Who Are the Yeren? Meaning of These Cryptids Explained

Updated June 21, 2021

A large ape-man known as the Yeren is a Chinese legend often believed to be nothing more than ancient folklore. However, footprints, hair samples, and eyewitness accounts of this giant-size cryptid make this more than a scary story.

What Is the Yeren?

The name Yeren translate in English as Wildman. There are a few other spellings for this creature, Yeh Ren and Yirin, which are determined by the regional dialect. The Yeren is often referred to as an ape-man.

The Chinese Yeren is believed to be a close relative of the North American Bigfoot or Sasquatch and the Himalayan Yeti. Extremely large human-like footprints discovered along the Chinese mountain ranges, and individual tales of this giant ape-man are similar to other worldwide encounters with this cryptid.

The Yeren is described as being between 7'-8' tall, although some have been reported as tall as 10' to 11'. The creature is massive with broad shoulders. The creature has human facial features. The Yeren has long reddish or brown hair that grows all over its body, including its face. Like other massive bipedal cryptids, it doesn't have a tail.

Finding Proof of the Yeren

Over the past 40 years, more than 400 sightings of the Yeren have been reported. Many of the sightings have been reported in the remote western Hubei mountain region of the Shennongjia Nature Reserve. This heavily forested area features lush bamboo growing along the mountainsides and various meadows.

In 1977, the Chinese government created an expedition in response to a wake of Yeren sightings. One of those sightings was made on May 14, 1976 by six Chinese officials driving in a vehicle along the Shennongjia region. The investigative team searched the Shennongjia range, but didn't find any evidence of the creature.

Years later, hair samples collected at a different sighting were analyzed, and they didn't match any known animal species! Researchers continue to investigate and try to find conclusive proof of the Yeren.

In fact, researcher Zhang Jinxing is China's version of America's Bigfoot expert, Dr. Jeff Meldrum. Zhang has dedicated over a two decades of his life researching the Yeren and even established his own Yeren museum nestled at the base of the Shennongjia Nature Reserve's highest mountain.

He showcases over 3,000 casts of Yeren footprints and has collected around 100 strands of what he believes to be Yeren hair. He told Global Times in a 2016 interview that his handful of personal encounters with the Yeren have all ended with the cryptid running away from him in fear.

Other Yeren Sightings

A forest ranger spotted a Yeren lying down in a meadow bordered by a forest. The creature appeared to be sunning itself or taking a nap. The ranger described the Yeren as having reddish brown hair. After observing the creature for some time, the ranger yelled at it.

Hubei Province in China

The Yeren seemed unconcerned about the ranger's intrusion and simply stood up and walked away on two legs. The astute ranger made a cast of the creature's huge left and right footprint. An interview with the forest ranger is highlighted in a scientific brief titled, "Footprint Evidence of a Chinese Yeren."

Another sighting happened in November 2017. Four tourists visiting Shennongjia saw two Yeren by the Licha River. When the two humanlike creatures saw the tourists, they ran into the surrounding forest. The tourists reported the incident to the rangers, who accompanied them to the spot where the creatures had been spotted. There was lots of fruit scattered about, broken branches and vines, but most importantly, large humanlike footprints had been left behind.

Explanations of What the Yeren Are

Some of the explanations offered for the various sightings conclude that eyewitnesses have actually seen boar or bear. One possible explanation often given for what people may have seen is the endangered Gibbon Ape. However, this animal is considerably smaller than even a large ape. It certainly is an unlikely match for what eyewitnesses have reported as an extremely tall and massive creature. Some researchers have hypothesized that the Yeren may be an ancestor of the ancient and extinct Pongid Gigantopithecus that once inhabited China.

Chinese Yeren Cryptids Explored

The Chinese Yeren remains little more than a folktale and stories of sighting discounted as a misidentified bear or boar. There is little doubt that eyewitnesses have seen something in the Hubei forest along the Shennongjia mountain range, but exactly what it is has yet to be proven.

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Who Are the Yeren? Meaning of These Cryptids Explained