Geographical Index > United States > China (International) > Article # 311
Media Article # 311
Thursday, July 25, 2002
On the trail of China's Bigfoot
By Rosanne Lin
North American skeptics take note - in 1976-77, the Chinese Government sponsored a yeren (wildman) - commonly known to the West as Bigfoot - expedition to Shennongjia Mountain Forest in central Hubei Province consisting of 100 people, including army personnel.
That trip and others have produced numerous samples of what Yuan Zhenxin, a well-known paleoanthropologist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, claims are the hair, footprints and feces of an undiscovered species, possibly the missing link between man and ape - the wildman.
Eye-witness reports describe the wildman as about 9 feet tall, with five-toed feet measuring some 40 centimetres in length, red hair and terrible body odour. He is apparently a vegetarian who prefers corn-on-the-cob.
Since the 1970s, government sponsored expeditions have managed to detail scores of wildman sightings among local residents, although the wildman himself continues to shy away from both outsiders and cameras, complicating independent verification.
However, scientists remain resolute in their investigations. According to a August 2, 1988 report in Shanghai's Wenhui Bao, an analysis of hair samples allegedly taken from the wildman prove he exists.
And wildman is not alone.
Yuan believes some 1,000 to 2,000 of these Chinese Bigfoot creatures are currently roaming the dense forests of Hubei's mountain area - interactions with locals have ranged from crude attempts at communication to encounters of a more personal nature. Yuan notes that he has personally investigated stories of abduction, including two cases where farmers were kidnapped by the creature but managed to escape. Yuan fails to elaborate on the nature of these abductions, but according to victims of wildman's American cousin, Bigfoot, the creature has a voracious sexual appetite.
Some critics will inevitably attribute these sightings to poisonous Western influences, however they would be wrong. Reported sightings of the wildman date back thousands of years before China had any contact with the West.
A statesman-poet named Qu Yuan who lived in the third century BC in the Shennongjia area referred to "mountain ogres" in his verses. While a seventh century historian described a tribe of "hairy men" living in the same region, and an 18th century poet spoke of a creature "monkey-like yet not monkey" in adjoining Shaanxi province.
Liu Minzhuang, a biology lecturer in Shanghai who has been researching wildman for more than 20 years, notes the convincing testimony of one old peasant. According to the elderly witness, he accompanied Kuomintang soldiers as they tracked eight wildmen through thick forests for 10 days in 1947. One wildman was eventually killed and dismembered by the soldiers, the peasant said, but records of the incident were lost in the chaos of the civil war.
Such violent encounters may explain the wildman's reluctance to mix socially with the human species. Perhaps the wildman is a distant hominid cousin of homo sapiens from some lost prehistoric era who has already survived tough lessons. Should it surprise us that the wildman would go to extremes to avoid contact? Considering recent events - from the September 11 attacks to the bombing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan - how can we feign surprise.
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