By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Published: 5:09PM BST 30 Sep 2009
The team of four British explorers and their Indonesian guide tracked through dense and treacherous jungle in the Kerinci National Park of Sumatra where two of them caught a glimpse of the Orang Pendek - or short man.
The team have brought back hair samples and a piece of palm they hope will provide DNA evidence of the Orang Pendek - a creature sighted in the area since colonial times and reputed to be immensely powerful.
A sample of hair thought to belong to the ape is also being analysed.
The team hopes that by sending the sample to several labs, they will find DNA evidence of the Orang Pendek.
Sightings of the creature go back to the time of colonialism.
Witnesses have described it being about five foot tall and say that it walks on two legs, like a human.
It is also thought to be extremely powerful - with reports of witnesses seeing it ripping apart logs.
After a spate of sightings around Lake Gunung Tuju, in the Kerinci national park, a team from the Devon-based Centre for Fortean Zoology - which investigates unknown species of animals - embarked on a two-week mission to the region to see if they could obtain evidence of the creature.
Richard Freeman, the expedition zoologist and zoological director at the Centre, said he believes that the creature is an unidentified species of ape.
“We are not talking about a unicorn or a griffin, we are talking about an ape that’s unknown to science,” he said.
The team, who have just returned from their two-week expedition, hailed it a success and are awaiting tests.
“We found several sets of tracks in mud and earth,” he said.
“I know those tracks are not made by any species of ape and are not made by any species known to be living in the park.
“It was an ape - but not a known type of ape - it’s more adapted for upright walking.”
Mr Freeman said two of the expedition saw the creature from behind but unfortunately, the team did not manage to get a photograph.