SGP Book Reviews
The first chapter (12 pages), „An account of the ‘wildman’ in folklore ( according to materials from D. Yu. Bayanov )“, contains a summary of some aspects of Bayanov’s book 4), published in 1991. The subsequent chapter, „From the Palaeolithic to the present days (short historical overview)“ gives fifteen pages of examples from historical sources of possible ‘wildmen’ accounts like those from the Gilgamesh epos. It further contains known reports like those from Hans Schildtberger, Konstantin Satunin and Vitaly Khakhlov.
3 and 4 contain the extensive and important parts of the book. The third
chapter „The present area of the relict hominids (Reports
from eyewitnesses)“ contains a collection of eyewitness accounts
from all over the world. Except from Europe, thirty-three pages of this
chapter are devoted to introducing countries on different continents
by means of such reports. Some of these countrys is given a short geographical
characterization. Most of the non-soviet reports given here are known
from western literature. Among others the author mentiones Magraner’s
researches in Pakistan, Australian Yowie reports and events from North
America. New, for example, is the disclosure of journalistic official
journeys by Igor Burtsev to Afghanistan in the 1980s. In questioning
natives he received indications of recent sightings but because of military
operations could not visit the specified places. The reports from outside
the Soviet Union are particularly valuable for the Russian reader who
for the most part was only able to get foreign literature with difficulty.
On the other hand the rich Russian ‘Snowman’ literature
concentrated mainly on the subject inside the old Soviet Union.
The number of eyewitness accounts from the section „Territory of the former USSR “ is about 140 covering the end of the 19th Century and the whole of the 20th Century. Little known in the West are a number of sightings in densely populated industrial areas of the Ukraine: A member of the RSC branch in Donezk (East Ukraine) ”...collected many stories about observations of ‘wild people’ in the 1970s and 1980s in some districts of the Donezk area and in the adjoining provinces of Kharkov and Rostov." (p. 43). In 1965, Marie-Jeanne Koffmann recorded a sighting in the Kiev area, Ukraine.
to the author, in February 1989 two adult specimens, one of whom was
pregnant, were seen on the Isthmus of Karelia. The one who was not pregnant
looked similar in size and colouring to the hominid ‘Afonya’
who had been observed on Kola 5).
A specimen with a child was seen in Karelia in August 1990. Two specimens
with a child were observed in December 1991 in Kargopol district. On
both these occasions one specimen resembled ‘Afonya’. Makarov
poses the question whether these were different specimens or one and
the same. A map of North Russia marked with the sightings and possible
migration routes is attached. Happenings from the Soviet Union already
known in the West, like the story of ‘Zana’ are given in
the logic behind the author’s choice of areas from the territory
of the former Soviet Union is incomprehensible if he intends to show
the, in his own words, „present area of the relict hominids“.
For example, under the section headlines Makarov devotes a section each
to the former Soviet republics Belarus and Turkmenistan. According to
his account these countries are unimportant for the current range. The
former Soviet Republic Moldavia is mentioned by name but only to note
that no eyewitness accounts are known from this country. In contrast
to this, "classical" ‘Snowman’ areas like, for example, the
Altai Mountains and the Primorye region (Russian Pacific coast region)
are not mentioned here. Because of annual ‘wildmen’ sightings
they have been the destination for ‘Snowman’ expeditions
for decades and still are today. In the rest of the book, the Primorye
region is also not mentioned. The only reference to Altai is to be found
in the book´s supplement with the following words: „1943.
Altai. Kemerovo province. A hunter caught a hairy woman who was then
brought to the city of Kemerovo.“ (p. 300). The Baltic States,
which still mark the western extent of the range of the ‘wildman’
in the area of the old Soviet Union, are missing. They were the destination
of expeditions by well-known Russian researchers like Maya Bykova. 
Chapter 3 concludes with a map of the World next to a map labelled „Places of observations and meetings with relict hominids in the territory of the USSR“. The author uses four symbols on the map to designate time periods, „before 1920 “, „1920 to 1939“, „1940 to 1959“ and „after 1959 “, for the localities where happenings took place. More precise time dates are not given. On the map, the Altai and Primorye region are indicated by the symbol for „after 1959“. The Baltic States are not characterised by any of the four symbols. The 43 years after 1959 are however the real research period of the Moscow "hominologists". In Makarov’s account the changes in number and locality of sightings during this time are not discernable.
One finally comes to the conclusion that expectations raised by the chapter heading are not fulfilled. This is all the more disappointing because the author, due to his position and knowledge, should have been able to describe the current range in the area of the former USSR on the end of the 20th century with a few sentences: It still encompasses today the whole territory, from the Baltic States to the Pacific coast, with regions of concentrated sightings and populations apparently capable of propagation.
