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"yiren: the bigfoot of china"
by elizabeth you

in the remote wintry landscapes of the humalayas and siberia you may encounter a strange creature called the abominable snowman, or yeti. in the woods of north america, you may come face to face with bigfoot, or the legendary canadian sasquatch. most people have heard tales of these mythical creatures, but have you heard about their less-famous cousin, the yiren (also called the wildman or yeren) of china?

the chinese yiren has been reported to be a cross between a monkey and a man. many eyewitnesses in remote, wooded villages claim to have come into close contact with this creature. most recently, on june 30, 2003, an "ape-like" beast was seen by six people at a nature reserve. they describe a 5 1/2 foot tall, grayish animal with shoulder-length black hair. they also observed 12-inch long footprints, broken branches in the vicinity where they spotted him, and a large puddle of foul-smelling urine. over 100 people through the past decades have reported similar sightings. although height, size, and the color of their fur varies in different tales, the reports shares two significant facts: the creature walks upright and has no tail.

hair samples found and analyzed over the years reveal that they are unique to a creature that is neither primate nor human, but instead lays somewhere in-between. urine and feces have been studied at great lengths and although most samples end up being known species of monkeys, some are of indeterminate origin. teeth found in the forests of china have been examined by anthropologists, and were concluded to be similar to early hominoids classified as prehistoric cavemen, but carbon dating prove that they are current specimens.

one theory is that the yimen is actually a gigantopithecus, an ancient cousin of the orangutan, a species believed to be long-extinct. other theories are that yimen is a new ape species, previously undiscovered in the enormous wildlands of china. other scientist claim that the wildman of china is a modern-day caveman. most sightings have been proved to be nothing more exciting than a bear or well-known ape, but too many remain unsolved to be ignored.

with human expansion rapidly encroaching on animal habitats, more wild animal encounters are being reported than ever before. creatures such as pumas that shy away from human contact are entering yards and even homes in search of food or shelter. bears, moose, and coyotes can be seen wandering around metropolitan areas because their territory is disappearing. as woodlands, swamps, and mountains are destroyed for roads and houses, these wild animal encounters will continue to become more frequent. as the population of china expands, so do sightings of yiren increase.

we are fascinated with such stories in our never ending struggle to find the "missing link" in the evolution of man from ape, and a living hybrid wildman could be the proof so many people are looking for. are all reports of "bigfoots" nothing more than fantasy and a desire to shape the unknown forces that go bump in the night, or are these real creatures, so elusive that they are seen by few and empirically studied by none?

it is a fact that strange, previously undiscovered animals do exist and are coming into human contact more and more. the mystery of the yimen may not be whether or not it is real, but instead what exactly is its scientific classification. the day may come in the not-so distant future that yimen, sasquatch, and yeti move from the pages of conspiracy tabloids like envasion to the films of the discovery channel and one day soon to the landscaped cages of a zoo near you. until that time, next time you go camping or hiking, take your camera along - you never know what you might see.


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