The Cryptid Zoo: Wildmen

Wildmen Around the World
  • The European wildman has been reported from all over Europe, but modern sightings are rare.

  • The Vietnamese wildman is called the nguoi rung. It is reported from Kontum Province, near the border of Cambodia.

  • The wildman of Scotland is the lailoken.

  • The Chinese wildman is called the yeren. It is reported from the dense, wild forests of the south, and other areas too.

  • The wildman of Pakistan is the barmanu, reported from the Shishi Kuh Valley. It is described as looking very much like a primitive human.

  • The Mongolian wildman is known as the alma.

  • The wildman of New Zealand is called the maero.

  • The Ceylon or Sri Lankan wildman, wiped out in the eighteenth century according to local folklore, was known as the nittaewo.

  • The Laos wildman is the briau.

  • The Siberian wildman is the chuchunaa. It sometimes wears clothing and may be a variety of marked hominid.
  • "Wildmen" (the name includes both genders) is a term used nearly worldwide to describe many varieties of hairy humanoids, especially when people have never heard of such creatures before and don't know what to call them. Local names for creatures resembling Bigfoot often translate as "wildman" when rendered into English.

    More specifically, in the field of cryptozoology the word "wildman" tends to be used for those varieties of hairy humanoid that are more human in appearance, less like apes. Some of these creatures are reported to have bare faces, bare genital areas, and head-fur that is not like monkey fur, rather it is longer than the body fur and more like human hair. When witnesses see a wildman, often their first thought is that they are looking at a human who for some reason has fur growing over much of the body. They rarely think that they are looking at a monkey or ape.

    In fact, the prime theory about wildmen used to be that, if ordinary humans took to the wilderness and lived like animals without clothing, they would grow fur all over the body. Thus, each wildman was presumed to be an ordinary human who had gone feral.

    Today, this theory has been discarded, except by the superstitious, because of a total lack of evidence that ordinary humans can grow a coat of hair so much thicker than the body hair they naturally have. However, several current theories are still based on the same general idea - that wildmen are hairy humans rather than ape-men.

    Some researchers explain wildman sightings as being due to genetic mutations of humans. Wildmen are supposed to be humans who were born with hair growing as thick as fur all over their bodies. This is a deformity that is known to exist in some humans, and it neatly dispenses with the need for ordinary humans to be capable of growing a coat of fur on demand as soon as they start living in the wild. According to this theory, the deformed child was rejected by its parents and driven out of society. It then had to live in the wilderness like an animal.

    Although this idea is attractive and may explain some wildman sightings, it doesn't explain large groups of wildman sightings very well. The idea that humanity in general produces a large crop of hairy genetic mutants who all look similar and are all secretly driven out to the wild as children, where they live out their lifespans successfully without capture, sounds silly. Perhaps it is true, but it sounds silly to me. I just don't think that large groups of such children would survive, or that all of them would evade capture so well.

    Other researchers explain wildmen as very primitive, hairy humans who have been living secretly among us for years. These wildmen are often depicted as smarter than humans, but with a low level of technology. Their communities are described as highly nomadic. They are supposed to be hard to find, because they don't need fire for warmth or cooking and because they are just as comfortable in the wild as any animal, but are far smarter than any animal. Sometimes this idea is meshed with the concept of surviving neanderthals.

    One of the most popular explanations for wildmen is that they are normal non-mutant humans who are wearing furs or glimpsed under conditions that make them seem hairier than they actually are. This explanation is often coupled with the idea that some men who suffer from mental illnesses retreat into the wild, grow wild beards, and dress in fur clothing that they have made themselves. For example, in the book Three Men Seeking Monsters: Six Weeks in Pursuit of Werewolves, Lake Monsters, Giant Cats, Ghostly Devil Dogs, and Ape-Men author Nick Redfern suggests that British wildman legends are due to crazy men with big beards living in wild areas.

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

    Adams, Kathleen & Tiffany, Sharon W. The Wild Woman: An Inquiry into the Anthropology of an Idea. Cambridge: Schenkman, 1985.

    Bartra, Roger. Wild Men in the Looking Glass: The Mythic Origins of European Otherness. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994.

    Blackman, W. Haden. The Field Guide to North American Monsters New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998. Pages 34-35

    Brookesmith, Peter, ed. Creatures from Elsewhere. London, Chartwell Books, 1989. Pages 13-14

    Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren. Cryptozoology A-Z. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Pages 28, 60-61, 144-145, 180-182, 240-241, 252

    Coleman, Jerry D. Strange Highways: A Guidebook to American Mysteries & the Unexplained. Alton, Illinois: Whitechapel Productions Press, 2003. Pages 9-11, 20

    Coleman, Loren. Mysterious America: The Revised Edition. New York: Paraview Press, 2001. Pages 125, 188-190, 221-230
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    Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype.

    Keel, John A. The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings. New York: Doubleday, 1994. Pages 77-83, 128

    Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. Pages 36-38, 40, 43-44, 60, 68, 91, 102, 111, 126, 150, 154, 177, 190, 197-198, 201, 204, 222, 226, 228, 230, 236-237, 246, 270, 277, 279-280, 285-287, 289, 297-299, 303, 308, 310, 322, 324-325, 335-337, 345, 351, 354-355, 360, 378, 393, 397-398, 403, 421, 428, 438-439, 464-467, 471, 474-475, 478, 488, 489, 490, 492, 499, 500, 504, 506-508

    Rath, Jay. The W-Files: True Reports of Wisconsin's Unexplained Phenomena. Black Earth, Wisconsin: Trails Books, 1997. Pages 8-9

    Riggs, Rob. In the Big Thicket : On the Trail of the Wild Man : Exploring Nature's Mysterious Dimension.

    Rose, Carol. Giants, Monsters and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2000. Page 219

    Taussig, Michael. Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

    Virginia Bigfoot Research

    Weidensaul, Scott. The Ghost with Trembling Wings: Science, Wishful Thinking and the Search for Lost Species. New York: North Point Press, 2002. Pages 153, 172-173

    Weitzel, Vern. Nguoi Rung, Vietnamese Forest People

    Wells, D.A. The Wild Man from the 'Epic of Gilgamesh' to Hartmann von Aue's 'Iwein' : Reflections on the Development of a Theme in World Literature.

    Wikipedia, The. Hibagon

    Wikipedia, The. Mawa

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    The text on this page is copyright 2006 by Jamie Hall. Please use proper citation if you are using this website for research.