Scientists extract DNA from Mystery Ape hair
According to a press release just sent to me from cryptid researcher Adam Davies:
A team of Danish scientists who have been analysing hair samples brought back from Indonesia by a British expedition last autumn has found some potentially world-shattering results. The expedition was looking for the fabled Orang Pendek, an upright walking ape from Sumatra which is only known from eyewitness reports.
Expedition leader ADAM DAVIES has been to Sumatra five times since 1999, to look for the Orang Pendek. Over the years, there has been a gradual refinement in his search technique. He is certain that it exists, and when he first went to Sumatra he was struck as to how authentic the first-hand accounts seemed to be. On a previous expedition in 2001, prints and hair were found and subsequently examined by world-famous hair analysis expert Professor Hans Brunner and by Dr. David Chivers of Cambridge University. They independently concluded that they were from an unknown primate closely related to the two species of orang-utan.
Last weekend at the annual conference of the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ), the world’s largest mystery animal research group, Danish scientist Lars Thomas announced the results so far. The preliminary DNA analysis of the hairs appears to resemble that of an orang-utan. He says:
“… the significance is quite enormous no matter what the result is basically because if it turns out to be orang-utan this proves that there is orang-utan in a part of Sumatra several hundred kilometers from the nearest population of orang-utan. If it turns out to be a primate that looks like an orang-utan but isn’t, it’s an even greater discovery because that proves that there is another great ape living in Indonesia”.Lars Thomas
A morphological analysis of the hair samples also corroborated Professor Brunner’s findings.
Richard Freeman, the zoological director of the CFZ has been to Sumatra on three occasions, the hairs in question being found on the last expedition in September 2009. On this particular trip were Adam Davies (leader), Richard Freeman, Chris Clark, Dave Archer plus their guides Sahar, John, Dally, and Doni. It was the brother – John Didmus – of their main guide Sahar, who found the hairs on a small sapling about 3 feet off the ground. He said:
“if the hair turns out to be from a new species, it would be the first confirmed upright walking ape which then throws an interesting light upon other reported bipedals like the yeti, etc. It may also help tell us how bipedalism in humans first developed. Also, the fact that such a large animal was found on an island roughly the same size as Britain could be significant as it may also mean that there could be other large animals still to be found across the world.”Richard Freeman, Centre for Fortean Zoology
Film of Lars Thomas carrying out a morphological hair analysis of the samples for CFZ Director Jon Downes, and an interview with Lars Thomas can seen here:
Adam also told me that one of his team members had an eyewitness sighting of the Orang Pendek during their last research expedition.
Congratulations to Adam and his fellow cryptid researchers on obtaining this evidence. I’m sure the impact of this discovery will become increasingly evident in the weeks and months to come.
41 thoughts on “Breaking News: DNA Evidence of Mystery Ape!”
Thanks for the post John.
This is really exciting news ! I hope to share more of my thoughts the Orang-pendek, with your readers, once the furore has died down a little!
Hey Adam — Thanks for including me as one of the few to hear about this before the official press release. And congratulations! After many long expeditions toiling through the Sumatran jungles (among many other places) I’m sure this has to feel very personally gratifying. Once things settle down a bit I look forward to hearing whatever other insights that you have to offer about the impact of this new evidence. Once again, congratulations my friend!
People think that animals like apes need to be big, or require lots of land to live, and can be easily seen. But, who said that, for example, animals like the Orang-pendek aren’t illusive, and smart to an unbelievable degree? I firmly belive in this animals existence. A Chinese proverb says, “What’s the smartest animal in the world?…The one that can’t be found.”
I couldn’t agree with you more, David. New species are being found all the time, and it’s not unreasonable to think that a smaller species of hominoid could inhabit deep rainforests like those found in Sumatra.
But, who said that, for example, animals like the Orang-pendek aren’t illusive, and smart to an unbelievable degree?”
