Bigfoot Encounters

Australian Myths & Monsters 2001 Conference October 2001

"Investigating Cryptic Hominids (Yowies)
in the Blue Mountains of NSW"

NSW=New South Wales

By Michael Hallett and David McBean


Evidence of cryptic hominid activity (yowies) in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney NSW is widespread and varied, ranging from physical evidence such as footprints and damage to trees and foliage, to eyewitness sightings on a long-term basis. Local residents are often aware of the presence of these creatures but this knowledge rarely comes to the notice of the general public. A loose group of people (Blue Mountains Cryptid Research) and others are researching yowies and their behaviour in the region using a variety of different approaches. A few examples of evidence of these creatures is presented and should act as a broad lead in to more detailed descriptions by others.

Some ideas about the origins of these creatures will be presented. These authors favour an evolutionist approach to the yowie phenomena, with the theory that the yowie is a normal animal that has evolved over millions of years and is existent in Australia. Other investigators and eyewitnesses point out irregularities and "strangeness" in connection to yowie reports and suggest alternative (including psychic) explanations for the yowie.

Yowie research within Australia is alive and well and is represented by a number of groups and individuals, who can be roughly grouped as amateur researchers and documenters. In contrast to the Bigfoot researchers in the USA, there appears to be a generally greater cooperation between groups excepting a few individuals. In Australia, certain factions present in the US environment do not exist. These are the "bounty hunter" style of investigators with a main goal to shoot a Bigfoot.


It is not the purpose of this presentation to prove to the general public or the skeptic the existence of these creatures, as we strongly feel that ample evidence exists already. However, for those with little or no knowledge of the field, this may seem like an odd approach. However, other case histories presented during this conference should provide the casual observer with a wealth of circumstantial evidence. Evidence from two Blue Mountains residents will be presented in the course of this conference and represents a tiny amount of the evidence existing.

Personal experiences

I had heard about yowies in my early youth from an uncle who used to live in the Hunter Valley and had seen yowies on the banks of the Hunter River. My first encounter with a possible yowie occurred north of Sydney. Returning from a trip to the north coast, my mother, brother and I were attempting to avoid the usual traffic snarl at that time near Wyong. We took a back road to Sydney, which leads from Central Mangrove to Calga and on to Mt White.

This bush area of bush joins to the north with the Watagans, to the south with Kuringai and to the west with the Yengo National Park and eventually the huge Wollemi wilderness.

The road we were traveling on is long and straight running south from Central Mangrove. Although it was night, because the road was straight, we were able to see quite a way ahead in the headlights. My brother was the first to notice a large figure on the left-hand side of the road, some distance ahead, and called our attention to it. We then all spotted a large shape standing at the edge of the bush. It was dark and so details as to what it was were not clear. As the car approached and passed the shape, it turned and lurched back into the bush. We turned to look out the back window of the car to see the shape disappearing into the bush.

We were all shocked and surprised by this figure, because it was clearly very large, probably six or seven feet high and square-set like a door. We wondered if it could have been a kangaroo and then discounted that possibility considering its huge size. I urged my mother, who was driving, to mm the car around so we could go back to look for whatever it was. She refused flatly and put her foot harder on the accelerator. I recently asked her again about the experience and she reported a strange "creepiness" about the experience which made her refuse to go back to investigate.

I do not personally know of any other reports from this area but wouldn't be surprised to find that someone else has had experiences in this area. There have been reports of yowies in the area around Woy Woy, some 10 kilometres south.

A few years later, in Easter of 1979, I was camped with a large group of people north of Yarrangobilly in the Kosciusko National Park. We were many kilometres from any civilization, as we had taken a fire-trail north of the highway some 30 km from the closest town. We had made camp a few kilometres south of Michelago Peak. We had amused ourselves around the campfire for a few hours, listening to the dingoes howl as they came down to the creek for the evening.

After we had all settled to bed, we were awakened at around 2 or 3 am by a terrifying howling / bellowing / screaming. A friend and I sat bolt upright in the tent, petrified by the sound. The noise seemed to emanate from one or two valleys away, as it sounded immensely loud but distant. Over the next 10 minutes were heard it approach closer and well before it seemed too close, it stopped. The noise is difficult to describe, but can be imagined somewhere between a bellowing or roaring with a hint of screaming. The most noticeable thing about it was that it was so deep and booming. It sounded like a sound from a jungle, not sclerophyll forest in NSW!! It sounded completely out of place. It sounded wrong. I have never heard anything before or since like that.

