The reported appearance of an Almas? Now as then?
Exciting news is all over the media of the remarkable announcement of a fourth form of hominid being discovered. This new hominin – being called everything from “X-Woman,” to less often, “Digit,” although “Denisova hominin” may end up the name of choice – is said to have lived at the same time (40,000+/- years b.p.) as humans (Homo sapiens), Neandertals (Homo neanderthalensis) and hobbits (Homo floresiensis).
In the current issue of Nature, Johannes Krause and his colleagues (J.M, Good, B. Viola, M.V. Shunkov, A.P. Derevianko, and S. Sääbo) announced the complete mitochondrial sequence of a pinky bone from Denisova Cave, in the Altai Mountains of Siberia, goes far in proving it was much different than anything recognized before. These researchers estimate the age of the little finger (digitus mínimus mánus or pinky) to be between 30,000 and 48,000 years old, living at a time when it is known that both Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans also lived in that region of southern Siberia.
Participants in a 2005 archaeological conference crowd into Denisova cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. A pinky bone found later in the cave now points to what could be a new human relative, distinctly different from Neanderthals or modern humans. Researchers call this potential form of hominin, “X Woman.” Photo: Johannes Krause.
“This was absolutely amazing,” says team member Svante Paabo, with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. Whoever this was that left “Africa 1 million years ago is some new creature that has not been on our radar screen so far.”
Ian Tattersall of the American Museum of Natural History in New York was quoted as observing, regarding the new discovery: “The human family tree has got a lot of branchings. It’s entirely plausible there are a lot of branches out there we don’t know about.”
Three human-sized hominids, plus a group of little people, inhabited the planet, humm?
“Forty thousand years ago, the planet was more crowded than we thought,” said Terence Brown of the University of Manchester.
Of course, cryptozoologists and hominologists had figured this out years ago. We also wonder if it continues to be so.
We are not alone. If there is any truth to the testimony of eyewitnesses worldwide, we appear to live amidst a variety of humanlike and apelike creatures whose existence has been largely ignored, forgotten, or denied, at least in recent history. Despite the crowding of the earth’s surface with our species, and the encroachment by Homo sapiens into the mountains, wildernesses, and wild places around the world, there is apparently ample room left over for our elusive cousins to hide. And they have done just that–for the most part. But as the reports of encounters accumulate, it has become increasingly clear that an understanding of these creatures lies not in myth, folklore, and legend, but ultimately, in reality. Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe, The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates (NY: Anomalist Books, 2006; as originally written in the first edition, NY: HarperCollins, 1999)
John Hawks Weblog, an outstanding site filled with his down-to-earth thoughts on any new paleoanthropology discovery, correctly notes that the new Denisova hominin, while it certainly is a “new form” of hominid, has hardly been declared full species status yet. After all, we are dealing with a pinky only, here.
John Hawks then states outloud what many of us are thinking: “One of my long-time correspondents is already calling it ‘the Yeti.’” And ending with this: “Maybe it’s a Yeti after all.”
Hawks’ correspondent might have the right idea, but these folks are using the wrong name. As I and others have written about, what we would project finding in the Denisova cave area of the Altai Mountains of Siberia and Mongolia, especially, if they remained in the area, would be Almas, Chuchunaa, and Mulen, all different localized names for unknown hairy hominins. In recent years, Almas, Chuchunaa, and Mulen would have been casually (and perhaps a bit incorrectly) called “Yetis,” or even “Siberian Snowmen.”
Some interesting indications of an unknown hominin have surfaced in the cryptozoological records for years, specifically, in south Siberia and Mongolia.
“Almas” is a Mongolian (Altaic) term for “wild man,” reported from Central Asia. “Chuchunaa” is related to the Yakut (Turkic) word for “fugitive” or “outcast,” and is said to be a giant hominid of eastern Siberia. The related form “Mulen” is an Evenki/Altaic term with origins in the word “bandit,” and also used to describe unknown, hairy bipeds from eastern Siberia.
Almas in motion, by Richard Klyver.
There is a long history of sightings of Almas and kin for this area.
Bavarian soldier Johannes Schiltberger, who was captured by the Turks in 1402 and sent to Mongol, while in the Tian Shan Mountains, became the first Westerner to see Almas. He reported two had been caught in the mountains, and were covered with hair except for their hands and faces.
As recently as 1963, Russian pediatrician Ivan Ivlov was traveling in the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia when he saw a male, a female, and a young Almas on a mountain slope. He observed them through binoculars at a distance of about a mile until they moved out of sight. Afterwards, he queried a number of his patients about the Almas and obtained some detailed stories.
