The history of Bigfoot in North America is a mishmash of regional legends, some Native American and some not, that speak of a hairy, ape-like man of the woods with, as the name suggests, large feet. Rumors, witness accounts, and anecdotes have been passed around since at least the 1800s. In 1958 the Humboldt Times ran a letter about the creature that sparked a lot of interest. They ran a follow up piece and dropped the name “Big Foot,” what the local loggers had called the creature that left mysterious footprints. Thus was born an enduring legend. But it’s far from the only one. Wild men and ape men have existed in legends around the word for years. Here’s a look at 10 of the most interesting.
10. Yeti of Nepal
Far from his American forest cousin, in the frosty reaches of the Himalayan mountain range is where the Yeti is said to call home. Also known as the Abominable Snowman, those who have witnessed it claim it’s smarter than the average bear and will stay below the snow line to avoid leaving tracks. It has been reportedly seen throughout China, Russia, and Nepal.
They say the Yeti is big, but not Bigfoot big. Height is often claimed to be around six feet tall, but it’s also clocked at a whopping 400 pounds, making this grey or auburn-furred creature quite the husky lad. And he’s old. Very, very old.
Alexander the Great is said to have wanted to see a Yeti. People have been searching for it as far back as 326 BC making it one of the most enduring cryptids in history. The government of Nepal even issued hunting licenses back in the ‘50s so people could spend about $500 to hunt and kill a Yeti. You may be surprised to learn no one ever succeeded.
Word is that Heinrich Himmler had the Yeti investigated on behalf of the Nazi party in the hopes of discovering the creature was the progenitor of the Aryan race. His scientist concluded it was merely a bear.
9. Yowie of Australia
As you might expect, Australians not only have their own Bigfoot, they gave it the coolest names of the bunch. The Yowie is also known as the Yahoo, Joogabinna, Jurrawarra, Tjangara and a few others. According to Aboriginal legend, the Yowie was a creature that existed since the beginning, a hairy man-creature with large feet that leaves perplexing footprints.
According to some sources, European settlers began claiming to see the mysterious man-beast roaming the Outback before they had actually learned of the Aboriginal tales of any such creature.
The Aboriginal beliefs don’t use the word Yowie or Yahoo (those are terms that came later), and the creatures in their mythology have powers far beyond those of any normal Bigfoot. The ability to put you to sleep, to fly, and even abduct people from the deep bush. They also don’t believe this creature can be seen by people who aren’t Aboriginal, so the thing the settlers claimed to have seen would be something else entirely.
8. Orang-Pendek of Malaysia
In the jungles of Indonesia the legendary Orang-Pendek is said to live. Unlike his Western cousin, Orang-Pendek isn’t exactly huge. The name means “short person” in English. Orangutan means “forest man,” incidentally. But unlike the orangutan, the Orang-Pendek is between two and a half and five feet tall and sports a mostly human face, suggesting that if it is a primate like the orangutan, it’s a very unusual one.
Orang-Pendek walks on two legs and has been reported in sightings for over 100 years. The description lends more credence to the tale than many other cryptids sightings as it seems like maybe this one is just a rare primate species that has yet to be categorized, rather than some monstrous man-beast somehow hiding amongst us.
Archaeological evidence from the area turned up the skeletal remains of a short human-like being that dated back around 50,000 years, lending credence to the idea that there may have been something in the area. Video and photographic evidence of the creature is as scarce as it is for any of the worldly Bigfoot cousins, though there was a video in 2018 reportedly showing the tiny guy running from the woods. Is it legit? Well, you can decide for yourself.
7. Skunk Ape of Florida
Bigfoot’s range is fairly wide with reports in California, Canada, Texas, Mexico and parts in between. But if you head to Florida and surrounding areas you’ll find that Bigfoot is not the big man on campus. Rather, it’s his cousin known as the Skunk Ape, Swamp Ape, or Stink Ape, among other names.
The distinguishing feature between the Skunk Ape and Bigfoot is what you’d expect it to be based on the name. The Skunk Ape is said to have quite the robust stench. As with other such creatures, there is little empirical evidence to support its existence but there have been many anecdotal sightings. Dave Sealy says he has been tracking it since he saw it as a child in 1974 and even has video footage from the year 2000. Not everyone is convinced that it’s anything but a man in a gorilla suit, though.
6. Almas of Mongolia
Not too far afield of the Yeti’s stomping grounds, the Almas ranges from the Caucasus Mountains to Mongolia. Called the “Wild Man” of Mongolia, they’re often likened to humans, but definitely not considered humans at all. They are described as average height, between five and six feet tall, but weighing up to 500 pounds. They have thick fur that can appear in a range of colors and have faces that are human-like, but not human. Often they met what you might think of as the standard for Neanderthal faces, with a large forehead ridge and a wide, flat nose.
