Bigfoot Encounters

Orang Pendek , the Little Bipedal Hominid of Sumatra
An Anthropological Overview
By W. G. Wheatcroft, Ph.D. ( Cultural Anthropology )

Dr. W. G. Wheatcroft's comprehensive review article, published here on-line for the first time (Copyright 2008), is titled Orang Pendek, the Little Bipedal Hominid of Sumatra—An Anthropological Overview. This 31 page, illustrated paper carefully reviews the complete recorded history of sightings and encounters between native Sumatran, plus Western witnesses and these “little forest people,” from early 20 th C. to the present time. The author, an anthropologist, develops a composite description of this approximately one meter (3-4 ft.) tall, upright-walking, agile, intelligent, secretive and elusive hominoid presently unrecognized by science, which he believes is most likely in the family Hominidae, with human beings, based on its overall anatomy and appearance. The paper also discusses the present evidence derived from its six-inch long, human-like footprints. Dr. Wheatcroft affirms quite positively that this bipedal, elusive species does exist , and that is generally described in most ways as more “human-like” than “ape-like.” Orang Pendek is not a species of gibbon! And if it is an “ape,” as some field researchers assume (i.e. family Pongidae, with chimps, gorillas, and orangutans), it will become the only fully bipedal member of this family group, a scientific first.

A Working Description of the Sumatran Orang Pendek **

An Introduction

Based on diverse research on this and other hominids, it is my strongly held opinion that Orang Pendek [orang = person/man; pendek = short/little], which in Malay/Indonesian language colloquially means “little (forest) people,” are intelligent, sensitive, likely self-aware, upright-walking hominids. They are not apes (Pongidae). It is also likely that biologically they will in time, be classified within the genus Homo, along with living humans, Homo sapiens , and the yet un-described Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti, plus the Neanderthal- like Almasty of Russia, China, and Indochina. Naturally, this is presently only a hypothesis. But it is likely. Eventual analysis by physical anthropology standards of species classification, will either prove or disprove this. For now, I propose the name Homo pendeki for the little Orang Pendek people. I fully realize that none of the Establishment sciences accept even the biological existence of any of these three hominid species, let alone my supposition that they are part of the genus, Homo . So what!? In this, most likely the Establishment sciences stand in error.

The Orang Pendek, (OP for short), are very secretive. They exhibit a striking ability to stay hidden. I would argue that this is by conscious choice; their stealth is not an accident. Local people say that they have occasionally seen the OP hiding in the forest, concealed by the underbrush, watching them from a safe distance. The Orang Pendek are human- like , not ape- like. Biologically and genetically, they are simply not apes , regardless of whether this is the present assumption extended to them by that tiny portion of the Establishment that even accepts that they exist. Academia as an institution of “approved knowledge” continues to pretend, for example, that Bigfoot/Sasquatch is only an imaginary creature. But academics sometimes do go so far as to say, “if it does exist, it's only an ape!” How intellectually bold!

Most witnesses who have sighted Orang Pendek attest to its stocky, well-muscled upper torso, large diameter chest, relatively broad shoulders, and powerful arms. Because of this, some witnesses report that the OP have a “small head”—in proportion to the breadth of their powerful shoulders. They have a normally proportioned neck. The native peoples in this part of the huge island of Sumatra, where the OP now live, somewhat revere them, but with no worship, and without much superstition. There is an unspoken taboo against harming them. Some local people lower their voice and speak quietly when asked about them, even just to confirm how very strong they are, given their small size. The OP range from just under one meter (say, 2.8 feet) up to 1.5 meters (4.5 feet) in height. They are covered with short to medium length hair, with head hair being much longer in most reports, going down the back, sometimes matted, and referred to by some as a “mane.” They look like hairy humanoids; but their hair does not have the appearance of thick animal fur, for example. Yet they do have hair all over their bodies, except on their cheeks, and the bottom of their feet and palms of their hands. By comparison, the Orang Pendek are not at all as hairy as are Bigfoot/Sasquatch. They have a range of hair coloring that includes chocolate brown, honey-golden yellow, or dried-grass-yellow, though they are sometimes more orange in color, or, black with reddish tints to their hair.

They walk erect, with confidence, like humans do, not slouched over as if they don't know how to walk upright. And they can run really fast into deeper jungle cover, to escape capture or further observation, when they are spotted by humans. When they walk, witnesses claim that they often move their arms forwards and backwards, in a human-like manner of walking. They are powerfully built. With respect to the size of their body from the waist up, their legs seem short, but strong, witnesses say. Their hands reach down-- at rest-- almost to their knees. They look very different from siamang-gibbons, for example, and have more massive shoulders with notable musculature. (See photo of simang near end of this article). Their torso/chest is distinctive, “barrel shaped,” massive. Many say that the OP abdomen protrudes.

When some native witnesses theatrically demonstrate how the OP walks, imitating its walking behavior, the witness will move his arms in a normal human-gait manner with each step. But, other witnesses who have observed the OP running away, say that sometimes they put their very human-looking hands out in front of them( for balance?), or, sometimes up in the air (perhaps as a fright-response when surprised by humans). But normally they run just like human beings run. After being detected, they always flee, most commonly by immediately running away as fast as they can. Local Sumatran indigenous people sort of revere them as co-inhabitants of the great rain forest. They respect them, and would not on any accounts hunt them, or kill them.

For quite some time, historically, the little Orang Pendek have been seen only within the boundaries of the extensive Bukit Barisan mountain range (W.Central Sumatra), within which, more or less, is located the huge (13,750 sq. km.) TNKS, Taman Nasional Kerinci Seblat, the Kerinci Seblat National Park , certainly one of the largest nature preserves of Indonesia. (See Maps 1& 2). This park is located only 2 degrees south of the equator. The climate is hot, damp, tropical, and steady with little sense of seasons. It does rain often, particularly at the higher, cooler elevations and on the upper slopes of Mt. Kerinci, the huge, extinct volcano that looms up 3,805 m.(approx. 12, 366 ft.) in height, the second tallest mountain in Indonesia. This massive, ancient volcano--the showpiece of the National Park--also has a rain-fed lake inside it, near which in the jungle, footprints of OP have been repeatedly located over the years. It is very, very difficult to hike through most of this remote, wet, mountain rain forest that abounds with leeches that hungrily attach themselves to all hikers. Diverse parts of the park are literally, still un-explored, and quite hard to penetrate. Westerners who have not hiked in virgin rain forest, basically have no idea how difficult it is on all fronts, to get anywhere.

Map One - Indonesia

It is in this remote and vast jungle, that the elusive, little Orang Pendek live, safely hidden from the eyes of man. Because Kerinci mountain rises to great height out of the lowlands, nature has created diverse ecosystems and tropical habitats: lowlands vegetation, mountain slope rain forests, plus, volcanic alpine-type vegetation. The TNKS is home to other unique creatures, including the endangered Sumatran tiger, the Sumatran rhinoceros and elephant, the Malayay tapir, the Bornean clouded leopard, and the four-foot tall Sun Bear, among other unique animals. The orangutan (a great ape) famous in Indonesia, does not live within the boundaries of the TNKS park, but only hundreds of miles away in the N.E. territory of Sumatra, and on the island of Borneo. Therefore, naïve claims by the press and skeptical scientists, that locals and Western witnesses claiming to have seen the Orang Pendek, are “merely seeing young orangutans” is scientifically impossible since these apes don't even live there, geographically !

Pencil Drawing of Orang Pendek Male Based on Recorded Sightings.
(By W. Wheatcroft; Jan.2008)
Orang Pendek males are about 3 feet to 4.5 feet tall

There has to date (January, 2008), been no reliable photograph taken of the body, or face, of the OP, in spite of considerable efforts to get pictures, that include different, variously funded, long-term, fixed location, automatic motion-trigger camera-trap projects. The National Geographic funded one of these camera-trap projects, for example, in July, 2006. And there is the Orang Pendek Project that makes on-going efforts with camera-traps, to get photographs of these elusive little beings. As an aside, it is also very difficult to get reliable photographs of Bigfoot/Sasquatch, who [believe it or not] typically choose not to be photographed. The same pattern may be in operation here. Nor has a single skeleton, or skull ever been found of the elusive OP. This does not mean that this species doesn't exist!

