Call of the Cryptid: The Almas/Kaptar (“wild man” or “ape man”)

The Almas are described as “ape-men” inhabiting the Caucasus and Pamir Mountains of Central Asia, and the Altai Mountains of Mongolia. Might they exist?

There are many accounts of the Almas, to the point where the creature sounds plausible (or semi-plausible). When researching such a creature, a very important first step is obvious: Are the historical accounts genuine? That is, did they come from real people with real knowledge and experience in studying nature? In this case, yes, there’s a hint of credibility.

For example, one person who’s written about the Almas is Myra Shackley. She was Professor of Culture Resource Management and Head of the Centre for Tourism and Visitor Management at Nottingham Trent University Business School. She had a Ph.D. in Archaeology at the University of Southampton, and numerous scientific articles published.

That doesn’t automatically make her correct, obviously, but it doesn’t hurt. In 1983 she published Wildmen: Yeti, Sasquatch, and the Neanderthal Enigma, which is a notable work for those interested in cryptids. In this work, she mentions some dramatic cases, like that of Mikhail Stephanovitch Topilski, a Major General in the Soviet Army, said to have been attacked by “ape-men” in Afghanistan in 1925. They were said to be “covered with brownish hair and the belly with greyish hair.”

While some accounts of Bigfoot/Sasquatch (a similar cryptid) attribute those beasts almost demonic features (such as “glowing red eyes” ), no such things have been attributed to the Almas, at least from what I have read. Almas descriptions create the impression of Neanderthals, not demons. On that note, if an Almas were to attack a human, one could say, “Hey, it was lashing out against human encroachment.” However, not all Almas accounts make it out to be violent.

Kevin Peter Hall in Harry and the Hendersons (1987) – via Universal

Other Accounts

I must note one strange thing: I couldn’t find any non-Almas-account info on Topilski. That is weird, given his being a Major General and all. Nevertheless, that doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t exist.  It just makes his account harder to verify without looking extensively into it.

In any case, Topilski isn’t the only name linked to Myra Shackley’s research on Almas accounts. Ivan Ivlov, a Russian pediatrician, supposedly saw a family of ape-like creatures on a mountain slope in 1963. Myra Shackley also mentions the 1941 account of V. S. Karapetyan, a Lieutenant Colonel of the medical service of the Soviet Army, who describes an ape-man creature that was shot and examined.

This account says the fur “was much like that of a bear.” Yet another Russian account is from “Yu. I. Merezhinski,” of Kiev University. He originally intended to merely photograph the creature — which was called a “Kaptar” in this account. However, he freaked out and began firing a gun at it, but (perhaps conveniently) missed.

Also, according to a sketchy article from the Daily Mail, a Russian, 19th century “apewoman” named Zana existed, with the ability to outrun a horse. Some cite her as Almas evidence. Apparently, she actually had children. (Interestingly, an artist representation of “Zana” seems to borrow her eyes from the Mona Lisa, immediately suggesting its authors could be playing a joke.)

Where are the Almas Bodies?

When reading these accounts, I couldn’t help but wonder why no Almas bodies have been seriously studied and put on display. After all, a few accounts suggest the creatures have been captured — even killed — by people. Where are they now? Why wouldn’t they just be unveiled to the world at large, ASAP? Is there a conspiracy or something? If so, why? It seems there would be no conspiracy, given how scientists in general are keen on finding missing links, and often uncompromising in their efforts to reveal the truth about nature — including every aspect of a living being’s mechanics.

In fact, that’s often a critique of nature, that they refuse to leave anything a mystery, and how, supposedly, they break all life down into systems of mechanical functions. It seems then that scientists — more than anyone else — would be keen on exaggerating the importance of identifying Almas, or any other ape-like creatures in the cryptid canon. In fact, even skepticism wouldn’t be a barrier, as science is about accepting observable facts. If Almas can be observed, it can certainly be accepted as true, and skeptics can eat their words.

An Excuse to Go Mountain Climbing

As with other cryptid searches, looking for the Almas has an added feaure — it would give someone an excuse to get out and travel. In this case, a person could travel to certain mountains in Central Asia. It would allow you to utter the sentence, “I’ve been on the Altai Mountains of Mongolia.” You may not find the elusive creature, but it sounds like a decent trip anyway.  Still, who knows?  Maybe you’d find the proverbial diamond in the rough.

What do you think of the Almas?  Let us know in the comments!