We were quite clear that the noise was not dingoes, dogs, koalas or humans. Was it a yowie? The area is well known for yowie activity, from the 1800's onwards. The local name for them is Jingera.

Blue Mountains Cryptid Research

This name applies to a loose collective of people associated through a joint interest in the yowie in the Blue Mountains. Most of these people made initial contact with AYR and Dean Harrison and were then put in touch with each other. Some of these individuals prefer to remain anonymous for their own privacy. Other people in the mountains are carrying out their own research are and in contact from time to time but currently not part of BMCR These include Paul Cropper, Tony Healy, Neil Frost and of course Rex Gilroy. We encourage participation from others in the mountains of similar interests and encourage further participation together.

At its best, the BMCR would be an open forum for investigators and local residents to communicate experiences and ideas between each other (via an email group).

The views expressed in this talk do not represent the views of all of the members of BMCR

Our Approach and Aims

The BMCR takes a reserved stance in researching these creatures. We generally prefer to use the terms bush ape or hairy man instead of yowie, due to the media hyperbole often generated by the name "YOWIE!". We strongly wish to avoid a sensationalist approach, as we believe it attracts the wrong kind of attention to a potentially endangered species. Indeed there are those in the BMCR who believe the best preservation policy for these creatures is not to tell people about them at all. Our aim is to study the behaviour of the Bush Ape to learn more about it and perhaps demystify it. We are also interested in theories of the origins of these animals and welcome discussion on the subject.

Our approach to the study of these creatures is one of quiet respect rather than bombardment or noisy invasion. We feel that the optimum approach will be to spend as much time as possible in their habitat, in a particular locale with only a few people in any group. This approach parallels that of other primate investigators such as Dianne Fossey and Jane Goodall and seeks to both familiarize a particular group of creatures with certain researchers, and familiarize researchers with the behaviour of a group of creatures in a particular area.

This process will be slow and ongoing, and may occur in fits and starts, given the restrictions on time faced by most researchers.

We are focusing for the moment on an apparently active area away from the two main areas of activity near Jerry and Nell's place, for the combination of reasons of privacy for the residents, and so as not to disturb any relationship developing between the residents and their respective yowies.

With these aims of study, we could be characterized as amateur documenters / scientists / researchers. Although catching footage of these animals would be very good, and discovery of a type specimen ideal (a dead body), our primary aim at the moment is for study and documentation.

The well known bigfoot researcher Grover Krantz suggested a sequence of five steps that normally occur in the description of a new species:

1. Eyewitness reports from residents living in the locality of the species

2. Skeletal remains are brought to the attention of scientists

3. A complete body is discovered

4. A live specimen is captured

5. Observation and study of the animal in the wild habitat

Our aims are to provide some information on point 5 - to study and document as much as possible about this creature, despite not yet having a body or a live specimen. We do this out of natural curiosity and the hope that some day when the creature becomes an accepted species, the work may prove useful. We would also like to document as much activity and eyewitness accounts in the area as possible.

The Case so Far

Reports from others in the mountains will be discussed during this conference, so it is not the place of these authors to comment on those accounts. As a broad-brush approach, there is plenty of evidence in the mountains that can be briefly discussed to whet the appetite. These include widespread evidence of tree damage (bites), damage to undergrowth due to ongoing traffic and apparent nesting areas.


A quick note on the protection and preservation of the yowie. Given the broad deforestation of the East Coast of Australia after British colonization, there are reasonable grounds to believe that the natural habitat of these creatures has been significantly reduced. With the continuing incursion of human activity into the wide expanses of bush and an unknown population of yowies in this country, there is a case for their protection by a low-key approach to their study. Adequate information on the yowie gained through thoughtful study may be enough to provide some guidelines for future researchers if or when their existence is acknowledged openly in the lay and scientific community.

So What is a Yowie?

We can't really say, and haven't come to any strong decision as to exactly what it is. This is due to almost complete lack of any physical evidence outside of eyewitness reports and the signs these animals leave behind. However, from a scientists perspective, these shreds of evidence do, we feel, provide a huge amount of information to use in speculation.

