Orang Pendek Hunt Heats Up

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 11th, 2009

Orang pendek was…promoted in legitimacy when, in 2003, anthropologists discovered the skeleton of Homo floresiensis on an island in Indonesia — same neighborhood. Homo floresiensis, 
nicknamed “The Hobbit,” is 
hypothesized to have been a dwarflike hominin that would have lived 
contemporaneously with Homo sapiens tens of thousands of years ago. 
So surprising was the discovery of a humanlike species from such a recent time, the editor of the prestigious journal Nature wrote, “The
 discovery that Homo floresiensis survived until so very recently, in
geological terms, makes it more likely that stories of other mythical humanlike creatures are founded on grains of truth … Now, cryptozoology, the study of such fabulous creatures, can come in from
 the cold.”

By Jeremy Holden’s measure, the hunt for Orang pendek is at a rolling boil. Holden, a British photographer
 who now spends his time in the Far East, claims to have seen the
 Orang pendek with his own eyes, along with his colleague Debbie
 Martyr, a British journalist who now spends her time tracking 
tiger poachers. “I feel my greatest achievement in life was seeing
 the Orang pendek,” says Holden. “And my great failure in life was
 not photographing it.”

When he followed Martyr on her quest to find
 the Orang pendek, he says, he doubted the creature could exist. No hide, skull or other physical evidence had ever been recovered or 
seen by Westerners. But that skepticism evaporated when a gibbonlike creature passed him, walking upright in a way that seemed to him nothing 
less than human. He was so shocked, he didn’t get the shot. He froze, 
afraid that he might see its face, which seemed to him, in his 
terror, impossible to bear. He and
 Martyr had nightmares for weeks.

Without a photo, he knew, it was unlikely that anyone would take the 
sighting seriously, so the two never publicized their experience.

 Some may roll their eyes at the amateur explorers’ ability to bring 
home the goods, but to Holden it is not entirely surprising that 
there is a dearth of tangible proof that the Orang pendek hides in 
the forests of Sumatra.

“I had spent time in New Guinea trying to photograph a habituated
 troop of 19 chimpanzees,” says Holden. “They were used to people.
 But sometimes we would lose them, and our guides [who were indigenous
 to the area] would say, ‘Well, you might as well go home now, because 
there’s no way we are going to find them again until they start
 making noise.’ So imagine if chimpanzees were solitary and they
 lived on the ground and they didn’t make any noise. Would we ever
 know about them.”

The above is an extract from a long February 11, 2009, article by Susan Kruglinski, on cryptozoology published in Salon, here.

The article takes an intriguing approach, being open to cryptozoology, in some ways understanding it is related to how zoologists come to discover new species, but it also works in the media mythology that cryptozoology isn’t quite science.

This is shown clearly in how Ms. Kruglinski ends her essay:

It may be impossible to know whether photographer Jeremy Holden saw a mere gibbon who, to 
an excited witness, projected the 
illusion of effortless walking, or saw something far more 
interesting that wants to keep to itself. Those few who are serious 
about finding improbable lost species insist that they deserve a 
place at the table with the Goodalls of science. But they also know 
that most scientists aren’t buying it.

“Until we have the Orang pendek, the animal itself,” says Holden, 
”it’s just another cryptozoology story.”

Adam Davies adds this commentary:

It may be useful for readers to get a bit of background on what has been found and scientifically verified, especially in response to the comments made by Cliffhanger.

I have found prints that have been analysed by a number of leading primatlogists/anthropologists, including Dr. David Chivers and Dr. Meldrum, and has been identified as an “unknown primate.”

On the MQ show we did find a Sunbear, but the cast of the unknown primate was also, I think its fair to say, briefly shown and identified as such by Dr. Meldrum.

I have also found hair samples, which again affirm the Orang Pendek to be an unknown primate, (see my Extreme Expeditions for reference).

By way of background, I have been to Sumatra four times.

