Abductions by Modern Neandertals?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 5th, 2006


Neandertals left their tracks, above, behind. Have they interacted with modern humans in contemporary times, and left behind much more?

Is there a record of human beings being abducted by hairy unknown hominids, perhaps even Neandertals in Europe?

Black Almas

The reported sleeping position of the Ksy-gyik. Did it sleep with humans?

Here is a list of a few possible kidnapping incidents, none of them before published in English, shared by Norwegian cryptozoologist Erik Knatterud:

Spain, Sienra. Probably about 800 years ago. Baby abduction. An infant boy was stolen from his nanny, but a swift rescue party managed to find the boy being “happily sucking one of the tits of the animal;” [the rescue party] chased away the wild woman and retrieved the baby. The serrana (wild woman) was referred to as a “bear.”

France, Savoie, the village of Naves. 1602 Female abduction, cited in writing already in 1605. Seventeen-year-old Anthoinette Culet was herding animals when she disappeared. Later the same year three lumberjacks from the village happened to work in the mountains, where one of them noticed a voice from behind a boulder blocking a cave, a voice that insisted to be the abducted Anthoinette Culet. She told them about the ugly but amorous monster with enormous strength obviously stole and brought her baskets of bread, fruit, cheese, linen and thread. That night the creature intruded the village but was ambushed and shot to death. The creature was a “bear,” but it “had a navel like humans and almost looked like a human.”

Allevard, Dauphine. District of Isère. Late 19th century. Male abduction. The young lumberjack Bourne was about to cross a hill at night to visit his fiancé when he was taken and slung over the shoulders of a hairy giant and brought to a cave with a group of brown longhaired creatures talking a strange language. The biggest hairy man was about 8 feet and “looked almost human” and had long arms and big hands. After several hours Bourne pulled out his pipe which was snatched away. In the following fight over the pipe Bourne managed to escape. Locals called such creatures marfolats. [Comment by Loren Coleman: You will note that this story sounds a great deal like the 1924 B.C. kidnapping account of Swedish immigrant Albert Ostman. Ostman told of his sleeping bag (with him in it) being thrown over a Sasquatch’s shoulder, and how he was brought back to a canyon to a family of four Bigfoot that uttered short phrases that seemed to carry meaning. Ostman eventually escaped when he used a tin of snuff to confuse the guarding Sasquatch.]

France, Briançon, Haute Alpes. Late 19th century. Male abduction. A man missing for days told that he had been abducted by a hairy forest man (homme des bois) and kept in a cave with his family, a female and two kids. He was fed some berries, but eventually they lost interest in him.

Spain, Lézignan (Aude). About 1920. Female abduction. A young couple was tending farm animals in the Sierra Morena when the female was taken by an “ape” when she was washing clothes at a stream. She was kept in a cave and raped, but escaped eventually. The resulting baby girl, Anica known as “the daughter of the orangutan,” had a hairy body, long arms and an ape like mouth. Male wildmen are known as basajaun, master of the forest.

Erik Knatterud also writes that he knows of “three cases from Sweden, not really about abduction, but about having [relationships] with hairy females out in the forest at night. Here the wildwomen are called skograa (master of the forest). In my country [Norway] there are many local anecdotes about abductions, probably very ancient legends. Very strange since I have not been able to find the slightest trace of trolls living here today.”

For a little bit of translation and interpretation for the English-reading audience, Mark A. Hall has pointed out via his past writings that “trolls” are not the “little people” that we know from American children’s stories, but the real Trolls of northern Euroasian hominology are indeed giant unknown hairy hominoids.

For more on abductions and related North American cases, see Chapter 13 of Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America.


Update: Erik Knatterud adds these further notes:

The Skograa of Sweden also is known by several other names, one of them is Troll woman. The Norwegian match is Hulder (she who is hidden). About trolls being man sized or more Loren Coleman and Mark A. Hall are absolutely correct; trolls actually have only been transformed into gnomes in the last few decennia to fit the tourist trade. The three Swedish stories about forbidden sex with the creatures were dug up by me in 300 year old court archives.

Of course, I know of the Ostman abduction of 1924, but all the details of the Marfolat story is quite different. This story was found in a French newspaper from January 24th, 1977.

