In the Pacific Northwestern United States, the Chehalis Indians and other native tribes have often spoke of wild, hair-covered human-like creatures that inhabited the mountains around Harrison Lake and other remote regions throughout the US and Canada.
These creatures, later called "Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch," were believed to be one of countless colorful elements that peppered the native Chehalis tradition, first recorded by writers like J.W. Burns beginning in the 1940s. The Chehalis had a different take on the matter, though; they believed these creatures not only were very real, but that they were somehow related to the Chehalis, with some traditions even noting that the creatures spoke a very similar language which both parties could understand!
When considering such instances of "Cryptid Cousinry," it is interesting to note that much like the Native American legends in the United States and Canada, there are similar stories involving a large, hairy primate seen in parts of China. Variously called "Yeren" or "Wild Man," the creature is said to resemble a seven-foot tall orangutan, and has evoked enough interest over the years that a recent expedition was launched in an effort to discover, once and for all, whether the creature exists.
On Monday, Fox News reported on the merits of the expedition, as well as the financial troubles that surround such an undertaking:
Thirty years ago, China's Academy of Science sent three teams of researchers looking for the mysterious creature. Those teams turned up surprising results: hair, excrement, footprints, and a possible 'Wild Man' sleeping nest. Alas, those findings weren't conclusive so they are at it again.
This time around the members of the Hubei Wild Man Research Association are hoping to collect donations to help catch the legendary creature. They need $1.5 million to kick off the project.
Though he's not exactly a cryptid himself (or is he...?), a man I'd gladly call a cousin nonetheless, Nick Redfern, was interviewed by FN for the piece. "A lot of monster stories can be traced back to myth and folk lore. What people don't know is that in this instance we actually have the fossil record of a large ape-like creature that lived in that area over 300,000 years ago," he said. In this statement, Redfern is referring to a massive ape, the Gigantopithecus, which some hominologists and anthropologists like the late Grover Krantz have suggested could have been an early relative of the modern Bigfoot. Though unlikely, there is also some possibility, as suggested by experts over the years, that Gigantopithecus walked upright; this is contested by most biologists, who say that it probably walked more like the apes and gorillas of today in a partial quadrupedal gate (i.e. knuckle walking).
Still, to me the mystery here is far deeper than the mere potential for a creature like Bigfoot to exist in China. In fact, this is only one small piece of a larger puzzle detailing a variety of ape-like creatures, as-yet unproven to exist to the liking of mainstream science. Curiously, reports stem not just from the US and China, but from virtually every corner of the world, describing these relic creatures that represent what, by all measures, could be called "the missing link." Could it be that evidence of our ancestry does actually exist in relic specimens which, somehow, have existed in the smallest livable numbers, just beyond the fringes of civilization? Or, conversely, could the mystery of creatures like Bigfoot hold a deeper meaning, stemming from the human psyche?
Regardless of how we choose to interpret this, our fascination with such creatures clearly represents an association with our ancestry on this planet (albeit somewhat detached). Whatever the answer to this riddle may ultimately be, it will no doubt prove to have more to do with our own species than we realize.