That the OP might be an intelligent, sapient hominid, has not even been considered by field researchers in Sumatra, to date, because this concept simply pushes the envelope of “status quo thinking” about creatures too far. Common sense “scientific” thought affirms to itself , that human beings are the only intelligent animal, and further, that no real evidence exists that there are other intelligent life-forms in our galaxy! This is simply stupid narrow-mindedness!

The OP is ground-dwelling. But they do sometimes climb into trees, where they are sometimes sighted. No sleeping “nests” have so far been found. These little people have been observed foraging in rotten logs to retrieve giant, fat-rich beetle larvae, recognized as a delicacy by indigenous peoples all over this part of the world. Sometimes they have been spotted in streams, looking for river crabs or frogs. They have been seen breaking three-quarter inch thick wild ginger plant stems with their hands, which plants while not being woody, can grow over six feet tall, and then to peel the skin of the broken stems in order to eat the soft pulp inside. The OP eat other plants and edible young forest shoots. Local native peoples sometimes spot them on their farms, near the forest, and claim that the OP steal potatoes, corn, and other crops to eat. They are clearly omnivorous. It is most likely that they also kill certain game animals for food; but it is believed that their diet is mostly plants, wild fruits, etc.

Orang Pendek are usually about 90 cm (just under 3 feet) in height, but they are sometimes seen as tall as 140 cm (about 4.5 feet). The males are larger than the females. Native witnesses say that their faces are “good looking,” and that “they do not look like apes.” Others have said that their faces look “quite human.” Some witnesses urge that their faces are quite broad, or heart shaped, with small chins. They apparently have small or slight brow ridges above their eyes, so that their brows bulge out slightly more than most human lower foreheads do. The nose is distinctly “human” but tends to be flat, more like Indonesian noses, not protruding like Caucasian noses. Skin color ranges from dark pink to dark brown, to blackish with pink areas. Some witnesses claim that OP's ears are large, and stick out from their heads more than human ears typically do; but one must note that there is great statistical variation in the appearance of human ears. The OP forehead slopes back somewhat , to a rounded head. Some witnesses claim that there is a slight sagital crest, but this is an isolated, not a universal claim. Their eyes are said to be “round” and “far apart,” not too close together, and active. Their eyes are not “oriental” in appearance. People also say that the OP utters various sounds, shrieks, and shrill calls with some vowel sounds, none of which are at all understood. I strongly suspect that they have a language. Bigfoot/ Sasquatch have recently been discovered to speak a language, based on the strong (but unpublished) and of course, highly controversial evidence from the excellent Bigfoot field researcher, Janice Carter. What makes this claim very controversial is because it is erroneously assumed that “only humans have language.” This is totally contradicted by studies of whale and dolphin species' exotic, high frequency languages (including communicative songs) most high frequency, underwater sounds of which are beyond the normal range of human hearing. Dolphins and whales, also, are profoundly intelligent aquatic species! Their intelligence may exceed humans, if comparative, non-verbal –based testing were to be done, objectively.

It is claimed that the feet of Orang Pendek are (apparently) different from any other hominoid, based on present examinations of their foot prints, about which more will be explained later in this article. But conclusive evidence of their foot anatomy is still lacking. Most reports assert that OP footprints, while very wide and short, are “just like human footprints.” Others claim that the big toe is displaced to the side as a somewhat independent organ. At issue is, “displaced by how much, proportionally? In addition, some local people claim that when the OP walks, its feet are turned out, somewhat, from being straight ahead, that is different in appearance from the way Homo sapien's feet are articulated, and angled, when walking. This also remains to be verified. Selected evidence from plaster-castings of OP footprints, supports the claim that the big toe on each foot is relatively large, and diverges uniquely, somewhat, from the curved line of the other four toes. Its feet are very broad at the ball of the foot! I will review the two different claims about the look of the feet, below. [Please look carefully at the footprints section of this paper, that includes discussion and drawings, page 14 below].

Other names for this intelligent, Sumatran hominid species include: Uhang Pandak (local, Kericini district tribal language), Sedapa, and Atoe Pandak . Hundreds of local people that live in these diverse mountain and lowlands regions including people of different tribal groups, have claimed to have seen the Orang Pendek--usually briefly. These sightings have most often been of only one OP by itself. Sightings of pairs are less common. But both sexes have been seen, as the sighting details reveal, below.

In conclusion to this introduction, I positively, and with certainty assert that the Orang Pendek is a very real hominid species that merely remains undescribed taxonomically. Complete photographic and/or anatomical evidence is required to scientifically describe it. Its existence most certainly shall alter our present, working academic theories about the pathway of genus Homo evolution, to which present theory so many scientists are quite emotionally attached. On private grounds, I find the presently-accepted evolutionary “tree” that allegedly resulted in Homo sapiens, highly suspect as a scientific model. But that is a totally separate matter that has nothing at all to do with this paper.

There Exist a Surprising Number of Different, Bipedal Hominids
Living in Remote, Forest-Covered Regions of the Planet, that
Remain Officially Denied by Establishment Sciences

In the early 1970's, as a graduate-school-trained cultural anthropologist who was doing my doctoral fieldwork in the western mountainous interior of Papua New Guinea (in the Telefomin area), I learned a lot, first hand, about native witness reliability. I was doing extensive studies of folklore, among other things, that involved hundreds of hours of interviewing native men and women. Certainly, not all that indigenous people tell a field worker living among them, is true! Some stories are clearly folk tales, superstitions, or myths. But it doesn't take much sensitivity to discern the difference.

Indigenous peoples--unlike urban man--still live within Nature, as part of it. They are most often acutely sensitive to, and aware of the diverse species of birds, animals, snakes, bats amphibians, insects, and other creatures that live in their immediate environment, to say nothing of their knowledge of edible wild plants, fruits, roots and tubers. I make this comment because my lengthy field work experience taught me that native reports about animals, and of course other neighboring tribal groups, are by in large quite accurate. By contrast, there is a tendency among Western scientists to discount native reports. “That's just a native's report!” Local peoples' reports are not “reliable,” because such witnesses have not been educated to the “rigorous standards of impartial observation” that said scientists arrogantly attribute to themselves. Peoples who live and move in jungle country, usually , it must me noted, perceive animal signs totally missed by often clumsy Western visitors; they have learned how to move, hunt and survive in this world. I grant that, of course there is a difference between a trained wildlife observer, versus an informal native witness, as to what constitutes a complete taxonomic and biological description of any particular animal. But when such ideally trained and equipped persons have so far not been available to do cryptid field research in remote forests and seas--largely because there is no scientific grant money available since, a priori, “cryptozoology is not scientific”-- we are yet not, therefore, without any hope. Native witnesses can be skillfully interviewed as to what they have seen, and this can be done with sometimes surprising results. The difficulty arises that very few field workers are sociologically and psychologically trained, or have the aptitude, to be able to respectfully draw forth from a local witness, proper descriptions of the physical appearance, and behaviors of little known creatures. This situation can be much improved on, with open minds and sensitivity to the task at hand. Also, people everywhere actually see much more than they consciously recall, initially. There are layers of the mind's memory that can be drawn on by a skillful interviewer, to accurately enlarge the parameters of description. For example, some witnesses have watched an Orang Pendek for a half hour from an unseen location, before being discovered. Much information is gathered by the mind in such a situation. Granted, there are immense difficulties of working in the field with a translator, gaining the trust of a witness, to eventually solicit what a witness actually observed.

Brief Considerations about Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Bigfoot, or Sasquatch is a creature that definitely exists. The evidence available to any person with even the tiniest desire to know the truth, whose mind is not closed tight so as to conform to status quo convention, is absolutely overwhelming and totally convincing. The bibliography on Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti alone, runs to many hundreds of books, articles, photographs, video clips, interviews with witnesses, film records, etc. As this present article is not a report in any manner, on Bigfoot, I have no intention to review any of the evidence here. I comment, briefly, that the Bigfoot species--itself most likely within the genus Homo-- has some regional genetic variations, within the continental U.S.A. and Canada. But it is not a species limited to North America. The males are huge: typically 8-11 feet in height, with astonishing strength, that can weigh 800 pounds or more. Bigfoot is a highly intelligent hominid that has been authentically sighted by many socioeconomic classes of people, for about 150 years, in all states of the mainland U.S.A., and in all provinces of Canada! Few people realize this. Some parts of the U.S.A. clearly have larger populations of Bigfoot than do other areas, such as in eastern Washington State.