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.

25 Responses to “Abductions by Modern Neandertals?”

  1. Jjm3233 responds:

    Interesting stories, from the same time period as the most famous North American abduction cases. Are there any more contemporary accounts from Norway?

  2. jasonpix6 responds:

    wow, very interesting.

  3. Sharm responds:

    What happened to “the daughter of the orangutan”? Did it survive and had her own children?

  4. Ceroill responds:

    I have long been fascinated with the idea that the old legends of trolls, ogres, giants, dwarfs, wildmen, etc. were encounters with relic populations or individuals of ‘extinct’ hominids and other close relatives.

  5. kittenz responds:

    Ever since I was old enough to read about cavemen, I have wondered whether Neanderthal (or some other prehistoric-type people) could be the basis of European legends about trolls and giants. Many of the European fairy tales for instance are about abductions by “talking bears” or giants, etc., and fairy tales often have their origins in fact.

    Whether such large animals as Neanderthal people could exist unnoticed in modern Europe is problematic at best. Europe has been inhabited for time out of mind, and even the wildest areas have been pretty well explored. I think that Neanderthals or some similar type may have survived in Europe, perhaps in the Alps or the Carpathians, even into the 18th or early 19th centuries, but I doubt any survive there now.

    Maybe some could still live in some of the less accessible parts of Asia.

  6. sschaper responds:

    From what we know of the neandertals, they were not larger than our race. They may have been more intelligent, and their tool kit and art was not significantly differentiated from that of our race. So, I’m dubius of that distinction. There was a race that was rather larger, I think it might have been the same as heidelburgensis. The drawing shows a creature with a skull very unlike the long skull of the neandertals, with a higher forehead than the other hominids, yet with a sagital crest, and yet legs that are shorter than even a bear’s hind legs would be in proportion to the torso. Maybe that is an effect of the artist, rather than the sighting.

    As we might remember from the publicised family in Mexico, heavy fur growth occurs on some people as a mutation – including the face which is usually bare in primates, showing that this isn’t a throwback but a mutation. Might not such people have been abandoned to the woods in past times as ‘werewolves’ or whatever else, and might it be that the ‘orangutan girl’ is one such mutation, and that is the explanation given, rather than the reality of her parantage.

    Now this girl might still be alive, and if not, the parish church ought to know where she is buried. This would be a matter worthy of some DNA and sequencing, I would think.

  7. lastensugle responds:

    This is interesting. It is still my opinion, that the Almas/Almasty said to inhabit eastern Europe and Russia are surviving Neanderthals. Their existence are at least as well documented as Sasquatch in Northern America, and everything I have ever read about them makes me think of Neanderthal. Like Kittenz mentioned, it is very unlikely that a Neanderthal population would have survived until today in central Europe, but there are certainly plenty of space for them to live in places like the Caucasus Mountains and the vast Russian tundra without, almost, ever beeing discovered. Modern Neanderthals? In my opinion, yes absolutely!

  8. kittenz responds:

    Even though Neanderthals were shorter in stature than MODERN humans, modern humans have greatly increased in stature over the past two hundred years. Two hundred years ago, or even one hundred years ago, modern humans were much shorter on average than they are today. Also, Neanderthal people were much more robust than our species, and so they could have been perceived as gigantic by an average European of the 18th or 19th century. Especially if they were heavily furred, as I believe them to have been.

  9. radiorick responds:

    I don’t discount much of anything when supposedly experienced or witnessed by a human being. In our best and brightest moments we are still prone to many levels of consciousness and understanding that can lead us to a later report of occurrences which only happened within our conscious state, as flawed as it might have been, at the moment of the occurrence. When the consciousness has been altered, as in the many instances of consumption of tainted grain such as that blighted by toxin producing natural agents once common to the “old world”, hallucinations become commonplace.

  10. mystery_man responds:

    I do wonder about the size thing too. True, modern humans are taller than before, but one of these was described as 8 feet tall. That does not seem to me to be an accurate size description of a neandertal even if you take into account height differences between past and present. Of course it is possible that the size was misjudged, but 8 feet tall is very, very big and seems like too much of a size difference, especially when you consider that humans were shorter in those days. I entertain the possibility that neandertals have survived into modern days, but I wonder if this is what was behind these cases and if they were perhaps not neandertals, what were they?

