Sasquatch Coffee

Davies Orang Pendek Expedition Update

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 29th, 2009

pendek

News from the rainforest of Sumatra concerning the new sighting of an Orang Pendek and the gathering of evidence is quite encouraging. Here’s an update.

Extreme Expeditions author and cryptozoologist Adam Davies recently returned with a new group of explorers including Chris Clark, Dave Archer, and Richard Freeman, from Sumatra. They had been in search of Orang Pendek, as first mentioned here, on September 8, 2009.

Pendek field drawing

A previous field drawing of the Orang Pendek based on Debbie Martyr’s and others’ pre-2009 sightings.

Expedition organizer and multiple time adventurer into the area, Davies knows the local people well, and had, previous to departure, re-established contact with the Kubu people. The Kubu and their headman, who aided Davies’ team, have seen the creature in the rainforests often.

The group of British individuals, some invited by Davies from the UK’s Centre for Fortean Zoology, made some interesting discoveries, as mentioned earlier here, in German also, and in today’s CFZ release:

Dave Archer and local guide Sahar saw the creature at a distance of around 100 feet as it squatted in a tree. Dave describes it as broad shouldered, with a large head, black skin and dark brown hair. A line of darker fur was visible on the spine. He likened the coat of the creature to that of a mountain gorilla. Sahar saw the creature jump down from the tree and walk away on its hind legs. It was the size of an adult male chimpanzee.

Next to the tree was some rattan vine that the animal was apparently chewing. Expedition leader Adam Davies [corrected ~ not "Davis," as the CFZ has misspelled his name twice, at least ~ LC] has preserved part of the plant in ethanol in the hope that it contains cells from the animal’s mouth.

The team also found and photographed several sets of tracks made by creatures.

Chris Clark shared with Cryptomundo the following:

The creature was seen in a tree, at some distance, through branches and vines; Dave was peering round them rather than walking about looking for a better spot. Sensibly, he chose to watch orang pendek for the few seconds it was in view rather than take the traditional bad picture that would probably have focused on a leaf. This, not any camera problems, is the reason there is no photo. We hope to deploy better evidence than a mere photo.

Following an animal through the Sumatran jungle if it wants to get away (it seems to have been alarmed by a nearby tiger) is of course impossible.

Continuing with some more from the new release from CFZ, there is this:

Richard Freeman confirmed that they matched no known creature in the area. The prints were six to seven inches long with a narrow heel and wider front. The big toe is well separated.

Hair samples were taken…from a tree close to the tracks. A number of the hairs contain medullas that [may] contain orang-pendek DNA. The samples will shortly be sent off to experts around the world for analysis.

If the samples turn out to be from a new species Freeman suggests the scientific name of Pongo martyri in honour of the English researcher Debbie Martyr who has done more than anyone else to look into this zoological mystery.

[It may be premature protocol to publish the scientific name in print (as may happen with this CFZ press release) of any new species not verified, as that very act may negate its use in a formal way in the future.]

debbie drawing2

Another Martyr-data-generated drawing.

The release ends…

Footage from the expedition and from the Irish lakes are being submitted for inclusion in a major BBC documentary about the CFZ, which is being made by Minnow Films, an award winning British film production company, over the next eight months.

As noted here previously, the Irish video almost certainly shows birds, not “anomalous animals.” This even appears to be the conclusion now arrived at by the CFZ. The Irish video episode might not be the best recent event to link to the news of the sighting of an anthropoid from Indonesia.

The Sumatra expedition was first organized by Adam Davies (not “Davis” as the CFZ mistakenly notes today and in a previous release).

Clark also brings up a good point:

There are of course orangutans in Sumatra, but they are at the northern tip of the island. Kerinci is south of the Equator.

BTW, this is not a time to get distracted by minor matters, such as the original Davies brief mention of the word “Yeti.”

Shorthand use of “Yeti” and “Bigfoot” frequently happens with the media when talking about Orang Pendek, Yowie, and Yeren, in my experience. In some of the earlier CFZ releases on the Orang Pendek, they called it a “Yeti.” I understood what Adam Davies was talking about, and did not make as much of the use of “Yeti” and “Orang Pendek” on the fly, from the tired expedition leader who was coming out of the jungle, as some have.

We applaud this new effort and look forward to what results are brought forward from the rainforests of Sumatra on the Orang Pendek.

Orang Pendek Cast

Please click on the image for a larger version of the photograph.

Above is the Adam Davies-Andrew Sanderson-obtained Orang Pendek field cast, from September 2001. The original of which was shown in the Bates College Museum of Art cryptozoology exhibition in 2006, held in conjunction with the International Cryptozoology Museum. A first generation copy will be shown in the new public location of the museum.

Join the past patrons in supporting the International Cryptozoology Museum as it opens in downtown Portland, Maine.

Please click on the button below (not the one up top) to take you to PayPal to send in your museum donation.

If you wish to send in your donation via the mails, by way of an international money order or, for the USA, via a check (made out to “International Cryptozoology Museum”) or money order, please use this snail mail address:

Loren Coleman, Director
International Cryptozoology Museum
PO Box 360
Portland, ME 04112

Thank you, and come visit the museum at 661 Congress Street, Portland, Maine 04101, beginning November 1, 2009!!

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


35 Responses to “Davies Orang Pendek Expedition Update”

  1. JMonkey responds:

    I must say this is an exciting moment. If they were actually able to obtain some kind of proof that would be fantastic. Pictures are great, but just like Davies said, “They usually focus on a leaf and blur the subject.”

    Speaking on this matter, is it against the law for someone to learn how to use a ingle Lense Reflex camera. This would eliminate alot of these problems.

    That being said this will still be a marvelous find for the cryptozoological community. I wish Mr. Davies and his crew the best of luck in obtaining the proof they search for.

  2. whiteriverfisherman responds:

    I hope they do have good evidence, at least enough to get main stream science to pay attention. I watched a documentary about Debbie Martyr many years ago. I remember her description of the animal and the sincerity in her voice. I believed her and I think OP’s are there. I would like them to prove the animal’s existence but I would like to see Ms. Martyr get the recognition she deserves professionally.

  3. TheHighlandTiger responds:

    Complaining about the limits of photographic equipment, be it focussing or dampness in the cameras, is just an excuse.