Many hundreds of native American Indian tribes of North America and Canada, some of which no longer exist as “tribes,” and some of which literally have only a few surviving members, had names in their traditional tribal languages for this unusually secretive hominid, “Bigfoot.” The English language-adapted name, “Sasquatch,” for instance, also pronounced by certain tribes Saskehavas and Sa-ket's , was borrowed from the Sto:lo Indians, a West Coast Salish Indian group of the lower Fraser River Valley in SW British Columbia. By this name (in English, “Sasquatch,”) in their tribal lore, they would refer to “hairy giants who live deep in the forests, and who communicate among themselves with shrill screams, grunts, and whistle-like sounds,”

Some other Indian names for “Bigfoot” are: Guugiit (Haidah tribe, Alaska/Prince of Wales region): “Wildman that lives in the woods;” See'atco (Coast Salish Indians): “One who runs away and hides;” Kitchi-sabe (Manitoba Indians): “The great-footed one;” Skookum (Chinook Indians) “Evil God within the woods;” Neginla-eh (Alutiiq and Yukon Indians): “Man of the deep woods;” Ste-ye-man (Yakima Indians): “Spirit hidden in the forest;” Xi'lgo (Tiollamook Indians: “Truly Wild Woman;” T'oylona (Taos Indians/New Mexico): “Really Big People;” Chiye-tanka (Lakota Sioux Indians): “Our Big Elder Brother.” The Hopi Indians called Bigfoot, “Big Hairy Men.” How strange that tribes that had no communication with each other, over thousands of miles of country, all came up with their own language names for what most “scientists” still consider only to be an “imaginary” creature, “Bigfoot!”

The Indians of Puget Sound in W. Washington State historically told stories of a race of hairy giants that lived in remote mountains, but who would come down towards the coast in order to steal salmon off of their fish-drying racks, and even out of their fishing nets. They called these big people, Tse-at-ko.

In the very extensive Blue Mountain region of S.E. Washington State, the local Indians there used to speak of the “huge, scary and strong-smelling monster-men” that they called the Stiya-homa , who they claimed lived deep in the secluded mountain forests and valleys (where, in fact, they still live today). [For an interesting list of over 100 Native American tribes' names in their own languages, for Bigfoot/Sasquatch, see: ].

In 1840, Reverend Elkonah Walker, a Protestant Missionary working with the Spokane Indian tries of Washington State, wrote a letter—now preserved in the Holland Library archives on the W.S.U. campus—that mentioned “Bigfoot.” He wrote that these Indians he was ministering to claimed, with conviction, that “giants” lived in the westward mountains, and that left footprints over 1.5 feet long, and who had been seen to carry three huge, heavy logs all at the same time, exhibiting enormous strength. They also claimed—his letter said—that the “giants” would come at night and would steal salmon out of the peoples' nets, then eat them raw. Also, when they came at night, these “giants” also whistled in an unusual way, and sometimes threw stones at the Indians' dwelling places. [All of these behaviors that the good Reverend reported, are still characteristically reported about Bigfoot today, all over the country: stealing food from gardens, killing livestock, catching fish, eating all food raw, throwing stones, whistling, etc., just for the record].

What is my point? It is simply, that very few scientists of any profession whatsoever, trained in their own discipline's narrow dogma of critical-observer-empiricism, pay any attention today, whatsoever, to indigenous peoples' reports. There is an enormous conceit in anthropology, that the observations of Westerners, alone [or at best, university-trained “specialists” from other parts of the world] are qualified to count as “valid observer evidence” that any “serious scientist” can rely on. Yet, Bigfoot has been living in North America for thousands of years. Its “existence” hardly depends on whether, or not, a group of elitist academic, self-proclaimed experts on life forms, deem Bigfoot to exist. This is a ridiculous state of affairs. It is an un-self-examined, culturally constituted, tyranny of majority consensus that blocks fresh “data” or insight that--even in the slightest way--would contradict the status quo group-think. Only an extremely small number of people have the intellectual courage to “think outside of the box.” Most Establishment scientists remain unaware of the culturally conditioned nature of their belief system, which they nevertheless pretend is “objective.” What can I say?

Isn't it high time for those scientific disciplines allegedly concerned with species types, to actually practice the open and honest search for the truth about Bigfoot? If not, why not? Such open and honest sincerity is quite lacking at present. It is blocked, in part, by governmental granting agencies that will only fund research that is “acceptable.” This institutionalized refusal –to-fund is blunt. Naïve skeptics in support of the cultural mindset of the status quo, operating in ignorance of the social-conditioning behind their own limited intellectual curiosity, posture: “If Bigfoot actually existed, don't you think we [the high priest Authorities of Science] would already know that they existed, and would a lready be doing studies about them?” Actually:

“ No!” So many topics-of-research--from all academic disciplines--are openly, or covertly tabooed. Why is this, when science is supposed to be “value free” and completely impartial? For example, not one dime of research grant money is available for the serious academic study of Bigfoot, or, as another example, UFOlogy. Yes, Hollywood-like expeditions have been mounted to the Himalayas to prove or disprove the existence of the famous “Yeti.” But this is not U.S. Government funded research. This state of affairs is not because either Bigfoot (or UFOs) are imaginary, and don't exist. The reasons lie elsewhere, within the “politics of knowledge.” The emerging field of cryptozoology is not a “fringe” science, at all. It is founded on convictions that Nature still holds mysteries, and that we just don't know everything about the natural world, and can surely learn more with open hearts and minds.

My purport in raising some of these issues is to encourage the reader to overcome socially conditioned “fears” about even considering whether, or not, new hominid (human-like) species might exist. Here is my report about the OP.

The Little Orang Pendek

I first became aware--with a happy feeling of surprise within myself, I might add---when I first discovered that this small, elusive, upright-walking (bipedal) hominid actually existed. I had actually, myself, not seen any report, or evidence to so suggest. This discovery came through my perusal of the convincing descriptions the famous author and naturalist, Ivan T. Sanderson, in his admirable, and surprisingly comprehensive book, Abominable Snowmen—Legend Come to Life--- [The Story of Sub-Humans on Five Continents from the Early Ice Age Until Today], (first published in 1961, now reprinted by Adventures Unlimited Press). In the beginning, as I read about his collected reports from witnesses, I simply knew, intuitively, that these reports were authentic. This made me happy because it opened my mind! Here, with all credit given to Mr. Sanderson for his field work and data, I quote somewhat extensively:

“The Malayan peoples of Sumatra called…[ Orang Pendek ] by various names such as Atu ….Sedapa. They would often append their word, “Pendek” …to these [names] to indicate that they were referring to a small one….The Barisan Mountains area [S.W.Coastal Mountains of Sumatra, Indonesia] is just the place where ancient forms of Hominids might most likely have been able to survive….

“…The earliest [noted sighting of this creature]…is the report [apparently, 1910] of an overseer of an estate, who was staking out a newly acquired…large tract of virgin land in the Barisans [mountains—see Map 2] near…Loobuk Salasik…[His]…carefully worded written statement…was that, ‘at a distance of only 15 yards, he saw a large creature, low on its feet [i.e. with short legs] which ran like a man, and was about to cross my path. It was very hairy, and, it was not an orangutan; but its face was [also] not like an ordinary man's. It silently and gravely gave the men [workers with him] a disagreeable stare, and then it ran calmly away. The workers ran faster in the other direction.' [Saying] it was ‘low on its feet'…seems to indicate that it had short legs…[or]overly long arms in proportion to its torso….And all this, in turn, emphasizes that it was not an orangutan, an animal that, except when young, cannot even walk on its hind legs alone [i.e. unassisted].