I did. 🙂 Observations to date show no non-human (or most human) primates smart to an unbelievable degree. If we break with all precedent, we might as well ascribe to them invisibility as well. 🙂
Adam, in a discussion on Cryptomundo you rejected out of hand even the possibility of my suggestion your observations were of orangutans, finding the idea of orangutans displaced a few hundred miles to be far less likely than a completely new primate that’s eluded classification for all of human history. Your statements suggested that expedition member Mr. Stallman, who examined the tracks and said they matched no known animals in the area, didn’t even consider orangutans for this reason. At this point are you conceding that it’s most likely that you’ve observed a small, isolated possibly inbred subpopulation of organutan?
“…it’s not unreasonable to think that a smaller species of hominoid could inhabit deep rainforests like those found in Sumatra.”
It certainly isn’t unreasonable to think a new species of monkey could be found under those conditions. However, let’s remember that that’s not what’s being claimed. What’s being claimed is a non-human bipedal primate with no precedent in the fossil record, living in a tree-filled jungle environment with large land predators (tigers), exactly the least likely environment for bipedalism to evolve. Such a find would clash with collected fossil and present taxonomical evidence as well as neo-Darwinian evolution, which makes such a prospect of a creature like this existing unreasonable rather than reasonable. Toss in the lack of evidence for said bipedal creatures other than stories and no photographic evidence to date (and the number of claimed evidence finds that turn out to be sun bear tracks) and this makes it very unlikely, rather than likely. That it is a misidentification of a known species, or a subspecies, is the far more likely outcome, and the evidence being presented here leans towards that hypothesis.
Cryptozoologists often claim that they are a science of finding unclassified animals, but regular biology does that all the time, and not one of those who do it would call themselves cryptozoologists. Cryptozoology focuses exclusively on animals whose very definition clashes with scientific orthodoxy (living dinosaurs, bipedal non-humans, electric “Mongolian Death Worms”, giant flying birds, Mr. Freeman of the CFZ’s belief in real dragons, etc.). By that definition, every cryptid is unreasonable to begin with. 🙂
Sadly, Mr. Didmus seems to be employing a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose approach. If they discovered misplaced organgutans, the lesson ought to be that wild-eyed tales of things that make no sense (like non-human bipedal primates in a jungle) often turn out to be misidentifications of common animals combined with exaggeration. Instead, he’s already turning a failure into a success, claiming that even though this would spell the end of the “orang pendek”, it could mean the Yeti is real! He’s missing the real lesson… that his brother saw something (that brought him to tears) that he swore wasn’t an organgutan… that was probably an orangutan. It’s a lesson in anecdotal vs. testable evidence and why cryptozoology needs to stop hanging its hat on the former. It’s a lesson in how the ideas that Bigfoot is both “elusive and smart to an unbelievable degree” so that’s why there are no pictures of it and that retirees really do see Bigfoot when they go outside to get the morning newspaper off the front steps can’t possibly both be true.
Hi Joseph, thanks for your comments. My own view is that the Orang-Pendek is closely related to the Orang-Utan, but has evolved to walk bipedally. I would never reject your comments `out of hand`, I welcome them, and am very glad you take the trouble to make them. I just don’t think that the OP is the same as the species in the North, and I wanted to make that very clear to people, so they could understand we were not simply talking about that variant of the Orang-Utan. The testing is still ongoing — you could be right, and if you are, then so be it. I will always publish any results in full, and totally welcome your opinion. There was no expedition member called Mr. Stallman though. Please do keep you ideas coming. I will let you know more results, as we have them.
Ah… good, healthy debate! That’s my favorite part of running this blog. I’m sure time and the scientific evidence will tell, and eventually we’ll know if we’re dealing with a northern sub-species of Orangutan, or an entirely new species of bipedal ape. Thanks Adam and Joseph, for checking in with your opinions.
Joseph G. Mitzen’s criticism of cryptozoology is spot-on. I would add another, systematic problem with cryptozoology: it is not organized around the nature of its subject matter, but around the opinions of the community of professional biologists. Bigfoot is today a subject for cryptozoologists because very few primatologists believe he exists; but if a Bigfoot carcase were found tomorrow, he would immediately become a subject of primatology and cease to be a subject of cryptozoology. Because there is no commonality between cryptids other than their being considered unlikely by the scientific community, it is impossible to properly relate cryptozoology to fields of zoology that are accepted as serious. Are “bigfoot studies” a subset of primatology or of ethnozoology? What academic preparation is necessary to be a proper cryptozoologist — if any? Or are hunting, trapping, and photography the only important skills?
