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.

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