    They were going on a an expedition to find the orang pendek, short of capturing an animal, the best they could hope to do is to film one in its native surroundings.

    Finding foot prints or DNA would be great, but they would be of little use in proving the animals existance. Footprints are notoriously difficult to prove as genuine, and DNA can only be matched to known animals, the best that DNA evidence can do is prove there is an unknown animal in the area. It cannot prove the DNA came from an orang pendek. To do that you have to have a specimen in front of you. And the expedition was never going to capture a live animal.

    So we come down to what they should of concentrated on. And that is photographic and video evidence. And unfortunately they came up short. Their preparation was poor, hence the complaints about the equipment. (Professional wildlife filmakers are able to work in those conditions without any major issues). And the one chance of getting any footage, was ruined by the amateurist way they acted after sighting the animal. Instead of staying still, and filming/taking photo’s from where they stood. (Meaning at least they would have an image of something before they tried to get closer, something that would seem obvious in the cold light of day), they “blundered” on in desperation to get that “perfect shot”, but instead appeared to scare the animal off, leaving them with nothing apart from a few hairs and some chewed vegetation. (it’ll be interesting to see how they manage to get the rattan through customs, knowing full well, how dim a view customs officials have to people bringing in plant matter from foreign climes without a permit – although that might be the reason that they didn’t want this story to break until they were out of the country).

    All in all you have to applaud anyone who does any sort of research in the field. But why or why can no-one from the crypto community ever put together a proper professional well researched and prepared expedition. It seems everytime one of these expeditions returns, we get a list of excuses and near misses.

  4. dwindell responds:

    I still see no reason for any excitement whatsoever…moreover, the current posting gives me even more reason to be skeptical than the previous post:

    -Am I the only one who finds it quite ironic that both the Irish Lake Video and this new ‘sighting’ have both come right at the beginning of a documentary on the CFZ

    -“We hope to deploy better evidence than a mere photo.”…..Seriously?!? the lack of a photo makes your case far less compelling than would the presence of a blobsquatch to help bolster your claims, don’t gimme that BS. If you dropped the ball on the photo, admit it…if you purposefully didn’t snap one or continue the claim of ‘trying to get a better vantage point’ then I consider your claims false as no one in their right mind would give up a chance at a photo, no matter how fuzzy

    -Although Sumatra is a very large island, wouldn’t Occam’s Razor state that the default position to take would be that this is a displace animal instead of a primate that has gone previously undiscovered by science?

    -Where are the footprint photos? Wouldn’t these be circulated ASAP for scrutiny? What are you hiding?

    I won’t believe it until I get more solid evidence, otherwise there are plenty of alterior motives (fame, funding/backing for a film, attention for CFZ) that are far and away more likely than an undiscovered primate, especially in light of the sketchy details provided thus far.

    Sorry to be a party pooper.

  5. cliff responds:

    Dwindell said:

    I won’t believe it until I get more solid evidence, otherwise there are plenty of alterior motives (fame, funding/backing for a film, attention for CFZ) that are far and away more likely than an undiscovered primate, especially in light of the sketchy details provided thus far.

    I hate to say it, but I tend to have the same feelings. To me this seems like shameless marketing for the BBC Documentary where they promise to show you this “proof” that they are alluding to in the articles. The situation with the missed photo opportunity just sounds too convenient and bogus, especially considering that this was an expedition funded for the specific purpose of capturing video/photographic evidence of OP. Like I said in the other thread, who in their right mind wouldn’t snap the photo THEN try to get to a better vantage point? To me this is just like MQ doing all those shameless episode promotions where they promise “startling evidence” and then give you a dead salmon.

    I hope I’m wrong about it, but so far I don’t see anything to get excited about either. No OP photos, no track casts, only half-eaten rattan and photos of the alleged tracks that we have yet to see, certainly nothing spectacular.

  6. MattBille responds:

    The timing of this report doesn’t bother me, although the lack o a clear close-up view of the whole animal is disappointing. Just from the description, I wonder if an exceptionally large lar gibbon (Hylobates lar) can be ruled out.
    I tossed out on the National Association of Science Writers list the question of whether you’d get a refereed journal to publish a formal species description on the basis of a DNA sample. In the case of other species (two monkeys, one shrike) that were accepted on DNA samples, the samples were taken, along with clear closeup pictures and measurements, while the animal was in hand. The type specimen was then released back into the wild. This has become acceptable, but my colleague John Gever suggested DNA from hairs and rattan could always be challenged as contaminated unless the samples were gathered under laboratory conditions – meaning you had the whole animal to start with.
    There doesn’t seem to be a precedent for a formal species description, and certainly not one of a vertebrate, based on a wild-gathered DNA sample alone. If anyone knows of exceptions, please let me know.
    (And while I agree 100% that any name eventually established should honor Debbie Martyr, it might be premature to put it in the genus Pongo – while I agree that’s the likely identity, right now we can’t be sure it doesn’t belong in Hylobates or even rate its own genus.)

  7. alcalde responds:

    Highland Tiger and Dwindell, you have many very good points. Some of these statements coming from the expedition sound like sour grapes. Forget wildlife photographers… I’ve occasionally advised a local ghost-hunting group on equipment choices, and even they know how to protect cameras against moisture, cold, and heat. I won’t add any more to that than what you two have said.