  11. drypondscout responds:

    There is a listing of all the races in the former Soviet Empire, (The Red Book of The Peoples), these included a group of people who were physically distinctive.They are short, stocky, and known primarily for their powerful build. They seemed to be dying out (maybe a few thousand left). The author seems to back up their declining numbers due to the epidemic of alcoholism in the former USSR, and the stress of modern living. They work in mines and as oil drilling crews somewhere in eastern Russia, and are regarded as unfit for anything but brute labor. I couldn’t find any pictures of them. But they seem to be an intriguing group of people. I’ve never been able to locate more than a few scant mentions of them in any English sources.

  12. moky99 responds:

    I live in France. It may be interesting to search for the caves described above and find some remains as hairs, bones, animal remains, teeth. They may be easy to find.

    If Neanderthals or hominids lived there, it should be easy to make an expedition.

    Do you think there could be remains even if the events occurred more than a century ago ?


  13. crgintx responds:

    I believe that we’re mistaken about Bigfoot being a lower form primate. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if it turns out to be a less advanced form of man. There’s a growing body of evidence that Neanderthals didn’t die out but that they merged genetically with modern humans. Bigfoot may be a less advanced form of human who have because of their large adult size have no natural predators except more advanced forms of man who they’ve learned to avoid. Many encounters with Bigfoot the Bigfoot appears to playing games with the humans. My guess is that most sightings are of adolescent males who are between family groups.

  14. Mnynames responds:

    It is widely accepted that the greater height of modern humans is a result of better diet, due to more advanced food production. This is something that modern Neanderthals certainly wouldn’t be exposed to. Neanderthals were shorter, and more robust than Humans, but otherwise very similar in appearance. I suspect they may have been hairier, but due to the great similarities between them and us, I doubt they were fully “furry.” Like us, they had technology, ie. processed animal skins, to keep them warm.

    These reports instead seem to fall distinctly into the tradition of the Wodewose or Wudewasa, the hairy wild man of the forests. They were often said to be giants, and were a popular feature in Medieval bestiaries and iconography. They were said to be fairly intelligent, with a decided penchant for abducting women. I have always thought of them as a European Bigfoot, likely wiped out over the centuries by the growing native human population. The reports eventually diminish, and generally move further away from France, into Germany, and then Czechoslovakia, suggesting a population pushed out of former territory. These new accounts may suggest a few relict populations survived in France and Spain.

    And while I find the Almas tales intriguing, I don’t believe them to be Neanderthals either (Although a few Russian accounts of wild men may be), but more likely surviving Homo erectus or their descendants.

  15. thseamon responds:

    Regarding trolls…

    Via netflix, I rented Beowulf and Grendel, a 2005 release…I wonder if the film-makers have a theory of trolls that informed their take on the Beowulf story?

  16. busterggi responds:

    It seems likely to me that Neanderthals have gone extinct. The wudewassa and similar reported hominids seem more primitive than they were and therefore less in direct competition with modern humans for resources.

    I think Shackley (sp?) did a good job with her book even though I don’t completely agree with her conclusions.

  17. Dolouren responds:

    Hi Crypto Friends!
    I live in Hungary and my country is near the Carpathians, but I have never heard of any BF sightings in the area. Here in Hungary are some weird tales and legends with many beasts from the old times. I don’t know about legends or folklore that speaks of Bigfoot like creatures, but how knows what awaits you in the next corner, because in our world everything is possible.

  18. moky99 responds:

    My question is :

    – do you think that it’s possible to find clues of occupation by hominids in caves where they were sighted a century ago ?

    Best regards

  19. bill green responds:

    hey loren interesting new informative article here. thanks bill

  20. Alaska-boy responds:

    Fascinating, Loren! One nit-picky point though: Ostman was allegedly abducted in 1924 A.D–not B.C. 🙂

  21. Craig Woolheater responds:


    I believe that the B.C. is referring to British Columbia, the Canadian province where Ostman’s abduction supposedly took place.