A year or so ago there was a discussion of these topics on cryptomundo. I could not even get anyone to provide a list of the 5 best pieces of evidence in favor of bigfoot, even after I suggested that #1 would be the P-G film. They preferred making up words to toss as insults at anyone who asked for evidence. That finally convinced me that although new and surprising discoveries no doubt await us in zoology, cryptzoologists will have little or nothing to do with them.
I would certainly not toss any insult in your direction. I value sceptical opinion ,and am keen to hear what you have to say. I have never done any field research on Sasqutach, and so cannot offer you any insights into evidence on the subject.I hope to one day soon, though!I did not see your comments on Cryptomundo. I agree that the only way to prove the existence of a new species is by careful analysis, the results of which can be both published and confirmed by peer groups.The people who I have sent my `finds` to, such as Dr. Hans Brunner, David Chivers from Cambridge, the Marine research Insitute at Bergen, and Dr.Todd Disotell, are all independant. Sometimes they yield results, sometimes they don’t .Whatever there conculsions are ,Iwill always publish them for discussion.,with of course, their permission.I would be quite happy to involve you in any analysis of my research on Sasquatch, when I eventually get out to the U.S.!
Thanks, but I’m a physicist, not a biologist, and when I was posting to cryptomundo I went by Fhqwhgads. The discussion started out with the question of whether cryptozoology is more a field of science or more a hobby. As I noted above, I have serious reservations about the idea of a “science” that links bigfoot, lake monsters, thunderbirds, and living dinosaurs — I would be more comfortable with a specialist in living and fossil anthropoids who also looked into yetis than someone who tried to “specialize” in cryptids. At the time, I was willing to assign many cryptozoologists the same status as amateur astronomers, who may not have formal training but who can still make important contributions to science (discovering comets, observing a “bruise” on Jupiter, etc.). Having watched cryptomundo for a few years, though, I’m afraid most of cryptozoology has more in common with the “Ghost Hunters”, who are almost certainly frauds and who absolutely certainly don’t know what they’re talking about.
At any rate, I certainly hope your searches bear fruit. If they do, I hope you’ll stay involved with the follow-up and help establish the range, population density, and habits of the orang pendek, rather than moving on to another unverified animal.
Thanks Howard. I have been to Sumatra five times now, and I will certainly go back again.How soon, will depend on what I can afford, as I am entirely self-funded. I will of course , let you know when I do.
Great news Adam. You are one of the few really putting your own finance and sweat into finding the truth, whatever that may be. If you are ever researching anything in Ireland (unlikely I know) I would be happy to help in any way possible. Do you have a blog/twitter I can follow your progress on?
PS.. Any future plans to search for the Almas?
Hi John.Thank you for your kind comments. I have no plans to go to Ireland at present, though horse eels are always a possibility.I do have a blog if you tap Adam Davies extreme-expeditions into google, you will find it. I have looked for Almas before-I love Mongolia. You can find the details of that in my book Extreme-Expeditions Travel Adventures Stalking The World’s Mystery Animals.
Brilliant news, when’s the next expedition to samatra!..ill dust off my rucksack!
Mr. Davies, thank you for sharing your work, very fascinating and amazing to say the least. The obstacles you must overcome are obviously physically tenuous in the jungles of Sumatra and financially draining, but what I see as your most difficult task is your sojourn into the insurmountable dogma of established halls of academia. A small , but typical example being the lowbrow derogatory quips dropped offhandedly on this blog.
One area of science that appears to be heavily weighted by prejudice and overly guarded with avarice is anthropology and any related subject. Apparently there can be no deviation from reinforced rote academic paradigm, even when evidence suggest otherwise.
An example of the stalwart efforts for the “same good, change bad” ideology was made clear with the recent discovery of Homo floresiensis or the hobbits of Flores. Even with the evidence, as you present, staring all the naysayers in the face all manner of excuses were demanded rather than offered to exclude the Homo line from being subjugated by nature and demonstrating evolutionary qualities that defied conventional accepted parameters.