    The comment “Following an animal through the Sumatran jungle if it wants to get away (it seems to have been alarmed by a nearby tiger) is of course impossible.” seems to be aimed at an objection I’d made. I still disagree with this explanation. We’re not dealing with an animal like a jungle cat. We’re dealing with an animal that in their words “walked” away on two legs,and was the height of a male chimpanzee. That’s been given as 4 feet. The low-end estimate of Danny Devito’s and Mickey Rooney’s heights are 4′ 9.5″ and 4′ 11″. The question becomes, in my crazy mind, could your average cryptologist catch Danny Devito or Mickey Rooney in the Sumatran jungle? :-) My answer is “sure”, and I’m not even bringing up the butterfly net this time. You think one would at least *try* though, especially given that the very existence of the animal itself is thought impossible by most. All that way, seeing the only known non-human bipedal primate, then letting it *walk* away? Maybe they’re just used to seeing Bigfoots, Nessies and chupacabras all the time and are jaded. :-)

    By the way, this is the first mention of the tiger. If I were looking for an excuse as to why I didn’t get a photo, I wouldn’t be going on about the uselessness of photos. I’d say that *I* was alarmed by the presence of a nearby tiger! However, the tiger theory is highly unlikely. From a tiger website: “Tigers are essentially terrestrial animals which confine climbing to their juvenile years: They are very clumsy when aloft. Despite their incredible muscle power tigers need to enter a tree at a run, being unable to simply pull themselves up in the manner used by leopards. They may get stuck in trees. Not being climbers by nature, it takes them time to learn the best way to descend is backwards. Usually find that though claws make tree climbing possible, their angle also makes the descent an awkward job. ” Any orang pedenk worth its crypto-cred would, upon seeing a tiger, decide that going higher into a tree would be better rather than dropping on to the ground where a tiger can outrun anything on two legs, including the ostrich.

    “Adam Davies has preserved part of the plant in ethanol….” This made my head spin again. Someone on the expedition knows that DNA is water-soluble, but not alcohol-soluble, but no one knows to bring a waterproof camera?

    “This, not any camera problems, is the reason there is no photo. ” So different people are being told different things? Someone told Karl Shuker otherwise?

    “The creature was seen in a tree, at some distance, through branches and vines;”
    Which raises the spectre of misidentification that the detailed description earlier did not.

    “Richard Freeman confirmed that they matched no known creature in the area. The prints were six to seven inches long with a narrow heel and wider front. The big toe is well separated.”

    I’ll be waiting to hear what non-affiliated zoologists think about the footprints (assuming they’ll be sending the casts to them). I recall on MonsterQuest their expert was convinced he had orang prints, even identifying each broken branch along the route which the creature must have touched, etc., but the print turned out to be bear. The orang prints are supposed to look like a child’s, but here you have the opposable thumb (assuming that indentation is part of the print, a mistake I believe the MonsterQuest people made with their cast). Freeman’s proclamation puzzles me as that could possibly be an orangutan or gibbon print if the four toes were straight together. Mr. Freeman’s bio mentions studying zoology at a university but no mention of graduation or degree and it seems earns his living now from CFZ, and has also worked in jobs as varied as zookeeper, an exotic pet shop, and a gravedigger. He also argues fiercely with at least two books that dragons are based in fact. Sorry, but I’ll feel more comfortable when a primate specialist examines the print, preferably with an electron microscope like that used on MonsterQuest to deduce the accuracy of the cast.

    Actually, I realize now the photo of the cast is not from this expedition. There’s no comment made about having a cast, only photos. Sorry, that’s just crazy. All we have is Freeman’s word and not enough evidence for a non-affiliated expert to make a decision on.

    Regarding lack of photos, to quote Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning…

    “With all of their hardware and determination, you’d think they would have gotten a photograph. But they never did. Both Debbie [Martyr] and Jeremy [Holden] claim to have seen orang pendek on multiple occasions, but unfortunately, neither thought to employ that camera they were holding. Not even a hastily shot blurred photo of the animal running away? And yet they both saw it on several occasions? Hmmm.
    “More recently, two British dudes, Adam Davies and Andrew Sanderson, have been traveling around Sumatra trying to collect evidence. They brought back footprint casts and some hairs. The hairs were analyzed by microscope and determined to be from an unknown primate; and then their DNA was analyzed and found to be disappointingly human. So much for objective microscope analysis performed by cryptozoologist proponents.”

    Like I said before, this thing has been sighted so many times by field researchers but no photo exists, while there are the traditional blurry shots of much more rare cryptids? Baffling.

    “-Am I the only one who finds it quite ironic that both the Irish Lake Video and this new ’sighting’ have both come right at the beginning of a documentary on the CFZ”

    I raised this in the lake monster topic as it was the first thing to hit me when I read the press release. I think it’ll turn out the same as the lake video too… honest evidence, imagination-fueled misidentification (I’m betting on “gibbon” here). Recall the guide was apparently so wound up he started crying when they saw this creature… from a distance… through branches and leaves. Gibbons can also walk on two legs for short distances and they seem to have lost the creature shortly after it hopped out of the tree. Color matches, too. I just hope they avoid hyping this and handle the verdict better than Mr. Downes is his.

  8. greatanarch responds:

    Some of the criticism here seems downright perverse. When someone arrives home after a twelve hour flight and a long train journey the first thing they do is not going to be posting a photograph of a footprint: this is not the same as ‘hiding’ it.

    If this is really an orangutan then it has been displaced by some 400 miles, and has learnt to walk upright on its way south (see the account by Sahar above). Of course an orangutan can move bipedally, but this would hardly be the first choice for one in a hurry.

    The camera problems were only with the movie cameras (tape is not a good medium in the jungle). The digital and trail cameras performed well. This has nothing whatever to do with the absence of a photograph. Dave Archer chose good observation over a bad photograph; since he was the man on the spot (I was in another part of the jungle) I am not going to second-guess his decision, and I doubt anyone else has the right to do this either. The expedition was not funded by anyone, and it was not specifically intended to get photographic evidence; we used a number of data-gathering methods. Incidentally, this is the first time I have seen anyone criticised for not producing a blobsquatch photograph; the abuse is normally the other way round.

    The complaints that four amateurs with two weeks to work in were not able to get the results that a professional with a BBC budget and specialised equipment could hope for are manifestly absurd. Photographers with equipment far better than ours have failed to get a picture either. Even Debbie Martyr has seen orang pendek three or four times, and has never yet got a photograph.

    A cast of the footprint would of course be better than a photograph (though not all prints can be cast). We asked the guides to get material, but they had been unable to find it by the time we arrived. I suppose next time we will have to bring our own, excess baggage charges or not.

    The rattan samples came through without problems. I have at various times been sniffed on arriving home for drugs and for explosives (negative both times), but I have never yet seen a machine that could detect a small sample of half-chewed rattan in ethanol inside my suitcase.

