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The Mysterious Almas: An Exploration of Central Asia’s Real-Life Bigfoot and the Quest to Uncover its Secrets

Ancient Theory

Author: Ancient Theory

Published: March 24, 2023 / Updated: April 1, 2023

The Almas, a creature that closely resembles the famous Bigfoot of the United States, is a legendary species rumored to inhabit the Pamir, Caucasus, and Altai Mountains in Central Asia.

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The Mysterious Almas: An Exploration of Central Asia’s Real-Life Bigfoot and the Quest to Uncover its Secrets

The Almas is a cryptid, and while it is well-known in various cultures worldwide, the scientific community does not recognize or catalog it. 

However, the scientific community does not recognize or catalog the creature, and many scientists reject the idea of such megafauna cryptids due to the unlikely size required to maintain a breeding population.

What is an Almas?

The Almas is a cryptid similar to the North American Bigfoot, and it is said to inhabit the remote mountainous regions of Central Asia, including the Caucasus, Pamir, and the Altai Mountains. 

People describe the Almas as a large, ape-like creature, standing between 6 and 7 feet tall, with reddish-brown or grayish-brown hair covering its body. It has a conical head, a broad nose, and a prominent brow ridge. 

Some witnesses even claim that the creature is more human-like than other Bigfoot-like creatures, with the ability to speak.

Famous sightings

The legend of the ape-man is not recent and can be found in several cultures worldwide. 

Starting with the already famous Bigfoot (Pacific Northwest region of the United States) or Yeti (Himalayan region) and ending with Almas, all of these beings have been mentioned in the writings or art of countless civilizations throughout time.

Hans Schiltberger

The oldest written account of the Almas is found in the travel journal of Hans Schiltberger, a Bavarian nobleman who crossed the Tian Shan mountain range as a Mongol prisoner around 1420.

Schiltberger described a population living in the mountains whose bodies were entirely covered with fur, with only their hands and faces exposed:

In the heart of the mountains lives a population that has nothing in common with other human beings. The bodies of these creatures are entirely covered with fur, and only their hands and faces are free. They wander through the mountains like animals, eating leaves, grass, and whatever else they can find.

According to his travel journal, Schiltberger saw two such creatures that a local chief had captured and offered as a gift to those who had caught the Bavarian. 

Many centuries later, explorers discovered that the local population used the fur of the Almas to decorate Buddhist temples.

Myra Shackley

In her book “Still Living?”, British anthropologist Myra Shackley recounts Ivan Ivlov’s 1963 encounter with a family group of strange half-man, half-ape creatures. 

Ivlov, a pediatrician, interviewed some Mongolian children who were his patients and discovered that many claimed to have seen Almases. 

Interestingly, the children and the young Almas did not display any fear toward each other. Ivlov’s driver also reported sighting the Almases. 

Shackley suggested that the Almas represents remnants of a prehistoric way of life and possibly even an early human form, such as the Neanderthal.

Shackley described the the creatures as follows:

Their straightforward way of life and appearance strongly suggests that the Almas may represent remnants of a prehistoric way of life and perhaps even an early form of a human, of which the best representative is the Neanderthal.

The Mongolian manuscript 

Another reference to Almas can be found in a Mongolian manuscript of natural history from the late 18th century, which features a wild man. 

The Tibetan, Chinese, and Mongolian explanation indicates that the drawing represents an “animal-man,” and the book includes several hundred other pictures of different animal species. 

The fact that Almas was included among the other animal species suggests that the ancient Mongols considered the creature to be a typical animal species, not supernatural or sacred. 

Moreover, the creature has never been and is not considered an element of Mongolian folklore but is viewed as an ordinary creature made of flesh and blood.

In search of the Almas

Professor Tsyben Zhamtsarano led the first expedition to identify and study the elusive ape-man. The professor gathered reports from nomads and populations in regions where the Almas were believed to reside. 

Accompanying him was an artist who produced precise maps of the visited locations and questioned eyewitnesses.

Unfortunately, in 1930, Zhamtsarano fell victim to Stalinist terror and was imprisoned for being labeled a “bourgeois nationalist” due to his interest in Mongolian folklore. 

Ten years later, he died in prison, and all his research was destroyed.

One of Zhamtsarano’s collaborators, Dordji Meiren, testified that the data they collected indicated a considerable decrease in Almas sightings by the end of the 19th century. 

According to Meiren, the Almas had nearly disappeared from southern Outer Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, likely due to the encroaching influence of civilization. As their habitats became increasingly scarce, the Almas began migrating westward.

What is intriguing is that recent evidence of the Almas seems to inexplicably vanish, unlike other ape-man species that have been documented. 

Documents are either destroyed or permanently lost, such as the research of anatomist V. A. Khokhlov, whose findings on the Almas were presented to the Imperial Academy of Sciences of Russia in 1913. 

Strangely, this evidence no longer exists and has disappeared from the university’s archives.

In 1936, M.K. Rosenfeld wrote about these creatures in his novel “The Pit of the Almas,” which was an adventure novel, albeit with an element of fascination about the strange creatures he had heard about during a trip to Mongolia around 1920.

Around the same period, Mongolian scholar Y. Rinchen conducted several studies and expeditions in areas believed to be populated by the legendary creatures.

Inspired by the local population’s interest in the Himalayan Yeti (“the abominable snowman”), Rinchen sought the help of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, which established the Commission for the Study of the Snowman Problem.

The commission member Boris Porshnev had several meetings with Rinchen, convincing him to publish some of the material he had collected from his research.

Like his predecessors, Rinchen concluded that the population of Almas was dwindling and in decline. 

Since then, several Russian and Mongolian scholars have published materials about the Almas, primarily based on eyewitness accounts and literary sources.

Zana, the alleged captive Almas

Zana, a fabled wild woman, was believed to have resided in the remote T’khina mountain village in Abkhazia, Caucasus, located roughly fifty miles from Sukhumi. 

While some speculated that she may have been an Almas, scientific evidence indicates she was a human.

Captured in the mountains in 1850, Zana initially exhibited ferocious behavior towards her captors, but she soon became tame and helped with simple household chores. 

Zana reportedly engaged in sexual relations with a local villager, Edgi Genaba, and gave birth to several children who appeared to be human. Unfortunately, some of her children passed away during infancy.

The surviving children, two boys named Dzhanda and Khwit Genaba, and two girls named Kodzhanar and Gamasa Genaba, were adopted by local families and assimilated into society. They married and had children of their own. Zana passed away in 1890.

Grover Krantz examined Khwit’s skull in the early 1990s and concluded it lacked any Neanderthal features and was entirely modern.

However, Russian anthropologist M. A. Kolodieva described the skull as significantly different from normal males in Abkhazia and most similar to the Neolithic Vovnigi II skulls of the fossil series.

In 2013, Bryan Sykes, a researcher at the University of Oxford, featured Zana in the Channel 4 documentary “Bigfoot Files.” 

Sykes conducted a DNA analysis on her and found that her DNA was 100% Sub-Saharan African in origin, suggesting that she might have been a slave brought to Abkhazia by the Ottoman Empire. 

Nevertheless, Sykes questioned whether Zana might have belonged to a population of Africans who migrated out of Africa tens of thousands of years ago, as her son Khwit’s skull exhibited some unique and archaic features.

Instead, Sykes believes that her ancestors left Africa around 100,000 years ago and lived in the remote Caucasus for many generations.

At Ancient Theory we only use trusted sources to document our articles. Such relevant sources include authentic documents, newspaper and magazine articles, established authors, or reputable websites.

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