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Friday, 15 July 2011

More On Mapinguaris And Ground Sloths

From Wikipedia:

The mapinguari or mapinguary (Spanish pronunciation: [mapiŋɡwaˈɾi]), also known as the Jucucu in Bolivia, is a legendary ... creature with red fur living in the Amazon rainforests of Brazil and Bolivia.[1]

According to some native accounts the creature has a series of unnatural characteristics related to other fantastic beings of Brazilian mythology, like long claws, caiman skin, backward feet and a ... mouth on its belly.[2] These characteristics are not shared by all accounts of the creature.

According to legend, it is slow [and deliberate in its movements] but ferocious and very dangerous due to its ability to move without noise in between the thick vegetation, its only weakness being that of avoiding water bodies (which limits its movements in a region where so many rivers, brooklets and lagoons exist, especially during the rainy season). Most accounts state that the creature is carnivorous – though not necessarily man-eating. When it smells the presence of humans it stands up on its back feet, becoming as tall as two metres, a movement similar to Grizzly bears. [It also allegedly travels bipedally. Much of this information as given is at variance to other published material, such as the Mapinguari's man-eating reputation-DD]


Many cryptozoologists are intrigued by reports of this creature, though some have dismissed it as a folkloric/mythologic creature, or a long-preserved folk memory of the giant animals that existed in South America in the Pleistocene, in particular the giant ground sloth Mylodon.[1]

Among the many researchers who have tried to find evidence for the existence of the Mapinguari[As a surviving Mylodon] is the ornithologist David Oren. During his various expeditions, he has collected a range of material some of which was later shown to be agouti fur, anteater feces, and casts of tracks that were inconclusive. Nevertheless, Oren still considers the creature to be real, but highly elusive, and nowadays extremely rare, avoiding contact with humans whenever possible.

[The initial categorization of the Mapinguari as a Cryptid was by Bernard Heuvelmans and Ivan T. Sanderson. Oren's theory was a revision of this, and many importand Cryptozoologists still follow Heuvelmans and Sanderson, not Oren. The groundsloth theory is not the only theory about the Mapinguari although Oren's theory has received heavy favorritism by the media. See Coleman, Loren and Huyghe, Patrick in The Field Guide to Bigfoot...(1999), p.74-75)-DD]

See also
List of legendary creatures
List of cryptids
Maricoxi [The Maricoxi entry covers far too many different Cryptids to be really valid. It should be limited to the Maricoxi itself and other forms most like it.]

1.^ a b Larry Rohter (2007-07-08). "A Huge Amazon Monster Is Only a Myth. Or Is It?". New York Times.

Retrieved 2009-12-30.
2.^ Shuker, Karl P N (1995). In Search of Prehistoric Survivors. Blandford. ISBN 0-7137-2469-2.

External links
"According to locals, slothlike monster roams Amazon". Dallas News. 2007-07-28.

For comparison, let us look at a website on Portugese Folklore:

The Mapinguari

(Portuguese to English Google translation )

The Mapinguari is the most popular monsters of the Amazon. Its domain extends to the Para, Amazonas, Acre, quickened by the population through fear of a nomad who lives in the woods, up the rivers, camping in the desert margins of large lakes and ponds without a name.

Hunters and workers of all trades Mapinguari cite as a true demon of evil has no vices or utilities whose satisfaction determines momentary alliance with religious Christians. Mata always, unfailingly, stubbornly, who is ahead. Kill to eat. Describe it as a gigantic man, long black hair that cover his body like a mantle with long hands, nails, hammertoes, insatiable hunger, and large"canines" is known as a hunger of this magnitude.

It is only vulnerable in the navel. Universal belief that there is vulnerability cord of monsters. It also indicates that one day was born of another born, which is a living creature like all others who inhabit the land, belonging to a lineage only poorly understood. In some regions, also the werewolf can be killed by navel. The Mapinguari, unlike other entities fabulous, do not walk at night. During the night, sleep. The danger is during the day, amid the gloom of deep forests that barely let in the sunshine In the dark trunks of the many ways Mapinguari stands, appears suddenly to attack and hurt. But it goes silent as the rationale. Comes screaming loud, screaming loose, short, ugly, leaving its victims stunned, no action.

By far the men listen to their terrible calls. And run away without looking back. It's as if you were challenging Mapinguari Carajás to a final encounter, face to face. These cries hoarse and explain the ongoing rumors that the natural forest produces and you can not sensibly explain them. So, without a logical explanation for the many and diffuse noises and murmurs of the dense and mysterious woods, the men quickly attach to such a repertoire Mapinguari sound.

What would be the origin of Mapinguari? It does not seem very old because his name is not present in the list of colonial chroniclers. Already appears in modern times, most commonly in the narratives of rubber tappers in the memories of newcomers in the Amazon. Famous chroniclers as detailed Stradelli or Tastevin, do not register their existence in the vocabularies.