  9. cryptidsrus responds:

    I would like to reiterate that while it’s a shame that no clear, definite picture of the Orang Pendek was taken, the rest of the findings are very encouraging indeed. Davies should be proud. BTW—It was indeed prudent of Dave to hesitate in shooting the picture. It can’t always be “perfect.” :)

  10. alcalde responds:

    Oh, one more quick thought… what purpose would an opposable thumb on the foot serve a creature that’s evolved to walk on its hind legs? And before anyone suggests it spends time in trees, then what was the evolutionary pressure to walk upright that apparently never existed for any other monkey or ape? The description of this print doesn’t make sense for a primarily bipedal primate.

  11. TheHighlandTiger responds:

    @alcade

    You make an interesting point about Richard Freeman’s credentials. According to his bio on wikipedia, A bio penned by the CFZ. His academic status is very vague. It mentions he studied zoology, and it mentions him leaving when the course ended, but nothing about actually gaining a degree. Something that would be an obvious thing to mention. And come to mention it, I have never seen the letters Bsc after his name on any literature. This person is supposed to be the CFZ’s zoological expert, and yet there is a doubt to his actual expertise.

    Yes he has worked in a couple of zoos, but they were for short periods before he left their employ. Make of that what you will. A bit of work in a pet shop and rescue centre and that’s the sum total of his zoology expertise. No academic papers, no serious zoological research.

    Are we really to accept the word of a person who calls himself a zoologist, and yet on reviewing the evidence appears to be not quite as experienced as he leads people to believe.

  12. TheHighlandTiger responds:

    “The camera problems were only with the movie cameras (tape is not a good medium in the jungle). ”

    Oh give me a break. Video cameras that still use tapes went out years ago. Today you can get decent cameras, that use digital technology for as little as £150.

    If you are still using ancient technology, then more fool you.

  13. Loren Coleman responds:

    Ad hominem arguments against Mr. Freeman are way beyond what needs to be talked about regarding these reports, and I wish folks would stop that immediately.

    Thank you.

  14. flame821 responds:

    Let’s face it. The photo is a no win situation.

    If he had taken the shot and it was unclear everyone would yell blobsquatch. If he took it and it was clear I can imagine the shouts of ‘Photoshop’. No picture and we hear complaining about that.

    DNA evidence is still the best evidence. True without a known reference the best that can be hoped for is ‘unknown primate’ but that’s a huge sight better than a blurry picture. Truthfully there are many, many people who will not be truly convinced until a OP, living or dead, is captured and subjected to lab testing.

    While I am not overly hopeful regarding the evidence, I am willing to take a wait and see approach before lashing out at the expedition, its members and what evidence ‘I’ would have hoped they could gather.

  15. alcalde responds:

    “Some of the criticism here seems downright perverse.”

    That would be my specialty! :-)

    “When someone arrives home after a twelve hour flight and a long train journey the first thing they do is not going to be posting a photograph of a footprint.”

    Even if it overturns the primate family tree? :-) Fair enough, but fairness works both ways: people wouldn’t be rattled about the absence of photographs if press releases weren’t going out trumpeting evidence discovered apparently even before anyone got home and photographs were able to be distributed. This is the “instant” generation… if people hear about something amazing, folks in the Twitter/YouTube era are going to want to see it now.

    “If this is really an orangutan then it has been displaced by some 400 miles, and has learnt to walk upright on its way south (see the account by Sahar above).”

    By the description above the creature was lost fairly soon after it dropped from the tree, which would mean only a short display of bipedal locomotion. Given that up to 2,000 new orangutans were discovered in Borneo just this year, it’s not wildly improbable that a small number could have migrated or been relocated 400 miles. Heck, to be fair, an undiscovered population of orangutans in this area is no less likely than a bipedal primate that has heretofore avoided capture or photography for all of human existence. I would think your main objection to the orangutan would be the dark color of the creature sighted vs. the bright color of the orang, with no known cases of melanism is the orangutan.

    ” Of course an orangutan can move bipedally, but this would hardly be the first choice for one in a hurry.”

    The description provided doesn’t say hurry; it says “walked”. And like I said, what creature already in a tree would decide to elude a tiger by dropping to the ground and travelling on two legs? I’ll spot you it wasn’t likely an orangutan if you’ll spot me that whatever it was was not avoiding a tiger by taking to ground. If it was, that explains the dearth of orang pendeks. :-)

    “The camera problems were only with the movie cameras (tape is not a good medium in the jungle).”

    With all due respect… you were shooting on tape? In 2009? In the jungle? I need a word with your quartermaster. :-) Hi-end professional recorders like the JVC GY-HM700 record HD to SDHC memory cards, and there are other cameras like the Hitachi 10 and 7 series that can record to an internal hard drive or directly to a blu-ray disc. Heck, even Panasonic’s :-)

    “The expedition was not funded by anyone, and it was not specifically intended to get photographic evidence; we used a number of data-gathering methods.”

    If it wasn’t intended to obtain a living creature or kill a creature (as the information we’ve been provided would suggest – no mention of traps, guns, etc.), and it wasn’t specifically intended to get photographic evidence (despite having trail cams, video cameras and digital cameras), and anecdotes aren’t evidence, and foot casts aren’t good evidence… with photos of footprints even less so… what was the focus of the expedition, assuming the goal was indeed to prove the existence of the orang pendek? What else could do that other than a (piece of a) body, or clear photography? Maybe I’m confused, but I’d think any expedition to provide evidence of a new species would make those two items its focus.

    “Incidentally, this is the first time I have seen anyone criticised for not producing a blobsquatch photograph; the abuse is normally the other way round.”

    Not fair – a blobsquatch photograph would be producing a blurry, poorly-framed no-context photograph when no excuse exists for such with modern equipment and proper technique. If a member of your expedition saw enough detail to describe the creature as chimpanzee-like, the color, its means of locomotion, etc., then enough detail existed to capture just such on a photograph/recording with modern equipment. Seeing such a creature in that level of detail and producing a blob on an out-of-focus background would be grounds for crying blobsquatch. Rather, your team is being, IMHO fairly, criticized for missing an opportunity. It probably hits some personally, as they feel cheated out of the opportunity that Mr. Archer had… one so powerful it is supposed to have set your guide to tears. Again – can you blame people for feeling a bit cheated? It’s like hearing a friend tell you about the greatest concert they’ve ever heard from your favorite band that’s doing its final tour, then hearing that the friend had a tape recorder on them, but didn’t get a recording because they were caught up in the music then moving around the venue looking for the optimal spot to record. Wouldn’t you feel a bit jealous and a bit cheated? If the friend maintains they were right to do what they did, despite the results, it would probably only harden your own position.

