The Face of the Johor Mawas

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 6th, 2006

Cryptomundo Exclusive: Vincent Chow and the Photographs

Mawas sketch by Peter Loh

Vincent Chow, Malaysian cryptozoologist and serious-minded natural history investigator, wasn’t ready to talk about the photographs of the Johor Bigfoot, yet, but sometimes events flow more swiftly than one wishes. Such is the case this week when it came out at a news conference that Chow would be releasing the photographs of an unknown hominoid in a book in the near future (June appears a-too-wishful date). Peter Loh, 42, was there, and his new sketch is published here, for the first time, as an exclusive at Cryptomundo. It is based on Chow’s description of what the photograph of the male shows. Loh’s first drawing (below) has an ear that is too elongated, according to Chow, who reports the ears are more chimp-like and about the size of human ears in the photographs he has viewed.

Mawas Sketch

I decided, due to the comments at Cryptomundo, we all needed to ask some questions of Vincent Chow, to move closer to some clarification on this developing story. Of course, no Homo erectus has been confirmed, no photographs have been produced, and in the midst of all of this excitement, of course, the mood is one of caution and sometimes a sense of we have all been here before. Nevertheless, if there is any possibility, even a remote one, that proof is at hand, don’t we want to know more? Therefore, as we continue the quest, retain the passion, hold on to our patience, we need to also ask questions. I reached out to Vincent and he responded, openly, as best he could at this point. Here’s his answers. (See earlier posts for descriptions and more on the photographs.)

First, why was a news conference being held and no photographs shown? It just logically does not make sense. The truth be told, the news conference was held by others. This was not Vincent Chow’s news conference but he was invited there by the Singapore Paranormal Investigations (SPI) to comment on the casting of the footprint made by the Seekers, as well as the Mandt’s brothers team, which they got from Lukut, Kota Tinggi. It was not Dr. Chow’s media event, and the photographic evidence was not necessarily to be discussed then. Certainly, it was not going to be released at that news conference. It only came about through questioning (such as by Peter Loh and others) that the existence of the photographs leaked out.

Vincent Chow

Chow tells Cryptomundo that the photos to be published in the forthcoming book

…actually belong to a group who had spent 11 years protecting the creatures and they own the copyrights. Although there are 14 shots of different views and situations of them, I am only permitted to release 3 (a matured male, a female and a juvenile).

The book is a joint effort between Malaysian writers and Vincent Chow, with two versions being produced. One will be in English and the other in Chinese. I will be writing the preface to at least the English edition.

Chow says “some photographs of the real McCoys will be included.”

He expects the photos will

challenge conventional ideas and hypotheses about Homo erectus and allies. [The photos may lend more] credibility to the work of paleontologists and use the images to support what the experts have been saying to the world about Java man, Peking man and the like. What could happen is that it will finally open the eyes of the world and challenge all theories that Homo erectus is extinct (definitely not in Johor).

In reply to those critics who say Chow should release the photographs immediately, beside the whole issue of them not being entirely in his control, he has this to say:

I am not in a hurry to please the skeptics and cynics but doing it more for serious researchers who know the value of the presence of Homo erectus. The distorted views and imageries of Bigfoot as a monstrous ape to entertain man’s follies and satisfy the ego, and as an object to be viewed with abject ridicule should never be condoned.”

Malaysia Tracks

Malaysian Bigfoot Footprint Cast

People today are confused by the various descriptions of the “Johor Bigfoot,” the different finds of footprints (some like those found look like rhinos and may be from a rhino, while others look like pongid – as above). And then there’s the question of the varied heights described. People seem to be attaching local terms to all kinds of diverse cryptids. With regard to the continuing name game that is being played by the media, Vincent Chow checks in about this question, as well:

I agree that the local names are confusing especially Mawas which really is an Indonesian term that refers to the Orang hutan . My guess is that the locals have often seen the juveniles who are really a curious lot as compared to the adults. And at that height of 4-5 ft, and with that kind of hair coverage, at a distance they could easily be mistaken for a mawas. But then Orang hutan can’t run like a biped making this a clear-cut impossibility as they are really tree-dwellers. And to date, there is no record of any orang hutan having been seen in Peninsula Malaysia.

Whether its orang dalam, hantu sejarang gigi or mawas, that’s the richness of folk-lore or local culture that is a goldmine of information that cannot be ignored.

Malaysia Bigfoot

Vincent Chow Bigfoot

And, finally, what is the 59-year-old naturalist Vincent Chow’s reaction to what he is reading at Cryptomundo:

I am inspired by the number of comments at your website and what colorful and imaginative bantering! Right now, I believe our Homo erectus must be in stitches and rolling on the jungle floor to think that his sexual organs have attracted so much attention!

