The Orang Pendek (meaning "Little Man") of Sumatra is unlike most of the other cryptozoological missing link
s (like the yeti
). He is a slight, even petite creature, between two and a half feet and five feet tall. He has pinkish brown skin and dark fur. Like the other ape-men
though, he is secretive and difficult to photograph clearly. (Strange, isn't it?)
The Orang Pendek first came to the attention of Europeans in 1919, but Sumatrans have known of him for centuries. Because he is quiet, gentle, and only eats small animals for food, the Sumatrans respect him and leave him to his own devices. In 1923, a Dutch big game hunter named Van Herwaarden had the Orang Pendek in his sights, but was unable to pull the trigger because it looked so much like a man. "I suddenly felt that I was going to commit murder," he said.
Most evidence of the Orang Pendek's existence comes from small, human shaped but very wide footprints. Some tales indicate that he walks with his feet reversed, so that his toes point behind him--a common missing link feature. The only photos are dark and bleary, of course.
British travel writer Deborah Martyr has most recently brought the Orang Pendek to the public's attention. First learning of it while trekking through the Sumatran jungle in 1989, she has since made something of a living pursuing the animal, and claims to have seen it three times.
The Orang Pendek is also known as the Sedapa, and similar creatures have been reported in Borneo, where it is known as the Batutut.