great civilizations, like that of the men in Amu Darya were developing stock rearing and a nomadic existence. This contemporaneity is not a myth, but a historical fact.

This answers the critical position adopted by prehistorians towards the possible late survival of an extinct and robust type of man down to historical times. These criticisms do not take into account the prehistory of the areas where the stories have been collected. Furthermore, one can hardly reproach the arguments of the case with a lack of general knowledge in order to support the theory of a big ape (Coppens, 1992), which is incompatible with the anatomical details given by the witnesses and their choice of pictures.

It is therefore a historical truth that men with a very ancient cultural tradition isolated themselves in the Pamir district at the end of the Neolithic Age, and that they lived there until about 1000 BC, at least (Amasova et al. 1993). No studies were undertaken later on. Who were they? Ranov does not answer this question. What constraints pushed them go to these inhospitable sites? Was it the arrival of Neolithic Homo sapiens, stock breeders and farmers, of men different from themselves, both physically and in their behavior?

We are now very close to the pattern of events reported slightly further south, during the 20th century by the Chitrali people. The nomads encountered wild men in the highlands where no one ever ventures. They are hairy, which is not contradictory in view of the Mongolian peoples such as Ouigours known for this characteristic, they have an inaudible language for the local inhabitants, which does not mean that they have no language, and they communicate at a distance by loud calls which do not correspond to any known animal.

While Ranov was doing his research in the Gissar Mounts and in the valleys of Vakhsh and Vantch, Yazgoulem, Alichur, Bartang and Murgab, a Russian historian, Professor Porchnev, was making enquiries in these same areas among the Tadjiks and Russian officers for the purpose of collecting several reports on the existence of wild hairy populations. In 1958, Porchnev had succeeded in obtaining from the USSR Academy of Sciences, that a pluri-disciplinary expedition be organized in the Pamir district in order to clarify the origin of these stories. He had published several articles on the subject (Porchnev, 1968) and had also directed a study on the food resources of the Teshik Tash Neanderthals whose staple food was the ibex. The expedition had not progressed in the expected direction, but found prehistoric industry. The Academy's purely dogmatic attitude precluded any possibility that an extinct species might have survived: the existence of two daughter species in the same territory was inconceivable. And the expedition fell into oblivion. Nevertheless in 1985 it is quite obviously demonstrated that two populations live in altitude with great cultural divergences, one prehistoric and the other Neolithic.

Such flagrant coincidences in such a limited space should not be hushed up. It is the duty of Science, on the contrary, to take unbiased action with a view to clearing up a situation, which does not fit the theoretical models that are all too quickly generalized. The evidence collected in the sixties by Porchnev (1974), further to the north in a similar mountainous environment, should be added to the stories told by the Chitrali nomads.

These reports were supplied by Soviet officers who had the opportunity of traveling in the high areas uninhabited by any known human beings. One of them is a Soviet military coroner's report concerning an individual shot at a very high altitude. The description is that of a naked hairy man, with a wide face similar to a Mongolian's, a heavy lower jaw and an underdeveloped forehead. Other witnesses' accounts come from engineers, geologists, officers and natives.

One might wonder why no official scientific comparison was made between these stories and local prehistoric data on the Gissar and Markansou civilizations. In the Western World we do not know enough about Central Asia.

At other times and in other places, the spirit of scientific research would have induced the question: could there be any connection between the Gissar-Markansou civilization, which survived into historical eras, and the stories circulating in these mountainous countries about men with obsolete anatomies, which even include reports on autopsies performed by Soviet military missions?

All things considered, the survival of men with antiquated physical characteristics in North Pakistan, Pamir and the Tadjikistan mountains is not unfeasible. It is consistent with the local historical and prehistorical data. Prehistory asks the same question, as do witnesses. Who are these prehistoric men who live in the highlands and have so little in common with Neolithic Gracile Homo sapiens living in the valleys?

Chitrali nomads may well be the privileged witnesses of the extinction of small local populations, who have been isolated for at least 5 000 years, living in a secluded environment which has saved them from extermination and cross-breeding until the present day. This does not mean that they are safe from extinction. The increasing conquest by modern man of the natural environment has considerably reduced their habitat.

The discovery of an obsolete type of human, even if the individuals still bear traces of crossbreeding with Homo sapiens, would be of immense interest.