Malaysia Bigfoot

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.

35 Responses to “The Face of the Johor Mawas”

  1. greywolf responds:

    Well I understand copyright but SHOW ME THE PHOTOGRAPHS stop with the melodrama if they are real show me in not well then write a fiction book. I don’t read fiction I like real science and investigation. I’m from Pennsylvania but SHOW ME.

  2. Ranatemporaria responds:

    I don’t know, the problem with hype is that it often turns out to be just that! Nothing more! The longer this goes on the more incredible I find it. Surely with such a find you would want to publish it in journal like Science, Nature, they would all cry out for this proof if it were legitimate and dealt with such finding correctly and scientifically. This would also be the best line to gain credibility surely?

  3. Shawshank responds:

    But the man is probably constrained by the book contract, whereby he is prevented from releasing the photos before the book’s own release date. Just consider how much less of a buzz there would be around this book if its chief selling-point had already been revealed. Of course, on the other hand, once the book comes out, the three pictures will be all over the Net… Still, the book contract would stipulate that Chow not jump the gun.

  4. Ranatemporaria responds:


    I do understand that but as is stated these pictures are not owned by chow, so he could not sell them, (if they exist) and as such I see the book as the chance to gain notoriety and financial gain. I cant remember the last major scientific break though of any sort of magnitude release via a multi author book! It just seems a road to more scepticism and doubt. Again I hope I’m proved wrong, sorry if any offence is caused by my questioning of the integrity here(Loren). I can assure you it’s not malice just being cynical!

  5. peterbernard responds:

    The face of the Johor Mawas. Chow and the photographs. Go past the flip and what’s there? A monkey stitched to a fish in a glass case? Not even that, just the same stuff we saw before plus a new cartoon. I can draw cartoons from descriptions myself. Shame on you.

  6. jjames1 responds:

    I agree with Peter. The headline of this article/posting is somewhat misleading, to say the least. The photos should either be released now, or this absurd hype should end until whenever the book comes out. At this point, with every article or comment that comes out with nothing more than this “fluff,” I grow even more skeptical.

  7. CryptoJoe responds:

    I predict that the photos will never surface.

  8. jjames1 responds:

    Joe, I don’t think that’s going too far out on the limb. 🙂 I’d be quite surprised if they show up, or, if they do, if they’re even remotely as impactful as Loren seems to think they’ll be.

  9. larzker responds:

    Do Loh and Chow see each other in person? If so why doesn’t Chow show Loh the photos instead of describing them. If Loh hasn’t seen them he is in the same position as thousands of artists who could draw their interpretation based on the description provided on this site.
    It wouldn’t effect book sales, people who saw a drawing based on the actual photos would still want to see the photos and buy the book.

  10. jjames1 responds:

    Larzker, that’s actually a good point. As I go back and read the 3 articles about the drawings, it DOES seem to indicate that they’re based simply on DESCRIPTIONS of these photos, as opposed to the photos themselves. That, of course, makes them essentially worthless.

  11. Peter Loh responds:

    First, let me make it clear that Chow resides in Malaysia while I reside in Singapore. We’ve only met that one time at the press conference held here. Further correspondence between us has been via email.

    Yes, it has also crossed my mind that if only Chow would show me the actual photos, I’d be able to produce more accurate drawings. And I agree with larzker that this wouldn’t affect book sales, since people would still want to see the real McCoy.

    However, you must remember that I’m just another curious outsider and there’s no reason why Chow should even bother to give me any description, let alone show me the photos. As it is, he’s kind and patient enough to entertain me. I don’t want to push it; you know…given an inch and want a yard? Even though I know I won’t betray his trust, how do you think I should convince him to show them to me in the first place? And Vincent, if you are reading this, would you even consider this? Don’t forget, he’s not the only person who would be making this decision.

    If any of you out there has a good suggestion, I’d like to hear it 😉

  12. Shawshank responds:

    How did you think, for a while, Loren, that the book was coming out in June, if you have yet to even write the preface?

  13. jjames1 responds:

    Peter, could you please clarify exact what your role is in all of this? Are you affiliated in any way with the book being published?

    Loren, I would strongly urge you to temper your interest in and enthusiasm for this story until there is FAR more evidence than is currently being presented. This has all the markings of another BFRO/Sonoma fiasco.

  14. Loren Coleman responds:

    Some people on here are beginning to make me worry that my communication of information is being taken to mean “endorsement.” I am interested in what might be occurring, involved in enlightening you all as to what is occurring, to a critically thinking public. But, of course, I am not stupid enough to say something is such-and-such until we see what’s what. Do not kill the messenger, folks, whether it be Peter, Vincent, Craig, or myself.