His physique is almost a literal description of Caapora well designed by Couto Magalhães [1]: "A great man covered in black throughout the body and face, always a great riding oversized pig, sad, moody, and giving time for else a cry to urge the rod. "

This is the description of Caapora, where the pig is the element is not consistent with the Mapinguari.

Since the Caapora Gonçalves Dias [2] was an Indian dwarf. The Mapinguari is obviously a Caapora disfigured, without some element that once authenticated origin and activity within the forests. Guard structure, scream, body by dress. Also their forest habitat continuing to be a myth of the woods, known especially for those who live there.

Mapinguari is a fabulous animal, like a man, but coveredentirely by a hairy coat..
Its great for make it invulnerable to bullets of any caliber, except for part of the navel.
According to legend he is a terrible enemy of man, and who eats despise. But just devours the head[brains].
Tuixauas some Indians believe that it is the living reincarnation of an ancient king of his tribe, who once inhabited those regions. [3]

As Quibungo African Mapinguari have the anomalous position of the mouth, nose torn stomach, a vertical cut, whose lips are always stained with blood. Testimonials attest to its feet in round shape, are turned back to front, as Curupira.

Additional Information:

Common names: Mapinguari.

Probable Origin: It is of recent origin and possibly a variant of Curupira. No chronicler of Brazil colony or empire cite his name. Among the rubber tappers and Amazonian forest dwellers is a consensus. Some elements of physiology and their customs were surely taken from Caipora or Curupira. But it is not of Indian origin, since it is kind of a punitive nature of a religious nature, something alien to Aboriginal people. [On the other hand, its forerunners in the Mediterranean area can be traced back to legends of the Roman era-DD]

Mapinguari: The name possibly comes from a contraction of Mbaé guar-pi, the thing that has clubfoot, turned back to front or inside out. The surprise would be the beginning of the trail of strange, circular, indicating precisely the opposite direction to the true path. It is then that the imagination has created the picture material, similar to other monsters.

When he picks up a hunter, put it under the big arm as strong as steel, dip his head in the huge jaws and chewed it, that is, eat it slowly, chewing slowly, mulling over.

At one point away from the werewolf. There are no news anyone could become Mapinguari. Mr. Mario Guedes [3], a researcher of myths, announced that it is belief among some Indians Tuixauas, heard that an Indian chief of this ethnic group, the Mapinguari was the "old king of the region." But if there is such a legend, Tuixaua only took the new incarnation after death. But the Mapinguari is a definitive way.

One of the visible traces of the Catholic catechism is the complication of the guard to the holy days and Sundays. The Mapinguari almost always choose these days to their predatory adventures. Hunter killing to find these days hunting banned and precept, is dead.

It is the opinion of the compilers concrete folklorists, this suggestion is that the former influence of catechesis among savages try to instill a obedience to the laws of the Church under the yoke of fear.


J. da Silva Campos, in his book of folk tales [4], relates the following episode.

The Mapinguari (Rio Purus, Amazonas).

Two rubber tappers lived in the same tent, in a "center" far away, there in those ends of the world. One of them was his custom every Sunday to go hunting. The companion always said:
"Look, Tom, God left us Sunday to rest."
To which he replied:
"Now, on Sunday Time for eating."

And there went into the woods, where it was all day.
By their very insistence, the companion decided to go to hunt with him one Sunday. We were lost from each other. What was not used to such long contracts walked aimlessly without hitting the road and no longer knew where he was head, dazed. It was when he heard a frightful screams and strange, that filled with dread. I quickly climbed a tall tree and stayed up there, still, still, to see what it was.

The screams were doing to listen closer and closer until he was able to witness a horror that almost puts him mad with terror. A Mapinguari, that overall huge, hairy like a spider in a donkey feet, backward, and carried under his arm tentmate poor, dead, ragged, dripping blood. The monster with nails that looked like an ounce, began pulling pieces of the unfortunate and prying the mouth, much like an undercut, torn up to the stomach, saying in a loud and terrible voice:
"On Sunday also eaten!"

Thus, the rubber estraha saw the beast swallowed the unfortunate hunter. And there was the hideous beast in the woods, howling in a tone of voice that trembled to the very trees:
"On Sunday also eaten!"

-------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------

[1] One of the main and most active researchers of our folklore.
A clever man, he spoke French, English, German, Italian, Tupi and numerous indigenous dialects. It was he who initiated the folklore studies in Brazil, publishing The Wild (1876) and Essays in anthropology (1894), among others.

