KRAO – The Missing Link

Darwin’s theory of evolution – and man’s implied ascendancy from an ape-like creatures – is controversial. When it was first introduced to the public, most people though the idea was preposterous. Until the apparent ‘missing link’ between man and ape appeared in a Philadelphia dime museum.

Krao was born is Siam, modern day Thailand, in 1876. From birth, the girl was completely covered with hair, including a mane-like track of hair flowing down her back from between her shoulder blades. She was discovered at the age of six by a promoter exuberantly named the Great Farini. Farini took the girl on a successful tour of Europe before starting a tour in the United State. While the dime museum was a starting point, it wasn’t long before Krao was a sought after marvel featured by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

While often called ‘The Ape Woman’ Krao was principally advertised as ‘Darwin’s Missing Link’. To all those who saw her, she was proof of Darwin’s ideas. It was claimed, somewhat ridiculously, that Krao was of a race of tree dwelling, ape-like people but many bought the story – including noted naturalists and scientists. Numerous papers were written on Krao and her role as Darwinian proof. In the 1896 tome Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, the authors noted her many ape qualities including her ‘prehensile feet’. In reality Krao was a young woman of above average intelligence who was both well read and multilingual. She just happened to suffer from an advanced form of hypertrichosis.

Unlike Julia Pastrana, Krao was fortunate in that she was never exploited. She performed and displayed herself in her own terms for most of her adult life. She was free to do as she pleased and spent the last 20 years of her life in a private apartment, entertaining guests and neighbors with her cooking and charming personality.

Krao never married, although she had admirers, and she passed due to influenza on April 16th, 1926.

Images: Krao photo taken from Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine and Krao later in life.



  • Reply July 10, 2008


    Maybe Darwins theory has been discussed contoversial in the past, nowadays labelling it as “controversial” seems a bit strange to me. Do you intend to put a creationist-like touch here (which would surprise me, due to the context of your excellent site and due to my profession as a scientist) or do I misunderstand you in this point (possible, I’m not a native speaker so I tend to get things wrong sometimes)?

  • Reply August 17, 2008


    The original Darwin theory is controversial. The evidenece of the reality of evolution is there, but now is more credible to think the ape, the monkey and the human come from a same ancestor that believing that the man comes from the monkey.

  • Reply August 24, 2008


    She was very pretty

  • Reply August 17, 2009


    My husband is a research scientist and he does not believe in evolution-but in creation. He told me most scientists consider evolution a theory, not fact. Adaptation and evolution are not one and the same thing, either. And yes, it is still quite controversial.I do not believe order comes out of chaos, I believe in creation and so do many scientists.

  • Reply October 21, 2009


    if yo want to hear some thing weird apes evolved in to early humans but early humans evolve in to chimps.

  • Reply October 21, 2009


    dear sally

    all the religion creation junk is BS. that was not even in the first religious belief of homo sapiens. basic Christianity stated several thousand years ago. so Christianity or any religion that has a god is not accurate. the first religion believed that over time things change like weather, age ,and evolution state. so take that creationism.

    your truly

    PS the world is still screwed up with incorrect information. also watch micheal mores new movie CAPITALISM:A LOVE STORY

  • […] It was claimed she had prehensile feet. […]

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  • Reply August 9, 2015


    Darwin’s theory is controversial among fundamentalist groups and many religious people. In academia it is as firmly established as quantum theory or relativity.

  • Reply September 19, 2015


    I don’t know what I’m more dismayed by: your casual reference to the “controversial” theory of evolution, or the comments section, which not only backs up the notion that evolution is, indeed, still controversial or in dispute to some, but really leads me to wonder who has a grasp of their own language anymore. Yikes.

  • Reply October 5, 2015


    Evolution is a theory. It is a theory because you cannot replicate the process of evolution on a lab. Firstly because it’d take hundreds or thousands of years to gain enough collated information and secondly as there are too many factors to consider. Light levels, weather, soil types, predators.. these are all determining factors. It is impossible to create an experiment that considers all of these factors. It is a theory, but that does not mean it is incorrect.

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