    In thoroughbred handicapping, pros chastise players who feel a horse isn’t worth a regular size bet but they would consider making a smaller bet. Pros say that if you’re a $100 bettor and a horse isn’t worth betting $100 on, it’s not worth betting $2 on. Your win percentage & odds should be the same regardless of bet size. If you don’t feel comfortable making your regular bet, you shouldn’t be making any bet – something’s wrong. It’s the same with this case. If Mr. Archer didn’t feel that enough detail was visible to make a decent photograph, then there wasn’t enough visual detail available to make an identification. If there was sufficient visual detail for Mr. Archer to feel comfortable labelling the creature a cryptid, then the view was clear enough to snap the photo. There could not have been a view that simultaneously enabled him to call the creature an orang pendek, a bipedal primate, but not good enough to capture with a camera. We just want to see exactly what he saw, nothing more.

    “The complaints that four amateurs with two weeks to work in were not able to get the results that a professional with a BBC budget and specialised equipment could hope for are manifestly absurd.”

    Sorry, but at this point I’m not willing to spot you any more and have to say this is a straw man. No one’s saying “Boo! These four people didn’t single-handedly prove the existence of this creature!” They’re upset that opportunities existed that appear to have not been exploited. It’s that these four amateurs had a chance to rewrite science and won’t even contemplate saying… yeah, maybe a photo would have been nice in retrospect but we were too caught up in the moment – maybe next time (which we’d understand)… that people are riled up about. Comments that dismiss the value of photographing a creature that’s never been photographed don’t help. Dispatches and press releases that hype the findings don’t help either – people were expecting a bit more.

    “Photographers with equipment far better than ours have failed to get a picture either. Even Debbie Martyr has seen orang pendek three or four times, and has never yet got a photograph.”

    As Brian Dunning suggested, orang pendek must have mystical powers that prevent cryptozoologists from using the cameras in their hands. And before you get upset – can you really blame someone for saying that? If I told you Elvis was alive and I’d seen him at my local fast food restaurant not one but four times, and I had a camera with me, but I just never took a picture, would you believe me? That’s why there was MORE need for your group to get a picture… outside of the rarified cryptozoological world, such a claim invites a belly laugh. Now your team goes, sees the creature too, and also fails to use the camera in your hands? Sorry, but Mr. Archer’s choice will make it that no one will take the orang pendek seriously anymore, or perhaps even take cryptozoology less seriously. The sightings claims make it seem like the easiest cryptid to catch a glimpse of (how many bigfoot/Nessie/Mongolian Death Worm expeditions claim visual id of their quarry?), yet expeditions never snap a photo despite having cameras. That’s a stupifying situation. Some of us are upset you had a chance to fix that and didn’t take it.

    “A cast of the footprint would of course be better than a photograph (though not all prints can be cast). We asked the guides to get material, but they had been unable to find it by the time we arrived. I suppose next time we will have to bring our own, excess baggage charges or not.”

    No argument there. Not much point going back without being prepared. A teacher of mine from long ago for a “survey” course in psychology (for those not intending to be psychologists) once launched into a lecture after a test was returned. He told some people they were wasting their time here. He made the course easy, never had surprise quizzes or material on the tests, the essay questions were always one of three he revealed the day before the test, etc. There was no way anyone who tried should fail. But people were just failing with 60 grades. He said it was nice spring weather and he wished he could be playing golf. These people with 60’s shouldn’t come to class at all. They should go to the beach, never open the book, skip all the classes. He asked what the point was of showing up every class (last period Friday too), taking notes, studying, and just failing with a 60? You could not show up at all, get a zero, and still get the same F letter grade and at least slept late and had some fun. He concluded this talk with the mantra, “If you’re going to fail, fail big!”

    I still remember that 19 years later, and every single time I’ve ignored that advice in my life I’ve paid the price. There’s a lesson here for you too. Don’t think of yourselves as amateurs. While experience is a component of professionalism, the major differences between pros and amateurs are discipline, planning and preparedness. You can bring all of these to the table. Why spend your own money and undertake a grueling journey to a less-developed and harsher land and not bring video cameras that you know will work? Or look for prints without having plaster? Or bring a camera and not take a photo? You could have saved yourself a trip and money and gotten most of the same results. Bring what you need to do the job – pros value their tools. A boss of a tiny two-person startup company I once worked for turned out to have used some of his retirement money to purchase the expensive software I told him I needed. When I learned he did this and I asked why, he said “What good would it be to hire the best carpenter in the world and give him a rusty dull saw to use?” Lesson – always have good tools. Plan – if you have limited time, proper planning can help make up for that. Be prepared with contingency plans. Set limited, focused and realistic goals. And discipline… make sure folks snap pictures and don’t cry. :-) Pros also get feedback and make changes. Dick Mitchell said that it isn’t practice that makes perfect. It’s practice with feedback for correction that makes perfect. Without feedback, practice makes permanent. Take these criticisms with a grain of salt and remember we’re all jealous of you. Take the advice to heart, go back again, and make zoological history for us. And Loren could use a tapdancing orang pendek with an organ grinder outside his new museum to make some money :-)

  16. MattBille responds:

    Fascinating discussion. I was hoping for a CFZ comment about my question on an unusually large Lars gibbon? Granted, “broad shoulders” doesn’t sound like any of the lesser apes, but the observation angle sounds less than perfect.

  17. norman-uk responds:

    Alcade
    To be fair you don’t at this stage know what the team have come back with. It is easy to dwell on the critical side but have you tried to snap an animal in difficult circumstances and get a good shot within a few seconds, and would make people like yourself happy? You would probably be determined not to get a blobsquatch. It’s not as if you are waiting at a tiger kill with your camera on a tripod. This team at least were in the arena and something ought to come out of their trip. I am hoping to give them a pat on the back when that something does but they do deserve respect for trying. After all probable extinction for Orang Pendek is in sight! Things have changed since Marco Polo apparently had no difficulty in seeing one in 1425.

