Almas (page 2)
1936 M. K. Rosenfeld in his The Ravine of the Almases incorporates the creatures into the plot of an otherwise routine adventure novel. Rosenfeld had heard of the creatures during a trip across Mongolia in the 1920s.
1937 Dordji Meiren, an associate of Professor Zhamtsarano, reports seeing a carpet made out of a hide of an Almas, being used by lamas at their monastery in ritual ceremonies. He also declares that Almas sightings decreased significantly in number in the later decades of the 19th century, suggesting that they were engaged in a westward migration to escape encroaching civilization.
1941 A Russian unit fighting the Germans in the Caucasus near Buinakst is asked by some partisans to look at an unusual prisoner. According to the unit's commander, Lt. Col. Vargen Karapetyan, the captive 'man' was naked, hairy, and covered with lice; he obviously didn't understand speech and appeared to be dim-witted, blinking often; he was evidently afraid, but made no attempt to defend himself when Karapetyan pulled hairs from his body. He was kept in a barn, because, as the partisans explained, in a heated room he stank and dripped sweat. Not wanting to get involved, Karapetyan told the partisans to do what they wanted with the prisoner. A few days later he heard that the prisoner had escaped, but according to a later report made by the Ministry of the Interior in Daghestan, the 'wild man' had been executed as a deserter after being court-martialed.
1957 Alexander Georgievitch Pronin, a hydrologist at the Geographical Research Institute of Leningrad University on a expedition to the Pamir Mountains for the purpose of mapping glaciers, sees a figure standing on a rocky cliff about 500 yards above him and the same distance away. Initially surprised by seeing someone at a known uninhabited area, Pronin subsequently realized that the creature was not human. It resembled a man but "it was very stooped, with long forearms and covered in reddish grey hair." Pronin reported seeing the creature again three days later, walking upright.
1963 Ivan Ivlov, a Russian pediatrician, sees a family of manlike creatures consisting of a male, female and a small child, standing on a mountain slope. Ivlov observed the creatures through field glasses for some time before they vanished behind a jutting rock. Ivlov's Mongol driver also sees the creatures and assures him they are common in the area.
1964 Russian historian Boris Porshnev visits the place where Zana had reportedly lived. Several centenarians (Caucasus people are noted for their longevity) claimed to have known her and to have attended her funeral. Dr Porshnev also meets a couple of the alleged descendants (her grandchildren) of the wild woman, and wrote of the episode:
"From the moment I saw Zana's grandchildren, I was impressed by their dark skin and negroid looks. Shalikula, the grandson, has unusually powerful jaw muscles, and he can pick up a chair, with a man sitting on it, with his teeth."
During the next few years, Porshnev and a colleague tried to find Zana's remains in the Genaba (the family name of her descendants) graveyard, and although they found the vaguely Neanderthaloid bones of what they speculated was one of her children, they never discovered the remnants of the Almas herself.
1969-1980 British anthropologist and archaeologist Myra Lesley Shackley researches into alleged residual Neanderthal populations in Mongolia, but finds no hard evidence of their existence. Nonetheless, in her book Still Living? (1983) she speculates that the Almas are a relict population of Neanderthals, and offers a vivid account of 1963's Ivan Ivlov encounter with a family of these creatures. She also mentions a Tibetan medicinal book in which drawings of Almas appear, noting that "the book contains thousands of illustrations of various classes of animals (reptiles, mammals and amphibia), but not one single mythological animal such as are known from similar medieval European books. All the creatures are living and observable today."
1972 An unnamed Russian doctor met a family of Almas, according to British anthropologist Myra Shackley, who adds that their "very simple lifestyle and the nature of their appearance suggests strongly that Almases might represent the survival of a prehistoric way of life, and perhaps even of an earlier form of man. The best candidate is undoubtedly Neanderthal man."
1980 A worker at an experimental agricultural station operated by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences at Bulgan, encounters the dead body of a strange humanlike creature:
"I approached and saw a hairy corpse of a robust humanlike creature dried and half-buried by sand. I had never seen such a humanlike being before covered by camel-colour brownish-yellow short hairs and I recoiled, although in my native land in Sinkiang I had seen many dead men killed in battle. ... The dead thing was not a bear or ape and at the same time it was not a man like Mongol or Kazakh or Chinese and Russian. The hairs of its head were longer than on its body" (Shackley 1983, p. 107).
1985 Maya Bykova, an assistant to Dr Boris Porshnev (yes, the same one from 1964) at Moscow's Darwin Museum, is reported to have actually observed a hominoid of unknown identity, a creature nicknamed by the ethnic Mnasi people as Mecheny, or "marked," because of the the whitish skin patch seen on its left forearm, the only part of its body not covered by red-brown hair.
1991 Soviet scientist Gregori Patchenkoff claims that he encountered and observed for six minutes a strange apelike creature. This large primate walked upright, was between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet tall, and had its body covered with long reddish fur.
1992 Dr. Marie-Jeanne Kofman, a Russian anatomist and mountain climber, heads a team of French and Soviet scientists in an attempt to confirm the existence of Almas. She had studied them for over 30 years, and believed they were nomadic, omnivorous and shy creatures, living in the mountains at heights of 8,000 to 12,000 feet, from which they sometimes descend to raid crops. Dr. Kofman collected more than 500 eyewitness accounts, including descriptions of Alma families, children and adults specimens. However, she came empty handed from this expedition, just managing to find inconclusive footprints, droppings and hairs.
Chris Stringer, a British anthropologist living in Sussex and prominent researcher in the area of hominids at the British Natural History Museum's Department of Paleontology, disagrees with the theory that the Almas are the remnants of Neanderthal man. While remaining open-minded on the question of the Almasty's existence, he challenges this conclusion. He notes several reports that contained mentions of bent knees, an unusual gait, turned-in feet (with six toes in one case), long arms, forearms, hands and fingers, small flat noses, 'Mongolian' cheekbones, and a lack of language, culture, meat-eating and fire. According to him, none of these readily matches accepted ideas about the Neanderthals.
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Sources: (1) Anderson, Ivan T., Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, Adventures Unlimited Press; (2) Quest for the Unknown, Reader's Digest Association, Inc.; (3) Mysteries of the Unknown, Time-Life Books; (4) Shackley, Myra, Still Living?, W. W. Norton & Company; (5) Quest For The Past, Reader's Digest Association, Inc.; (6) Clark, Jerome, Unexplained!, Visible Ink Press.
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