Monday, 23 January 2012

The Orang Penank Cryptid is debunked - temporarily

In 1932 native hunters presented what they said was the body of a young Orang pendek to the Sumatran newspaper the Deli Courant in return for the reward that newspaper had offered for proof of the creature’s existence. The newspaper gleefully printed the story of the mystery animal’s arrival, its appearance, its condition and the fact that it was being sent to Dr Dammerman of the Zoological Museum at Buitenzorg for study.

When the report came back it was a crushing disappointment. The supposed Orang pendek juvenile was simply a hoax. A fully grown langur monkey had been shot, then had its fur trimmed to match the usual description of an Orang Pendek’s hair. The nose had been stretched with a piece of wood, the teeth filed to shape and the cheekbones carefully fractured to alter their shape.

The hoax had a most unfortunate effect. The Dutch colonial authorities lost all interest in this supposed rare member of Sumatra’s fauna. The whole thing became something of a joke. Anyone who mentioned the subject was treated as a fool and subjected to ridicule - rather as if they had declared that they had seen Father Christmas passing by in his flying sleigh. In 1941 the island was invaded by the Japanese, then liberated in 1945 and returned to Dutch rule before in 1947 joining the newly independent state of Indonesia.

The whole subject of the strange human-like ape in the southern forests got forgotten, except by the local people who claim to have come across it frequently.

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