Chapter 4 (72 pages), „Expeditions“, is divided into two parts: „Expeditions by foreign scientists” (21 pages) and „Expeditions by Russian researchers“ (51 pages). A selection of expeditions by non-soviet researchers is covered in the first of this two parts which vary from 1 to 4 pages in length: „1954 Expedition by R. Izzard and Ch. Stonnor“, „Expedition Slick-Johnson“ , „Expedition E. Hillary, 1960-1961“ and „Expeditions by Dj. Magrenor in North Pakistan, 1987-90“. One page of this part is devoted to „Expeditions by Mongolian researchers“. The Mongolian researchers Damdin and Ravshir are mentioned as well as the survey of local inhabitants in the 1970s by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. In the section „Expeditions by Chinese scientists“ two and a half pages cover the eyewitness reports in China during the period 1940s to 1970s. A few of the areas where 'wildmen' are supposed to exist are named. The expeditions by „North American researchers“ receives three and a half pages. Green and his extensive collection of traces are mentioned as well as the Patterson-Gimlin story.
Under the sub-headline „Expeditions by Russian researchers“, the author gives some of these their own section. The „Expedition of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR“ in the Pamirs in 1958 is dealt with over two pages. Makarov makes several comments in „Expedition by the ethnographer I. S. Gurvich“ about his collection of reports about the Chuchunaa from Eastern Siberia put together over twenty years. An „Expedition by students of the Yakutsk State University“ at the beginning of the 1980s gets a mention. In the Yakut Republic they were able to find traces and to make a tape recording of Chuchunaa’s whistle. Further the author informs that sixteen „Expeditions of the Geographic Society branch and the Tourist Club in Chita“ (town in the Baikal region) were organized in 1987 and 1988. The mountain chains Jablonevo (Baikal region) and Chersko (Yakutia) were the targets of these expeditions. According to Makarov, many footprints were found.
chapter section „Expeditions by V. Pushkarev“ names
his expeditions to Perm province and in the Khanty-Manski autonomous
area with a list of the frequency of sightings recorded by him from
the 1920s to the 1970s in the 20th Century. Some eyewitness accounts
are cited. An expedition carried out by Pushkarev to the Tien-Shan mountains
is also mentioned. Of the many „Expeditions by V. B. Sapunov“ and his co-workers only this expedition are cited and described
which have been published in the West by Valentin Sapunov: According
to whose report it had been possible in 1989 to lure a ‘wildman’
by using pheromones in the Tien-Shan mountains. Makarov writes that
Andrej Kozlov, a long-time colleague of Koffmann, had also experimented
with pheromones in 1976 in the Caucasus. This had resulted in a chain
of traces presumably left behind by a specimen attracted by the pheromone.
However, Igor Burtsev already published in 1990 that these experiments
by Kozlov „...did not lead to an unequivocal confirmation.” 7) of a successful luring. Five pages report about
the extensive researches and „Expeditions by G. A. Sidorov“ in North Russia, in Siberia and especially in Yakutia. Conspicuous is
Makarov’s judgement over Georgy Sidorov‘s contribution to
investigating the subject: „…in its breadth and versatility
it is comparable to Koffmann’s work on the Caucasian hominids.“ (p. 174).
informs over Koffmann’s own observations in the following way: „Really, a small group she confessed to having seen a creature
several times that from the outward appearance could be nothing other
than ALMASTY (…)“ (p.179, Emphasis by V. Makarov). One of Koffmanns’s
own sightings is described more detailed: „One of the herdsmen
reported that in the area of a small valley he had seen three ALMASTY
the previous morning. Koffmann and two of her colleagues immediately
made their way to the locality specified by the herdsmen. Coming down
the road into the valley Zanna Josivovna [Russian version of Koffmann’s
first name and her patronym; K.C.B.] and her companions saw a massive
figure on the opposite side next to a bush. The distance was too great
to see any details, not even with binoculars.(...)“ (p. 181).
The author dates this observation as being in „Summer 1994“.
The Almasty sightings by members of Koffmann’s search teams is
described in the following words: „(…) Not only once
did search team members looking for traces of the ALMASTY see shining
red eyes in the darkness gleaming at a height of about 1.5 metres.“ (…) „A few times members of the search teams saw
dark, humanlike figures which moved about on the slopes and hills but
always at a great distance.” (...) “Some expedition
participants succeeded in seeing the ALMASTY.“ (p.179).