This is not just idle curiosity or the search for general knowledge. It is the duty of paleoanthropologists and prehistorians to avoid an attitude of suspicion or total skepticism before having, at least, taken the trouble to investigate the matter thoroughly on the spot. For the time being, to refute any idea of survival stems simply from a personal conviction and not from scientific certainty. To further the cause of scientific truth and enable scientists to state objectively that the last prehistorical peoples have effectively disappeared, they must begin by getting to know the local prehistory and then verify on site the natural causes which account for all the reported evidence.


The lack of articulate speech.

Another point is that such wildmen appear to have no articulate language. The absence of a culture, even rudimentary, as reported by witnesses, is compatible with the absence of a complex language. All the evidence coincides in this respect. What astonishes the prehistorian is the fact there exists a human population without any culture or articulate language, since these are two of the definitions of the human species. In other words, is a man with no culture and no language conceivable? This is not unthinkable with regard to the people living in Africa over 2 million years ago. It has never been proven that the Australopithecus cut flint. We cannot assert that, from the first emergence of Homo anatomy, all men started sooner of later to work flint and develop an articulate language. Less linear and more complex processes are also a possibility, and we might assume that human populations lived with a specific language in keeping with a specific brain and basicranial anatomy, quite unlike that of Homo sapiens, and depending on a subsistence economy, comparable to that of the gracile Australopithecus.

It is just as impossible to adopt hard and fast attitudes on the evolution of much more recent populations who have neither the physiology nor the behavior of Homo sapiens when they are in precarious survival conditions. We do not know how far the different instinctive physiological conditions of Homo sapiens enable him to adapt to changes in the environment and in social structure. The paleontologist sees things from a different angle, because he is interested in both the anatomy and the phylum. He knows that present-day species are late forms of old phyla, such as the big apes, for instance. An anatomist knows that development and apprenticeship are the important factor. If he looks at an endocranian plaster cast without focusing on its taxonomical identity but more on its functional anatomy, he will say in respect of a Neanderthal man that the supply of oxygen, which is important in the language function, was considerably restricted compared with present-day Man's (Saban, 1984, 1993). So he will say that the brain was large but that the use of the neo-cortex tissues could not resemble modern man's, bearing in mind the reduced development of the vascular network. Hence, even if this brain contained a lot of cells, it certainly was not functional in the way of current Mankind (Magraner and Dambricourt Malassé, 1993, infra, Dambricourt Malassé et Deshayes 1993, forthcoming). Consequently, inner language, or thought, could not have been identical, at least as far as semantic complexity is concerned. An anatomist who is familiar with the basicranial structure of the big apes and its growth pattern will immediately see the proportions, and the layout, of the bony elements at the base of the skull involved in the composition of the vocal tract. Therefore, without knowing the taxonomical identity of a fossil, the paleoanthropologist has at his disposal information that tells him what the general outline of the capacity for speech and language was in the fossil concerned. He will be able to give an opinion concerning the architecture of the supralaryngeal cavity, the volume occupied by the tongue, its position with regard to the throat and the dental arch, and on the size of the voice-box. He will try to assess the development of the larynx and the hyoid system, based on the development of the supporting muscles. The functional anatomy of the skull base, combined with that of the brain (Dambricourt Malassé 1993), makes it possible to draw up an initial estimate of the capabilities and modes of speech appropriate to a specific hominid fossil.

The question is to know whether, in the record of paleontology, skulls can be found which could confirm the absence of modern articulate language, such as modern Man's, both by basicranial architecture and the organization of the endocranial and vascular fingerprints. To be more precise, are such skulls known in Eurasia among later populations, like the Neanderthal man, in the widest sense? In this respect, anatomical studies and their functional reading obtained from the recent knowledge acquired on modern Man and the big apes, are more in favour of the hypothesis that there was an unknown language that cannot be related to current Homo sapiens (Dambricourt Malassé and Deshayes, 1989, 1993).

A deeper study of Neanderthal cranial ontogenesis, substantiated by knowledge recently acquired in dentofacial orthopedics, enables us to propose an outline reconstitution of the vocal tract of the last Europeans who lived before Homo sapiens took their place. It shows a wide supra-laryngeal cavity and prompts us to conclude that these hominids were able to communicate over long distances, like animals, by uttering loud cries, such as the ones heard in Chitral, and that they could also imitate animals. As a result, one may wonder to what extent these hominids had reached a clear mental distinction between an animal and a non-animal identity.

We can suppose that the modern articulate speech emerges only within the basic Sapiens growth, but not spontaneously. Logically a time lag should be observed between the emergence of the new ontogenetic system and the exploitation of the potentialities offered by the new anatomical and physiological ontogenic bases.

