From Sri Lanka’s little known past of folklore and jungle tales comes a story of hairy bodied, short and dagger clawed people known to many as Nittaewo.Although some claims that Nittaewo is amisperceptionof a monkey ora sloth bear, others are convinced that they must have been an early species of hominids or ape-men in and around Mahalenama, of the Eastern Province. During the first century AD, Pliny the Elder mentioned the existence of a ‘beast-men’ in Ceylon.More credible information on Nittaewo unearthed in 1886, when a British civil servant named Hugh Nevill reported information on a strange race called the Nittaewo, who inhabited the then inaccessible mountains of the southeast Sri Lanka.
The Nittaewo were reported to resemble orangutans or gorillas and were expert climbers of nearly one meter height. They had the ability to walk upright and were covered with reddish hair with claws of great length and strength. Nevill also learned that the Nittaewo used to descend from the rocks in gangs to steal meat that had been spread out in the sun to dry by Veddah hunters, who feared Nittaewo’s fearsome claws.He had also related the end of the Nittaewo tribe in the hands of the Veddas, where driven to desperation by the cruelty of these ‘little men’, the remaining group was rounded up by the Vedda and driven into a cave and was smoked for three consecutive days until they all died of hypoxia. However the first scientific investigation into the being of Nittaewo was made in 1945 by Professor W C Osman Hill of Edinburgh University, who came to the conclusion that Pithecanthropus of Java, a speechless hominid intermediate between modern man and the anthropoid apes, accords best with the tradition of the Nittaewo. Meanwhile in 1963 Captain A.T.Rambukwella theorised that the Nittaewo may have been a species of Australopithecus, described as small, man-like apes that stood erect and had a bipedal gait after expedition to the Mahalenama area in search of the Nittaewo.
Things To Do : Investigation, history
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