An example of another type of encounters during the Caucasian fieldwork is described by Makarov with the following words, „The Moscow group of A. Danilov 14) finished the fieldwork and returned to the base. [‘base’ means Koffmann’s home and workplace in Sermak village, K.C.B.] The tired youngsters rested on the pathway which wound across the mountainside. At the next bend in the pathway they reached a small field of maize. As they came round the curve they saw a touching picture - a hirsute mother looking anxiously at the people appearing round the curve in the road. She shooed two small children into the maize. The little ALMASTY, like any other children, wanted however to stay behind and looked at the humans with curiosity. The situation was completely human, - a mother, alarmed by strangers, tried to hide her children. All her movements were human; she was gentle but firmly pushed the little ones into the maize thicket. Of course, no-one wanted to chase after her.“ (pp. 179-180).
The sightings reported by Makarov are the first confirmation of testimony by natives who participated as helpers in Koffmann’s fieldwork or who knew about it. Their repeated, but unverifiable, statements to members of my study-group during our Caucasian fieldwork mean that „Koffmann i ee tovarishci“ [Russian for ‘Koffmann and her comrades’ - meaning the members of her field-working teams] were able, again and again, to watch the object of their research, at close quarters too, since the 1960s. It must be remembered that Koffmann several times declared that she personally has never seen an Almasty. She said this already in in the 1970s (Gris and Dick, 197915))and again during the preparations for the french-russian epedition 'Almasty 92' in 1992. In 2003, Bayanov stated in his speech on the Bigfoot conference in Willow Creek, California: „It’s also notworthy that in the decades of her searches in the Caucasus Koffmann never succeeded in clearly sighting an almasty, although she once clearly sighted an unidentified flying object. (...) Biologist Gregory Panchenko’s encounter and observation of a young almasty in a barn (1991) should also be mentioned here. (...)“ .
In addition to her own material findings, Koffmann’s reasoning in support of the tangible existence of the Almasty can be summarized with her following words from 1992: “At the end (...) we can be certain (...) that the (...) informations regarding the modest and rough inhabitants of the far valleys of the Caucasus correspond to a well-put together picture of the biology of a higher primate. Now, is Almasty an imaginary personality resulting from sheer ignorance and superstition or a biological true? Everyone may have answer this question on the basis of his own logic.“ 17). Now it must be realized that these eyewitness accounts by locals received their main confirmation through Koffmann’s own observations and those of her team members. Also team members who were only involved in the fieldwork for a short time had encounters with the Almasty. This was possible through Koffmann’s instructions on the basis of her rich experience. Makarov does not mention this facts.
In the context of this knowledge, Makarov’s data on the Caucasian fieldwork seems to be an attempt at compromise between the previously published accounts and the real course of events, which the Moscow 'Hominologists' in view of their previous statements will not even today risk revealing. It is noticeable in this connection that Makarov gives no dates to the reported Caucasian sightings, except for Panchenko’s encounter (in 1989 or 1991) and that of Koffmann (according to Makarov in 1994). It therefore remains unclear when these happened during the forty years of fieldwork. It remains additional unclear where "in the Northern Caucasus” the majority of these sightings happened: In the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic. The reader does not learn that the majority of the mentioned observations took place within a radius of about 5 miles of Koffmann’s base in the villlage Sermak.
to the Caucasus, the Pamir Mountains are the oldest research area of
the old Soviet Union. Here too the researchers achieved results which
in quality and importance are until now unknown in the West. Under the
title „Middle Asian Expedition“ [meant is only
Soviet Middle Asia], Makarov writes on 25 pages of chapter 4 about his
own findings and those of other researchers in his primary work area.
They cover the years 1958 to 1989. In addition to eyewitness accounts,
the author also tells of his personal experiences during his expeditions.
After a short reference to the geography, fauna and flora there follows
reports from the Tien-Shan, the Pamirs and Pamir-Alaj, the valley Siama
and four mountain chains, whose names are used as section-headings.
The reader learns that from the 1970s to the 1990s „expeditions
and groups“ from various cities in the Soviet Union
worked in this region. It needs to be explained that most of these were
tourists stimulated by newspaper reports. Therefore, hundreds of such
enthusiasts spent their holidays in the 1980s as a ‘Snowman Expedition’
in the mountains, though often without knowing or following the basic
rules of zoological field work. That meant, for example, that many such
researchers in ‘Snowman’ habitat spent the evenings singing
songs to a guitar by the campfire and slept at night in their tents.