    More important for science rather than our gratification from seeing photographs is getting DNA. Once you have it you can have everything as it can be unraveled now and over time. We should not accept the sceptics view that DNA doesn’t prove anything. It certainly can, such as if it is a new
    primate. We have reference points in that we have human, Neandertal, chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan DNA and much more on GENBANK for anyone to see. In the UK you can even locate somebody’s family from a sample of DNA.

    I’m disappointed nothing has come out of the 2001 sample analysed by professor Bryan Sykes (The Seven Daughters of Eve) in which he found DNA but to his surprise was unable to identify it. I understand he does not now discuss this finding.

    It is extraordinary that, being as I am convinced of the reality of Sasquatch, Orang Pendek and others, only one or maybe two samples DNA have produced any interesting results. As time goes by I have no doubt these creatures are sadly disappearing. All negative results from the New York University lab, which is pivotal to the DNA questtion, over the past 15 years suggest that Sasquatch does not exist or is a human or a bear or has no DNA. To my mind it is most improbable that at least one sample would not have Sasquatch DNA! Can anyone solve this anomaly?

    It is instructive to listen to the “MonsterTalk” interview* with Todd Disotell (before it is pulled?) who runs the lab and you can make your own mind up about his sceptical status and what value he puts on Sasquatch research. One example of his thoughts is, I quote, “the reason people find big Sasquatch footprints is because it is called Bigfoot and the reason they find small footprints is because it is called Littlefoot,” which he found humorous. Unfortunately he has never seen a Sasquatch footcast which is not fraudulent. He also states that if you wish to prove the reality of Bigfoot you lose all credibility.

    There are other gems but please look for yourself. I would be glad if someone did as I don’t want to appear to be ad hominem or whatever when I am seeking to be objective and fair and IMO is relevent to the current furore over the recent expedition. It is good that more than one lab is being asked to check the recent samples from Sumatra; it is difficult to say if there is room for optimisim at this point, however.
    ______
    *The “MonsterTalk” interview is under the heading ”Mystery Apes” on that site. It’s a sceptics hollow deck! – norman-uk

  18. norman-uk responds:

    mattbille

    Did you notice Dave Archer at the beginning of his report said that he heard a gibbon? He thought that was a little way off from where he had his sighting, but interesting. At the end of the film he said what seems like a contradiction, in that he heard nothing. A real report=apparent contradictions. Great real genuine film.

    Strange how he off-handedly mentions the Sumatran tiger; isn’t this almost gone, almost a cryptid? I think he would have patted it on the back if he’d met up with it.

  19. dwindell responds:

    First off- I agree with Loren that personal attacks against Freeman are uncalled for. The presence or absence of a degree does not make or break someone’s ability to be a credible cryptozoologist, especially in light of the fact that zoology is what some use as a standard. In all reality, anthropology is probably more suited to the field of study in the first place.

    Second- amen to your comments alcalde.

    Third- although I do appreciate the response from greatanarch, you still have not addressed any comment regarding the “choice” timing of the current sighting. The fact that the trip went unfunded only furthers my point that the ‘evidence’ is a fund-seeking mission.

    The argument that the camera is a ‘no win’ situation is rediculous. If you make hefty claims, enough to start promoting a scientific name, then you shoud back the claims with SOMETHING. Like I said before, a blurry photo would certainly be better than nothing.

    Regarding the lack of a cast, my only question is, are you serious???? I’ve never heard of an expedition of this nature occurring without plaster in your toolkit.

    Regarding the idea that a great ape displaced by 400 miles is just as likely as a new species being discovered, I’ll again ask whether you are joking or not…let’s look at scientific fact…animals are displaced by 400 miles all the time! that’s roughly the distance from eastern North Carolina to western Tennessee. If I saw a large felid in eastern NC (see “Bladenboro Beast”) am I supposed to believe that this is a brand new species and not simply a Florida panther? C’mon, let’s not patronize the intelligence of the readers. We all are aware of, and were quite excited about, the discovery of a large number of “black” orangutans recently.

    I still give no credence to this claim.

    ~D

  20. kittenz responds:

    I’m with the skeptics on this; there’s something fishy about it. Either these are the most bumbling “researchers” that ever mounted an expedition, or they’re sending deliberately misleading reports as an enticement to keep people hooked.

  21. DWA responds:

    I have to say this about the camera comments:

    I didn’t think anything fishy of the rationale at all, except to say it doesn’t sound like an excuse to me.

    I’d have done the same thing the sighter did: get as good a look as I could. Anyone who thinks differently just hasn’t been in this situation with a camera, that’s all. Anyone who thinks that photo would have been proof needs to be introduced to the Patterson/Gimlin film.

    There was no way this expedition was coming back with conclusive proof. How many days were they out there again? What they did get was more evidence that says: keep looking and start drafting acquisition protocols, because we’re on to something. That’s how this stuff works.

    (I would also bet the bank on my ability to catch a retreating Mickey Rooney, and would not catch a retreating wild animal, adapted to that environment, if the very future of Western Civilization depended on it. Why do you think it’ s not confirmed yet?)

  22. DWA responds:

    As to this comment by alcalde:

    ”By the description above the creature was lost fairly soon after it dropped from the tree, which would mean only a short display of bipedal locomotion.”

    Orangutans never retreat from anything on the ground if they can help it. They are so exclusively arboreal that this would be one of the last things one would do – particularly to escape from a ground-based threat. It’s not that they never descend to the ground. They just would be very unlikely to do so here. The orang pendek, on the other hand, seems to use the ground as its default option in retreating. (Note: a gibbon would be even less likely than an orangutan to do what is noted here. Another note: any scientist worth his note pad would laugh out loud at the notion of any species being found 400 miles displaced from known range. Another note: this is why scientists may need to take evidence of cryptids – some at least – a tad more seriously than they do.)

    And as to this one:

    ”“The creature was seen in a tree, at some distance, through branches and vines;”
    Which raises the spectre of misidentification that the detailed description earlier did not.”

