The Committee for Scientific Inquiry has a great article about the hunt for the Yeren, the Chinese ape-man, including a humorous anecdote in which a hirsute westerner is mistaken for the legendary beast:
Some have suggested that the wild man is some human throwback—neither Gigantopithecus nor Peking Man surely but possibly some oddity like those sometimes exhibited in carnival sideshows (Nickell 2005, 150–58, 202–208). A “monkey baby,” for instance, that lived in Xhin Xhan County of Hubei Province, was simply an unfortunate individual with genetic deficiencies who “walked with a shuffling gait, had a slouched back, had a low misshapen forehead, could only make sounds with no articulate speech, and grinned constantly” (Poirier et al. 1983, 30). Yeren researcher Frank E. Poirier—only a normally hairy westerner who is about five feet eleven inches tall—frightened some local children who “ran away horrified at their encounter with what they screamed to others was the Wildman in their midst” (Poirier et al. 1983, 37–38).
Sometimes I think that the kinds of conversation that these archetypal wildman images provoke is far more interesting whether they themselves actually exist. While I’d love to believe in Bigfoot (or the Yeren), I think that the evidence isn’t good…to put it mildly. What do you think?