[2] Antonio Gonçalves Dias. Internationally acclaimed Brazilian. His work can be framed in Romanticism. Sought to form a nationalist sentiment by incorporating issues, people and landscapes in the Brazilian national literature. Together with José de Alencar, developed the Indians. Because of its importance in the history of Brazilian literature, we can say that Goncalves Dias Brazil incorporated the idea of ​​a national literature.

[3] Mario Guedes - the rubber plantations, the Jacinto Ribeiro Santos, Editor, 2nd Milheiro, P. 221. Rio de Janeiro, 1920.

[4] J. da Silva Campos (in the collection of 81 folk tales) in Folklore in Brazil - Basil Magalhaes, Rio de Janeiro, Livraria Lent, p.321. - 1928.

Mapinguari shown with round feet (Horse's hooves) and mouth in belly, enjoying a banana like an ape.

Cyclops Mapinguari with mouth in belly.

Another variation of an apelike Mapinguari with the sometimes-alleged vertical mouth or slit in the bellu. This actually would indicate the location of the pharingeal airsacs extending into the upper chest such as is the case in the orangutan. There is confusion about the mouth, but thefleshy sacs around the jaws would cover this area and would all attach directly to the (real) mouth.

For an accounting of the bizzare features of the Mapinguari and how an ape could give such an unlikely appearance, please see my February reposting of a 2009 CFZ blog posting about the Mapinguari:

Some synonymous Monsters: first is the Pe-de-Garaffo or Bottlefoot, identified as such especially because of iits footprints that look like they were made by the bottom of a bottle. The monster as drawn is a clear Mapinguari variant. The other creature is a variation of the same idea; see the hoofs (the tracks are sometimes called "Devil's footprints" even in Brazil) and called a Capelobo, but it has the elongated snout of an anteater. This is either a plain mistake (it is not always shown the same way in other depictions) or it is possibly a confusion with some other different Monster type. Possibly it is a variation on the sometimes-described "Pig's Snout" or "Horse's nose" in which case it is another peculiarity associated with the "Mouth on the belly"

Various attempts to depict the Mapinguari shown together.

There are indeed reports of creatures that could have been surviving Groundsloths in South America and stories of them go back to colonial times. Generally, the creatures are said to be fourlegged, the size of a cow, with a thick coat of coarse hair like a wolf's and also a large thick tail at the end (Sometimes exaggerated into a plume). The creature is often called "Wolfskin" or "Su" (Evidently also meaning "Fur cloak") with the fuller form "Succarath". It is also known as the "Sucarate", "Su Monster" and there are other variations.

This creature is a "su" or "succurath". Reported as early as 1558, it lived on the banks of Patagonian rivers. It had the head of a lion with - according to reports - "something human about it", a short beard from ear to ear, and a tail covered with tough bristles which provided shelter for its young. The Su was a hunter but not for meat alone. It killed animals for their skins and warmed itself in the cold climate

[This last part is presumably a mistranslation for 'The creature is hunted not for its meat alone but for the skin which warms the hunter in this cold climate'-DD]

The Su was supposed to be a dangerous animal, able to wipe out a herd of horses or cattle single-handedly. It was about the same size as an ox, and was said to carry its offpring on its back. This depiction is from 1673.

The first rumours that a giant ground sloth species may still exist reached Europe in the 16th century. Sailors brought home stories of "water tigers" backed up by fossil bones.

In 1789, Dr. Bartolome de Muñoz found Megatherium bones near what is now Buenos Aires. He gave them to the King of Spain, prompting the King to order a complete specimen of the animal alive or dead.

The rumours gained more credence in the late 19th century. The future governor of Santa Cruz province in southern Patagonia, Ramón Lista, was riding in Santa Cruz in the late 1880s when a shaggy red-haired beast resembling what he called a "giant pangolin" trotted across his path. He had time to loose off several rounds from his rifle before it disappeared into the scrub, and was amazed to note that they bounced off the animal's hide. Lista only gave a verbal account of this story, to an animal collector called Carlos Ameghino, who told his brother Florentino Ameghino, who was one of Argentina's most notable naturalists and later the vice-director and secretary of the best natural history museum in South America, La Plata, which opened in 1888 outside Buenos Aires.

[Sources quoted also include Bernard Heuvelmans' key book On The Track of Unknown Animals and the internet blog of "the Cryptozoologist": otherwise all of the information found on the net mostly seem to be identical to these sources]

Heuvelmans says that hunters also called the sloths Lobo-Toros, or Wolf-Bulls, and sometimes they are still called "Wolfskins"

In support of this identification fot the Succarath, the giant groundsloths were supposed to have carried their young on the back. The tradition of the Succarath carries on until this day as the Xolchixe or Tiger Sloth, and role-playing games continue a version of the Su-Monster.

