The Cherufe is a gigantic, anthropophagous creature in the Mapuche mythology; of the South American culture, in Chile.
Cherufe LegendThe Cherufe is an evil creature humanoid of rock and magma. It is said that Cherufe inhabit the magma pools found deep within Chilean volcanoes and are the source of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Cherufe are also said to be the source of magicians ardent stones (meteorites and volcanic stones) that cause damage in volcanic regions. The only way to abate the Cherufe's appetite for destruction was to satiate the beast's taste for human flesh by throwing a sacrificial victim into the bowels of its volcanic home. Much like the European dragon, the Cherufe's preferred delicacy came in the form of virginal maidens.
Legend has it that once the Cherufe was finished consuming the more delicate portions of its victims, it would delight in a macabre game in which it would ignite the disembodied heads of the young girls who were sacrificed to it, and hurtle them from the mouth of its volcanic home.
The mythological origins of this beast may have originated to explain anomalies of geological events such as volcanic eruptions.
The Cherufe creature in cryptozoology
In Cryptozoology, the Cherufe is described as a large reptilian humanoid creature or dragon. The Cherufe appeared in the episode "Twelve Thousand Degrees Fahrenheit" of The Secret Saturdays, a Cartoon Network series about cryptids. A variation of the Cherufe called the Red Cherufe appears in The New Brighton Archeological Society graphic novel.
Cryptozoological investigators also consider the possibility that the legends of the Cherufe maybe be based, albeit loosely, on sightings of an actual biological entity, which would have to be capable not only of surviving, but flourishing, in the incredible heat of molten rock. This might be similar to animals who thrive in the tremendous heat found in the mineral rich exhaust of hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor.
However, in the "original" Mapuche legend, the Cherufe is not a dragon, reptile humanoid or similar creature; and this description is based on a later mistaken interpretation of the myth. It would appear that the Cherufe was originally intended to be a giant snake and parallel to a giant snake that lives under the sea floor to generate seaquakes and tsunamis. The Peruvian equivalent to the Cherufe would be another giant snake which creates earthquakes and is called by the name Pachamama (Earthmother), Ironically also represented as a separate Cryptid that Karl Shuker equates to the Minhocao (Giant Earthworm) Instead, all of these giant serpents appear to have been originally mythical explanations for natural phenomena and religious concepts.
[This is the Wikipedia entry as it stands and I had just added the last sentences myself, we shall see if they remain there.]
The thing is that whatever the original meaning of the name was, the more recent reports are using the name to describe a sort of dragon or dragonman, sometimes confused with Chupacabras. They are imagined to be like European "Salamanders", as being immune to heat and fire. The original creatures are also said by the more conservative South American Cryptozoologists to be simply large iguanas that live among the lava rocks as the Galapagoes iguanas also do. It would seem that the lizard form "Cherufes" are about the size of Komodo dragon lizards, sizes of 6 to 12 feet being specified when any sizes were specified at all. They are also said to have the row of spines down the middle of the back like an iguana
Best Wishes, Dale D.