The goal post acceptance of your work seems constantly moved, pejoratively labeled, invariably placed to convenience the concretionary mind set of the self anointed imaginary intellectual high ground of others. I observe this ideologue mentality often with science, if it insults the hallowed pedestal humanity is placed on, it is ignored and marginalized into oblivion, and though the scientific method is humanities best litmus test it is not without all the flaws associated inclusively forth with.
Thank you for the courage stepping off the beaten path to enrich the knowledge of myself and others.
Well if you ever do visit Ireland and need anything you can contact me through my website at
The problem with the safe scientist is like they are a black plague real on science. It is the dream about the impossible that has always driven science and it is always the skeptics who drown it in politics and ego.
There are mysteries out there that continue despite the best debunking efforts and over the years and are still leaving tantalizing clues to their possible existence. A wide spread research scientific endeavor that would put the matter to rest once and for all on many of these mysteries are held back by the debunkers who claim don’t chase the impossible.
Why are they wrong? because there here on this web site wasting their time on skeptical comments on the impossible.
UFO Media Matters
Joe: I welcome all opinions on this blog, skeptics and believers alike. But I can’t say that I disagree with you. If we don’t keep an open mind and we begin to believe that we have all the answers, no real scientific progress will ever be made. I’m not an anthropologist, physicist, or any other type of scientist. I’m just a guy that finds these subjects about which I write interesting. However, I believe that there is much we don’t know, and that the Universe and the world around us is far bigger and stranger than we can possibly imagine.
While it’s fun to think that things like Bigfoot, UFOs, ghosts, orbs, rods, etc. really exist, the fact remains that there is no real evidence that any of these things exist. Until physical evidence of the paranormal is produced, I will remain skeptical.
Jim: It definitely is fun to think about this stuff, no question; and in my opinion, you have to be skeptical about it. But there’s a big difference between being a skeptic and being totally close-minded to all possibilities of things that may exist outside of our reality. And therein lies another problem: if we’re dealing with phenomena that lies outside our plane of reality and interacts with us on its own terms, these things may never be scientifically measurable.
Case in point: my mom would frequently have these incredibly vivid (often disturbing) dreams that would often come true with uncanny accuracy. Is that something that can be scientifically measured and proven? Probably not, but I know it was real because I knew my mom. When I was ten years old, she was terribly worried about my two uncles for almost a month and was having increasingly awful nightmares about them drowning in black, churning water. These continued right up until July 4, 1975. My mom woke up in terrible panic at about 4 AM that night. Early the next morning she found that both her elder and younger sisters’ husbands had died that same night within minutes of each other, right about 4 AM. Unexplained phenomena? Yes. Did it happen? Yes. Scientifically measurable and provable? No.
Did my missing time experience happen? It absolutely did. Can it be explained rationally? I really don’t think so. You can tell me all day that I just spaced out or went into some kind of fugue state, but you’d be wrong. I’ve had more than a hundred people email me with me and comment on this blog about similar unexplained “missing time” episodes too. Bottom line is, I honestly believe that there are other intelligences which exist outside of our level of perception and sometimes choose to interact with us. That may be something that may never be proven scientifically, but I do sincerely believe it to be true; just as I believe that we each have an imperishable soul that exists after the death of our physical bodies. I have no proof of that either, but I believe it.
As far as cryptozoology though, I do think the existence of unknown species is not a far-fetched concept at all. Despite deforestation and out-of-control population growth, there are still some deep forests and largely uninhabited places in the world, and we continue to find new animal species with relative frequency. I don’t think a new species of ape or proto-humanoid creature is that ridiculous a notion.
Thanks for the input! Please feel free to comment again any time.
I’m afraid I have to strongly disagree with many of the opinions expressed here. Science isn’t pushed forward by thinking that something is cool, therefore it must exist in nature, but rather by letting observation and experiment tell us what really exists in nature. As we come to understand it, it always turns out to be cooler than we had initially expected. They may not be very photogenic, but there are microorganisms that are known to exist that I think are more interesting than a sasquatch.
