The Cryptid Zoo: Bondegezou (or "Man of the Forests")

The Moni tribe of Irian Jaya, in Indonesian New Guinea, have stories about a being they call the bondegezou, which roughly translates as "man of the forests." A little under three feet tall, this creature looks like a little man covered in bold patches of black and white fur. It can climb, but it is often seen on the ground, where it stands on its hind legs in a bipedal stance.

Even though the folklore has existed since time immemorial, and a clear photograph of a bondegezou even managed to find its way to an Australian scientist in the 1980s, the bondegezou wasn't the subject of any serious scientific inquiry until 1994, when a scientist managed to obtain skins and bones and it was declared a real, new species of mammal. The bondegezou wasn't a creature like Bigfoot. It wasn't even a primate. Instead, it was the oddest-looking species of tree kangaroo anyone had ever seen. It spent more time on the ground than in the trees, had a very short tail, and some oddly human mannerisms. It was often standing on its hind legs when sighted by humans, because this was its alarm posture.

The story of the bondegezou is a good example of how a perfectly real animal can remain hidden from science, especially if it lives in a remote area and is obscured by folklore. Even a clear photograph in the hands of a scientist is no guarantee that there will be a scientific inquiry anytime soon. It also shows that you need to be open-minded about cryptids. They might turn out to exist, but at the same time they might be a species you never imagined. Few people think that Bigfoot-type cryptids could be anything other than primates or primitive varieties of humans, but it is always possible that some could turn out to be something entirely different.

You can find out more about the Bondegezou from the following sources:

Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren. Cryptozoology A-Z. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Pages 46-47
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Flannery, Tim. Dingiso

Weidensaul, Scott. The Ghost with Trembling Wings: Science, Wishful Thinking and the Search for Lost Species. New York: North Point Press, 2002. Page 173

Wikipedia, The. Bondegezou

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