Monday, February 28, 2011

More on the Orang Pendek

Orang Pendek Beast Hunter
The Orang Pendek is featured on the first episode of Beast Hunter. But what exactly is the Orang Pendek?

The Facts Behind Orang Pendek
In the vast, unexplored jungles of Sumatra, locals report seeing a creature that looks something like an ape, yet it walks just like us. They call it Orang Pendek – or ‘short man.’ Beast Hunter Pat Spain digs deep into the science of this mythologized creature. Here's some of the factual evidence and historical context related to his hunt.

In the 18th century, Carl Linnaeus — the founder of the modern system of biological classification — listed two existing human species: Homo sapiens and Homo troglodytes (cave men). He also included a third group – Homo ferus (meaning 'wild man') within Homo sapiens.

Orang Pendek is also sometimes referred to as the 'Sedapa,' and in the forests of nearby Borneo there are similar reports of a creature known as the 'Batutut.' Other regional variations include 'Orang Gugu' and 'Ebu Gogo.' Despite the different names, the descriptions are all very similar.

The Suku Anak Dalam or Orang Rimba, meaning 'children of the forest,' are an indigenous people in the Jambi Province of Sumatra. Their population is approximately 2,500. Most live in the forest but are now increasingly marginalized due to the continued deforestation in their area. The tribe describes a small, ape-like ghost creature they know as 'Hantu Pendek' that was more frequently encountered by their ancestors.

It is the ability to walk upright that set man apart from other species, and one of the most extraordinary described traits of Orang Pendek. Although some primates can walk on two legs, they have not evolved to do so in the same way as humans. The transition to bipedalism happened in the early stages of hominid evolution and required major adaptations of the skeleton and supporting leg muscles. Primates have not developed the same thigh and knee bone structure as humans; therefore they walk with their feet wide apart and have to rock their whole body from side to side in order to move their center of gravity over whichever leg is bearing their weight.

In 2002 a British expedition to Sumatra to search for Orang Pendek returned with a cast of a footprint and two hairs believed to be from the creature itself. Mr Hans Brunner from Deakin University in Melbourne, who famously testified in the Lindy Chamberlain 'Dingo baby' case, offered to analyze the hair sample. He could not find a match with previously known species.

Scientists Jeffrey Schwartz and John Grehan have suggested that humans are more closely related to orangutans than chimps, contrary to previously thought. They researched unique physical and evolutionary characteristics that link human and great apes and found that humans shared 28 out of 63 characteristics with orangutans, in contrast to two with chimps and seven with gorillas.

Liang Bua is the name of the karst limestone cave from which the so-called Homo floresiensis was found. The most complete skeleton of this proposed distinct species found at the site is known as LB1. The cave is located in the Wae Racang Valley on the western end of the tiny island of Flores in Indonesia.

The fossils found at Liang Bua cave date as recently as 12,000 years ago. Since other finds have shown that modern humans arrived on Flores between 55,000 and 35,000 years ago, they presumably interacted with Homo floresiensis, suggesting that in fairly recent times two distinct species of humans were contemporary in at least one part of the world.

Other fossils found on the island of Flores have revealed that Homo floresiensis would have shared its environment with pygmy elephants called stegodons, giant rats, and giant monitor lizards known as Komodo dragons, which are still found on the island.

Flores Man – aka the 'hobbit' – used fire in hearths for cooking and hunted stegodon. Although these were primitive dwarf elephants, they still posed a significant challenge to the hobbit-sized hunter. Therefore researchers have speculated that the practice of hunting must have required joint communication, tools and planning, as well as deliberately targeting the smaller and younger elephants. The Flores humans' diets also included fish, frogs, snakes, tortoises, birds, and rodents.

Heres some more information I found on Wikipedia
Orang Pendek (Indonesian for "short person") is the most common name given to a cryptid, or cryptozoological animal, that reportedly inhabits remote, mountainous forests on the island of Sumatra.

The animal has allegedly been seen and documented for at least one hundred years by forest tribes, local villagers, Dutch colonists, and Western scientists and travelers. Consensus among witnesses is that the animal is a ground-dwelling, bipedal primate that is covered in short fur and stands between 80 and 150 cm (30 and 60 in) tall.

