BRIT explorers claim they have spotted a legendary ape man believed to inhabit an island jungle — and snapped its footprints.
The four-strong team and their Indonesian guide were tracking through dense jungle in Sumatra when two of them caught a glimpse of the famous Orang Pendek — or short man.
The group brought back a hair sample and a piece of chewed palm from the island’s Kerinci National Park they hope will provide DNA evidence of the beast.
They also snapped a strange footprint thought to belong to the creature.
Sightings of the hairy human-like monster have been made in the area since colonial times — and it is alleged to be immensely powerful.
The explorers hope the sample of rattan palm, which is thought to have been munched on by the Orang Pendek, will contain some of its cells. The palm and hair sample have been sent for testing.
Witnesses have described the beast as being about 5ft tall and say that it walks on two legs.
It is thought to be extremely powerful — with reports of onlookers seeing it ripping apart logs.
After a spate of sightings around Lake Gunung Tuju, in the Kerinci national park, a team from the Devon based Centre for Fortean Zoology — which investigates unknown species of animals — embarked on a two-week mission to the region to see if they could obtain evidence of the creature.
The elusive Orang Pendek shares its habitat with the Sumatran Tiger, pythons, and Saltwater crocodiles.
Richard Freeman, the expedition zoologist and zoological director at the Centre for Fortean Zoology, said he believes the creature is an unidentified species of ape.
“We are not talking about a unicorn or a griffin, we are talking about an ape that’s unknown to science,” he said.
“It’s name means ‘short man’ in Indonesian.
“It’s supposed to be a powerfully built upright walking ape.
“It walks on two legs rather than four – like a man, about five foot tall with dark fur – immensely strong.
“It’s been seen since colonial times.
“It’s quite possible that in some museum there are skull and bones of the Orang Pendek that have been labelled orangutan.”
The team, who have just returned from their two-week expedition, hailed it a success and are awaiting the results of the DNA tests.
www.thesun.co.uk article by By LEON WATSON