As for the Flores hobbit, it’s a good thing that skeptics have demanded proof that it was not a deformed Homo sapiens. Even the skeptics probably secretly WANT to believe it’s something new, but they don’t want to make the mistake of confusing their desires for real evidence. Everyone WANTED electrochemical cold fusion to work, after all. My impression, though, is that a consensus is forming behind the hobbit being a separate species.
Howard: I agree! Everyone would love to get real proof of (for example) Sasquatch being a genuine, undiscovered creature; but the scientific evidence needs to point to that conclusively. New, smaller ocean creatures are being discovered relatively often, but those don’t garner the same interest as an unknown ape would because these things simply don’t capture the public’s imagination. That doesn’t mean smaller species and microorganisms aren’t worthy of research or of our interest, however.
I don’t understand why the excitement over upright orang-utans in Sumatra? Probably decendants of some domestic orang-utans that got separated from their humans during WWII. — Charles
Stories of the Orang-Pendek go back many centuries in this part of the world.Those who have visited the area, or indeed ,even researched the subject on the Internet, will be able to tell you that. Their have been some great views shared on this blog speculating as to what it may be;What I can be sure of though, is that it is not some relic poulation left over by human keepers!!
As for ithe `fuss ` whatever it turns out to be ,the idea that an ape of this kind has evolved to walk bipedally, will have profound scientific implications.
Keith- thank you for your post,its not quite time to dust off your rucksack yet 🙂
Matt, and the other people who posted, thank you for your comments and support.
Well done, congratulations to all the team!
I love how this is ”potentially world-shattering” … guys, if we discover a new great ape it’s certainly big news but I don’t think anyone would call it world-shattering.
Johan — Hey, I just copied & pasted the press release ;). Yes, it’ll be big news, but true, perhaps not “world-shattering”. It will be bigger news still if it’s a bipedal species of ape or proto-sapien. Now that would be potentially world-shattering, and not just to the cryptozoology crowd.
Hey-I am reading Michael Crichtons’ book “Next” so I decided to google talking apes and found this blog..interesting posts.
I am Certain that there is much more than the reality that we perceive with our 5 senses. Can I prove it? No. Does that change at all what I believe? Not in the slightest.
Sigrid — I can’t prove any of my experiences, yet I know that they happened to me. Many of these phenomena can’t be proven scientifically, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Thanks for checking in with your comments.
I believe I saw one of Adam’s expeditions documented on “MonsterQuest”. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Orang-Pendek is out there, along with the other bi-pedaled hominids (sasquatch, yeti, almas, etc.), and I’m very glad that these hairs have been found, and that DNA was successfully extracted from them. One thing I do wonder about though, and I readily confess I have very limited knowledge as to what can be determined from DNA… but for the sake of discussion, let us say that it turns out to be from a previously “undocumented” primate. Not surprising at all, if I’m not mistaken, we’ve found an average of 1 new primate species a year since 1980. What I wonder is, without the elusive video footage, or something to clearly demonstrate that the hairs in question came from the Orang-Pendek, can DNA evidence actually determine and show that an animal uses bi-pedaled locomotion?
No matter what, congratulations on your recovery of these hair samples. Keep up the search!
Interesting question, Mick. I’ll let Adam field that when he returns from his Indian expedition for evidence of the Mande Burung. He’s the expert and thus in a much better position to answer that than I.
By the way, Adam is getting returning this Saturday, 11/20. Looking forward to hearing of his findings at some point after he’s settled in. I’ll be sure to post them on the Paranomalist.
Lars has now finished his report.In synopsis, whilst the structure of the hair looks very similar to that of an Orang, the D.N.A seems closer to human. On the back of his research, he states that `he is forced to conclude that there is an unkown species of primate` ,in Sumatra.
Whilst this research does not , and cannot specify what the OP actually is,it does mark a crucialand exciting first step.We know can say with some confidence that it DOES exist.The next step is to define What it is, and this will of course, take more research. I should add that I have found prints and hair samples on previous expeditions ,again which have been analysed as being from an unkown species.So we are making progress!
