Geographical Index > United States > China (International) > Article # 221
Media Article # 221
Thursday, March 26, 1981
9-foot, Redheaded Vegetarian Stalks China
By William D. Montalbano
Detroit Free press
PEKING - Bigfoot is a vegetarian redhead.
He stands about nine feet tall. He strides eight feet with each step of clodhopping, five-toed feet that measure 19 inches.
He scares some people and intrigues a great many more. Is he a lost link between man and the apes?
The alleged Chinese cousin of America's supposed Bigfoot lives in a heavily forested, lightly populated region of Hubei provence in central China.
The Chinese call him "ye ren" - wild man. And, being Chinese, they have a five-year plan to track him down.
Results of the first summer expedition, now being published in Peking, are intriguing but inconclusive. More than 250 local folk in northwestern Hubei have sighted ye ren at different places and different times. However, no one has produced him for an outsider yet, or for a camera.
Investigators say the witnesses draw a common portrait: Ye ren is very tall. He has red hair or fur, no tail, and walks upright.
About 8,000 feet up the side of Jiongdao Mountain in Hubei, scientists discovered more than 200 footprints. The Chinese press says they are the largest footprints found anywhere in the world. The tracks show that ye ren walks as humans do, with no sliding motion, they say.
Hair samples recovered from trees and brambles are red and fine and resemble human air in their cellular structure, the scientists say.
From analysis of the footprint, the hair and the droppings, the scientists have ruled out the possibility that they are tracking a bear or a [known] ape.
A statesman-poet named Qu Yuan who lived in the Third century BC in the area where the present search is being mounted, referred in his verses to "mountain ogres."
A seventh century historian described a tribe of "hairy men" in the same region, and an 18th century poet spoke of a creature "monkey-like yet not monkey" in adjoining Shaanxi province.
The witnesses also are persuasive, according to Liu Minzhuang, a biology lecturer in Shanghai who has been researching ye ren for more than 20 years and who led last summer's expedition.
One old peasant told of being with Nationalist Chinese soldiers who tracked eight ye ren through thick forests for 10 days in 1947. One was killed and dismembered by the soldiers, the peasant said, but any record of the incident was lost in the chaos of the Nationalist-Communist civil war.
In one of the best documented sightings, five forestry workers said they were able to approach within a few feet of a tailless creature with reddish fur near Shennongfia Mountain in May 1976.
Mr. Montalbano is a member of the Knight-Ridder Foreign Staff.