The Almas has a long history in Mongolia and one of the first sightings recorded by someone from outside of the country comes from a Bavarian prisoner in the early 1400s. He claims to have seen two that were presented to the Khan as gifts. Russian explorer and geographer Nikolay Przhevalsky claimed to have seen one also in 1871. Word is 19th century medical books list Almas meat as having medicinal properties.
Legends persist to this day, but they are often in Western Mongolia alone, while the East has little to say on the matter.
5. Mande Burung of India
Unlike giant apes with the faces of men, the Indian Mande Burung is described as a giant man with the face of an ape. People claim to have seen it in Northeast India in the Meghalaya forest, and it is often much larger than its North American cousin. Stories tell of the Mande Burung standing over 10 feet tall and weighing over 600 pounds.
In 2008 some amateur hunters claimed to have found hair samples in a Mande Burung nest that they gave to primatologist Ian Redmond for DNA analysis. The first round of testing proved inconclusive but Redmond claimed the hairs, to the eye, looked like they could have come from a human, an orangutan, or even something like the hairs Sir Edmund Hillary claimed to have found on his hunt for the Yeti on Everest back in 1953. Of course, Hillary’s hairs turned out to be antelope, so there’s no way to know for sure what the Mande Burung hairs might have been.
Redmond, world renowned in his field, was open-minded about what the hairs could have been while not necessarily claiming it was an ape-man. As he pointed out, a new species of macaque had been discovered five years prior to the Mande Burung sample, so it could have been something wholly natural and normal, albeit rare.
4. Barmanou of Afghanistan
Those who travel the mountains of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan have claimed to see the creature known as the Barmanou roaming the area. This cryptid leans more toward human than ape, and is said to have a fondness for human women, going as far as to abduct and assault them.
Like the Skunk Ape of Florida, this beast is also said to produce an offensive odor but unlike every other cryptid listed so far, it also is said to wear clothing. Not finely tailored suits by any means, but it has been seen draped in the skins of animals, according to some witnesses.
Spanish zoologist Jordi Magraner mounted a bit of an expedition to discover the truth of the creature for several years in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Sadly, after dedicating years of research to the topic, Magraner was murdered in Afghanistan in 2002 and the crime was never solved. He had apparently collected dozens of firsthand accounts of the creature and compiled them but never got a chance to publish his work.
3. Yeren of China
There’s a place in China called Shennongjia known for having mountains and dense forest. It is the home of the Yeren, the Wild Man of China — a tall, reddish-brown furred creature that moves faster than a human and is extremely elusive.
While some stories of these creatures are decades old, and others hundreds of years old, the Yeren may be the oldest ape-like cryptid on record. Stories of this creature are over 2,000 years old.In fact, the Yeren may be the oldest cryptid in the world that’s still talked about. In the last century alone there have been 400 sightings.
A spike in sightings in the 1970s prompted the government to get involved and back a search for the beast that, predictably, turned up nothing. Still, adherents believe the creature is real. Some, like Chen Lianshang, who is described as a high-ranking government official, have dedicated years to the hunt. No physical evidence exists beyond the odd stray hair, but sightings continue fairly regularly.
2. Fouke Monster of Arkansas
Another regional beast, the Fouke Monster is a little darker and more frightening than some of the creatures elsewhere in the world. It is described as being between seven and 10 feet in height with blood-red eyes the size of silver dollars, claws, and a terrible stench. The creature rose to prominence after it allegedly attacked someone in the 1970s. That attack became the basis for the somewhat famous movie The Legend of Boggy Creek, which is a semi-documentary horror movie about the event. (If you’re a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, you may have seen the episode featuring that movie’s sequel, Boggy Creek II: And The Legend Continues.) The low budget movie was extremely influential and is arguably one of the main influences on movies like The Blair Witch Project.
The creature is said to be carnivorous and capable of carrying off animals as big as 200-pound pigs with ease. In 1971, Bobby Ford claimed the creature attacked him and he broke free. It pursued him at his home where friends and his wife caught glimpses of it. They shot at the creature but no sign of blood was ever found. However, police found tracks and claw marks. It caused such an uproar that the story was reported in the local paper and this, in turn, inspired the movie that followed.
In later years the mayor of the town would point out that he thought the Fouke Monster tracks were man-made and every single report of the creature was anecdotal without a shred of verifiable evidence.
1. Bukit Timah Monkey Man of Singapore
Singapore’s Bukit Timah Monkey Man dates back to 1805 when a Malay elder gave an account of seeing the creature, which looked like a monkey but walked upright like a man. Japanese soldiers in the Second World War also claimed to have caught glimpses of the ape-man creature. Unlike the North American Bigfoot and the other cousins around the world, reports of the Monkey Man claim the creature has its own language, albeit one that is indecipherable and spoken at a rapid speed.
The region it’s named for, Bukit Timah, is relatively small, which is one of the reasons the story is such a standout. In a small area it seems unlikely anything could be hidden there, especially so close to metropolitan Singapore, but the stories have endured.