On October 6, 2013 I received an email from Sumatra notifying me that several casts and a hair sample had been collected from the Gunung Tujuh area. Obviously, I was thrilled at the possibility that hair had been found and photographed and was looking forward to learning more about the context. However, no more information arrived about this potentially important find. Instead there was a brief squabble between the Sumatran trackers due to poor communication which was eventually settled, but not before more track finds surfaced and the events of September 29, 2013 were forgotten about and passed over by my contacts.
It wasn’t until November 6, 2013 that photographs from September 29th were sent to me via email. I was left to piece together the events of September 29, 2013 on my own based on the photographs themselves.
It seems that Jhonisa, one of my trackers, found prints after going to an area around Gunung Tujuh after a recent sighting, though no information on this possible sighting has ever come to me. Numerous tracks were found, and five were cast. At one point, the tracks led to an area where the creature foraged on a plant, possibly a wild form of ginger, and left several footprints at the site. Somewhere along the trackway, the creature brushed up against a tree trunk leaving several hairs wedged in the bark. These hairs were collected by Jhonisa and stored in a glass bottle and later photographed.
The footprint casts are fascinating (see all five casts from a variety of angles in the gallery below). There are differences in toe depths, toe splay, foot pad shapes, and other features. These differences should be expected from a living, flexible foot, despite the fact that the footprints all came from the same creature.
The prints, along with many others collected by the Orang Pendek Project, show that the lateral side of the heel impresses more deeply than the medial side. This could be the result of that part of the foot being the first to come in contact with the ground while walking, just as is true in humans. This part of the foot would receive the most forward momentum as it hits, thus impressing most deeply.
Several of the footprint casts show a horizontal elongation to the toe stem on the hallux. I interpret this as a toe slide as the creature pushes off with the digits as it walks, though another possibility is that the hallux is very mobile along this axis and this slide is the result of a grasping action of the digit.
The hairs vary in length from about 1 cm to about 4 cm. The two longer hairs are dark in color with lighter coloration near their base, while the two shorter hairs are blonde throughout. They are all different from the hair sample collected during the filming of Finding Bigfoot in the area which later proved to be from a tapir.