    And all the more reason not to bother with a photo. If one wants to avoid being even further discredited in the press, the last thing one needs is another blurry photo. Reporting a sighting is simply saying: I’ve seen it. So pursuing proof is worthwhile. I’m good with that. I’m not sure too many people understand how non-omnipotent scientists are. And that leads nicely to this:

    ”If it wasn’t intended to obtain a living creature or kill a creature (as the information we’ve been provided would suggest – no mention of traps, guns, etc.)… and it wasn’t specifically intended to get photographic evidence… what was the focus of the expedition, assuming the goal was indeed to prove the existence of the orang pendek?”

    No it wasn’t. That’s not a good assumption.

    Note the part about funding. (And time. Note the time spent, which is what happens when that f-word isn’t adequate.)

    What this was about is increasing the evidence pile, to the point that folks get interested enough to fund the traps, guns, etc. There is a distinction between evidence and proof, of which a lot of skeptics don’t seem to be aware (if they aren’t just disingenuously glossing it over).

    No expedition will go out to get proof, says here, unless it is damn certain it will get it.

    Which means it needs to see evidence first. A lot of it. The purpose of this trip was to add to that pile, with funding and time available. Period.

  23. TheHighlandTiger responds:

    Mr Freeman made the following statement:

    “Richard Freeman confirmed that they matched no known creature in the area. The prints were six to seven inches long with a narrow heel and wider front. The big toe is well separated.”

    It is certainly prudent to ask whether a person is qualified to make such a claim, is it not.

    @Kittenz and the other sceptics.

    I don’t believe there is any alterior motives for either timing or lack of evidence from the CFZ expedition. In fact, if anyone has ever followed any of the previous half a dozen CFZ expeditions, they have all fallen into a similar pattern. They have all come back with stories of near misses, stories of equipment failure and bad planning, and physical evidence which eventually turns out to be from known species.

    The CFZ expeditions are not the scientific endeavours they like to make the public believe. They are simply a chance for members of the CFZ to have a little adventure in some far off corner of the globe. Create a bit of press on their return, write a short book to be printed by their own in house vanity press, and stick a film on their website. All of this helps to create an air of respectability to the general public, as a group that knows what they are doing.

    However, this upcoming documentary, where they are allowing the cameras to follow their every move over the next year, could create serious problems for them. If all they have to put into the programme, is a giant white irish eel, which turns out to be a water bird, and a comedy of errors searching for an Orang Pendek, iy will be more of a comedy than a serious programme

  24. DWA responds:

    TheHighlandTiger:

    Notwithstanding everything else I’ve said, which stands, this is Crypto for Television. And there is stuff one needs to expect. Like timing cool stuff for ratings sweeps.

    I think that someone looking is better than no one; that a reported sighting can’t be knowledgably debunked by anyone who wasn’t there; and that if scientists would change the way they look at stuff that hasn’t been proven yet, we might not need Crypto for Television.

    I would hope that our alleged sighter would know the penalty for lying. Because other than seeing what he says he saw, lying would be the highest order probability, in my mind.

    But he doesn’t sound as if he was lying. Nor as if he would have gotten a photo that would have been greeted with anything other than derision. Again, regardless the stakes, I would have done what he did. Better a good sighting than a bad photo.

  25. greatanarch responds:

    Obviously there are a number of things that we are never going to agree on, so I will keep this brief:

    There seems to be some confusion about the BBC documentary. The expedition was planned, by Adam Davies, before the documentary was ever thought of. The documentary is about the CFZ, rather than being an episode of MonsterQuest or similar: the expedition was not intended solely to film or photograph an orang pendek for a television program, but to gather every kind of data.

    I don’t believe a photograph would have proved anything, for reasons very clearly expressed by flame821: bad photographs are subject to ridicule, and good ones attributed to Photoshop. And I don’t believe that if something can be identified by eye then it automatically allows a good photograph: the eye/visual cortex system can make adjustments that no camera can attempt.

    I have no idea who Brian Dunning is,but I would love to know his reasons for implying that everyone who claims to have seen orang pendek is automatically a liar simply because they cannot produce a photograph. I don’t think that orang pendek has mystical powers; I do think that the shock of seeing something that is not human standing upright and walking freezes people for a few seconds. Dave Archer was very matter-of fact about his experience, but I have no idea how he would have reacted if he had seen it walking instead of clinging to a tree.

    The DNA evidence is the fundamental thing here. The organisations who will analyse it are capable of more than reporting ‘unknown primate': using the information on their databases they will also be able to identify the nearest related species (orangutan, gibbon). Even ‘unknown primate’ would be a result of the first importance, and should be enough by itself to trigger further work.

    The idea that the orang pendek is merely a displaced orangutan from 400 miles away is indefensible for a number of reasons. We are not talking about a single creature, but a series of sightings over at least a century: these
    consistently describe something that does not look or act like a orangutan. Are they supposed to be migrating on a regular basis? And to support this by reference to the behaviour of large cats makes no sense: a cat could move 20 miles in 24 hours, while I suppose that an orangutan would not travel that far from its birthplace in its entire lifetime.

    More generally: have any of the critics who quibble about the fact that we did not take our own casting material, or that some of our equipment failed, ever done any scientific research? In another age I was an observational
    astrophysicist, and went on a number of expeditions to remote places. I have visited observatories at 15,000 feet in the Andes, only to find that some vital piece of equipment (and even one of the personnel) could not take the altitude; I once arrived in Chad to follow an eclipse, and discovered that the local arrangements we were counting on had broken down. Even professional scientists get it wrong. Everything looks easy from your living room.

  26. greatanarch responds:

    I just heard about the earthquake that hit Padang, the city we use to enter and leave Sumatra, and where we spent Saturday night. It seems that a number of the hotels have collapsed as well as other buildings. I feel we have all been extremely lucky.

  27. Loren Coleman responds:

    Of all the cryptids in the world, I think the next “great” one to be discovered will be the Orang Pendek. In my book, with Patrick Huyghe, The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates, I put the Orang Pendek as my #1 pick for “best bets” for discovery.

    I am interested in keeping up-to-date on what’s happening in that corner of the world, and sharing that with Cryptomundo readers. You never can tell when the next minor event there might have some major influence on the situation.

    Needless to say, also, I have been around long enough to know some of the people involved.

