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By John Fairley

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The story was soon to be retracted. But, in its resolution, it was to provide a fascinating insight into the state of 'wildman' research in China. For the creature turned out to be a previously unknown type of monkey - the very animal that had been predicted by Chinese researcher Zhou Guoxing in his analysis of wildman evidence. Zhou, a staff member at the Peking Natural History Museum, and his colleague, Professor Wu Dingliang, Director of Anthropological Research at Shanghai's Fudan University, had both taken part in the vast Chinese Academy of Sciences expedition in 1977 to the Shennongjia Mountains.

The Jingyi Middle School of Yixing City in the Jiang-su Province of China was building a sports field. The first task was to level the ground, for the school authorities had chosen a patch of land dominated by an oblong hillock. Another feature of the site, four curiously shaped mounds, complicated the work. That day, a labourer's shout brought everything to a halt. His spade had penetrated a thin layer of earth and rubble and a hole had appeared, releasing a rush of musty air. Peering into the darkness, the work gang could dimly make out a chamber stacked with dusty objects.

Several of them thought they had seen the target in their night sights, but each time, the quarry had been out of range. The operation around Mr Eric Ley's farm at Drewstone had to go on, for this was the operation to hunt down the dreaded 'beast of Exmoor' - the beast that screamed in the night, displayed supernatural cunning in eluding its enemy, and was blamed for the deaths of nearly 100 sheep and lambs. A Marine officer said: 'The animal moves like soldiers themselves do, from cover to cover, and it rarely crosses open ground.

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