“[Dr. Edward Jacobson, a Hollander [the Dutch then controlled all of Indonesia] [living] in Sumatra wrote about the Sedapa [i.e. Orang Pendek] in the journal De Tropische Natuur in 1917]: He became greatly interested in this matter when camping on the slopes of Mount Kaba in the Boekits [central W. coast mountains of Sumatra] in early July, 1916. Two hunters came to him…and said that they had seen a Sedapa breaking open a fallen tree at a distance of only some 20 yards from them. It was apparently looking for [giant, fat-rich] beetle larvae [that live in rotten logs]….But when it realized that it was being observed, it ran off on …[two feet]….It [had]…short, black hair….Later, Dr. Jacobson was shown some tracks [footprints] of the alleged Sedapa on Mount Kerinci [now within the TNKS –National Park]. [He reported that]…these were definitely not those of a gibbon, siamang, or any other ape, all of which have a widely opposed and very large great toe; [The tracks he saw]…were exactly human, but tiny, very broad and short. Quite a number of Sedapa [i.e. OP] footprints have been recorded….

“…There was [also] a Mr.van Heerwarden….[He] became convinced [based on native sightings] that there really was some small, hairy hominoids in these forests, and he devoted much time to inquiries among the local hunters as to where they were frequently seen….[They directed him to a specific region of the rain forest]….[He]…tells us that he was, after this, wild pig hunting in an area of forest surrounded by rivers named Palu and Rimu, in October, 1923; and having failed [to locate a group of pigs to shoot]….he went into hiding. For an hour or so, nothing happened, and then something [moving] in a tree caught his attention…. [In his own words Mr.van Heerwarden wrote]:

‘Then I happened by chance to look around to the left, and spotted a slight movement in a small tree that stood alone. By now it was time for me to be going home, for it was not advisable to journey through such country after sundown. But all the same, I was tempted out of curiosity to go and see what had caused the movement I had noticed. What sort of animal could be in that tree? My first quick look revealed nothing. But after waking around the tree again, I discovered a dark and hairy creature on a branch, the front of its body pressed tightly against the tree. It looked as if it were trying to make itself inconspicuous, and felt that it was about to be discovered. [Note the creature's intelligence in this maneuver].

‘ “It must be a sedapa [i.e. Orang Pendek],” [I thought]. Hunters will understand the excitement that possessed me. At first, I merely watched and examined the beast which still clung motionless to the tree. While I kept my gun ready to fire, I tried to attract the sedapa's attention, by calling to it. But it would not budge. What was I to do? I could not get help to capture the beast. And as time was running short, I was obliged to tackle it myself. I tried kicking the trunk of the tree, without the least result. I laid my gun on the ground and tried to get nearer [to] the animal. I had hardly climbed 3 or 4 feet into the tree, when the body above me began to move. The creature lifted itself a little from the branch and leaned over the side so that I could then see its hair, its forehead, and a pair of eyes which stared at me. Its movements had at first been slow and cautious, but as soon as the sedapa saw me [coming closer], the whole situation changed. It became nervous and trembled all over its body. In order to see it better, I slid down onto the ground again.

‘The sedapa was also hairy on the front of its body; the color there was a little lighter than on the back. The very dark hair on its head fell to just below the shoulder blades, or even almost to the waist. It was fairly thick and shaggy [i.e. its head hair].The lower part of its face seemed to end in more of a point than a man's; this brown face was almost hairless, whilst its forehead seemed to be high rather than low. Its eyebrows were the same color as its hair, and were very bushy. The eyes were frankly moving; they were of the darkest color, very lively, and like human eyes. The nose was broad with fairly large nostrils, but in no way clumsy. It reminded me a little of a Kaffir's [i.e. S. African Negro's]. Its lips were quite ordinary, but the width of its mouth was strikingly wide, when open. Its canines showed clearly from time to time as its mouth twitched nervously. They seemed fairly large to me, at all events they [the canines] were more developed than a man's. The incisors were regular. The color of the teeth was yellowish-white. Its chin was somewhat receding. For a moment, during a quick movement, I was able to see its right ear which was exactly like a little human ear. Its hands were slightly hairy on the back. Had it been standing, its arms would have reached to a little above its knees; they were

therefore long, but its legs seemed to me rather short. I did not see its feet, but I did see some toes which were shaped in a very normal [i.e. human] manner. This specimen was of the female sex and about 5 feet high.

‘There was nothing repulsive or ugly about its face, nor was it at all ape-like, although the quick, nervous movements of its eyes and mouth were very like those of a monkey in distress. I began to walk in a calm and friendly way to the sedapa , as if I were soothing a frightened dog, or horse; but it did not make much difference. When I [then] raised my gun to the little female, I heard a plaintive “Hu-Hu” which was at once answered by similar echoes in the forest nearby.

‘I laid down my gun and climbed into the tree again. I had almost reached the foot of the bough, when the sedapa ran very fast out along the branch, which bent heavily, hung on to the end, and dropped a good 10 feet to the ground. I slid hastily back to the ground, but before I could reach my gun again, the beast was almost 30 yards away. It went on running and gave a sort of whistle. Many people may think me childish if I say that when I saw its flying hair in the [gun] sights, I did not pull the trigger. I suddenly felt that I was going to commit murder! I lifted my gun to my shoulder again, but once more my courage failed me. As far as I could see, its feet were broad and short, but [the native legend] that the sedapa runs with its heels foremost, is quite untrue.' ” (Sanderson, 1961; p.215-223, new edition; brackets added for clarification and continuity of style).

[Present writer:] I find these historical reports on the OP most illuminating on a number of fronts. The biological descriptions of the OP are very helpful, as well as giving one the sense of its intelligence and sensitivity, in particular this is so for the report by van Heerwarden. Please notice the fact that he used “ human-like ” anatomical comparisons repeatedly, and he was ethically unable to fire on the little creature because he felt it was too human-like. Many, but not all, hunters have also had this feeling when they had Bigfoot in their gun sights.

In the same book, Ivan T. Sanderson later analyses and tends to strongly confirm the existence of several other small humanoids (3.5-4.5 feet), such as the Teh-lma of the lower valley forests of the Himalayas, and elsewheres. He goes on to collectively categorize them as “proto-pygmies.” He does not declare their existence, with certainty, except for a few areas of the earth. But he does confirm—surely as worthy of further verification—the Shiru of Comumbia, SA, the Sedapas (Oreng Pendek) of Sumatra, the Sehites of West Africa, the Agogwes of East Africa, and finally the Teh-lmas of lower Himalayas: all little hominids. Obviously each of them demands extensive proof: evidence that they exist. Even if these ‘little people” can all be shown to exist, which shall upset science for sure, I am uncomfortable with Sanderson's categorization of them into a group he names, “proto-pygmies.” Because what does this mean? If one had an apple, a pear, and an orange--all of which are approximately the same size--would these be “proto-pigmy fruits” in comparison to cantaloupes or watermelons? If several similar species of “little hominids” exist, what is the biological and physical anthro-pological meaning of such a category, unless it can be shown that their origin was the same? My own preliminary investigation does leave me with a profound sense that the Teh-lmas do exist, and are spread over a huge geographic area from the Himalayas to Indo China, in small pockets, geographically. We are too much at only a beginning stage of our understanding, within the interdisciplinary sciences that shall eventually concern themselves with these elusive, remote-living hominids, to proceed much beyond their careful description and identification, that at present is a big enough of a task, since there are few people who are willing to work in this discipline.

Contemporary Evidence for Orang Pendek

Data from Sightings

The Orang Pendek has, of course, mostly been seen by the native peoples of Sumatra who live in the same geographical and ecological region, though the wild, rain forest habitat the OP live in is quite different from villages and farms. Native hunters pushing into deep jungle areas have occasionally seen them, along with a smaller number of Europeans who live or work in the same area. Today, the OP live in secluded areas of the TNKS Park, including the extensive unexplored areas north of Gunung Tujuh (mountain lake with seven peaks) roughly E. of Mt. Kerinci Volcano.

In late January, 2001 an Indonesian forestry ranger named Aripin, who then was covering the Sungai Penuh region of Mount Kerinci, Sumatra, and who admits he was hugely skeptical before hand, had a sighting of Orang Pendek. He got a fairly good, though partial view of it from behind, because it was making a fast retreat when he saw it. This OP seemed to have fled by using its arms to swing into the branches of bushes and trees until it was safe. It was dark brown in color. Yanuar Achmed, an Indonesian anthropologist, claims also to have had a sighting of the OP on the slopes of Mt. Kerinci.