Many Mulen reportedly were killed during the Russian Civil War, 1918–1921, when refugees moved into previously uninhabited areas.
In the 1920s, Tatyana Zakharova and other Evenk villagers came across a Chuchunaa while gathering berries near Khoboyuto Creek. It was also picking and eating berries, but it stood up to a full height of nearly 7 feet when it saw them and ran away swiftly. The Chuchunaa was dressed in deerskin, had long arms, a small forehead, and jutting chin. In Czarist times and during World War II, many Chuchunaa were said to have been rounded up and killed, their corpses buried secretly.
Myra Shackley in her book, Still Living? Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1983), remarkably proposed the theory (almost 30 years ago) that the Chuchunaa and Mulen might be associated with the nearby fossil finds of some ambiguous teeth found in the Middle Paleolithic layers of Denisova cave in the Altai Mountains bordering Kazakhstan. Today, we understand this to be the same location for the X-Woman or the Denisova hominin.
Others have written about the affinities of the unknown hairy hominids in this part of the world, including many notables in cryptozoology/hominology, namely, Ivan T. Sanderson, B. Rinchen, P. L. Dravert, Vladimir Pushkarev, Gavriil V. Ksenofontov, Dmitri Bayanov, Boris A. Porshnev, Bernard Heuvelmans, Odette Tchernine, Michael Heaney, Chris Stringer, Ra Rabjir, Patrick Huyghe, Mark A. Hall, and Loren Coleman.
The discovery of the Denisova hominin, I encourage, should cause anthropologists to reexamine some of these stories. It has happened before.
In 2003-2004, when the discovery of the hobbits, lest we forget that between nine and eleven Homo floresiensis have been found, was announced, the tales and folklore of the island of Flores’ little ebu gogo were gathered and said to relate to the find of the little woman of Flores. Now the world is being introduced to the “X-Woman,” which actually seems to be a young female. We expect that the jokes about “Yetis” might abound. They should not hide the reality that there might be a link between the stories of Almas, Chuchunaa and Mulen and the X-Woman’s population.
Serious scientists have been open-minded in the past. And others will be tomorrow.
“The discovery that Homo floresiensis survived until so very recently, in geological terms, makes it more likely that stories of other mythical, human-like creatures such as Yetis are founded on grains of truth….Now, cryptozoology, the study of such fabulous creatures, can come in from the cold.”
~ Henry Gee, editor of Nature, in his “Flores, God and Cryptozoology,” 2004 editorial.
Mecheny (which may be yet another local name for a Chuchunaa), is here shown as drawn by artist Harry Trumbore in The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates.
What did the X-Woman look like? Let’s hope the drawings of the X-Woman will, at least, show a woman. But then again, all that has been found is a pinky, we must remember.
I am reminded of a scene from the 1999 film, Lake Placid. Upon finding a small digit from the otherwise missing body of a deputy, who was a victim of the alligator in the lake, a scientist hands it to the local law enforcement representative:
Hector: Is this the man that was killed?
Sheriff Hank Keough: He seemed…taller.
The original drawing after the first hobbit was announced, the one of LB1, as seen in the above National Geographic painting, showed the first Homo foresiensis find as a male. This is to be compared to Richard Klyver’s sketch of the Flores woman. The first fossil discovery of Homo floresiensis was of a female, not a male, of course.
The Little Lady of Flores is on the front cover of The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates , illustrated with a drawing of Homo floresiensis by wildlife artist Richard Klyver.
Speculations and discoveries will continue to change the landscape of human evolution.
Books continue to be revised. We only have to reflect that it was in 2007, when it was announced, that in 2000, Richard Leakey found an ancient complete skull of Homo erectus. It had been discovered within walking distance of an upper jaw of a Homo habilis, and both dated from the same general time period. A new study a mere three years ago said it was unlikely that H. erectus evolved from H. habilis and the below graphic was produced. It will have to be revised again.
And so it goes.
The image at the top of this blog posting is Harry Trumbore’s drawing of an Almas, from The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates.
When visiting the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine, be certain to view the first replica of the Homo floresiensis skull to have been obtained and displayed in North America after the 2003 discovery of the Little Lady of Flores. The ICM also has full-scale museum-quality busts of Paranthropus (“Nutcracker Man”) and Australopithecus afarensis (“Lucy”), plus Dr. Grover Krantz’s full-sized recreations of the skulls of Gigantopithecus and his rare Meganthropus reconstruction (the last one he did just before he passed away).
The International Cryptozoology Museum™ leads the way in being your gateway to adventure, education and discovery.