Jeremy Holden is so much more than being just a “photographer.” He has spent over a decade of his life looking for the Orang-Pendek, and in my opinion, is one of the world’s greatest cryptozoologists. For example, the new species of frog mentioned here in Loren’s blog, as being discovered in Cambodia, was discovered by him, in connection with Cambodian colleagues.

Whilst its useful conjecture to speculate whether Jeremy could have misidentified the Orang Pendek as a gibbon, having met him I am certain he would not make such an elementary mistake.

In any event, eyewitness reports are not difficult to find, aside from Jeremy`s. The Orang Pendek in my opinion, remains the most likely hominid to be discovered soon. That’s why I keep going back, and its cost me thousands of bucks to do so!!

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

9 Responses to “Orang Pendek Hunt Heats Up”

  1. cliffhanger042002 responds:

    It seems like I remember hearing Holden say [“I feel my greatest achievement in life was seeing
 the Orang pendek,” says Holden. “And my great failure in life was
 not photographing it.”
]. Maybe it was on the MQ show about OP, but I do remember that very clearly though.

  2. DWA responds:


    Where’d that come from?

    The “identikit” WWF composite drawing, taken from many locals’ descriptions, doesn’t look like a gibbon to me. Does it to you?

    I actually think that one couldn’t expect a mainstream treatment of this topic to go much more balanced than this.

  3. sschaper responds:

    Now that the Bili ape has been found, it seems to me that Orang Pendek is the next most-likely ape-like creature to be discovered – if it isn’t too late.

    As to the hobbits, were foot bones found? Orang Pendek has a rather ape-like foot with the big toe further back on the foot, like a thumb. Is this the case with the hobbits? I didn’t think that it was, in which case, they are two different things.

  4. cryptidsrus responds:

    Hopefully Holden will finally get his wish to photograph the Orang pendek someday. And yep, that drawing does not look like a Gibbon to me, DWA.

  5. DWA responds:


    I know this: Holden and Martyr wouldn’t be people I would ask the “gibbon question.”
    Not even just to make sure. OK, maybe, but I’d apologize first.

    When folks with some scientific street cred come forth and say they saw something, look what happens. National Geographic takes the orang pendek seriously. Not so much the sasquatch and the yet, even post-Hobbit.

    I did have a question about this blog, though. It was about this quote: “I had spent time in New Guinea trying to photograph a habituated troop of 19 chimpanzees,” says Holden.

    Chimps? in New Guinea? Did Holden really mean, say, Equatorial Guinea…?

    That said, he makes a good point. Noisy animals have a tendency to get confirmed; everyone wants to know what the noise is. With this one, sightings appear all we have. Shoot, even the sas and the yeti seem noisy by comparison with the orang pendek.

    Another thing. About seeing the face, and the nightmares. I’ve always considered that it would be way cool to see a hairy hominoid. But I guess the ramifications of seeing a face with humanlike features never came home to me until I read that passage.

    Of course, many describe their sasquatch sightings as looking like a gorilla. And Sumatran locals don’t seem too hung up on the human-like-ness of the orang pendek.

    I guess we have to chalk that up to people’s subjective responses, eh?

  6. DWA responds:

    I read the Salon article linked above and found this:

    “Indeed, last August, the Wildlife Conservation Society reported that 
a population of about 75,000 Western Lowland gorillas had been overlooked 
in a swampy area of equatorial Africa. “I’m not a Bigfoot fan,” says 
Patterson. “But the discovery of this population of gorillas in a 
relatively intact ecosystem is an indication that some large animals 
that may still be abundant can escape our attention, particularly in 
poorly studied tropical locations.”

    NOT a Bigfoot fan! (AND his name’s Patterson! lol)

    THIS is what should happen when scientists simply follow evidence with their minds.

    Hope springs eternal. Not for the animal, mind you; I just want to see the evidence. Hope for science. We count on science to think like this. Maybe someday it will.

