The Alma (Mongolian for 'wildman') is a creature reported to be of ape-like appearance that inhabits the mountains in central Asia. Although not as well known as the Yeti and Bigfoot, the descriptions of the Alma suggest that it is a creature more akin to a hairy human than an ape. Physical traits and/or demeanor also seem to be more human-like. I have posted a few narratives referencing encounters with creatures with these descriptions. Though some of the locals and investigators refer to these hominids as a 'Yeti or Bigfoot', there is some evidence to suggest that there is a possible human connection.
Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev met someone that he described as a troglodyte. The horror of the encounter remained in his mind throughout his entire life. Years later, he told the story to one of his French friends, Guy de Maupassant, who wrote:
"I remember a story that Turgenev told us. He was hunting in a Russian forest. He was wandering the whole day and in the evening he went out to a bank of a quiet river. The river was flowing in the shadow of trees, the water there was crystal pure and cold. Turgenev was gripped with a desire to swim in that water.
He took his clothes off and jumped in the river. He was a tall, strong, well-built man, and he was a very good swimmer too. He was enjoying the current of the river with his body and soul. Grass and aquatic plants were caressing him.
Suddenly, someone's hand touched his shoulder. He looked around quickly and saw a strange creature. The creature was gazing at him with great curiosity. It looked like something in between a woman and a monkey. The creature had a wrinkled face of a monkey. Messy red hair was framing the face and flowing behind the back.
Turgenev was flabbergasted. Horror chilled him to the bone. He started swimming to a bank of the river, even not trying to understand, what he just saw. However, the creature was swimming beside him, touching his neck and back and feet. Finally, the young man reached the ground and ran as fast as he could. He did not care about either his clothes, or rifle. He forgot about everything and was guided only by the immense uncontrollable wish to stay alive. The monster was following him.
It was running very fast too, uttering some squealing sounds. The young man could hardly catch his breath. He was about to fall down on the ground, but he suddenly saw a boy with a whip in his hands. The boy started whipping the creature and it ran away, yelling with pain. The courage of the little shepherd is explained with the fact that it was not the first time that he saw it.
Later, someone of local residents told Turgenev that the monster was a crazy woman that was living alone in the forest and went completely insane. Turgenev made himself believe in such an explanation. Yet, it was known in the 19th century that people do not get covered with thick hair all over their bodies, even if they lived alone in the woods." - maupassantiana.fr
The newspaper Literature Kyrgyzstan wrote in 1990: "Shepherd Omusha's wife once said that she saw a bigfoot not far from the pasture. The bigfoot was standing on a high rock. She started pleading her husband to leave that horrid place and go to another pasture. The man did not agree, although he got anxious about it, too. He started searching for bigfoots, he saw their tracks, but never saw a living one.
One evening he heard his wife screaming very loudly. He grabbed his rifle and rushed outside. The wife was lying on the ground, almost unconscious. She was speechless and could not say a word. She could only point her finger in the direction of the rocks. The shepherd gazed in the direction that she was pointing and saw the silhouette of a running man. He did not hesitate and fired his rifle. In he morning the shepherd found blood spots on the rocks. Omush thought that those creatures would not come back to their pasture anymore. He was so wrong.
Omush's life turned to a nightmare. Several days after he found his little son dead. There was no trace of violence on the boy's body, only a little wound on his neck. Omush was sure that his boy was killed by a bigfoot. He went mad and swore to himself that he would take revenge for his son. He was spending days and nights sitting outside his house, waiting for a bigfoot to come back. But it was all in vain.
One night he fell asleep and when he entered his house in the morning, he found the dead body of his wife. Again, there was only a small red wound on her neck.
Omush let out a scream of grief and desperation. He started wandering in the woods, having forgotten about his sheep and house and food. He was desperately gripped with anger. The only thing that was on his mind was to kill a bigfoot for the death of his family.
Shepherd Shapak took care of Omush's sheep. One day he suddenly saw the sheep getting very troubled and excited. They were bleating and rushing from one side to another. The animals were apparently frightened with something. Shapak could only see a silhouette of a man covered with thick fur disappearing amid bushes and trees. Then he saw another man on the ground. Shapak ran up to him and recognized Omush. The shepherd was already dead, blood was leaking from a small wound on his neck.