A YOU TUBE on line Video clip of recent sightings of Orang Pendek, was recorded in 2007 in Sumatra. The dates of the following sightings, in two local farmers' own words, is uncertain, but I presume it was after 2000. A farmer named Tono says:

“I was very close to it. Its body was big [i.e. muscular], but it was short, about only 90 cm. tall. It started to run, but then it fell down. This gave me time to see it better. Its arms were hairy. Its face was hairy. Its ears were huge. [On the video clip, he pulls his own ears out to illustrate this]. Then it ran away.”

. Another farmer (by name of Too) in the same area, also had a sighting:

“Its hands were like this [on the video clip, he spreads his fingers apart from each other, and holds his hands in front of his body to illustrate]. They were like human hands. Its body was shaped like a human person's body. This is how it moved when it was creeping by where I was, on two legs. [Here, he somewhat crouches down as he moves, deliberately, perhaps to show that it was trying to be stealthy, or, that by size, it was closer to the ground than a man when it was moving. He took several steps, looking to the side, trying to imitate how it crept by where him while he was watching].

Why didn't anyone interview these men more carefully? Surely they saw more than they reported, if someone had bothered to carefully ask them questions. But the fact that an on-line Video was even made, reveals the interest this elusive OP hominid is now attracting! This is good.

We come now to the sighting/testimony and field observations of wildlife conservationist, Deborah (Debbie) Martyr who has had three separate sightings of Orang Pendek in the past 18 years, since she first went to southwestern Sumatra in July, 1989. First let me quote her best sighting experience of Orang Pendek, that happened on September 30, 1994. I transcribed her spoken words from a short video clip--available on line-- made of her speaking about her sighting.

“It walked straight across the valley thirty meters away; so close and so clear!

I didn't expect to see it; I certainly didn't expect to see it that clearly. And just walking between these two trees; vegetation to my hip level. [It was a] gorgeous, graceful, very strongly built primate, big ape, walking out of legend and into broad daylight, lit up by the sun. And [my] disbelief of seeing this thing! If I'd seen it concealed in the undergrowth, [I could say] ‘I saw something.' But I didn't see ‘something;' I saw an Orang Pendek walking across the valley, just thirty meters away from me.” [Brackets added for clarification. She was excited, even years later at this sighting, based on her expressions and wording!]

Debbie Martyr has a strong interest in expanding our knowledge about this elusive species. She believes [I argue, erroneously,] that the OP is an “ape.” In an interview with Richard Freeman, [British professional cryptozoologist], published in April 2004, Ms. Martyr provides more information on this 1994 sighting just noted.

“When I saw it, I saw an animal that didn't look like anything in any of the books I had read, films I had seen, or zoos I had visited. It did indeed walk rather like a person , and that was a shock….[It looked like]….a relatively small, immensely strong non-human primate. But it was very gracile; that was the odd thing. So if you looked at the animal, you might say that it resembled …an agile gibbon on steroids! It doesn't look like an orangutan. Their proportions are very different. It's built like a boxer, with immense upper body strength. But why an animal with immense upper body strength should be lumbering around on the ground, I don't know. It makes no sense at all…

“It was a gorgeous color, moving bipedally and trying to avoid being seen. [Before this] I knew there was something in the vicinity, because the action of the birds and primates in the area meant that there was obviously something moving around. So I sent a guide around as far as I could, to where the disturbance was. Whatever was concealed in the undergrowth would try to avoid my guide, and move away in front of him. I was concealed, looking down over a small shallow valley. We didn't know what we were going to see. It could have been a [sun] bear, it could have been a tiger, it could have been a golden cat, or anything. Instead, a bipedal, non-human primate walked down the path ahead. It was concentrating so hard on avoiding my guide, it didn't look towards me. I had a camera in my hand at the time, but I dropped it; I was so shocked! [ I ] froze up for a minute, trying to identify something I hadn't seen before.”

She goes on to explain, when asked, that her two other sightings did not amount to much, because they were just so brief or fleeting. As an aside, it is interesting that when asked by Mr. Freeman, “What do you think of reports of other bipedal apes in Asia?” She replied:

“I don't believe in the abominable snowman. My father was in Tibet and saw what he was told were Yeti tracks; but they turned out to be bear footprints. They [i.e. Yetis] are just too big. I think three meter tall (10 ft.) apes are too big. Maybe there has been exaggeration through fear. I don't believe in things like Bigfoot. The Yaren in China might exist. Orangutans lived in China in the Pleistocene. It could be speciation in the orangutan. The forests of Assam might be a good place to look, as well.”

My only comment is that Ms. Martyr had not patiently studied the Bigfoot literature or evidence, at least not by the time of this interview she gave. But it does show her skeptical nature, which from some points of view, is good as to her 1994 sighting of the OP.

Presently, Debbie Martyr is director of the Tiger Conservation Project in the Park. She has of course, retained her earlier interests in the OP. She is graciously helpful to the few Western researchers who have come to this area of Sumatra to learn more about the OP. And, Debbie has more to tell us! After her first fieldtrip to Sumatra in 1989, when she became interested in the Orang Pendek, she wrote a helpful scientific paper about her investigations, An Investigation of the Orang Pendek, the Short Man of Sumatra . (1990). She was originally a London newspaper editor, but in 1989 was a freelance writer. In this valuable report, she comments that her field guide had told her, in July 1989, that he had seen the Orang Pendek twice in his life. He provided her with a detailed description of it, she says. She concluded that the OP was, even then, becoming rare in the Mt. Kerinci area, perhaps due to agricultural expansion by the farms in the area. So at that time, villagers there had not seen the OP for three years, at least in the foothills of this extinct volcano, or the forests of Sungai Penuh. However, she was told that hunters who went into remote forests had, in fact, continued to see them. During that summer, she became determined to do some field work to see if she could learn more about them, and hopefully to see one. This led her to travel to diverse villages in the general area. She had her best results by speaking with the older men from villages as far apart from each other as 60 miles, she explains. Based on these interviews, she developed her initial description. This was before she later saw one herself: She wrote that the OP is from 3-5 feet tall. It has a high forehead with prominent ears. It also has a somewhat distended abdomen or belly. It is stocky. The mane of its head hair can extend all the way down its back to its buttocks. The color of the “mane” [i.e. uncut head hair] is often honey-yellow, or tan in color. The body itself is lightly hairy, with the hair thicker on the arms and legs than on its back or abdomen [exactly like in humans]. The hands at rest hang to the knees. One elderly witness, a traditional native “doctor” from a village near Muara Amat, noted that when the Orang Pendek flees, or runs away, it sometimes holds its hands in front [for balance?].

Ms. Martyr gathered what she accepted to be the most reliable sightings, from farmers who had seen the OP out in the open, in their fields on the edge of the rain forest. Such sightings that she recorded in 1989 were from township areas of Lempur to Palompet. In four out of five such sightings in the open, the OP had been observed eating sweet sugar cane. But in one case, it was feeding on bananas, presumably in a banana grove. One 32 year old man who lived near Palompet gave her this report:

“I was in my grandfather's house [bamboo-walled hut] in his fields. I looked out and saw two Orang Pendek. One was bigger than the other. They were eating sugarcane. I then went out to examine them more closely. The big one saw me; then they both ran away. They ran away just like a man, quite fast.” (Italics supplied for emphasis).

When Debbie questioned this witness further, he explained that the Orang Pendek looked “like a small, hairy human….It is not a human, but it is also not a monkey.” This informant was offended, Debbie says, when she suggested [admittedly to see what kind of response she would get] that it might have been a Sun Bear, or possibly a siamang [ gibbon, well known there, and largest gibbon species anywhere-- Symphalangus syndactylus ]. Her informant was offended because he said that, surely he knows the difference among these three creatures!

In this same village, a second informant, an elderly villager who had seen OP before, got up and gave a demonstration of how siamang gibbons act in sugarcane, versus how the Orang Pendek act. He then added: “The Orang Pendek walks like a man. It is not a monkey!”

In September 1990, she returned to Samatra where she met the headman of Selampaing village, who reported that he had seen a female OP twice in his fields within the past two weeks. That village is located at 3,600 feet above sea level; it is surrounded by rain forest.