    If this was a debunker’s site, perhaps I could understand all these remarks, but this is getting a little old, as far as telling me what I should and should not do, as your humble blog writer.

    Perhaps it is time to take a second look at all the cautions in these posts from the ones conveying the info, merely enjoy the possibilities, and lighten up folks.

    No one is asking you to “believe” a thing at Cryptomundo, and even I know that nothing will be seen for months, at this rate. I am as skeptical as the next person that this mystery out of Malaysia will not be so simply solved.

    I do not need to be told to “temper…enthusiasm” after being involved with lots of scenarios like this in 46 years. My enthusiasm is always there, and always tempered.

    BTW, I see a difference between chronicling a story, and saying something is proven, unlike what happened around the So-no-no-ma video on various sites after we could see it.

  15. ZenBug responds:

    @Peter in comment #11,

    “how do you think I should convince him to show them to me in the first place?”

    Tell him this:
    The readers of are Chow’s prime demographic for book sales, and we’re losing interest in this whole story because of the unsubstantiated hype.

  16. jjames1 responds:

    Loren, I think part of the concern (at least for me) is that, whether you intend it or not, it’s starting to seem like you’re part of the hype machine for this book. Three posts in two days (including one with the aforementioned horribly misleading headline), two sketches, and countless comments over what? Some sketchy (no pun intended) at best information.

    Your most recent post sounds somewhat defensive. My last post was not meant to sound like I was talking down to you.

  17. iftheshoefits responds:

    Loren can you give us more information about the group that has studied this subject? Also what does Vincent Chow mean by this group has been ptotecting the creatures? I know you have limited control of what information can be extracted from across the world and I do appreciate your efforts.

  18. youcantryreachingme responds:

    Ranatemporaria (4) mentions scientific breakthroughs not coming through via book format.

    Mike Smith of the National Museum of Australia, says of author Robert Paddle’s book “The Last Tasmanian Tiger: The History and Extinction of the Thylacine” the following;

    “On other aspects, Paddle is able to use the historical record to significantly add to knowledge of thylacine behaviour, uncovering previously overlooked evidence that the animals made lairs, and also showing that the behaviour of thylacines changed as the impact of colonial settlement was felt.”

    Arguably not a “major” scientific breakthrough – but still impressive given the species is now extinct; and revealed in book format.

  19. Loren Coleman responds:

    Defensive, perhaps. Tired, definitely. I’ve been working hard to run down as much information for Cryptomundoers as humanly possible, and sharing it as quickly as possible.

    We are beholding to various people in Malaysia who may be sensitive and careful about the rapid rate of disclosure desired in the West. The world does not always work on an American timetable, needless to say.

  20. youcantryreachingme responds:

    Although we’re now totally venturing off topic, and this will contribute to the dozens of contributions labelled as nothing but “fluff” (jjames1 #6) I am compelled to comment.

    People – get a breath of fresh air!

    We’re talking about people who have spent lifetimes searching for all manner of cryptids (and more); allegedly, a group of people has known about and sought to protect this cryptid for more than a decade; and a book is not published in a day!

    I think Loren and his team does an excellent job of presenting the current state of affairs on many things cryptic; we should be greatful to have someone who is as respected by experts, critics and skeptics alike give so much of his time to presenting daily information, updates and speculations!

    Peter Loh has done an excellent job writing this article and taking the time to communicate with Vincent Chow.

    Vincent’s been very gracious to spend the time reading the commentary on this blog and to engage Peter with answers to our most pertinent questions.

    I think the only people who are letting hype run away with them are the impatient.

    Recall too that the mysterious Borneo carnivore flagged as being discovered in December 2005 was actually only announced then; it was photographed in 2003 and researchers spent the intervening years trying to obtain more information.

    Imagine if you found out about the photos in 2003! You’d be bitterly disappointed! And why is it that nobody is crying foul and alleging those photos are fake? Will Vincent and his colleagues’ allegations receive the same respect?


  21. youcantryreachingme responds:

    Oops – and I just noticed the long term research results on Borneo’s flora and fauna, including the new carnivore, are available – you guessed it – in book format.

  22. WVBotanist responds:

    For the purely rational scientists, the waiting is the hardest part – perhaps a time for a bit of introspective anthropology. And Alas, for the devout believers, having been so wounded in their collective quests, the end is near and all the slings and arrows of the past loom close like a bad case of PSTD. And then, Alas, for the majority that wear both hats, the brand and style and nuance and inflection on the hats become a hierachical status symbol, like so many wild primates who have learned to wear feathers.

