Although widely considered a superstitious myth in contemporary Chinese society, the Yeren boasts a history of sightings by scientists and dignitaries, rather than just common folk.
The Yeren is commondly speculated to be groups of relict Gigantopithecus.
Witnesses typically report the creatures to be covered in reddish colored hair. Some white specimens have also been sighted. Their height is estimated to range from six to eight feet, although some colossal examples allegedly in excess of ten feet tall have been reported. Overall, it is generally smaller than the American Bigfoot. Like Bigfoot, the yeren is peaceful and will generally quietly walk away when encountering people in the Zhejiang province.
Overall, the Yeren is very similar in appearance and size to the supposedly extinct Gigantopithecus, and is likely a relict Gigantopithecus.
The Wildman has been a part of the folklore of southern and central China for centuries. Apparently ancient Chinese literary works and folk legends include references to big hairy manlike creatures which live in the vast forests of the Quinling-Bashan-Shennongjia, a mountain region of central China (northwest Hubei province).
Two thousand years ago, during the Warring States period, Qu Yuan (340-278 B C), the statesman-poet of the State of Chu, referred in his verse to 'mountain ogres'. His home was, significantly, just south of Shennongjia, in what is today the Zigui county of Hubei province.
In Tang dynasty times (A D 6I8-907) the historian Li Yanshou in his Southern Historydescribes a band of 'hairy men' in the region of modern Jiangling county, also in Hubei.
Later still, the Ch'ing dynasty poet, Yuan Mei (1716-98), in his book New Rhythms tells of the existence of a creature described as `monkey-like, yet not a monkey' in south-western Shaanxi province, Xianning county.
The first scientific observation of a Chinese Yeti was made in I940 by Wang Zelin, a biologist graduated from the Faculty of Biology at Chicago.
- “Around September or October, we were travelling from Baoji to Tianshui via Jiangluo City; our car was between Jiangluo City and Niangniang Plain when we suddenly heard gunshots ahead of us. When the car reached the crowd that surrounded the gunman, all of us got down to satisfy our curiosity. We could see that the 'wildman' was already shot dead and laid on the roadside. The body was still supple and the stature very tall, approximately 2 metres. The whole body was covered with a coat of thick greyish-red hair which was very dense and approximately onecunlong. Since it was lying face-down, the more inquisitive of the passengers turned the body over to have a better look. It turned out to be a mother with a large pair of breasts, the nipples being very red as if it had recently given birth. The hair on the face was shorter. The face was narrow with deep-set eyes, while the cheek bones and lips jutted out. The scalp hair was roughly one chi long and untidy. The appearance was very similar to the plaster model of a female Peking Man [the Chinese Homo erectus]. However, its hair seemed to be longer and thicker than that of the ape-man model. It was ugly because of the protruding lips. According to the locals, there were two of them, probably one male and the other female. They had been in that area for over a month. The 'wildmen' had great strength, frequently stood erect and were very tall. They were brisk in walking and could move as rapidly uphill as on the plain. As such, ordinary folks could not catch up with them. They did not have a language and could only howl.”
In 1940, biologist Wang Tselin claimed to examine the corpse of a Wildman that had been killed in the Gansu region. He said it was a female specimen over six feet tall, with striking features that appeared to be a cross between ape and human.
Geologist Fan Jingquan in 1950 reported seeing Wildmen live and in the flesh, a pair that he construed as mother and son, in the forests of the Shanxi province.
In 1961, a team of road builders allegedly killed a female Yeren in the forests of Xishuang Banna. By the time officials from the Chinese Academy of Sciences investigate, the body had disappeared. The scientists' investigation concluded that the creature, which was described as only four feet tall, had been an ordinary gibbon. But twenty years later, a journalist who had been involved in the investigation came forward to claim that the creature killed was no gibbon, but an "unknown animal of human shape."
On 14 May 1976 Six cadres from the Shennongiia forestry region were driving along the highway near Chunshuy, a village between Fangxian county and Shennongjia, when they came across a strange tailless creature covered in reddish fur, illuminated in the headlamps of the car. This initiated a great degree of public interest, people writing in to report other sightings and groups of scientists and the army mounting expeditions into the forest. A massive expedition of more than 100 members including scientists, photographers and special infiltration teams of soldiers with rifles, tranquillizer dart guns, tape recorders and hunting dogs, worked in the area during 1976 and 1977, interviewing hundreds of people. Together with army scouts and commune members, the team organized several large searches, but (as is usual with such expeditions) they found nothing definite. At one point the expedition search party moved near to one of the creatures; unfortunately 'before the beast could be captured an anxious soldier accidentally shot himself in the leg. The shot brought expedition members scurrying in from all directions and presumably frightened the creature away.
1980 'kidnapping' headlinesEdit
A curious incident was reported in the Daily Telegraph for 2 December 1980 under the sensational title, 'Chinese Child Fathered by Apeman'. The Telegraph's special correspondent in Peking had read in the official daily paper (Guangming) an account of a woman who had disappeared for twenty-seven days in 1939 in 'a forest area frequented by the "wild men of Hupen [Hubei]" province'.
The mountainous area referred to is clearly Shennongjia, and the human interest of the story stems from the fact that the woman claimed she was captured by 'wildmen' and later gave birth to a 'monkey child'. The offspring of this dubious union, the so-called 'monkey child' of the headline, died in 1960 aged twenty-one, but its bones, according to the Guangming daily, have recently been dug up, and examination showed that 'the child's skeleton had the characteristics of an ape and a man'.
It is not impossible for orangutans- more evolved relatives of Gigantopithecus- to breed with humans. The Russians once attempted an orang-human hybrid army, but the male, Tarzan, died before sperm could be taken. Gigantopithecus would also be closer to humans than orangs.