  22. shumway10973 responds:

    The last report I read on Neanderthals said that they were fully human, but just stronger and possibly riddled with arthritis. Remember, (from what I understood from this article I read) humans are the only animal that cannot breathe while drinking. The reason for this is so that we can talk like we do, allows the voice box to work like it does. The Neanderthals have the exact same configuration in the throat. Couple that with the fact that they have the same skeletal structure it is difficult to see the “difference”. The only difference would be the forehead, and that could simply be due to inbreeding. It would be cool to think that the Neanderthals are still around today. Settle the mystery once and for all. If the child mentioned above was a product of such a creature as claimed, then the “father” would have to be closer to human than ape. Most people don’t know that the Nazis tried to breed an ape with people (usually male apes with human females). Though the ape was interested, the humans usually didn’t survive the attempt at mating, and those that did never got pregnant.

  23. asabragr responds:

    Since I live in Sweden,and study folklore much of my time,a few comments maybe is in place.The Skogsrå is certainly not a hairy hominid.She is never described as such in stories,but as a beutiful woman,sometimes with a tail,sometimes a hollow back instead.She usually were clothes,she can speak,and interract with people.Instead of “abductions”,she do take human lovers who when falls under her spell,and in the end go mad or die.This due to the loss of his soul.Even if the spell is broken,he is likely to remain “different” than before,and prone to being melancholic.These affairs usually begins with her trying to get in bed with a lonely man,a lumberjack,a hunter etc,while posing as a fully human woman.Not abducing him in the shape of a hairy ape-like thing.
    She is 100% a spirit,a local godess more,who rules over the animals and plants of the forest.She is not alone in that,for a set of very similar spirits inhabits the local lake,the sea,the mine etc.None of them are described as ape-like either.
    The court cases,which I know of since before,are real.However,both the victim and the judge believed that it was the Skogsrå,but it could just be a lone mans sexual fantasy,or even a sexual encounter with an unknown woman.Nothing unusual,but the whole episode was interpreted as such by all since that was common “knowlege” of the day.
    As for trolls,they are described as both big and small,or just as humans in hight.Rarely are they described as monsterous besides in ballads.And ballads are a form of litterature,not folklore,that took big liberties with traditional beliefs.Mostly trolls were described as fully human,even extraordinary beutiful.I know a village not long from were I grew up where people is said to have claimed to be descendants of a farmer boy and a troll-girl.That caused these villagers to become more beutiful than others the story says.And I have been there plenty of times,and this is certainly not the case.This is rather a form of joke-story,told between villages as a half-serious village-competition and conflict.
    Trolls are in fact usually described as human,but different.Everything is topsyturvy with them.They steal,change shape,go invisible,do magic,live in mountains or rocks,appear as shades,they are “heathen”,they are stinking rich in gold etc.In short,they are everything that “honest people” are not.But they are never ever described as animals.Not ape-like,nor neanderthaloid in appearance.Trolls were generally seen with caution,but they were neither very evil or very good.Mostly their behaviour was the result of how people had treated them.
    In short,as candidates for being a Scandinavian kind of Bigfoot they are as likely as elfs or fairies.

  24. kittenz responds:

    We have no proof at all that Neanderthals wore animal skins. We PRESUME that they did, because the idea of a skin-clad caveman is so ingrained in our modern consciousness, and because we do know that prehistoric Homo sapiens wore skins.

    What we DO know about Neanderthals is that they survived not one, but many Ice Ages. They had many physical adaptations to cold. Why wouldn’t they have fur too?

    “They were similar to us, so they probably weren’t furry?” Chimps are similar to us, and they are furry. So are gorillas, bonobos and orangs. And THEY live in the tropics.

  25. Mnynames responds:

    The great apes aren’t so similar to us that you’d mistake one of them for us if he were walking down the street, shaven or no. On the other hand, most good reconstructions of Neanderthals that I’ve seen look a lot like my High School Gym teacher or say, Pete Rose.

    Could they have been furry? Sure, the possibility exists, I won’t deny it. I just find it very unlikely.

    Since you brought up iconic images of cavemen, it is also worth noting that historically they have been depicted as swarthy or even dark-skinned, in keeping with 19th century racist ideas. The reality is that, being northerners, their skin colour would have been quite pale, while the invading Cro Magnons from out of Africa would not yet have adapted and would thus be quite dark-skinned.

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