While Orang Pendek or similar animals have historically been reported throughout Sumatra and Southeast Asia, recent sightings have occurred largely within the Kerinci regency of central Sumatra and especially within the borders of Taman Nasional Kerinci Seblat (Kerinci Seblat National Park) (TNKS). The park, 2° south of the equator, is located within the Bukit Barisan mountain range and features some of the most remote primary rainforest in the world. Habitat types within TNKS include lowland dipterocarp rainforest, montane forests, and volcanic alpine formations on Mt. Kerinci, the second highest peak in Indonesia.[8] Because of its inaccessibility, the park has been largely spared from the rampant logging occurring throughout Sumatra and provides one of the last homes for the endangered Sumatran Tiger.

Many locals say Orang Pendek's feet look like those of a child, evidenced by foot prints they have found while walking through the forest. However, another local animal, the Sun Bear, is a possible source of these sightings. Bears in general are known for having feet that look quite human-like, and the size of a Sun Bear's are similar to those of a child. In addition, gibbons populate the forests in this area and are known to occasionally descend to the ground and walk for a few seconds at a time on two legs. Witnesses could possibly be seeing orangutans; however: 1) this species has long been thought to have died out in all but the northern regions of Sumatra and 2) witnesses almost never describe the animal as having orange fur.

Orang Pendek's reported physical characteristics differentiate it from any other species of animal known to inhabit the area. All witnesses describe it as an ape- or human-like animal. Its bipedality, fur coloring, and southerly location on the island make orangutans an unlikely explanation, and its bipedality, size, and other physical characteristics make gibbons, the only apes known to inhabit the area, unlikely as well. Many therefore propose that Orang Pendek could represent a new genus of primate or a new species or subspecies of orangutan or gibbon.

As far back as Mr. van Heerwarden's account of Orang Pendek, people have speculated that the animal may in fact be a "missing link" (a hominid representing an earlier stage in human evolution). In October 2004, scientists published claims of the discovery of skeletal remains of a new species of human (Homo floresiensis) in caves on Flores (another island in the Indonesian archipelago) dating from as recently as 12,000 years ago. The species was described as being roughly one meter tall. The recency of Homo floresiensis' continued existence and the similarities between its physical description and the accounts of Orang Pendek have led to renewed speculation in this respect.

A look at the second episode of Beast Hunter

Mapinguari Beast Hunter
Both the first and second episode will appear on Friday March 4th, 2011 back to back. We talked about the first episode here.

Heres a look at the second episode discussing the legendary Mapinguari.

Nightmare of the Amazon

Deep in the Brazilian Amazon lurk tales of a massive one-eyed monster. With slashing claws, savage howl, noxious stench and a gaping mouth in its body, the locals tremble to repeat its name: mapinguari. To gather concrete information on the creature, Spain must gain the confidence of the local tribes. He takes part in an extreme initiation ritual: wearing gloves lined with venomous bullet ants. The insects' stings send Pat into a hallucinatory world of pain.

Beast Hunter Nat Geo TV ad on YouTube

Beast Hunter, the new intriguing series from the National Geographic Channel, follows host Pat Spain as he tries to uncover the world's most mystifying creatures.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Who was Charles Fort

Charles Fort Beast Hunter
Beast Hunter Host Pat Spain mentions that Charles Fort is his great Uncle. But who really is this interesting man? Patrick J. Kiger gives us some insight in this article.

Charles Fort, Chronicler of the Unexplained

At Charles Fort's funeral in May 1932 in New York, renowned novelist Theodore Dreiser gave the eulogy address, in which he called his friend and author "one of the greatest minds the world has ever known," and predicted that future generations would pay tribute to Fort. Only six other mourners showed up to listen to those words of praise.

It could be that Fort, whose United Press obituary described him as "the indomitable iconoclast who flung his darts at the dogmatism of science," had antagonized too many people with his writings, which questioned near-sacred assumptions and pointed out phenomena that could not be reconciled to existing scientific laws and theories — UFOs, ghosts, spontaneous human combustion, stigmata, people with psychic abilities, and the like. It could be that some of Fort's own notions — he once famously argued that the Moon was only 39 miles away from the Earth — were so outrĂ© that most saw him as either a satirist or delusionary.

Or it could be that, like many other prophets and visionaries, Fort simply was a bit too far ahead of his time.

It's easy to imagine that if Fort were alive today, the author of four provocative nonfiction books — Book of the Damned, Lo, New Lands, and Wild Talents — might have his own coast-to-coast A.M. radio program similar to Art Bell's, or that his musings about strange and troubling occurrences might inspire a hit TV series along the lines of Fringe or X-Files. His startling, unsettling collection of facts might have made him a huge hit on Twitter.