    I think this is a great place, but being the first to cast doubt in a world of built of doubt goes unnoticed. Being optimistic, and open, and enjoying the ride, that is personal satisfaction. Loren, I think you should consider all of the comments you’ve recieved through the duration of this site and write a book.

  23. jjames1 responds:

    youcantryreachingme – I would wager that the reason no one is saying that the “mysterious Borneo carnivore” pictures are fake is that the creature in the photo conforms to standards of known and readily “available” animals.

    Put simply, those pictures aren’t all that interesting to most people (yes, I’m making broad generalizations). The discovery or rediscovery of a civet-like animal does not change anyone’s world view. The potential discovery of a “missing link” of sorts would be of enormous appeal to virtually everyone, as it could affect how we as humans view ourselves. *THAT’S* why some of us (myself included) are “impatient.”

  24. hockomock responds:

    It would seem that the natives are really getting restless. The longer this gets hammered, the less of a warm, fuzzy feeling one has about the whole thing. I think that it behooves those of us who choose to bloviate about this to give it a rest

  25. jjames1 responds:

    Hockomock, I could not disagree with you more. As long as those involved in the Malaysian situation continue to hold press conferences, issue press releases, and give interviews, we have every right and obligation to question and comment.

  26. draconica responds:

    Photos? Psh! What a tease… 😛

  27. twblack responds:

    To spend 11 years protecting and have only 14 photos of the them HMMMM??? I would agree with some of you these photos will never “Show UP” Seems to me they would have A 300-400 page book of nothing but photos after 11 years. But hope I am wrong!

  28. lamarkable responds:

    I agree that the simple fact is that presenting information is not an endorsement. My only qualm is that unlike a SETI program, there is no set of protocols in place when a discovery of this importance is made, which in a case like this, would be helpful although not perhaps practical. This website is an invaluable source of information of information that is not easily gotten. My only concern is that some misled rationalist would try to collect a specimen in either an unethical or immoral manner to either make a profiable exploitation or worse. I think alot of indirect and critical commentary has alot to do with some being new to this subject. I have been tracking this sort of thing for decades and there is a danger of beleiving any old tale that fades with exposure to the subject as there are more dead ends than there are new leads. Its a inseperable part of this subject. This is one of those rare instances where the distinctions blur between physical reality and the reality of dreams.It might be, there is no real version of our conceptual reality that some of these inexplicable events accurately defines. Then again, if there is a more concrete source of these theories, I wish there was a disclosure agreement among researchers for the sake of the safety of the subject. Probably wishful thinking.

  29. hockomock responds:

    I think perhaps James 1 should re-read my post. You don’t seem to understand what I was saying. You/we surely have a right, and perhaps obligation to question these things; but aren’t we preaching to the choir, and apparently railing at those not responsible?

  30. ywkong responds:

    IMHO, If the mystery of “bigfoot” can be proven conclusively by approaching this whole issues on a scientific way, the “parties” involved should have a bigger heart by publishing or at least allowing the information to be shared on public level.

    What is the real deal behind this “Book Contract” thing?

  31. jjames1 responds:

    Hock, I understood what you said. I’m simply saying that I don’t think we’re preaching to the choir. Right now, this website is one of the only ways to reach out to those who have access to the pictures, even if commenting on here reaches them indirectly. Peter Loh reads these boards, and has contact with Vincent Chow. Perhaps if those in possession of the pictures can be told about the passion and interest of us, then we can sway them.

  32. Loren Coleman responds:

    Chow is not in control of the release of the photos, nor is anyone that is reading your comments. Westerners are going to have to cool their jets, relax, be patient, and relax. When and if the time comes, it will come. That is the way it will be. All the verbal pressure here will do no good. The sooner people understand that, the less frustrated they will be.

  33. jjames1 responds:

    Loren, I’ll ask again: why? I do not understand why everyone is avoiding that question. WHY are these people so reluctant to release the photos? You and others can keep saying “be patient,” wait, etc., etc., but that doesn’t address the real issue at hand.

    I’m also curious why you’re now saying “when and if” these photos are released. I was under the impression that the book WOULD be released, and that you were doing the preface. Is that now not the case?

  34. dogu4 responds:

    If I owned the pictures you can be sure be prudent in releasing them. It’s probably a good thing to keep in mind that the researchers and their partners naturally want to make a profit and a sense of anticipation and a touch of controversy amid the book’s presumed audience are classic strategies. Oh, and thanks, Loren, for bringin’ the news and your perspective. Much praise for providing the forum for this sorta stuff.

  35. Loren Coleman responds:

    dogu4, please click “Malaysian Bigfoot” to your right on the page here. You will see that the photos were, well, let’s say, a hoax.

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