  7. DWA responds:


    The evidence appears clear (to me at least) that the orang pendek and the Hobbit are quite different, and almost certainly not in the same genus.

    Although (given the sasquatch) I’ve gotten very leery of concluding anything from feet, you’re right about the OP having feet that are much more “apelike” than ours are. Or, OK, the sasquatch’s for that matter.

    (Which is why I get so leery of concluding from feet. But anyway.)

    Can’t remember whether foot bones were found for floriensis. But the conclusion seems clear from what I read that it’s in genus Homo; and all near-humans (including those both in, and not in, Homo) in the fossil record seem to have feet speculated to be very close to ours.

    It lends something to the OP evidence, for me, that the feet appear pretty anomalous from trackways (in other words, we know this isn’t getting hoaxed).

    Maybe neither here nor there; but speculation on the yeti’s foot, from the famous “Shipton track,” shows a similarity to a gorilla’s – something i sure wouldn’t expect for a “sun-melted fox track.”

    Just like that for the sas and the yeti, the OP evidence seems more than enough “different” – while still being what one could reasonably expect for such an animal – to be worthy of attention.

  8. DWA responds:

    It’s probably worthwhile commenting on this

    “I feel my greatest achievement in life was seeing
 the Orang pendek,” says Holden. “And my great failure in life was
 not photographing it.”

    because of its relationship to the why-don’t-we-have-a-photo yet? objection of scoffers and skeptics.

    No one should reasonably expect such a shot, really. At least not a public one.

    Don’t know about you. But if I’m getting a good look at an animal, I want to LOOK AT IT. I’m not worried about posterity or millions. (First of all, I see all the millions Patterson made with a movie. Sheesh.) Recently saw a bobcat, some distance away on a fire road, my first one ever while hiking. I had a camera, and didn’t think about it, once. I did manage to pull out a little spotting scope in my pack, and got as good a look as I was going to get. But I didn’t have to worry about telephoto or focus or settings. I wanted to LOOK AT IT, to see it.

    And that was a known animal, one I had seen before (albeit on only one occasion). I don’t care how much photography Holden has done or how much time he has spent in the bush. If you’ve never seen a cryptid, you never expect to see one. And you simply are not ready for a shot when the opp comes. Patterson is the only exception; he’s the only one who combined sufficient time with absolute readiness (a movie camera, in a sadedleside holster, ready to pull on a moment’s notice). He went out there to get the shot, and spent the required time. He was, in other words, expecting to see one and to shoot when he did. A clear index of his preparedness was getting the shot after being thrown from his horse.

    I submit that on that score, that we know of, he is it. If you know of another, you will have to tell me. And weekenders don’t count, because they haven’t put in the time that any serious wildlife shooter will tell you is needed.

    Holden may have failed to get the shot. But he shouldn’t beat himself up over it. He simply wasn’t ready. Why? You only have to read:

    “When he followed Martyr on her quest to find
 the Orang pendek, he says, he doubted the creature could exist. No hide, skull or other physical evidence had ever been recovered or 
seen by Westerners. But that skepticism evaporated when a gibbonlike creature passed him, walking upright in a way that seemed to him nothing 
less than human. He was so shocked, he didn’t get the shot.”

    He doubted. Patterson didn’t. Patterson was confident the animal existed; that recent evidence indicated one in the area; and that he’d shoot when the time came.

    Could there be other shots out there, that we don’t know of? Sure there could be. Look what happened to Patterson’s, and you’ll know why we don’t.

  9. Fwooper responds:

    As soon as I read an article on Discovery.com about H. floresiensis the first thing I thought was ‘Orang Pendek’. I mean the bones were found so close to places where people had reported sightings. And they look so much alike, their are a few little differences, but then again witnesses don’t exactly get to take a close-up look at the creatures. And as for footprints, well just look at bigfoot, you can’t always trust that.

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