There are broadly varying ideas what a yowie actually is. Some feel that these creatures are descendants of giant Asian apes, whilst others preferring a more mystical approach, suggest these creatures have paranormal attributes. It is beyond the scope of this presentation to elaborate on this aspect, mainly clue to lack of personal experiences that suggest this. However, Tony Healy will be giving some thoughts on this subject in a following talk. These authors believe these creatures are most probably descendants of relicts hominids that migrated southward through Asia and by some manner yet undetermined, were able to cross the significant geographical barriers of the so called "Wallace Line", which has prevented all other forms of Asian mega-fauna (excepting Homo sapiens) from reaching Australia. This will be elaborated on later on in this talk.

Mundane Explanations

We are going to approach the yowie phenomena in this talk from an evolutionary perspective. Although not as romantic as the psychic approach, we currently favour this theory over others put forward to date. We still feel that the existence of a large bipedal primate in Australia without widespread detection is mysterious enough in itself. There are certainly aspects of some sightings that can lead one to feel that there is something more than mere flesh and blood to a yowie. Perhaps there is, and we are still open to new ideas. Perhaps there are things about yowies that we simply don't understand properly yet (as there are with many natural phenomena). It is felt however, that attributing paranormal qualities to explain unexplainable aspects of yowie experiences is (to paraphrase Paul Cropper "using one unexplained phenomena to explain another").

We also have no experience living in an environment inhabited by yowies and so put forward a mundane theory for their existence and ancestry.

A Summary of Eyewitness Reports

Most of the credible accounts of yowies describe them as looking like an upright gorilla, or occasionally an orang-utan. One or two features distinguish them from a gorilla, and usually lead people to describe them as man-like. They are also sometimes described as ape-like men. Generally however, the ape-like features outweigh the man-like features. These include the huge size, hairiness, long arms and (significantly) lack of neck. Other more subtle features such as the apparent presence of prominent canines also lead us towards the great apes rather than man. In any case, the evidence places them squarely in the primate family tree.

Behavioral evidence also leads towards the great apes with the caveat that of course nothing can be sure in this field. Such behaviour includes bellowing, foot stomping, occasional running on all fours and apparently behaving in a semi nomadic fashion, building new nests each day (answering the sometimes asked question "why don't we find where they live?"). This behaviour quite closely approximates gorillas and orang-utans. In some ways, the absence of evidence also gives us some ideas on their place in the primate family - for instance their lack of permanent shelters and lack of complex tool use.

We can also look into the idea that perhaps these creatures are more closely related to humans and may be or have diverged from the primate family tree later than the great apes did.

Prehistoric Bipedal Primates

First, let us summarize the various upright bipedal apes and humans (hominids is the general term for these bipedal primates), which have existed in the past. Given that even tribes of wild Chimpanzees have simple sign language dialects, it is reasonable to assume that all those beings listed below had some form of language, even if it was far more basic in form, than our own.

Gracile Australopithecines - A term covering various types of small (less than 5 feet tall) lightly built upright bipedal primates, some of which may be either ancestors of humans or a side branch of separate hominids. They lived in east and southern Africa and seem to have originated earlier than 4.2 million years ago, with the final types living until around 2.5 million years ago or possibly later. Footprints, thought to be those of a 3.7 million year old gracile Australopithecine, have been found at Laetoli, Tanzania. They are the oldest known footprints that show evidence of a human-like structure, with an arch.

Robust Australopithecine (also known, as Paranthropus)- This covers a range of groups, which are similar to the above, but seem to be a side branch (or branches) of more strongly built types, which lived between approximately 2.6 and 1 million years ago. They include some extra robust types, which have larger skull crests and massive jaws.

One type, dating from around 1.75 million years ago in east Africa, is called Australopithecus boisei, Zinjanthropus boisei, Zinj, or simply Nutcracker man (due to its huge jaw). The estimates of Zinj's maximum height seem to vary between 5 feet and 6 feet, depending on whether you theorize that their long arms meant they were tall, or simply that they had very long arms in relation to the rest of their body. As with all remains of creatures this age, it is skull and jaw remains, which survive more often than other body parts.

