The wilderness of Borneo, Laos and Vietnam. Supposedly wandering the forests are humanoid creatures. Described as six feet tall and covered with hair except on the knees, the soles of the feet, the hands and the face. The hair is variously reported as black, brown and grey. It walks upright on two legs. And it’s often seen by itself but also in small groups. In Vietnam, they say it feeds on small animals and fruit. But in Borneo, they say it is much smaller and more aggressive, occasionally killing humans and tearing out their livers…
The Batutut was first reported in 1947, but it was the account of Sergeant Thomas Jenkins in 1969 that captured the attention of many. He claimed he saw large apes throwing rocks at his platoon and one reportedly threw a marine off a rock pile. But Jenkins was adamant they were no ordinary apes. “This animal was stockier; he was a darker colour, a lot more muscular. This different creature… would burst out of the jungle into a clearing and just rail at us – yelling and screaming and shake his fists. It was very human behaviour… it was real obvious that he took exception to our presence there.”
Doctor John MacKinnon claims to have observed tracks in Vietnam in 1970. He concluded that they belonged to a hominid creature similar to the Meganthropus. However, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman believes that the Batutut are a surviving population of Homo erectus or possibly Neanderthal.
Two Batutut were reportedly captured by tribesmen in Đắk Lắk Province in 1971, leading to Hoang Minh Thao, a Vietnamese general, requesting an expedition to find the creatures in 1974. But the search proved fruitless. However, a university professor, Tran Hong Viet, claims to have found footprints in 1982 similar to those MacKinnon found in 1970. He now works at the Cryptozoic Research Centre in Vietnam, set up to determine if the Batutut exist. After more than 30 years, he is convinced it does exist. He describes it as six feet tall with red-brown fur and says it lives in the jungle. As recently as 2012, a team led by the Syfy channel went to Vietnam. They discovered a footprint that they took a cast of. Professor Jeffery Meldrum said it was a ‘great example of an unknown primate living in Vietnam’ and a ‘significant find.’
Many believe that Vietnam is a goldmine of wildlife diversity. New animals are being discovered regularly, up to 20 new species a year. People searching the forests for the Batutut have found many footprints that could not possibly belong to a known ape or a human. It’s unlikely they are fakes because there are so many. The locals say the creatures that make them are highly deadly. And it’s not just footprints. Hair has been found, too, its origin proving inconclusive in tests. The jungles of Laos and Vietnam are barely explored and difficult to explore not only because of the harsh landscape but also because there are many unexploded bombs and the roads are regularly destroyed by storms.
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that such a creature could exist, a remnant of the ancient world. Places such as Vietnam escaped the ice age, after all. But apart from a few casts of footprints, we have no other evidence of the Batutut. Its existence remains a mystery.
So I’ll give this creature a 65 on my patented Cryptid-o-Meter, putting it third in the list with the Lake Worth Monster still bottom and the Beast of Exmoor still holding top spot.
The Batutut. A fascinating cryptid indeed…
Images: 1 & 2) Because there are so many varied descriptions of the Batutut and no known photographs, it is impossible to show one artist’s impression of the creature. Every drawing is different. So here I’ve shown the two best-known drawings of the creature to show just how differently people perceive it to be (credit: cryptidz.wikia.com)
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