Bigfoot’s Cousins: Other Great Apes in Folklore

An exciting part of Bigfoot research is that similar creatures appear in tales and eyewitness accounts across the world. Stories of large, hairy creatures walking around on two legs show up in many mythologies and folklore, making for an interesting cross reference. 

There are two ways to understand this. Many skeptics will claim that it is a sign that these stories are shared because they represent some inner part of the human psyche. Because humans all have, well, human psyches, they keep creating the same stories — one of many mythological archetypes. But Bigfoot researchers believe there is a more plausible explanation for the similarities in stories throughout time and cultures: Bigfoot is real. 

Below, we go through some of the most popular Great Ape creatures in folklore. These show the long lasting effect Bigfoot-like creatures have had on human civilization. The stories could be all made up, just a coincidence of people trying to entertain each other and landing on the same creative idea, or these might hold clues to Bigfoot’s existence. 

Please note that a comprehensive list would fill an entire library. So we have tried to narrow the list to include many parts of the world and show some of the more intriguing cases of Great Apes in folklore. 

YETI 

This might be the most popular Bigfoot-like creature in the world except for, maybe, Bigfoot himself. 

The Yeti is a towering beast that walks on two legs, with long white fur. His presence is first felt through the whistling sound he makes, and he is often armed with heavy stones. A lumbering, terrifying creature who is best avoided. 

The indigenous people of the Himalayas, such as the Lepcha, worshiped this being as a God of the Hunt figure. In the Tibetan Bön religion, these creatures were thought to have potent magical properties in their blood — though good luck getting your hands on a fresh pint of Yeti blood. 

Explorer Charles Howard-Bury, leading an expedition up Mount Everest in 1921, had a famous encounter with the Yeti. On the trek, the company encountered a disturbing sight. Large, human-like footprints. The local sherpas who aided the climbers warned that these were from the Man-Bear. Howard-Bury coined the popular name “Abominable Snowman” when relating tales of the creature to the press back home. 

AGROPELTER 

In the 19th and early 20th century, lumberjacks lived a life completely cut off from society for long stretches at a time. In their logging camps, they were known to tell tall tales — something to pass the time and entertain one another. As lumberjacks dispersed and went to new camps, they took the stories with them. A sub-genre of these lumberjack tales were called “fearsome critter” stories. 

The fearsome critter stories began in logging camps around the Great Lakes, but their popularity as a source of humor and hazing led to their rapid spread. 

The Agropelter was one of these fearsome critters. With the body of an emaciated bear and the face of a gorilla, the Agropelter was said to stalk the woods in the northern United States. His antics included throwing branches at passersby. 

More of a trickster than a terror, the Agropelter wins the award for most charming origin story. 

NANDI BEAR 

The Nandi people of Kenya have a less charming story of an ape-like creature. This one is feared for its aggression and impressive size and its propensity for scalping its victims. They call it the kerit, but it is known around the world as the Nandi Bear. 

The Nandi Bear is said to have reddish fur, walk upright, and stand on large feet. Sound like any cryptid you’ve heard of? Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, Nandi Bear sightings were not uncommon in Kenya. Today, the number of sightings has dwindled to nothing, suggesting that if the Nandi Bear was real, it might now be extinct. 

Some scientists who keep an open mind to the sightings suggest that the Nandi Bear could have been a predatory ape species that has died out due to human encroachment of hunting grounds. 

YOWIE 

The Australian aboriginal people are famous for their rich oral tradition and storytelling. One of their favorite creatures is the Yowie — an upright, ape-like creature who stands anywhere from seven to twelve feet tall. The Yowie has been said to be a shy creature, with only occasional tales of violence. 

For fans of Bigfoot, the Yowie has another feature that gives one pause: it’s known for the large footprints it leaves behind. 

Scholars argue about the true origins of the Yowie stories, but that doesn’t seem to stop the spate of sightings that occur across Australia from time to time. 

ORANG PENDEK 

On the island of Sumatra in western Indonesia, a beast stalks the jungle, raiding the crop fields at night. The creature is the Orang Pendek. It is small in comparison to its cousins on this list, with the upper range of their height being about five feet, but they share many similarities including bipedalism and brown fur covering their body. 

Sightings of the Orang Pendek are frequent on Sumatra. The indigenous and nomadic Suku Anak Dalam hold the creature in high regard. They consider it a fellow traveler of humans for centuries, and they leave tobacco leaf offerings for the Orang Pendek as a sign of good will. 

Other groups in the area have similar stories with one key difference: these are mischievous ghosts who kill unlucky hunters. 

FINAL THOUGHTS 

When reading through the many ape-like creatures that fill the folklore of peoples from every part of the world, one gets a sense that Bigfoot and his cousins have some important role to play. Maybe the stories keep popping up everywhere because such creatures do exist. Or could it be that the stories tap into something innately human? They are fascinating either way.