Gigantopithecus- lived between approximately 6-4 million years ago and 500,000 years ago in southern China, Vietnam and Northern India. Due to the absence of remains other than teeth and jaws, the matter of whether it was bipedal or quadrupedal is highly debatable. Gigantopithecus was the largest primate known to have ever lived. It is generally considered to be a quadrupedal relative of the Orangutan, but is included in this discussion because a few scientists feel that it may have been bipedal and as such may be relevant to this discussion. Dr Grover Krantz, in particular, makes a convincing argument for placing Gigantopithecus in the hominid family tree. Their teeth are very large and adapted for herbivory. The canines are moderately large but often show evidence of being ground down to stubs, due to their diet.

Meganthropus- lived approximately 1 million (?) years ago in Indonesia. Like Gigantopithecus, its remains are scant. Generally considered to be a very robust form of Homo erectus, but it may still be too early to say for sure. Some scientists have suggested that Meganthropus' jaw remains seem to have some similarities to those of the robust Australopithecines. This leads to the question: could Meganthropus possibly represent an Asian branch of robust Australopithecine-like hominids?

Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis- Humans or Australopithecines (this is currently a matter of debate) which lived from around 2.4 million years ago to about 1.6 million years ago. They were the first advanced tool users. Rudolfensis remains are taller and more robust than those of habilis. They lived in east Africa and are often thought of as possible ancestors of Homo erectus and Homo ergaster. Their status as a direct human ancestor is a matter of some debate.

Homo erectus, and Homo ergaster- Humans which lived from about 1.8 million years ago to less than 500,000 years ago. They had a skeleton, which was close in appearance to that of modem humans, but it was more robust. The skull was more robust (than modem humans) with prominent brow ridges. It is not known how hairy they were. They were accomplished tool users and seem to be the first hominids to have ranged widely outside Africa. Homo erectus inhabited the Earth for a longer period, than any other type of human and ranged widely across Eurasia.

The line between the last of the Homo erectus and early forms of Homo sapiens is very blurred (the period between 500,000 to 150,000 years ago), which seems to indicate a smooth transition between the two human groups. Homo ergaster, a Homo erectus-like human, is considered by many to be the direct ancestor of Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens ("out of Africa theory"), while others believe that both erectus and ergaster were ancestors of Homo sapiens ("multi-regional theory"). This is a matter of some debate. It is important to point out that despite the names "out of Africa" and "multi-regional", both theories agree that humans originated in Africa, they only differ as to the course of the development of Homo sapiens. The possibility of interbreeding between separate but similar groups throughout Eurasia and Africa, may be the reason why choosing a direct ancestor for Homo sapiens, from this period, is so difficult. Some proponents of the "multi-regional" theory even go so far as to propose that Homo erectus and Homo ergaster are the same species as modem humans and so should be called Homo sapiens.

Archaic Homo sapiens and Homo heidelbergensis - Terms describing a diverse range of Humans which lived from about 400,000 years ago to around 100,000 years ago and possibly even as late as 10,000 years ago in Australia. They had a slightly more robust skull structure and would have been indistinguishable in appearance from modem humans if dressed and groomed as such. It is not known how hairy they were. They seem to have ranged quite widely. Some believe that the youngest remains of such individuals are some interesting Homo sapien remains which were found in Kew Swamp, Victoria, Australia (approximately 10,000 years old) and they may have been the first group of humans to inhabit the continent, before being assimilated by later influxes of tribes from the north

Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (or Homo neanderthalensis )- Commonly know as Neanderthals or Neandertals. They were a "race" of humans, which lived from before 150,000 years ago to less than 35,000 years ago. They had a skeleton and skull structure, which was more robust on average than that of modem Europeans. They seem to have lived only in Europe, the Middle East and central Asia. They exhibit characteristics, which indicate that they were specially adapted to the environment of glaciated Europe, much like modern Inuit are adapted for life in the Arctic. It is not known how hairy they were. If Neanderthals were not very hairy, then they would probably not look any different than a strongly built person who lives today. They were accomplished tool users and buried their dead. They were either driven to extinction by other Homo sapiens or gradually interbred with them (or a combination of both). Some recent evidence suggests that Neandertals were not Homo sapiens, but their own separate species of humans (Homo neanderthalensis), which would appear to rule out any interbreeding with Homo sapiens.