Fieldwork contributions of English cryptozoologist, Richard Freeman:

In both 2003 and again in 2004, Richard Freeman traveled to this part of Sumatra specifically to investigate the Orang Pendek plus other rare creatures. In this section, I quote the sighting reports he gathered and published on-line. During his fieldtrip, Mr. Freeman used the famous and skillful guide by the name of Sahar. What follows are several sighting reports. (Freeman, Richard, 2003 & 2004):

“In the 1980s Sahar's father and friend had been cutting logs to build a house, close to where the village of Palompek now stands. The area now, has long been deforested. Both men saw a bipedal “ape” lifting up cut logs and throwing them about. It was covered in blackish brown hair, and was about five feet tall. The hair on the creature's spine was darker. Its legs were short, and its powerful arms were long. The face was broad, and black in color, with some pink markings. Both men fled [from the OPs].” (Brackets added for clarity).

Today, the majority of locations where the OP had previously been sighted, have become de-forested due to agricultural expansion. We note here, in this vein, that a number of places where in the early 1900s, people had seen the Orang Pendek, it has no longer been seen there by local people, for decades, according to Ms. Martyr. The population is much larger now, and people have expanded their villages and fields into areas once covered by jungle. This is a world-wide phenomenon many places, that is putting pressure on endangered species.

During Richard Freeman's 2004 expedition/ field trip to Sumatra, he met with a number of local villagers from different areas, in order to get evidence about several elusive creatures, including OP. He also went on a difficult trek into a remote, canyon area in the mountainous rain forest, that he calls “hidden valley,” because it is very much unexplored. I believe that Ms. Martyr had suggested he look for Op there. This geographical area is approximately north of Gunung Tujuh, the “Lake of Seven Peaks,” and east of Mt. Kerinci. They started their trek from Kutang Gajha. Trekking is notoriously difficult, and cannot even be imagined by most Westerners. The hiking itself is treacherous, and is only made more difficult by the many, many leeches that attach themselves to all hikers. The floor of “hidden valley” is surrounded by steep, cliff-like rock and jungle walls, up to a thousand feet high! Freeman's reports of various locals' sightings are valuable, and they follow. But first, Ms. Martyr had collected this first sighting-report before Mr. Freeman returned to Sumatra. The witness had been reluctant to meet with Freeman, earlier. She told Freemen, whose own published report is now paraphrased precisely:

[The witness] had been a poacher, hence his reticence to talk to us. He snared deer [illegally] in the jungle. [Apparently 2003], he was checking his snares. He discovered that one of them had caught a strange “ape-like” creature. It was about one meter in height. [Debbie thinks it is an under-estimation, as to height, but, most witnesses do give this size]. It was covered with black hair, and was powerfully built. Panicking, he tried to jab at the creature with his spear. The “ape” then snatched the spear from him, and snapped it in two like a matchstick. It then let out a deafening bellow that scared the man so much that he passed out. Upon waking, he saw that the beast had freed itself, and was walking off through the jungle. Unsurprisingly he gave up poaching [he claims]. (Brackets added for clarification].

Here, perhaps through the words of the local man, or perhaps through the reporting of Ms Martyr or Mr. Freeman, (we don't know), we see that the OP is referred to as an “ape,” a “beast,” etc. Ms. Martyr believes that the Orang Pendek are “apes.” I strongly doubt it. This is not yet known. I believe that OP are in the genus Homo. In time, we shall know for sure. None of the known “great apes” (chimps, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans) walk upright, bipedally; nor do the “lesser apes” (gibbons). OP footprints are much more human-like than ape-like (see footprint section, below). Nor does OP facial and bodily appearance, its intelligence, or its apparently deliberate skill in staying hidden, place it in the “ape” or “beast” category. Only Homo species walk bipedally. There is much more mystery concerning the OP that remains to be solved. There are some real surprises awaiting the zoological and anthropological sciences concerning these little people. Where did they come from? What is the range of their distribution? (Strong reports place them in Borneo, where they have been repeatedly sighted and called bututut. But is this the same species, Borneo and Sumatra? What is the exact history of their speciation?

Richard Freeman spoke to another witness, a middle-aged man, living in the area named Seman. He saw an OP near a river, at mid-day, in February, 2004. This area of bush, near his garden, was so overgrown that he could only see the OP from the waist up. He estimated it to be only 80 cm tall. But Freeman thinks that the height the witness indicated by his hand, is one meter. The informant simply said:

“The animal had short black hair, a broad chest with pink skin visible on it, and had a pointed head. Its ears were long.”

(Seriously, was this all we are able to discover from this witness?) Freeman notes that it might have had a sagital crest. The informant said that, after a while, the OP fled. He believes that it escaped by swimming in the river, but he did not actually observe this. He had it in view for probably three minutes. When the Freeman then went to the exact spot where the OP had been seen, he concluded that the OP was 22 meters (71 feet) away from the witness at the time of the sighting. The witness then drew a picture of it that showed a powerfully built, ape-like creature with long arms and a conical head. At no time, the witness said, did the OP raise its arms over its head, like gibbons sometimes do.

Richard Freeman interviewed another witness who had seen the OP. His name was Ata, and he was in his twenties. He had seen the creature about three weeks after Seman's sighting:

“[Ata had] heard a strange cry coming from the same area of the gardens where Seman had his encounter. The noises began at 10 AM. They were a loud “OOOOHA OOOOHA” sound. Upon investigation, Ata found himself only five meters [16 feet] from a strange “beast.” It was 1 meter tall, and had short black hair. Its prominent chest [breasts] made him think it was a female. Its lower half was hidden by vegetation. He noticed that it had large ‘owl like' eyes, a flat nose, and a large [wide?] mouth. It seemed aggressive, and Ata said that he felt the hair on the back of his hands rise up, from fear. Ata produced a drawing of a muscular, upright creature with large, round eyes. It lacked the pointed head of Seman's descriptions….[Later]…another man said that a friend of his had found what he believed to be Orang Pendek footprints in his corn field on three occasions…”(Brackets supplied for emphasis).

Happily for us, Mr. Freeman sought out additional reports of OP sightings:

“[Our local guide to the ‘lost valley'] Pak En told us that he had seen an Orang Pendek in the jungle, just above the hidden valley, three years ago. He was [himself] walking along a jungle trail when it saw it approaching. It was one meter tall, upright, and powerfully built. It had black hair with red tips, and a broad mouth. Its prominent breasts made Pak En think it was female. He noticed that it grasped vegetation as it moved. It let out an “OOOOHA OOOOHA” sound. He [was watching]…it move down the trail for two minutes before it saw him. On seeing Pak En, it quickly turned about and walked back the way it had come.”

Later, when the exploration party came to the exact area of the trail, to where Pak En had earlier seen the female OP, he physically imitated the way it walked, touching, or grabbing vegetation with her hands as she was walking down the trail. He said that she was very muscular, “like the American boxer, Mike Tyson!” A member of Freeman's crew filmed the theatrical performance of the guide's imitation of how the OP walked.

Subsequently, our explorers traveled to Jambi Province, some distance away, by car to visit the Kubu people. There they met a local headman named Nylam. Freeman tells us:

“Nylam had also seen an Orang Pendek in his area, only three months ago [2004]. The [witness] had been up in a tree at the time; the [OP] was 1.25 meters tall, and was covered with red-tinted black hair. It had a broad mouth. It walked upright and held its arms like a man. It made a “WEEEEHP WEEEEHP” noise, and looked about itself, as if it could smell its observer [in the tree]. Nylam watched it for half an hour.” [Imagine what this informant could tell us if more carefully interviewed, after watching it for one half hour! Brackets supplied].

Pak Sukianto Lusli, co-ordinator of the Kerinci Office of the World Wildlife Foundation, reported in 1993 ( see BBC Wildlife 1993 report, On Line) that the Orang Pendek makes a “chirruping” kind of sound, among its different voices. An artist that served the WWF operations at the Kerinci Office, was tasked with making a drawing of the OP. Several local witnesses that had previously seen OP were gathered to help him make a reconstructive drawing, a composite representation of the hominid. All of the natives' descriptions seemed consistent to the artist.

Separately, witnesses were shown pictures of the face of a gorilla (from Africa, of course). They said that OP's face is not like the gorilla, “Orang Pendek is more handsome, more like people.” But, several said that the outline silhouette of a gorilla seen from the side, was similar to OP. This may reflect the muscular upper torso of the OP.