In the section „Siama gorge“, Makarov reports how he succeeded in photographing a juvenile hominid while he was alone in this valley „for a few days“ in May 1981. He writes, „On one of the nights, not far from the tent, some cautious steps were heard. In the morning some prints were found on the side but too indefinite. During the next night, the author was woken by heavy steps crunching in the sand. The unknown guest came quite close to the tent but from the back where no window was. Ready with the camera prepared in the evening, I left the tent. I didn’t use my lamp but first took some photos using the flash. In the glaring light there was no reaction from the direction of the ‘guest’. When my eyes had returned to normal after the blinding light, I switched on the lamp and …saw nothing. But who had come up to the tent and left prints of the size 24 - 25 x 10 cm? The explanation was forthcoming in Moscow - on one of the pictures a not very big, monkey-like creature could be seen sitting under a large rhubarb leaf. Its standing height must have reached about 100 to 110 centimetres. It was a young GUL, called a MAJMUN 19) in the Pamirs. The little one had heard me moving as I left the tent, took fright and hid himself under the rhubarb leaves. Therefore I had not seen him although he was only 3 to 4 metres from the tent. I had expected a giant, 10 to 15 metres away from the tent, and had not looked down at my feet.“ (pp. 199-200).
11 x 15 cm black and white photo is pictured in the book. The author
explains the blurred photo by saying that he had set the camera to a
distance of 10 metres and that the object was only at 3 to 4 metres
away. The „rhubarb leaves“ mentioned can be indistinctly
made out in the upper part of the picture. If you follow the description
by the author, structures can be made out in the lower part of the photograph
which could be parts of a dark figure. Another photo shows the locality
of the happening, with the author’s tent. One year after the event
Makarov was again in Tajikistan, this time together with Dmitri Bayanov.
Bayanov also visited the Siama valley and published a report of this
trip: 'A field investigation into the relict hominoid situation in Tajikistan' 20). In it he mentioned nothing about Makarov’s reported meeting and
the photo one year before his visit in the valley.
Unfortunately, it is not obvious in the section „Expeditions of Russian researchers“ which popularity existed among the Soviet people in the search for the ‘Snowman’, particularly from the 1970s to the 1990s. In every great city from the Baltic to the Far East there were groups and/or individuals, scientists and laymen who occupied themselves with the question - some of them until today. Many of them shared in a friendly exchange of information but often they stood in fierce competition with each other. Their fieldwork resulted in numerous publications. A number of these researchers are no less significant than those mentioned by Makarov. To this day they are unknown in the West because they did not publish there and had not foreign contacts. Not lastly because some of them were critical of the Moscow ‘Hominologists’ their names were therefore never mentioned by them in the West.
The chapter section „Expeditions of Russian researchers“ is concluded with a five page table: „Summarised results of the work undertaken by the expeditions organised by the Russian Society of Cryptozoologists and some others“ (pp. 209-213). On the basis of selected regions from Europe, Siberia and former Soviet Middle Asia work results between 1963 and 1993 are listed according to year and locality. So, for example, „Karatag / 1988“ has the note „V. Makarov, Whistle on the pass“ or „Pamiro-Alaj / 1981“ the note „A. Asadov, report of an eyewitness“. The title of the table is incorrect since although the majority of the table content are work results from the Moscow ‘Hominologists’ and their colleagues they come from a time when the 1987 founded RSC did not exist. It is unclear which criteria the author used for his selection. The significance of the results cannot have been selection criteria because, for example, all the results from forty years work in the Caucasus are missing as are those from Georgy Sidorov in Siberia and other important researchers. Instead, mainly eyewitness sightings in the above style are listed which, according to Herman Arutjunov 22), exist by the thousand in the archive of the Moscow Darwin Museum. From the information in the table, Maya Bykova saw the creature on Kola in the years 1989, 1990 and 1991. It is conspicuous that Makarov especially marks Bykova’s Kola expeditions, among others, as being independent of the RSC. Leonid Yershov’s fieldwork on Kola - he worked partially together with Bykova in the same years - is not marked as being independent of the RSC (p. 212).
Chapter 5, „Morphology and ecology“ covers 23 pages. Under „Morphology“ the author describes the external appearance of the ‘wildman’ according to reports collected worldwide. The body size and foot length of the hominids is pooled from various continents. Outline drawings of footprints found worldwide are shown on five pages partly with the length as well as a comparison with some large mammals like the brown bear, gorilla and chimpanzee. Teeth marks left behind on a tin in the Pamirs are judged by a „specialist for primate teeths“ to be marks from primate teeth. In addition various hair analyses are presented: The results of optical analysis and analysis of the spectrum of the microelements show, according to Makarov, that they concern an unknown primate. Chapter 5 closes by showing a single-page table „Collected data from various biotopes around the world on the morphology and ethology of the relict hominids“. Under the section heading „Ecology“ one page describes the diet range and, among other things, the sleep behaviour during winter.