Comments about various remains
The relationship between various remains is constantly being revised and debated as new evidence is found. It appears that sometime before 2.6 million years ago, a group of very robust hominids (the Paranthropus or robust Australopithecine group) branched off from the part of the hominid family tree, which gave rise to humans. It is conceivable that remains like those of Meganthropus may represent groups of unknown robust hominids, which settled in Asia earlier than 1 million years ago and may or may not be related to the robust Australopithecines. Remains such as Australopithecus boisei set a precedent which demonstrates that it is possible for "apes" or "hairy people" to develop with a bipedal skeleton, skull crests, and a height comparable to modem humans (i.e. over 5 feet tall).

Comments about inconsistencies in the reported appearance of hairy bipedal primates

It is interesting to note one particular feature of Sasquatch and "Yowie" report. They are sometimes repor to have large noses. Some times the noses are reported to be more like a Gorilla nose. The size of noses is determined by the cartilage, which supports them and the bone to which the cartilage is attached. Noses can vary in size and shape quite markedly on human faces. On Chimpanzees and Gorillas, the noses vary less. We do not know what shape or variation of the noses occurred naturally on early upright bipedal primates. It is possible that the reason why some witnesses report the faces of "Hairy Man" creatures to be human like, while others report them to be gorilla like, could be attributed to a large natural variation in nose types (as occurs in humans). A large "Santa Claus" style nose would seem to make such a creature look more like a human, since few other animals have such a nose. A similar creature with a small flat nose would probably appear more gorilla-like.

The Australian "Hairy Man" and some of the "Skunk Apes" of North America are reported to have large canine teeth. Tree bites found in the Bloodwood trees of Australia seem to confirm this. These tree bites show evidence of sizeable upper and lower canines. None of the known bipedal primate fossils exhibit prominent canine teeth, while many of the non-bipedal primates do. This could indicate that these hairy men branched off from the primate family tree at an earlier point than the known bipedal primates (and thus their bipedal stance would be an example of convergence). Alternatively they could be descendants of one of the known bipedal primates and the prominent canines would then be the example of evolutionary convergence (similar convergence seems to have occurred to some extent between gorillas and robust austrolopithecines with their skull crests). Many "Sasquatches" and other "Hairy Men" are not reported to have large canines.

This could simply be because the witness did not observe the teeth. Another reason could be because there is a large difference in canine size between males and females of the species. Still another reason for variation could be that more vegetarian feeding habits in some areas cause the canines to become worn down over time. Alternatively the large canines could be a regional variation in these creatures (although it seems hard to imagine this variation developing quick enough). It does seem hard to imagine that the known bipedal primates could have given rise to creatures with such markedly larger canine teeth (but it isn't impossible).

Contrary to common belief, the footprints, which are not obvious fakes, are not the same as "scaled up" human footprints. Studies conducted by Dr Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University, of supposed Sasquatch footprints; indicate many differences in foot structure, compared with the feet of humans. The footprints have no arch and there are indications of much greater foot flexibility than human feet. Sometimes footprints are reported to show less than five toes. In particular, footprints, which appear to show 3 toes, are often found in the southeastern parts of North America, as well as Australia. This could be the result of inbreeding or it could be the result of some of the toes not pressing hard enough against the soil to leave a noticeable impression. Seeing as none of these reported creatures has ever been rigorously examined, nothing conclusive can be drawn from the previous comments, however they are points of interest.

How could such creatures survive so long and remain so hidden, while being so wide spread?

It is interesting to note that creatures such as the robust Australopithecines lived at the same time and in the same area as more human-like creatures. What occur~ when the two types of bipeds' paths crossed? There is evidence to suggest that the more human-like creatures sometimes hunted the less human-like ones. If extremely robust hominids did survive much longer than previously thought, they may have had to develop certain Waits to make them less vulnerable to humans. Traits that would be advantageous would be:

* Being active while humans are asleep, in areas where humans are present.
* Being very careful about leaving tracks, which could be followed by humans.
* Being generally very careful to remain hidden when humans are near.
* Avoiding conflict with humans where possible.
* Trying to drive humans away, when they may be getting close to an area inhabited by vulnerable family members, like juveniles (e.g. throwing rocks or sticks, growling, bluff charging, etc)

Interestingly, all these characteristics have been attributed to the "hairy men" reported around the globe.

