ZANA, THE APE WOMAN
Tales of feral children - children who were raised in the wild by animals - are well known. But the story of Zana is perhaps the most perplexing case on record.
In 1850, a group of hunters were prowling the Ochamchir region of Georgia in Russia when they were astonished by the sight of a young female wild woman. She looked somewhat human, but also had many ape-like features. With great difficulty, they captured the woman and brought her to civilization for study where they named her Zana.
Although she was clearly not an ape, Zana didn't look quite human either. Unlike other feral captures, which were obviously human in appearance, she had thick arms, legs and fingers, a massive bosom and was covered with dark hair. More primitive still was her behavior, which was so vicious that she had to be kept caged for the first few years of her captivity.
The details of her life in the Russian village are sketchy, but apparently Zana's behavior mellowed after a few years and she was taught to perform such domestic tasks as grinding corn. It was said that she had a remarkable tolerance for the cold and disliked being in a heated room.
Although Zana never learned to communicate through human speech, she obviously had developed social abilities since she gave birth to several children sired by various human fathers. How these pregnancies came about exactly is unclear, but it is known that Zana accidentally killed at least one of her children by trying to bathe it in a cold river. Apparently, she thought her offspring had the same tolerance to cold as she did.
Several of her other children were taken from her, for their protection, by families in the village who raised them as their own. Unlike their mother, the children did learn to speak and they eventually had children of their own. Zana died in 1890, and the youngest of her children survived until 1954. Her grandchildren, according to researchers, had dark skin, Negroid features and were extraordinarily strong.
What was Zana? Professor Boris Porchnev of the Moscow Academy of Sciences believed Zana might have been an Alma. An Alma is an elusive creature of Central Asia that is somewhat akin to our own Sasquatch, but with an important difference. Almas are said to be much more humanlike than the common descriptions of Sasquatch. And Porchnev theorized that they might be a surviving clan of Neanderthals!
It has been recently speculated that Neanderthals could and did breed with homo sapiens in the distant past. And, just perhaps, not so long ago. Zana certainly fits the description.
Another creature whose description by eyewitnesses sounds more like a surviving "caveman" than the huge Bigfoot is the Orang-Pendak that is said to inhabit the forests of Sumatra.
The Orang-Pendak has been estimated to be only two and a half to five feet in height; its name, in fact means "little man" or "short person." It walks upright, like a man, and has pinkish-brown skin under a covering of short, dark hair.
Natives of Sumatra accept the Orang-Pendak as a real creature, and although they've been accused of mistaking an orangutan or gibbon for this creature, they insist they know the difference. The Orang-Pendak has been spotted by explorers as recently as 2009, and expeditions organized to find it continue to this day.