Sumatra has an ancient tradition of apemen known as orang pendek ("little man") or orangutan ("man of the woods"), sometimes referred to as the "Sumatran Yeti." According to tradition, the first recorded sighting of orang pendek dates back to 1295 when Marco Polo (1254–1324) saw it on one of his expeditions to the island. While many naturalists regard the tales of the orang pendek as native folklore, in 1916 Dr. Edward Jacobson wrote in a Dutch scientific journal of his encounter with one of the creatures. Since Jacobson's sighting, there have been many accounts of people seeing the orang pendek, including that of a Mr. van Herwaarden, who spotted one while scouting the forests for good lumber in 1923. Most witnesses describe the creature as standing about five feet tall and as being covered with short dark hair. It is definitely bipedal, and its arms are proportioned more like that of a human, rather than the extended arms of an ape. Remarkably, the orang pendeks have been heard conversing with one another in some unintelligible language.
Debbie Martyr, former editor of a London newspaper, went in search of the elusive Sumatran apeman and returned in March 1995 with numerous consistent eyewitness accounts of the orang pendek and plaster casts of its footprints. She stated that she even saw the creature for herself on three occasions. The first time that she sighted the orang pendek, she admitted that she was so shocked that she didn't snap a picture. She hadn't really expected to see an actual bipedal erect primate. She remarked that the orang pendek is wonderfully camouflaged because its colors correspond to those of the forest floor—beige, tawny, rust red, yellow tan, and chocolate brown. If the creature remains immobile, she said, it is impossible to see.
The orang pendek may be the most likely of the Bigfoot-type creatures to be proved to be real. Too many scientists have heard its calls, followed its trails through the jungle, and caught glimpses of the creature. On October 29, 2001, the London Times reported that an early analysis of hair samples taken by a British expedition to the mountain rainforest near Gunung Kerinci in western Sumatra did not appear to have come from any known primate in the area. Adam Davies, the leader of the expedition, stated that he had no doubt that orang pendek truly exists.