Some relevant comments about ape behavior and group structure-

Gorillas and Chimpanzees share some behavioral and group structure traits:
* Live in groups of between 2 to about 20 individuals, led by a dominant male who guards his group and their territory.
* Make beds of grass and sticks, which they use only once, before moving to a different spot, the following day.
* Have a range of calls, grunts, barks, hoots and sign language to communicate with each other and to drive off animals which threaten the group.
* On reaching adulthood, some males leave theft group and become solitary, until they manage to attract mature females from other groups, to form their own group.
* Are typically very gentle creatures but males and nursing mothers have been known to kill men with ease if they feel threatened.

Eyewitness reportsof bipedal apes and "Hairy Men", throughout the world, seem to show behavior, which is consistent with the above traits.

From Which Hominid are they most likely Descended?

The bipedal walking exhibited by these creatures indicates that they are hominids. In the case of the Sasquatch and some of the other large hyper-robust creatures, which are reported, we can make an estimate of when they branched off from the human ancestral lineage, based on their reported behavior and appearance.

Here are some examples of the reported behavior, which is indicative of an ability to anticipate outcomes, and a sign of great intelligence:

1. making an effort to avoid leaving tracks that could be followed
2. leaving stick markers
3. being extremely adept at hiding and blending into the scenery
4. leaving gifts for, or reciprocating girls from humans

This indicates that they have bigger brains than Chimpanzees (400cc), since Chimpanzees are not generally known for an excellent ability to anticipate outcomes. Together with their bipedal walking, this indicates that these large hominids branched off from the human ancestral lineage after the ancestors of modem Chimpanzees did. Using a number of different methods, the time when the ancestors of Chimpanzees diverged from the human ancestral lineage has been estimated at between 6 million and 4.5 million years ago. The "molecular clock" count back method puts this date at around 5 million years ago.

It is unlikely to have been any later than 5 million years ago due to the fact that the first hominids seemed to have appeared at least 4.2 million years ago. It is also known that Africa became a lot drier and less forested during a period of global cooling between 6 million and 5 million years ago.

It seems that the disappearance of typical primate forest habitat would be one of the most likely factors, which could precipitate the adoption of bipedalism, and as such, seems to endorse these estimates.

It seems, however, that the Sasquatch (and creatures like them) are very different to humans because:

* Studies done by Dr Jeff Meldrum, of Idaho State University, indicate that the
Sasquatch have a different foot structure to humans, with no arch and much greater flexibility

* they are much more robust
* they do not seem to make fire
* they do not seem to make clothes
* they do not seem to make advanced tools (anything better than sticks or stones)

This indicates that they branched off earlier than the appearance of the first humans (2.5 to 2 million years ago) and earlier than the first hominids with a human-like foot, which had an arch and almost rigid metatarsal joint (at least 3.7 million years ago). The absence of technology also indicates a creature with a somewhat different from human brain structure (although this does not necessarily mean it is much smaller).

It then seems reasonable to suggest that these creatures branched off from the human lineage somewhere between 6 million and 4 million years ago. The only definite bipedal primate known to have existed before 4 million years ago is an Australopithecine (Australopithecus anamensis). Since creatures, such as the Sasquatch, are very robust, it is reasonable to suggest that they may be descended from a robust form of Australopithecine, which branched off from the other Australopithecines before 4 million years ago. The known robust Australopithecines, which first appeared before 2.5 million years ago, may or may not be part of their ancestral lineage (the details of their foot structure are not entirely certain). These robust Australopithecines had brains as much as 30°/$ larger than Chimpanzees (530cc compared with 400cc), which would most likely have made them very intelligent. If Sasquatch-type creatures are descended from an Australopithecine that does not necessarily make them Australopithecines themselves. They may well have developed enough new traits for them to be given a genus name of their own. Until the remains of a number of such creatures are examined, genus and species names cannot be assigned to them. For the moment, a suitable technical term for such creatures would be something like "Hyper-Robust Hominids".

These creatures may have branched off from a bipedal or semi-bipedal ancestor of Australopithecines, which lived in the time between 6 million and 4.2 million years ago. There are no good fossils from this period, but Dr Grover Krantz feels that an ancestor of Gigantopithecus may have branched off during this time. He feels that there is a good chance that Gigantopithecus was bipedal due to the width of the rear part of its jaw (which may be to allow room for the neck, if it stood upright).

