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Orang Pendek Project

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on November 14th, 2013

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The Orang Pendek Project (OPP) is an international collaborative effort between researchers on three continents to gather, document, and analyze data supporting the existence of an unclassified bipedal primate native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

The OPP has been quietly gathering data for a year now, and the success of the project has been nothing less than extraordinary.

In a special area of my website, I will be sharing the gathered evidence with the public. There is a lot to share, so I will be doing this piecemeal over the coming weeks and months.

Orang Pendek Project – Hypotheses

Not much is known about the orang pendek, but some inferences about range, description, diet, and behavior can be made based on observations and eyewitness reports. This page will hold various essays by researchers that seem to be pertinent to the species. Clearly, some of this is speculation, and might very well prove to be incorrect in the coming years, especially after the species is recognized by academics and further studies are done.

About the Orang Pendek
by Adam Davies

The orang pendek, which translates to “short person” in Indonesian, lives in the dense mountain jungles of Sumatra. Stories about the orang pendek go back for centuries. Even then these ” little people” were regarded as elusive and shy. The Orang Kubu, the local indigenous tribe, have regarded the orang pendek as a real people for centuries.

This ground-dwelling, bipedal primate is described as being short, no more then five feet tall. Its fur varies in color from a dark orange, chocolate brown, black, or even grey. Its face is often said to be “human-like.” The creature’s appearance tends to startle and even upset witnesses, such is the intensity of the experience.

Dutch colonists also recounted seeing this creature. One of the most frequently reported sightings is that of a Mr. Van Heerwarden, who described an encounter he had while surveying land in 1923: ” I discovered a dark and hairy creature on a branch. The sedapa was hairy on the front of its body, the color here was a little lighter than on the back. The very dark hair fell to just below the shoulder blades, or even almost to the waist. Had it been standing, its arms would have reached to a little above its knees, they were therefore long, but its legs seemed to be rather short. I did not see its feet, but I did see some toes which were shaped in a very normal manner. There was nothing repulsive or ugly about its face, nor was it at all apelike.”

Locals in Western Sumatra have continued to see the orang pendek right through to the modern day. Conservationalist Debbie Martyr and photographer Jeremy Holden, who both had eyewitnesses sightings, both described to me a creature consistent with the descriptions above. Intrestingly, Debbie echoed to me the view of Van Heerwarden in 1923. The most shocking thing about the orang pendek was that it seemed so human.

In 2011, I led an expedition in which team member Dave Archer and chief guide Sahar Didmus also saw an orang pendek. We were moving silently and slowly as possible through the jungle, when we heard a noise up ahead. Our guide, Donni, and I branched one way, while Sahar and Dave went the other. According to Dave, the creature squashed its face and body into a tree in order to remain hidden. Dave could see it was blowing out of the corner of its mouth and rolling its eyes in a clear state of fear before moving off into the deep undergrowth. Sahar , who had previously had a direct encounter with a Tiger, found the whole experience so moving that he burst into tears.

The orang pendek is a unique and very rare hominoid. It is quite unlike the North American bigfoot, the Himalayan yeti, or even the ebu gogo of Flores. This project reinforces that there is still a population of these creatures left in at least one remote jungle area of the island.

Are Orang Pendeks Relict Homo Floresiensis?
by Cliff Barackman

When I first traveled to Sumatra for first-hand investigations of the orang pendek, I was working under the model that these creatures were simply a relict form of Homo floresiensis, the recently discovered “hobbit” species from the nearby island of Flores. However, the Orang Pendek Project has conclusively shown that this is not the case.

The foot structure of the orang pendek is dramatically different than that of Homo floresiensis. In orang pendeks, the hallux, or big toe, is divergent from the rest of the lateral toes as is the case in the other great apes. In Homo floresiensis, the hallux is adducted, or straight in line with the lateral toes. This clearly indicates that we are dealing with multiple species, and relict Homo floresiensis could not be the same creature as the orang pendek.

Interestingly, there are reports from the island of Flores, where the fossils of Homo floresiensis were found, that might indicate that a small number of hobbits have survived until the present day. The small, humanoid creatures found on Flores are locally known as the ebu gogo. Additionally, the commonly reported “brown jack” of Australia is likely this same species, based on the footprint reports that I have heard from that continent which also have an adducted hallux, or a big toe that is in line with the rest of the digits.. Whether or not Homo floresiensis has persisted until the present day is open for debate, but the question of that species being the orang pendek has now been answered with a resounding “no.” The hallux, or big toe, of each species shows that these must in fact be two different species.

The two photos below compare a footprint cast of the orang pendek (collected on September 6, 2013) with a reconstructed foot skeleton and femur of a fossilized Homo floresiensis. In the orang pendek footprint cast, the hallux is clearly abducted, or out to the side like a human thumb. In the reconstructed foot skeleton of Homo floresiensis, the hallux is in line with the rest of the digits, as it is in humans.

Definitely go to The Orang Pendek Project on Cliff’s website for the complete story on this exciting project!

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster.


6 Responses to “Orang Pendek Project”

  1. DWA responds:

    Exciting stuff.

    While it may be a bit of a reach to put these in genus Homo prior to having a specimen to study (observations aren’t taxonomy), they certainly can’t be chalked up to misidentification of known animals, known primates particularly.

  2. Hapa responds:

    Very interesting! Had no idea that Australia had its own proto Pygmy (Brown Jack). The differences between the foot anatomy of the Hobbit and that of Orang Pendek, according to the tracks, are excellent proof that one is not the same as the other, but careful analysis needs to be done to see if indeed those tracks are of a Orang Pendek or an Orangutan (a quick comparison of the track to a Orangutan foot should suffice, and I believe that the track above is definitely NOT an Orangutan, but the comparison has to be made, and I’m sure this has already been done)

    So far, I see nothing earthshaking about proof of Orang Pendek, i.e. proof that would put the cryptid into zoological classification, but I am still awaiting further results, and hope that real physical proof will come forth shortly

  3. DWA responds:

    Hapa:

    As I understand it, the orangutan isn’t even found in orang pendek range, and descriptions clearly rule out gibbons, the only other misidentification candidate.

    The OP’s human-like features are as consistent as any other field mark, which pretty clearly rules out known primates.

  4. Hapa responds:

    Just checked pics of Orangutan feet: yep, definitely not one of their tracks!

  5. Hapa responds:

    Thanks DWA for the info and the link. Dang I feel that they are very close to proving this animal. Its going to be hard, short of a live capture (I remember discussing on here previously how one cannot bring a gun into the wilds there, nor hunt anything period I believe (unless you are one of the tribes native to the region. Correct me if I’m wrong), so a live capture, if allowed, or the chance finding of a dead specimen or a fossil, would do. Short of that, DNA from hairs should be a big breakthrough, but even then it wouldn’t be enough to recognize a new species (need the type specimen).

    I wonder if Sykes examined any possible hairs of Orang Pendek in his study…

    I am also wondering if its possible to hire the native peoples of the region to capture, but not kill, one of these animals, and whether the specimen will be allowed to be returned to the wild after acceptable examination by scientists, i.e. enough to label it a new species

  6. Adam Davies responds:

    Hapa is correct.I won’t list the differences between these prints and the Orangutang.You can look them up easily for yourselves if you would like to. There are also no Orangs anywhere near this part of the island by the way. All prints found are married to eyewitness reports which have been documented. Cliff will be uploading more of the evidence as and when his filming schedule allows. So there is plenty more for you to all analyse and enjoy!



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