Zana, Russian Ape Woman

DNA Evidence Suggests Captured Russian Ape Woman Might Have been Subspecies of Modern Human

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The story of Zana, supposed Ape Woman of the Caucasus Mountains is one often revisited and reexamined by historians, explorers, and scientists alike. Now a leading geneticist believes that the wild woman who lived in 19 th century Russia may have belonged to a subspecies of modern humans.

Zana was named by Russian researchers after her discovery and capture in the Ochamchir region of Abkhazia, south of Russia in the 1850’s. She was said to have been living in the wilderness, naked, but covered in a thick auburn fur, and appearing to be a cross between a human and primate.

According to International Business Times , Bryan Sykes, former Professor of Human Genetics at University of Oxford has analyzed the DNA of Zana’s descendants and has discovered West African genes, but surprisingly, her DNA did not match any known modern African group.

Could Zana have been from a surviving species of pre-human hominids, like 'Lucy', Australopithecus Afarensis?

Could Zana have been from a surviving species of pre-human hominids, like “Lucy”, Australopithecus Afarensis? Jason Kuffer/ Flickr

Sykes theorizes that her ancestors may have lived in the Caucasus Mountains for generations after leaving Africa over 100,000 years ago.

Saliva tests were carried out on Zana’s living relatives, and a tooth was available from the remains of her deceased son Khwit, reports MailOnline.


The beautiful but remote mountainous terrain of Abkhazia where Zana was found.

The beautiful but remote mountainous terrain of Abkhazia where Zana was found.  Wikimedia Commons

The findings are controversial. Skeptics question the sources of the samples, and Sykes’ methodology.

This comes after the geneticist’s involvement in other high-profile cases dealing with disputed DNA samples and conclusions. In 2014 Sykes and colleagues published a study on their findings of mitochondrial 12S RNA sequencing in samples of “anomalous primates”, popularly called Yetis. The team concluded the samples connected the legend of the Yeti with a Paleolithic polar bear.

Zana’s existence seems to be established historically by witnesses and residents of Abkhazia, yet experts wrestle with her background and biological identity—was she simply a victimized woman suffering from a disability, or a runaway slave, or even a surviving Neanderthal?


Said to resemble cryptid legends from around the world, the hairy humanoid reportedly towered over her captors at six feet and six inches tall, and was described as incredibly muscular, powerful and “wild”. Zana was eventually sold to a local nobleman and resided at his estate until her death. She was “tamed” and forced into relationships with local men, and witnesses said she gave birth to several children who were “human” in appearance, reports Inquisitr. It is these descendants whose DNA was involved in the study.

Skull said to have belonged to Zana's son Kehwit.

Skull said to have belonged to Zana’s son Kehwit. ( Source)

Known sons include Dzhanda and Khwit Genaba (born 1878 and 1884), and two daughters, Kodzhanar and Gamasa Genaba (born 1880 and 1882). Khwit’s skull was said to appear atypical, and anthropologist M.A.Kolodieva described it as “closest to the Neolithic Vovnigi II skulls of the fossil series.”

Sykes has published a book, The Nature of the Beast, detailing the story of Zana and her descendants. However according to Tech Times , speaking on the genetic analysis results, Sykes says “They will be published in the regular scientific press so I can't be more specific.”

Zana reportedly died in 1890, but her anomalous genetic legacy endures as an enigma that has yet to be accounted for and resolved.

Featured Image: Artist’s representation of Zana, who lived in 19th Century Russia - and appeared to be 'half human, half ape'. Mail Online

By Liz Leafloor


Was she able to learn to speak? I thought it was likely that earlier humans didn't have the capacity for spoken speech so if she learned to speak fluently wouldn't it be likely that she was a modern human?

As far as i know, she wasn't able to learn how to speak, but she used to imitate the door noise and she liked it. By the way, i really hope that she belonged to an ancient group of humans. This would be a big shock for naysayers and alike. You know, people who make fun of "cryptids".

Roberto Peron's picture

As far as I know she did not learn language but only imitated sounds.  Russian researchers have maintained that she was a “living fossil” perhaps from the Australopithecines.  If so then that changes everything we think we know about ancient human ancestors and extinction.  It is also said that she slept like a camel croached on all fours and that she did at times walk on all fours. Additionally, she reportedly did not like cooked food preferring raw foods instead.  Rather than being a sub-species of human I’d say she was most likely a hybrid.  Perhaps a cross between an Australopithecine and archaic H. sapien.  Reports of other such creatures continue to come from the same area even today.  I will address this in greater detail on my blog.




Definitive genetic testing has been done on her son which found that he was a modern human in every particular, which means that she could not have been any other species. This issue has been laid to rest already. She was most likely a feral person which did not learn language during her formative years.

Even today children that do not learn speech in the first 5 years of life or so don't learn to speak at all, or have extreme difficulty doing so.

Zana was nothing other than a Homo Sapien. She was not an Almis.

It seems that the notion of relict hominid bothers some people. I don't know why.


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