In addition, it has teeth, which seem to be intermediate in structure between those of apes like the Chimpanzee, and humans. This would make it a hominid, and as such a possible ancestor of the hyper-robust hominids which are said to live today.

There have been a few scientists who have suggested that an Australopithecine or an Australopithecine-like branch of hominids could have lived in Southeast Asia. This idea came about when it was discovered that the Javanese jaw remains known as "Meganthropus" show some similarities to those of the known robust Australopithecines.

It seems to be acceptable, in layman's terms, to refer to the Australopithecines as "Apes" or "People", but they are not referred to as "humans". Of course the technical term for them is hominids. The supposed modem hyper-robust hominids seem to be similar in body structure and technology to the robust Australopithecines, so the terms "People" and "Apes" seem equally appropriate layman's terms.

How could they reach Australia, of all places?

This is a hard question to answer convincingly. The following scenario is an attempt to give one possible explanation, the greatest hurdle to overcome being the presence of the Wallace Trench (named after distinguished naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace) and other sea trenches, which make Australia and New Guinea inaccessible to large Asian terrestrial fauna.

As human population in an area increased beyond the capacity of the land to sustain so many hunter/gatherers it was common for members of the group to go out into new areas, sometimes displacing other human tribes. This occurred a number of times in the area of Indonesia, during the glacial periods, which existed over the past 100,000 years. It was during these periods, when the gap between Australia and nearby islands was at its smallest, that a number of different groups of humans migrated to Australia. The descendants of a mixture of these groups are cared the Australian Aboriginals. There may have been a period when a reasonably large population, of large robust primates, was forced towards the extremities of places like Java, by large numbers of human tribes migrating towards them. In such circumstances, young males leaving their family group to start theft own groups may have had no other choice but to swim out to nearby islands to find new territory. Their nighttime calls may have been enough to encourage young females to cross as well. Over a period of 20 years or so, enough animals might make the swim to form a sustainable breeding population.

The gaps which separated the Australian and New Guinean land mass from other islands were so wide that swimming across would have been very unlikely and no known animal can give a call which would carry across such a distance (with the possible exception of elephants). There is no precedent for such a swim amongst any known large terrestrial mammal (again with the possible exception of elephants), though Bob Titmus, the famous Californian Sasquatch researcher (who moved to Canada in the early 1960s), did claim to find some encouraging signs. On small islands off the coast of British Columbia, Bob Titmus claimed to have found footprints, which fit the description of Sasquatch tracks. These islands were too small to support a breeding population of such creatures and they were separated by large expanses of choppy water, from the mainland.

If these creatures are so worthy of research, why aren't more serious scientists researching them?

Sir Peter Medawar FRS once said (in reference to another topic):
"Good scientists study the most important problems they think they can solve. It is after all, their professional business to solve problems, not merely to grapple with them." and we must keep this in the back of our minds when researching this topic, As John Napier once wrote (in reference to explaining these creatures through the survival of prehistoric species) "It would be a neat solution to allocate the ape-like Gigantopithecus to the Himalayas and the more human-like Paranthropus to North America, but it would be a shockingly unscientific thing to do".

The Future of Yowie Research in Australia

It is interesting to look at the different approaches taken by different researchers in yowie research in Australia. Grover Krantz characterized a number of different types of enthusiasts in his book "Bigfoot Evidence". These included the amateur, who has heard about or seen about the creature and takes a part time interest in it, through the serious researcher and the scientist, to the hunter out for quarry. Researchers in Australia fit into the former categories.

There appears to be a high degree of cooperation between most researchers in Australia with the exception of a few. Already, thanks in part to the Internet, more interested researchers are able to meet and communicate on the subject of the yowie, this conference being a case in point. This collaboration and general openness is very encouraging and we can hope lead to level headed research in the future. It can also be hoped that as much sharing of information between mutually respectful researchers can be achieved. The publication of a number of books on the subject by a number of parties already points to this.

However, the big question remains - will we ever really know what a yowie is? Will it keep evading us and apparently appearing and disappearing at will? Or will someone one day find hard physical evidence of some kind to finally convince the skeptics? Does it matter?

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