In chapter 6 (45 pages), „Comparative ethology (behaviour) of relict hominids and some other animals“, the hominids are considered with the brown bear, orang-utan, gorilla and chimpanzee. Over eight pages the author writes about 11 behavioural aspects of the hominids, each with its own section. The choice shows that the author had a lot of material to select from. Apparently, the majority of the conjectures and results presented here are from Soviet-Russian fieldwork. As such, for example, the knowledge about „Migrations“, “Camps“, “Relationship to humans“ and the “Turning to humans for help“ is so described. The section „Possibilities of communication“ describes eight different sounds made by the hominids and some of their presumed meanings. Six cases report about the „Humans living in the company of RELICT HOMINIDS“ in the 20th Century, including that by Albert Ostman. Three of the reported happenings took place in the territory of the former USSR, one other in Mongolia. One of these storys reports how an injured man was rescued and cared for by a ‘wildman’. That happening, which emphasises the human character of the hominids, took place during the 2nd World War in the North Caucasus. The section „Food procurement“ contains a description of how the hominids in the Pamirs use a forked stick to catch rodents. This is illustrated with a „Sketch by V. Makarov based on eyewitness descriptions“ (p. 281).
chapter 7, „Origin of the relict hominids“, the
author briefly presents over 14 pages some theories of human evolution.
Porshnev’s theory about ‘wildman’ being Neanderthal
survivors is described under the section „Neanderthal hypothesis“.
In summarising, it can be said that Makarov’s atlas with the intention stated in the foreword of familiarising „the inquisitive reader (...) with a wide range of questions“ achieves its object. In particular, with its abundance of material from the last century and many facts which are published probably for the first time, it is essential for the western researcher concerned with the subject in the territory of the former Soviet Union. For these researchers it is also a must because the Russian literature which has appeared in the 39 years between Porshnev’s monograph 3) and Makarov’s atlas remains almost unknown in the West and is only obtainable with difficulty even today.
It must not be forgotten that the book contains many mistakes although these are not important for the layman. Several dates are incorrect: For example, Makarov dates Pushkarev’s disappearance in Western Siberia as being in 1976 (p. 72), but it happened in 1978. On page 58 the author writes, „Apart from the ALMASTY in the North Caucasus there are reports about another humanlike creature called MAZYL’KH.“ Instead, it is a fact that ‘Mazyl’kh’ is the Kabardinian name for the male Almasty. The Spanish zoologist Jordi Magraner is described in the section on Pakistan as the „English ethnologist Dj. Magrenor“ (p. 109). The well-known encounter of the Kiev ethnologist Merezhinski with a ‘wildman‘ in the Caucasus is described in the subsection „ Dagestan “ (pp. 47-48). Nevertheless, it must be noticed that this encounter took place in Azerbaijan 23).
contradictions in the book could lead the reader to suspect that the
author’s real intention is not to show „the current
state of our knowledge“ [ the Moscow "hominologists"]
as stated in the foreword (p. 6). This seems to be confirmed in that
Makarov denies the existence of published Russian material which contains
essential parts of this knowledge. This material belongs to the basic
literature of fieldwork even today. He writes, „From the many
hundreds of eyewitness stories, collected by Z. J. Koffmann and
her helpers, appeared a not so great part in the collection ‘Information
material of the Commission for Research into the ‘Snowman’
(the first four volumes can still be found in a few large libraries;
the others simply exist only in handwritten form or as copies and await
a sponsor for their publication. - Author’s note.).“ (p. 181). That is untrue. The volumes following volumes 1 to 4 of the
‘Information materials’ exist in printed form and were published
in a small edition. They mainly contain field results from the Caucasus.
According to my Russian informants, these volumes by the Moscow "hominologists"
were only made available to selected confidents. The volumes 1
to 4 mainly contain materials from other regions, but only a small number
from the Caucasus.
example of this seemed to be the French-Russian expedition Almasty 92 in 1992. Through
Dr. Koffmann’s publication in the French journal Archeologia in 1991 26),
a well known European authority on Palaeoanthropology got in touch with
her and supported the planned expedition: professor Yves Coppens. But significant
fieldwork results - the basis of the expedition planning developed by
Koffmann - were obviously kept secret from him. In response to the question
with regard to the relict hominids, put to him in an interview eight
years after the expedition, he said: „ (...) As years passed,
my belief is, unfortunately, not all the strong anymore. No
concrete elements have been found, apart from many eyewitnesses. (...)These
days I am more sceptical than before.“27)
K. C. Beyer, June 2004
Italics are my translations, K.C.B.