DALE DRINNON: Orangs and Yetis at All Sizes
|Yeti and Orangutan with male head peak|
"Heuvelmans Yeti Compared to Orangutan Proportions"
Yeti Territory (Mt Everest region double-circled)
The search for the orang pendek has been the focus of much interest at the CFZ. The orang pendek is frequently singled out as the cryptid most likely to be discovered next and added to the known species category. The press releases very frequently simplify the situation for the layman to more easily get the thrust of the argument. There is more than one kind of orang pendek and the name does not specifically refer to any one thing in particular. Bernard Heuvelmans says in his checklist that the type consists of small hairy hominoids with long straight hair on their heads, exterminated on Ceylon where they were formerly known as Nittaewo, but still alive on Sumatra where they are known as Sedapa and Orang Pendek, and on Borneo where they are known as Batut. He also mentions that W. C. Osman Hill thought they could be dwarfed forms of Homo erectus in 1945.
The names orang pendek and orang utan are used in what Sanderson calls Kitchen-Malay, a sort of creole trade language, in which the word 'orang' means 'person' (i.e, a human being). 'Orang pendek' means 'short or stocky person' and 'orang utan' means 'person who lives in the forest.' Both names can and are in common usage to mean regular human beings with just such determining characteristics. The native terms 'sedapa' for orang pendek and 'mias' for orang utans are preferable, and this is the situation as stated by Ivan T. Sanderson in 1961 in his classic book Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life.
Now because we have a situation where a creature is named by a non-specific name, we have a situation where more than one kind of creature is being reported under that name. The situation is exactly the same as in the case of the South American Didi: one of the types is a hominid with long head-hair and human-style feet with non-opposed toes. The other is a kind of an ape with non-differentiated head-hair and an opposable toe on its foot. The situation also refers to the very popular terms Bigfoot and Yeti, and it occurs in both the Old World and the New World.
"Orang pendek track compared to other feet"
This is the human type Orang Pendek, track in lower left
Eyewitness drawings of orang pendek
Upright Ape Type Above, Small-Human Below
This has caused some disconcerting situations as the orang pendek being related to the Flores 'Hobbits' by many researchers, while at the same time the same researchers incongruously show casts of ape tracks with opposed big toes as evidence for the theory. The earliest known tracks attributed to the orang pendek are human tracks and they are comparable to small neanderthal tracks. That is why I made my paste-up showing how the orang pendek could be a dwarfed form of Solo Man (The paste-up above was done before the discovery of the Flores 'Hobbits' and the two "O pendek" figures would be at approximate female and male average heights.) Now the ape-like pendek is clearly like an orangutan in the shape of its skull and facial profile (I am ignoring the occasional reports of an outsized Siamang also confusing the issue) And as a matter of fact, on the islands of both Sumatra and Borneo, known orangutan habitats, there are not only reports of 'little ones'; there are also reports of giants. The giants in Sumatra are known as orang gadang (great big people) and there is a very famous case of one giant orangutan being killed and sent to a museum mentioned in all the old natural history books. That one was over seven feet tall when the dead body (NOT the stretched skin) was measured.
"Hypothetical Orangutans matched against Human height extremes"
Chad Arment in Cryptozoology: Science and Speculation (2004) discusses this case. Going by human records, it might well be possible for orangutans to range from under three feet tall to over eight feet tall as adults (male heights). It is even conceivable that the end populations might form inbreeding populations of unusually large or unusually small average sizes through the process of genetic drift. Now it just so happens that a comparable situation is reported in the Yetis of the Himalayan region (Ivan Sanderson does at one point specify 'The Meh-Teh [classic yeti] is NOT a Himalayan inhabitant' but there is clearer evidence for them in the Everest region and around Assam) where the basic type of creature is very like an orangutan and in this area there are not only reports of the big yetis over seven feet tall, there are reports of the dwarf kind or Teh-lma. This last kind is very like the ape-like version of the orang pendek, although the tracks attributed to it are probably mistakes (on the occasion reported by Gerald Russell, the tracks were in association with a sighting, and the reported creature was much too large to have made the tracks)
Above:Orang utan skull, Compare to shape of the head in the more Apelike Orang Pendek.
Below: Orang pendek track of the more Apelike type.
Heuvelmans, Bernard, Annotated Checklist of Apparently Unknown Animals with which Cryptozoology is concerned" CRYPTOZOOLOGY vol. 5, p.1-26
Heuvelmans, Bernard, On The Track of Unknown Animals, Hill and Wang 1965
Sanderson, Ivan T., Abominable Snowmen, Legend Come to Life, Chilton 1961