In conclusion, this set of about a dozen, sometimes detailed descriptive sighting, recorded over an 85 year period--and none of which is casual or flippant--portray a real, active, bipedal hominid not yet classified by any science. To me, this collection of sightings is totally compelling! Finally, it is very interesting that not one sighting exists of a mother with an infant, or, of a young Orang Pendek accompanying a parent in the forest. This means something yet to be determined.

Orang Pendek Footprints---The Evidence

Examination of photos and plaster castings of footprints said to belong to Orang Pendek are an important—if still somewhat controversial—part of the overall evidence that can be presented to the world to verify that these little people exist.

Making a record of OP footprints began long ago. (For the following historical background on OP footprints I am indebted to Sanderson, I.T.; 1961: 217-219).

The first publication about Orang Pendek that gave their species-existence actual credence, was in 1917 when Dr. Edward Jacobson wrote about them. When he was camping near the Boekit Kaba mountain, tribal men with him reported that they had seen an OP, but it had fled when it saw them. Soon, he was shown footprints attributed to OP that looked much like human footprints but shorter, and more broad.

In another article, 1918, Dr. Jacobson reported that a railwayman, Mr. Coomans, found OP footprints near Benkoelen. Then, more prints were discovered near Soungei Klomboek. A Dutchman working in the region as a land surveyor became interested in the Orang Pendek. Between 1918-1920, approximately, he made a large plaster collection of OP footprints. The present location of this valuable record, or even whether it even still exists, is unknown.

In 1918 Mr. van Hervaarden, who we have quoted above, discovered a number of OP footprints close to Moesi Ocloe, W. Sumatra. Another Hollander, Mr. Breckers, discovered similar little tracks. Subsequently, and which report really convinced van Herwaarden, was his meeting with three local men from Koeboe who described an Orang Pendek that they had seen, which they said was 4.5 feet tall, with hair all over its body, but much longer hair on its head, and that exhibited long canine teeth. Some years later, several Malays living in the region spotted an OP, but it dove into the water—presumably swimming under water—to escape. (As an aside, Bigfoot has been repeatedly observed swimming long distances under water!)

Dr. Jacobson was shown tracks on Mt. Kerinci identified as OP. He concluded that these were definitely not from a siamang or other ape. The footprints were “ exactly human, but tiny, very broad and short.”

Debbie Martyr's 1990 field report provided useful information on footprints of the OP, as well. (Martyr,Debbie:1990):

“[A full day trekking south, starting from Selempaing, 3600 ft. ASL, itself S. of Mt.Kerenci, her party went] deep into the mountains [that] took us to a heavily forested river valley at an altitude …estimated…around 4,600 ft. (1,400 m.). There we found tracks of what appeared to be two different Orang Pendeks. This assumption was based not on foot size—they were virtually identical—but on the depth of the different tracks in the soft forest loam. There was no possibility that either of my guides had made the tracks. [She means that one of the OPs was heavier; therefore its tracks were deeper in the soft ground. She followed these bipedal tracks for 120 feet before the ground became too dry to see the footprints].

“Each print was clearly delineated, the big toe and four smaller toes easily visible. The big toe was placed as it would be in a human foot. The foot had a clearly defined high, curved instep. [The footprint] measured just less than 6 inches (15.2 cm.) in length, and fractionally less than 4 inches (10.1 cm.) at the widest point of the ball of the foot. The heel was narrow and well rounded. If we had been reasonably close to a village, I might have momentarily thought the prints to be those of a healthy seven year old child. The ball of the foot was, however, too broad even for people who habitually wear no shoes…[The footprints]… were essentially human-like in all but the fact that they were too broad.”

Note then, that we have presented three different determinations in the rain forest, where OP footprints were examined in situ. These create a record that these footprints were human-like except for breadth and small size, with the big toe placed as it would be in a human foot. See also, the traced outline of an OP footprint made in 1914, to which I added toe connections for comparison purposes, in my section FOOTPRINT COMPARISON, below .

On January 16, 2008 the History Channel broadcast its Monster Quest TV Special focused on the elusive Orang Pendek of Sumatra. This was, coincidentally, while I was researching and actually writing this present article. Early in the show, a possible link was made between Orang Pendek with the fossil remains of a small (new) species, Homo fluorensis found in the big cave at Liang Bua on Flores, Indonesia, also approximately 3 ft tall. The bones of 13 individuals have been recovered, along with stone tools, dated to as recently as 18,000 years past. Personally, I will be greatly surprised if this new species, H, fluorensis is identical to, or even palentologically related to, Orang Pendek. This remains to be seen. Just because the two species are small, does not mean they came from the same (evolutionary or historical) source. The island of Flores is a thousand miles away, across the ocean, with many diverse islands in between. I remain open-minded to actual proof of connection, or non-connection, historically.

The History Channel film crew accompanied Jeremy Holden (a famous wildlife photographer who apparently lives in the TNKS park area), plus Adam Davies, tracker and field researcher, the two principals of this particular expedition. Mr. Holden once had a brief sighting of the OP in the Mt. Kerinci area. This expedition made the laborious hike to the lake that exists inside Mt. Kerinci, an extinct volcano. Guiding them was an extremely experienced local guide and tracker, Sahar, who identified several footprints not too far from this lake, as being from OP. I believe that these field identifications were correct. They made several plaster castings of the prints even though it rained intermittently.

Later, Adam Davies sent these plaster casts to Dr. Jeff Meldrum, an associate professor of anatomy and physical anthropology at Idaho State University, U.S.A. His doctorate is in anatomical sciences with an emphasis on physical anthropology. He has done extensive studies of human bipedalism. Within cryptozoology circles, Dr. Meldrum is very well known for his exhaustive collection of Bigfoot footprints, from all over. I highly recommend Dr. Jeff Meldrum's most excellent book, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science (2006) which to any intelligent reader who cares to know the truth of the matter--most people don't care to know-- scientifically proves the reality of Bigfoot/Sasquatch, beyond any reasonable doubt.

On camera, as part of this History Channel documentary on Orang Pendek, Dr.Meldrum concluded—I believe incorrectly—that the plaster castings of “Orang Pendek footprints” were merely those of the little Sun Bear. He reached this conclusion because the foot pads of the Sun Bear seemed to match the layout of the toe prints of the casts. However: (1) since Sun Bears have quite long, non-retractable claws , if the plaster castings were from Sun Bears, why were there no claw marks seen by the super-experienced tracker, Sahar, in the soft, rain-dampened ground that would have clued him that the prints were from the Sun Bear? The ground was, in fact, so soft and damp from the rain, that Adam Davies wondered if the plaster poured wet into the impression, would even set, to form a cast.[Chemically, plaster-of-paris requires water, which initiates a chemical reaction called hydration, that mineralizes the powder. The ground can be so soft, however, that the pressure of the plaster, however slight, creates an untrue cast of the footprint]. Further, there were no claw marks reported to be in the footprint casts presented to Dr. Meldrum. If they were from a Sun Bear, where did its claws disappear to? (2) Had these been Sun Bear tracks, the bear would have to have been bipedal, since the castings were made of bipedal tracks ! But, Sun Bears are quadrupedal; they can walk only a few steps upright. As a skilled bush tracker, Sahar--who has spent his life identifying animal tracks, and which skill and knowledge is the source of his living-- instantly makes field identifications between Sun Bear, versus Orang Pendek tracks. OP tracks exhibit bipedal, alternating left and right footprints; Sun Bears do not.

I hope that said plaster casts identified on TV as belonging to a Sun Bear, were not destroyed, because they are more likely OP tracks, after all. Even expert scientists do make mistakes in judgment. Dr. Meldrum, himself, is not an expert in Sun Bear tracks. But he is probably the leading world expert on Bigfoot/Sasquatch tracks! Further, it takes intellectual courage, not a ready commodity, for any Establishment professor to break new ground. Here, Dr. Meldrum was essentially being asked to help verify the existence of a new hominid species . This is politically, a scientific “hot potato.” Discovery of important new species typically upsets the neat, status quo boxes into which creatures are taxonomically placed. People become very upset whenever any controversial new species is found that causes them to change their thoughts, and charts!