    In the 1980s, I encouraged, wrote supportive documents on her behalf, and assisted with Debbie Martyr first getting into Sumatra. I respect her work, and clearly have said so here, in a profile.

    Despite any misreading of my writings, I also fully do support the work of Adam Davies, Richard Freeman, Chris Clark, Dave Archer, Karl Shuker, and Jon Downes, and many others who are involved in this report, marginally or otherwise. Adam Davies work is without reproach. The more the merrier, I say, and the more eyes looking for these things, the better. The more eyes and brains analyzing them, the better too, e.g. on Cryptomundo and in the labs around the globe.

    The world of cryptozoology is a small place, and I support all of us in it, despite some misunderstandings that naturally develop out of this field.

    These investigators (and I do support investigators as these people are, not hoaxers or sensationalists) deserve our attention to listen to the news, as best we can, to see what they are bringing back.

    Based on my sense of the long-term reality and good past evidence of the Orang Pendek, and from the gentlemen involved, yes, I do think they are worthy, most certainly, of being heard.

    It is too early in the scientific process for any firm conclusions on this episode.

    Our site here is about news, and cryptozoology news specifically. I gladly report on expeditions emerging from the jungles, deserts, and oceans of the Earth, and hopefully, of course, they have returned with new evidence for new species. Such news should be respected, as the researchers should too, no matter what organization is involved or what little evidence is obtained, this early in the game. What you are seeing here is only an indication of what may or may not be out there. But to inform is important, as in this age of the Internet, news is transferred from jungle to email to screen to brain within microseconds. Before the mainstream media distorts the events, it is always good to pass along the raw material, as best we can before it is spun by the news organizations.

    I am as interested as the next person in seeing what is what out of Sumatra.

  28. norman-uk responds:

    When the dust is settled it may be clearly true that there were errors and faults in the way this expedition was organised and run. But isnt it the best expedition around and at this time are they not the best cryptozoologists? In my opinion, at least at this time they are, emphaticaly! At this time what they have done is what we are all looking at and mostly I should say, getting our kicks from..

    I think one of the priorities for those interested in the success of cryptozoology ought to be nuturing good will. The end result wiil be, those who can, diving in their pockets and providing the finance for 100% expeditions! This could include a big trailcam programme in addition to any that are currently running (by Exeter university?) More enjoyable too, wouldnt you say?

  29. Hoytshooter responds:

    I must disagree with those who say you don’t use tape in these days of digital cameras. While there are some top-end, professional grade video cameras that now use digital media the vast majority of true professional level equipment uses tape and for a couple of very good reasons. The resolution on tape is still higher than digital media can handle and tape comes in sizes capable of handling an hour or more of video instead of the 15 minutes digital media can handle.

    And for the person who said there would be cries of “Photo Shop” about sharp pictures. Guess What? Photo Shop absolutely cannot make an out-of-focus picture sharp. It can be used to make a slightly out-of-focus picture appear sharper but that is relatively easy to spot.

    That being said there are techniques that can be used to make a slightly out-of-focus extremely sharp, but it takes time and a sizable number of photographs of the same object AND the people who are able to do this will be willing to tell you they did it and how it was done. Astro-photographers do it all the time, both amateur and professional.

    As for the “I didn’t want to take a photo because the camera might focus on a leaf/vine” statement. I haven’t heard a dumber statement! If you go on an expedition such as this and don’t know how to focus your camera, STAY HOME!! If you can afford to go on an expedition such as this you should certainly be able to afford something along the lines of a Canon EOS-5D, Nikon D300, Sony A900, Pentax K20D or K7D, or something comparable, a couple of GOOD lenses, and know how to use it. Heck, even get an Nikon F3/4/5/6 series film camera and a case of good color film, though film takes special handling in the tropics. Just don’t say you didn’t get photos because “the camera focused/might focus on a leaf/vine”. Statements such as this do not help your credibility!

  30. Fhqwhgads responds:

    blobsquatch – blob = wordsquatch

  31. barnum100 responds:

    I always thought the Bonobo was pretty cool. Perhaps an African relative?

  32. TheHighlandTiger responds:

    @Hoytshooter

    “The resolution on tape is still higher than digital media can handle and tape comes in sizes capable of handling an hour or more of video instead of the 15 minutes digital media can handle.”

    Where are you getting this 15 minutes from. I have a Sony HD video camera, bought for £400, which records nearly 4 hours of HD video on an internal hard drive. I have several batteries, which when charged can last for more than two hours each

    You can buy telephoto and wide angled lens to improve its viewing range, and it fits snuggly in the palm of one hand. More than adequate for what was needed on this expedition

  33. Loren Coleman responds:

    For news of the release of one of the photographs of the alleged Orang Pendek footprint and a detailing of the evidence, see here.

    The original posting on this sighting can be found here.

  34. lukedog responds:

    Agree with DWA, A photo is worthless.

  35. DWA responds:

    Lukedog: It’s not so much that a photo is worthless; it’s that a worthless photo is.

    As I said: a good description is better than a bad photo. Neither is proof. But the search for the orang pendek is hanging, largely, on unsubstantiated sightings – in which the observer, using only eyes, painted a picture of the animal that jibes pretty well with many other such descriptions.

    I see it many times over here that anyone who can’t take a good picture of an orang pendek should just hang it up. It’s almost IMPOSSIBLE to take a good picture of a non-habituated wild animal. For ANYONE, even the most accomplished photographer. Don’t believe me? Ask them. Why do you think, people, that so much has been invested in remote trail cameras? Why do you think this critter isn’t confirmed yet? Generations of crappy photographers?

    It is a snap judgment call. Can I get a picture that will be every bit as good as the description I get if I just focus on the animal? The answer, almost invariably, is NO. People really have no idea of the massive percentage of “wild” animal photography out there that is either of captive or of habituated animals. (Private refuges are maintained for the sole purpose of giving photographers good shots of essentially captive animals.)

    Says here: if you don’t have a large database, that includes excellent eyewitness descriptions of an animal, you do not know enough about the animal to ever get a good photo of it.

    Also says here: taking a photograph, you are focusing the bare minimum of your attention on the animal, and the rest on “the shot.” If you say otherwise, you either aren’t a photographer or aren’t a very good observer of your own behavior.



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