All the same, Fort introduced the world to speculations about matters such as alien abductions, and his influence is still strongly felt today, in everything from the continuing scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence, to the vast legions of un-credentialed, self-taught researchers who gather data on bleeding statues of Mary, alleged sightings of strange creatures, and alternative explanations for world events. Writer Jim Steinmeyer subtitled his 2008 biography of Fort "the man who invented the supernatural."

In the style of Fort himself, here is a collection of facts: Charles Hoy Fort was born in 1874 in Albany, NY, the oldest child of a grocer whose reportedly harsh parental discipline may have helped instill in Fort a strong distrust of authority and the status quo. As a youth, he didn't distinguish himself in the classroom, preferring instead to collect minerals and sea shells and follow his own intellectual serendipity in public libraries. At 18, he left home and traveled widely, from the western U.S. to South Africa, married a woman who raised parakeets, worked as a newspaperman and held assorted odd jobs as he struggled to make his name as a novelist. In 1916, when he was 42, Fort had a stroke of luck; his uncle left him an inheritance, which supported him so that he could write fulltime.

Fort's speculative fiction, however, was a bit too unsettling and non-commercial for his time. One of his unpublished novels, simply entitled X, envisioned a reality in which Martians secretly controlled events on Earth, while another, Y, focused on a sinister civilization based at the South Pole.

But his writing caught the attention of Dreiser, who helped Fort to publish a nonfiction work, The Book of the Damned, in 1919. As Fort explained on the first page:

By the damned, I mean the excluded. We shall have a procession of data that Science has excluded. Battalions of the accursed, captained by pallid data that I have exhumed, will march.

What follows is a vitriolic, rambling attack on established science, bolstered with bizarre happenings that Fort amassed in countless hours of perusing books, magazines and newspapers at the New York Public Library. Fort was particularly fascinated with strange objects that fell from the sky — he cites, among other things, torrents of small fish and frogs in England and France, snowflakes 15-inches across that supposedly startled Montanans in 1887, bucketfuls of a strange yellow muck that fell from the sky in the various locations around the globe in the 1870s, and "flakes of a substance that looked like beef" that descended upon Bath County, Kentucky on March 3, 1876.

After noting orthodox science's inability to explain such phenomena, Fort offered his own theory — the existence of a region in the atmosphere, a sort of aerial "Super-Sargasso Sea," which held the planet's flotsam and jetsam with some sort of magnetic force until the items were shaken free by storms.

The Book of the Damned and Fort's subsequent works attracted a modest but fervent following, many of whom corresponded with the author and took to conducting paranormal research of their own. But as he enjoyed a belated measure of success, Fort's health began to worsen — in part, perhaps, because of his distrust of medicine and reluctance to seek treatment. Shortly after he delivered his final book to the publisher in 1932, he collapsed and was rushed to a hospital in the Bronx, where he died.

Though Fort avoided joining groups himself, since his death several institutions — including the Charles Fort Institute and the International Fortean Organization — have arisen to continue the examination of puzzling phenomena. Such items and events are often referred to as Fortean, in remembrance of the unconventional seer who led us to consider them.

Nat Geo's new series: Beast Hunter on March 4th

Pat Spain Beast Hunter
A new series is starting on The National Geographic Channel(Nat Geo) called Beast Hunter. The show is set to begin on March 4th, 2011 at 9pm/8c, showing its first two episodes. Beast Hunter is hosted by Pat Spain, a biologist and explorer who travels the globe in search of mythical creatures, immersing himself amongst the tribes, people and cultures on his quest to find the truth between fact and fiction. In the show Pat will search for biazarre creatures and cryptids. Creatures include the Orang Pendek, Mapinguari, Mokele Mbembe, Caddy the Sea Serpent, and Mongolian Death Worm.

The first episode includes the Orang Pendek and is titled "Man Ape of Sumatra"
In the vast jungles of mystical Sumatra, locals have reported seeing a creature that looks something like an ape, yet it walks just like us. They've named it "Orang Pendek" - the little man of the forest. A recent scientific discovery proposes that another species of humans - nicknamed 'hobbits' - did once live in Indonesia. So could there be a new great ape waiting to be discovered? Or is it possible we're not the only human species living on earth? Biologist and beast hunter Pat Spain investigates.