Bichakjian (1992, a,b) supports the idea that the older extant languages are those with guttural sounds. This idea converges with the present data. The Homo erectus did not develop the modern articulate speech, thus very probably the first Sapiens was in the same case, and they may have tried to develop the same type of vocalizations before developing a new articulate language in association with the new anatomical and physiological system. The relic hominids could come from the Asian Homo erectus organizations whose linguistic potentialities are quite different from those of Sapiens. In short it is not surprising that they produce guttural sounds. We should be happy eventually to discover such relic hominids, since they are much more convergent with the fossil hominids than we believed, especially when they are included in a process of deculturation. It should be the study of such populations with CT Scans, teleradiography, anatomical dissections, observations of the ontogenesis, that will be able to give a better illustration of old humanity, exactly as we do with the living great apes to understand the fossil ones. This living model, or living representative, maybe could lie in living relic hominids precisely such as those of Chitral.


There are two ways of interpreting these stories which describe beings that are close enough to Man to be related to Mankind rather than to apes. Either the stories are made up, and totally imagined, as prompted by oral tradition, or they describe a reality that does not belong to the witnesses' make-up. The arguments which enable us to discuss the relative weight of each of these two interpretations concern, on the one hand, the consistency between the various stories and, on the other, the consistency between the environment and the conditions allowing wild human populations to exist. Another is the coherence between the survival of such peoples and the local Paleoanthropological data and prehistory, plus the data on the anatomy and physiology of the speech organs found in fossils. Lastly, it is to be recalled that the stories coincide with the scientific descriptions for the regions north of Chitral, those of the Tibetan dictionary, concerning which Vleck notes the strict accuracy of the descriptions for each species and the absence of all imaginary beasts, as well as the stories of soviet scientific and military travelers in Pamir.

These data as a whole are not such as to exclude the survival of relic human beings. Hence we are now thinking out new questions concerning the evolutionary procedures in language development, especially the generalization of a single model which sees in every more recent human fossil a being with a modern articulate language. Until now, scientists have been working towards a concept of the living, which is increasingly committed to an evolutionary concept based on deterministic chaos. This means that the populations follow evolutionary paths that diverge and lead to very different and unexpected results. There is no reason to suppose that the process is in any way different for humans. This should encourage us to adopt a less simplistic concept concerning hominization, as well as to question our own mental images of fossil men. What is true of one region and era is not systematically so for other periods and places. If hominization is developing in any particular place, it can just as well diverge and slow down somewhere else, or even regress. The narrations of Hindu Kush witnesses cast doubts on our uniform and regular concept of hominization, just as much as the discovery of the Gissar civilization or the deterministic chaos inside everything in evolution.

For what reasons is the survival of relic populations inconceivable? What are the empirical bases capable of demonstrating that it is impossible? Are we dealing with facts or with personal convictions as to what defines a Human Being, moreover transposed in the past, which prohibit us from even contemplating the existence of wild, hairy men in Central Asia as being a reality and not a myth. Now, who can assume that the Soanian-Mousterian men of Markassou, 2 000 years ago, were anatomically modern men, and can assume that they have completely disappeared? A third scientific expedition will try to resolve the origin of the oral statements, keeping in mind that the wild men can be the descent of the soanian-mousterian civilization of Markansou.


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Map 1 : Central Asia, with the afghano-tadjik depression and the district of Chitral, North Pakistan. Prospected areas and prehistoric sites.

Map 2 : Ecological repartition of fauna and oral statements in the district of Chitral.

Table 1 : Many oral statements of Pamir, Tian-Chan and Gissar Range.

Table 2 : Physical characteristic in the questionnaire.

Table 3 : Synthetic diagram of a-biotic, animal, plant and floral life. South of Chitral, mediterranean climate with dry summers.

Table 4 : Etho-ecological synthesis

figure 1 : Tibetan dictionary with the wild hominid

figure 2 : Identikit picture of the wild men described in an oral statement.

figure 3 : "Homo pongoïdes" in Heuvelmans (1974).

figure 4 : Comparison of south eastern Asian skulls : A: early Homo erectus (Pithecanthropus), B : late Homo erectus, C : Australian aborigine, D : Head of an Australian aborigine (in Weidenreich, 1943).

figure 5 : Comparison between a reconstitution of an archaic man in Burian (1960) and the final identikit picture of an oral statement.








Jordi Magraner
Chief of the expeditions in North Pakistan (1988-1990) Association Troglodytes
69 rue Fouques-Duparc, 26000 Valence, France

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