Who knows, maybe nothing would have happened, if the shepherd had not fired his rifle first." - "Mysteries Hidden in Central Asia`s Mountains" - Alexey Schetnikov - 2001
Russian cryptozoologist Viktor Rogov relates an encounter in the Kola Peninsula, near the Lovozersky Lake. The lack of trepidation towards humans, even though it was not threatened, is an interesting characteristic:
“In the summer of 1988, together with Maya Bykova, the author of numerous articles and a large monographs about the mysterious relic hominoid and Misha Gavrilov chose a place for our next expedition. Rather unexpectedly, we received a message from Lovozer (this is the name of the lake situated there), the then-closed area of the Kola peninsula; the message said that several residents came across yeti. We had received messages of this kind before, but the last information proved that yeti was noticed close to an inhabited locality. Moreover, yeti terrorized a small hut in the southern part of the lake, a place where fishermen stayed for the night when they went fishing in the lake. It was actually very difficult for me and the other two members of the expedition to reach the mentioned place where the hut stood; we settled in the hut and were in wait for yeti there. The yeti visited the place on the very first night of our staying in the hut. At daybreak, we heard a loud noise from a landfill; someone big was forcing his way through the bushes and rattled the tins. Unfortunately, the windows of the hut didn’t face the side from where the noise came, and we were too scared to leave the hut. On the third night, someone tried to open the door of the hut, then jumped on the roof and walked on it for a long time. Fortunately, the roof was strong enough to stand the heavy walking. The next morning, we saw many footprints left by some unknown animal. One footstep was 34 centimeters long. When we inspected the area in the daytime, besides the large footsteps, we discovered smaller ones; in a mountain crack, we found a rookery where the animal could remain unnoticed and watch us. You should agree that this animal must be intelligent and have at least some skills.
We managed to see the strange creature for the first time only on the fourth night. The yeti was walking around the hut, and its head was on the level of the hut’s only window, at the height of about three meters. And when we saw the objective of our expedition in the moonlight, we were extremely shocked. We felt a wild, almost animal fear. We felt as if we wanted to run away and hide somewhere, but at the same time, we couldn’t stop watching the yeti. Later, we saw the creature several times. And each time we saw the yeti, an awful fear anticipated its approaching. When we felt the strange fear, we realized that the yeti was somewhere nearby. The creature resembled a huge anthropoid ape, 2.75-3 meters high, with broad shoulders and strong muscles. The body was covered with light gray hair of average length, it was almost white on the buttocks. The neck was short and strong, the forehead was low, and the jaws were protruded.
The face of the creature was almost naked, without hair, covered with dark wrinkles; the eyes were small and angry. Almost at once we understood that the creature was angry because we intruded on its territory and it came to drive us away. We were awfully scared and couldn’t take even a single picture of him.
After the expedition, we brought material proof of the yeti’s existence to Moscow: hair, gypsum copies of its footprints, feces, and drawings; however, unfortunately, no pictures. We sent the hair to the Institute of the Ministry for Internal Affairs for an analysis. The specialists said that the hair didn’t belong to any known animal.
That was our last expedition. Since that time, I haven’t had a chance to meet with Misha Garvrilov, the third member of the expedition; he left the hut early in the morning even without saying goodbye. Maya Bykova died in three years after the expedition."
There is also a more recent account of a sighting (with photograph above) as stated in a letter by Russian cryptozoologist Valentin Sapunov:
"My student from the North Urals got me a photo of Bigfoot. Reserve Jugyd-Va, nearest big city – Inta. Photo was made by electronic camera at the end of September 2006. Author anonymous, a hunter having no interest in BF (Bigfoot), made a landscape photo. He got strange figure. Legends and tales on BF (Bigfoot) in this region exist. Me and my student in – Inna Leontyeva – are sure, that nobody has much interest except to joke and falsification, nobody got glory or money by this photo. As for me, figure is more close to Homo erectus or Australopitecus." - cryptomundo.com - 2/19/2007
Because there are so many older, traditional tales of the Alma and similar creatures among the peoples of central Asia, these sightings of humanoid cryptids bring up the interesting possibility that early humans may have interacted with still-surviving versions of primitive hominids. When asked about this possibility in a USA Today article (after an intriguing pinky bone was found in a Siberian cave that was only 30,000 years old), folklorist Michael Heaney noted that such legends have been known in the area for centuries. “The reports of wild men, although having typical mythic overtones, do often reflect what we know of primitive hominins. The presumed [Almas] of Central Asia could be any one of a number of pre-sapien ancestors.”
Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids
The Existence of Sasquatch and Yeti (Unsolved Mysteries)
The Bigfoot Book: The Encyclopedia of Sasquatch, Yeti and Cryptid Primates
Bigfoot and Yeti (Creatures of Legend)
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