Cryptozoologist David Oren made the assertion that the Mapinguari represented the Brazillian version of the surviving ground sloth. In this he seems to have been mistaken because the Mapinguari is tailless. The groundsloth would also not be leaving the "Cup-shaped" Pe-de-Garaffa tracks, and it seems that that is what the name "Mapinguari" origiinally meant. However, the creature called "Wolfhide" apparently had a tail and an elongated snout, shown as an anteater's snout on one of the representations earlier, a probable confusion between the two types. There are several regional names for Mapinguari and sometimes the direct reference is confused or obscure. However, on this blog, I have made the distinction that the "Bottlefoot" is one kind of creature, a large tailless ape sometimes said to be a cyclops and to have no discernable head, only a distinctive mouth part with sharp teeth arising from the torso (basically an illusion brought about by having confusing, Orangutan-like anatomy) while the ":Wolfskin" is another, same as the Lobo-Toro, same as the "living Groundsloths" observed in Equador-and incidentally as "Cave Cows" in Belize as reported by Ivan Sanderson, possibly even with a representative that lives on Cuba. There are also two lesser groundsloths rumored around the Caribbean: one about the size of a medium-sized bear and the other the size of a small ape or chimp, both called "Yehos" or "Yahus" ("Devils) and with large hooked claws. Three or four species of Groundsloth are known to have survived up until the European colonial period in the Greater Antilles.

Some more details concerning Lista’s “pangolin”
Lista, had been commissioned by the Argentine government to explore the unknown recesses of Patagonia during the border dispute that was then raging with Chile. He was a friend of Argentinian Naturalists Moreno and Ameghino. Ameghino said that Lista had told him, his brother and others (verbally, yet he believed that he had also written about it) that once, while riding in the interior of the Patagonian territory of Santa Cruz, he had seen “and shot at a mysterious creature […] apparently bullet-proof, it disappeared into the brushwood, and all search for it proved futile”. Lista described the creature as a pangolin, without scales, and "covered with reddish grey hair”.

In Lista’s words -as quoted by Ameghino- the animal was: "A pangolin (Manis), almost the same as the Indian one, both in size and in general aspect, except that in place of scales, it showed the body to be covered with a reddish grey hair. He was sure that if it were not a pangolin, it was certainly an edentate nearly allied to it. Ameghino, apparently based on his own brother’s (Carlos) reports, wrote that he had heard on many occasions allusions to a:
"mysterious quadruped […] in the interior of the territory of Santa Cruz, living in burrows hollowed out in the soil, and usually only coming out at night. According to the reports of the Indians, it is a strange creature, with long claws and a terrifying appearance, impossible to kill because it has a body impenetrable alike to firearms and missiles."

Ameghino also said that at first he was puzzled by the description that Lista gave of his pangolin and unsuccessfully tried to identify the animal. When he finally got a piece of the "Neomylodon" skin from his brother, he had no doubts that Lista's pangolin was a variety of mylodon. Its smaller ossicles implied that it was a smaller species.

There is no doubt however that the survivg giant groundsloths are NOT the same as the Mapinguari f even if we are not concerned with the presence or absence of a long and thick heavy tail like a kangaroo's tail (something which would seem to be hard to miss). The difference is in the shoulder region: Mapinguari has the shoulder joint of a brachiating ape and has no trouble raising its arms high above its head. The groundsloths do NOT have this type of shoulder and hence their range of arm movement is considerably more limited.

But even without equating the two, there is still reason to suggest there is a persisting species of Mylodon-like groundsloth in the Amazon rainforests as well as other areas, and that is otherwise much like the groundsloths found in the La Brea Tar Pits.

And it would be a herbivore, not a carnivore, unless it could also take carrion as an appetizer. It is noted to have an elongated snout like a horse or a wolf's and the Native informants always make a big deal of the large hooked claws (dyed red with the blood of their victims, in the more lurid accounts, which is NOT something that turns up in stories about the Mapinguari)

Best Wishes, Dale D.


  1. I suppose the real reason why the giant groundsloths fail to account for the Mapinguari is that they fail to acount for the mouth on the torso and more specifically, the mouth cannot show fangs of the typical anthropoid pattern such as all the illustratuions show. Groundsloth teeth were quite different from the arrangement of an anthropoid ape.I was going to get an illustration for this but it is really quite unnecessary to go that far: "Mylodon" means "Molar teeth". Groundsloths of this genus or similar genera did not have foreteeth. There is simply no way they could open a mouth and show the regular array of fangs on the top illustration of this blog entry-and indeed, on every other illustration of the open mouth, wherever it might be placed realtive to the rest of the body.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  2. When I saw some of the drawings I thought of a Sulawesi bear for some reason. I realize that the Sulawesi bear lives at higher levels, but it does live in an area thought to be uncommon for marsupials. I was wondering if someone had possibly sighted this creature, and had seen a mouth on a lower section due to there being young in a pouch on it's body.


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