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Mammal, Primate, Ape, Proto-pygmy
Hawaiian cryptid, Polynesian cryptid, American cryptid
Omnivore, Out-of-place, Featured in Native folklore
The Menehune is one of the few unknown primates of the Pacific Islands, in this case, the tropical rainforests and shrublands of Hawaii. They are said to be around two to three feet tall, with stout, muscular frames covered in dark brown hair, broad shoulders, dark skin, a potbelly, and faces possessing long eyebrows on a protruding brow, sharp ears, and large, intelligent eyes. According to locals, they eat bananas, fish, shrimp, squash, berries and sweet potatoes. Menehune are said to only speak in grunts and growls. Menehune are said to live in either banana leaf huts, caves and even large hollow logs. Many native Hawaiians believe Menehune are their ancestors and were there before they found Hawaii.
Cryptozoologist Dale Drinnon theorized the Menehune may have been gibbons or macaques introduced by Polynesians, although neither are bipedal or very human-like. Some also theorize it may be relict Homo Floresiensis that got to Hawaii via island hopping, as some scientists believe they may have been seafaring, possibly reaching the island of Flores by boat. This theory was based on the 2012 study, Population Trajectories for Accidental Versus Planned Colonization of Islands by British ecologist Graeme Ruxton and biologist David Wilkinson.
Humans first arrived in Hawaii in 300 CE and were from the Marquesas Islands, but a second, larger migration happened from Tahiti in the 11th century, and some think Menehune were Marquesans who fled deeper into the interior of the rainforest and became an uncontacted tribe, which would not make them a cryptid. Both the Homo Floresiensis theory and the Menehune being Marquesas Islanders theory have no evidence and are just speculation. Further alluding to a less simian theory as to the origins of Menehune is the commonly-held belief that they built various dams, temples and roads around the islands, which are made with tools.
In folklorist/Indigenous Spiritualist Moke Kupihea’s 2004 book The Ancestral Spirit Tradition of Hawaii, he claims that when his father was about six years old in 1918, he skipped Sunday school where he was supposed to be, and hid around the edge of a cliff near his grandparent’s house overlooking the Waimea Valley. He then noticed on an outcropping of rocks not far from him was three tiny men, about the same size as him, who were hairy, but not hair-covered like an ape, had dark brown skin, curly black hair and were naked except for a malo, a type of Polynesian loincloth. They seemed just as startled as he was, and so he ran to his grandparent’s house and told them about his encounter. Surprisingly, they believed him and said they saw the menehunes multiple times throughout the past month at the same spot.
In the mid 1940’s, a group of 45 elementary school students claimed to have seen multiple Menehunes jumping around and seemingly playing around some trees in the northern Big Island. In 2006, an anonymous woman was driving on a remote gravel road in the Kapapala Forest Reserve when approximately 20 menehunes crossed the road. They were only about three feet tall and covered in hair. She noted that they had a look of shock on their faces like they haven’t seen a car or didn’t think they would be noticed. In 2011, Arnold S. was relaxing on a beach with his friends on a dark night at 11:00 when the bushes nearby began to shake violently. The group of friends then dashed towards their car and noticed that a group of “little wild people” were running across the road towards them. The group of friends then got in their car and drove off.