Further Comparisons Between Sun Bear and Orang Pendek Footprints

We are not the first researchers to worry about possible confusion between the footprints of the four foot tall Sun Bear, the world's smallest bear, and the footprints of Orang Pendek. Again, I turn to Sanderson, who wrote about this some decades ago (1961:219-220):

“…Dr. Johnson was shown tracks of the alleged sedapa [i.e. Orang Pendek] on Mt. Kerinci. These were definitely not those of a gibbon, siamang [huge black gibbon], or any other ape, all of which have a widely opposed and very large great toe; [rather] it was exactly human but tiny, very broad and short….

“[The Sun Bear, genus Helarctus ] …stands erect and even walks along, though it never runs , on its hind legs more frequently than any other bears. It is about 4-5 feet tall, is covered with short black hair [actually, fur], and has surprisingly broad shoulders….Also, it has a pale face which when seen head-on in the poor light of the high forest floor, may give it a startlingly human look….

“The hind footprints…are nonetheless fairly distinctive , and are not like the drawings, tracings and casts taken of the alleged sedapa [OP]. Like all bears, their toes increase—albeit [with the Sun Bear] only slightly—in length from both sides [of the foot] to the middle toe; they are packed together, not splayed; and claw marks are almost invariably present.”

Please examine the plates below, entitled Footprint Comparison , where you can see ape, lesser ape, hominid, Orang Pendek, and bear footprints. Note that all bear footprints peak at the location of the middle toe of its foot, but hominid footprints have a curved, downward slant, more or less from the second toe to the little toe. This is obvious after examining the differences.

Footprints are formed as impressions, only because of gravity. The density and pliability of the ground, with respect to the weight of the animal or hominid, must work together in order for a track to be left from which, later, a plaster cast can be made. Certain consistencies of fine sandy mud, or clay, seem to be the best medium for capturing/ casting footprints, at least for non-bulky creatures.

Controversy Concerning Big Toe Location on Foot of Orang Pendek

A slight controversy is brewing, perhaps. Adam Davies of Greater Manchester, England and Andrew Sanderson of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England, are explorers/ adventurers in their thirties. Initially in 2001, they traveled to the Mt. Tujuh and Mt. Kerinci rain forests, and subsequently in later years, returned there. Happily, they have been interested in the Orang Pendek, and they have done some courageous work to try to prove that this species exists. One footprint plaster cast that they made in the bush, in 2001, seems to show the big toe of the OP foot to be laterally displaced in a most unusual manner, as if the big toe structurally emerges from the side of the foot, three-quarters of the distance from the heel to the front toes. This stands as an anomaly in comparison to both historic and other, present-day evidence of OP foot anatomy. So, unless solid additional evidence from new OP footprints, and based on more than one OP individual, or specimen, can be produced to verify the anatomical inferences from this 2001 footprint, I shall regard it as erroneous . The historical, and modern field evidence from examining OP footprints in the forest, conclude that the OP foot is “very similar to normal human feet, except being smaller and broader at the ball of the foot.” This is not the only difference. OP does seem to have a very large big toe, presumably with strong musculature that probably allows it to grasp vines and branches with its toe, in a way parallel to what I have repeatedly observed native people from Papua New Guinea do when hiking in the forest. (I hiked in the jungle for over 9 days, with native people from two rain forest areas, in January 2007.)

It is possible, therefore, that this (controversial) 2001 footprint-cast is, in fact, that of a normal OP foot, shaped more or less like a human foot, but which cast has been misinterpreted s to foot anatomy. Alternatively, it could be a footprint of an Orang Pendek that had previously broken its big toe, which finally healed in an eccentric position. We don't know. More new footprint casts are needed. And, more photographs in the rain forest of OP footprints are needed, including the use of a 3-D field camera that later can show depth in ways single lens cameras simply cannot, plus better plaster casts—in spite of the immense field difficulties of obtaining even one good cast. These must be obtained so perfect identification of the Orang Pendek footprint (and hence generalized foot anatomy) can be achieved.


The evidence from numerous recorded sightings, plus still-ambiguous hair samples, plus footprints—even though in need of expanded precision—are nevertheless sufficient to verify the existence of this new species of Hominid, most likely taxonomically to be positioned in the genus Homo. This article, for the first time, has gathered all known historical as well as contemporary evidence, and organized it into a report that serves scientific and lay needs for initial descriptions of this elusive group of people.


This Chart, Footprint Comparison, contains a number of footprints of hominids, apes, and bears, as well. Most of these images have been adapted from Ivan Sanderson's, chart that I found to be quite useful (1961/ 2006: 468-469). It should be clear that these footprints are ALL quite variable in size. For example, the Sasquatch footprint is about 16 inches long, but the little Orang Pendek footprint is only approximately 6 inches long.

Notice the tendency of sloping curvature in the hominid footprint,
versus the “peak” or point that a bear track exhibits. This is important
for proper differentiation between Orang Pendek footprints, which are
humanoid, versus Sun Bear prints found in the same forests of Sumatra,
that have a point, or peak in the middle-toes-position of the bear track.
Native trackers know this! But naïve skeptics and scientists do not.

Historical Orang Pendek footprint form some
decades ago, W. Sumatra. Right Foot. Notice the
normal placement of the big toe and smaller toes!
This approx. six inch footprint is hominid !

Bibliographic References


BBC Wildlife 1993 The Other Orang: The Orang Pendek [October] Reprinted On Line by Bigfoot Encounters

BBC News 2001 Explorers Find Perfect Yeti Tracks [ October 30.] On Line Publication of Story http://news,

BBC News 2004 Tracking Down the Jungle “Yeti.” [Sept. 8.] On Line Publication.

BBC News 2004 Evidence of “Jungle Yeti” Found. Oct. 12. On Line Publication

Bille, Matt •  News of a Cryptid Primate: The Orang Pendek; Jan.8,2008 Published On Line. -orang-pendek.html

Coleman, Loren •  Women in Cryptozoology: Debbie Martyr; On Line Post.

Extreme Expeditions 2005 Extreme Expeditions, Andrew Sanderson; Adam Davies' Expedition to Western Sumatra to Search for Orang Pendek. Photos of footprints in the forest.

Fortune City Summary Information on Orang Pendek. On line Publication

Freeman, Richard •  Expedition Sumatra 2003: Beyond the Lake of Seven Peaks— The Search for Sumatra's Mysterious Beasts; Parts One-Three.

See Expeditions, On Line: •  Return to Sumatra: Into the Lost Valley; On Line Article by the

Centre for Fortean Zoology.

Hellen, Nicholas & Leake, Johathan 1997 The Orange Ape that Walks Like a Man. Published On Line October 13,1997.

Heuvelmans, Bernard •  On the Track of Unknown Animals. [Book] London; Kegan Paul.

Martyr, Debbie (Deborah) •  1990 Field Report: An Investigation of the Orang Pendek, the Short Man of Sumatra. Cryptozoology 9: 57-65, International Society of Cryptozoology. Reprinted On Line: ( Pages 1-6) .

•  April, 2004 Interview of Debbie Martyr by Richard Freeman; Center for Fortean Zoology. Published On Line by Fortean Times.

Meldrum, Jeff •  Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. Forward by George B. Shaller. Forge Book; Tom Doherty Assoc; 175 Fifth Ave; NY, NY 10010

Miscellaneous Do Orang Pendek Really Exist?— Orang Pendek—The Undiscovered Walking Creature. Published On Line.

Monster Quest 2008 Search for Orang Pendek; History Channel (TV) Documentary Special. Aired on Satellite and Cable, January 16, 2008.

Sanderson, Ivan T. 1961 Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life— The Story of Sub-Humans on Five Continents from the Early Ice Age Until Today. Book; 2006 Edition republished by Adventures Unlimited Press; Kempton Illinois 60946

Wikipedia No Date Orang Pendek. Background article. On Line Encyclopoedia. Updated for 2008.

Some photos were not transferable from original paper to this online rendition. Text is in tact.

Response to this work by Dmitri Bayanov is HERE....

Additional citation at the request of the author:
"Wheatcroft's Orang Pendek overview article was first published on-line, February 2008 in its complete, illustrated form on the Bigfoot reference guide dot com website  (see Forums, Little Feet Documentation for location), and is being reprinted here with permission by the author who provided the text and images to Bobbie Short at the encouragement of Dmitri Bayanov, March 2008.

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