Fantastic news! The DNA results sound similar to those of the tissue samples found at the cabin on Snelgrove Lake… nearly identical to human DNA, save for a single nucleotide polymorphism – 1 base pair deviated. It really makes one wonder what it is going to take for mainstream science to acknowledge the legitimacy of these creatures. I really hope it doesn’t take a dead body (i would hate to even see one captured and held in a lab, or put on display). Not to mention humans seem to have a fondness for vivisection.
Thanks for the updates John and Adam! Best of luck on all future endeavors!!
The hairs looked like orang-utan but they had a number of structural diffrences. This points to something related to but different from the Sumatran orang-utan.
I’ve worked with all the great apes and know their tracks intimatly. The tracks i have seen in Sumatra differe from any know ape. The heel is longer and more human like, whilst the front of the foot is more ape like. The big toe is well seperated but looks less prehensile.
Despite Joseph Mizen’s arrogant outburst orang-uans are not recorded in Kerinci. I have checked this with a number of sources. There are some mid 19th century accounts of captive ones in Padang, West Sumatra but no wild ones. Just because you say something from behind a computer keyboard Joe, it dosn’t mean that it’s true. I’ll go with the native guides who know the local fauna than with an internet pundit. Your accusations against Sahar are unfounded and downright cowardly. He is a first rate track, guide and naturalist. When i see you survive in deep jungle like him then i might take your pathetic bleatings a little more seriously.
In response to Joesph Mitzen’s earlier post. I can name a group of primates that are often found in densely forested habitats with a wide variety of predators, such as Tigers and Leopards and have a tendency to use a bipedal gate more frequently than other non human primates. These well known primates are Gibbons, their use of bipedalism a by-product of their mostly arboreal lifestyle. Also fossil records in tropical habitats tend to be patchy due to poor rates of preservation so it would not be a surprise that the current fossil record for Sumatra is somewhat less than concise. This in itself does not validate the viability of such a new species as the Orang pendek, however reasons given to reduce the credibility of such claims are rendered mute .
John Carlson & Adam Davies –
Congrats! Love the open-minded tactics you use in your searches for the truth … I appreciate your openness to unfolding the facts right in front for all to see & question ( a trait not found much in modern U.S. Industrial sciences). Im a skeptic of any scientific research. I found that the most reliable sources are open to all angles of discussion to judge for ourselves, not push politically, thank you.
John – I also have had paranormal experiences myself & know how brave you are to speak openly about our other senses. Thankfully there is evidence to prove this theory – “The quantum activist” Amit Goswami is one that is bringing that open- minded concept to the board & having theory turn fact. The spot in our brain commonly known as spirit has been explained & scientific proof unfolded. Also look up “Psychic kids – children of the paranormal” Chip Coffey is a psychic & helps children that are in struggle to understand what they are seeing/ hearing /feeling in there world around them – here you see first hand evidence through the eyes of children themselves. although it is a reality series not a documentary … but when you see it & can relate to it as I do … it”s earth shaking indeed (since I was alone in my journeys as a kid- having no one that understood) wish i knew Chip as a kid =)
I love science of all kinds & have been doing my own research for the past 10 years on chemicals in our diets & the correlation within the Industrial 1% & how that corresponds within our (U.S.)economy. I have more to add if you wish to hear some time.
Maggie Q. =)
Mother of 3
Jack of all – master of none
I’ve watched a few episodes of Psychic Kids and thought it was very interesting. Thanks for posting your comment, Maggie. Please feel free to contribute any time you’d like.
Ahh! the legendary MoMo Monster, not a bfogiot by the way. that’s what we called it decades ago when I was a kid. There were lots of stories told at Campfire Girl campouts and sleep-over parties. I never got the pleasure of actually seeing it but one night when we were camping we heard a noise that the older girls swear was the MoMo monster. Looking back I think it was probably a bobcat or something but the screams were hair raising. I have to think; if I were the creature and didn’t want to be detected, I’d probably end up somewhere in the Mark Twain Forest. That’s a lot of area though. And you have to be aware of possible methlabs, they are looking for a secluded undetected spot too.Thanks for a topic that doesn’t involve politics for a change.