Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Does The Giant Ground Sloth Still Live?

The Giant Ground Sloth, or Megatherium (Giant Beast) was an omnivorous relative of the modern-day sloth that lived in Pliocene - Pleistocene South America.

Evidence has been found suggesting Giant Sloth's survival into modern times. There is reason to believe indians hunted them. Fresh skin, dung and footprints were discovered in a cave in the Patagonian region of Argentina in 1895. Tales of the native indians revealed that when they tried hunting these creatures with arrows, the arrows bounced off their skin. It has been discovered that Megatherium had a layer of strong, bony armour in its skin, something also seen in the skins found in the cave. There have also been sightings of giant ground sloths in the area. One of the witnesses is Ramon Lista, the governor of Argentina. - http://cryptozoology.wikia.com/wiki/Giant_Sloth

-----

The Mapinguary

The mapinguary (also spelled "mapinguari") is a hairy biped reported from the Amazon Rainforest of South America. It is firmly embedded in local folklore, and some legends show characteristics that would tend to classify this beast as supernatural, scaring away researchers who work in the field of cryptozoology. The mapinguary sometimes speaks, likes to punish hunters who violate religious holidays, and is often bulletproof. Certain lore seems to link it with the South American werewolf. The more werewolf-like version of the mapinguary is called the "wolf's cape" and is thought to have originally been human.

Other sightings describe what sounds more like a real animal. The mapinguary looks something like Bigfoot, being a bipedal hairy giant, but it is less human-looking than Bigfoot. In fact, it resembles a giant sloth, an animal that was alive during the last Ice Age. Even its footprints resemble those of the giant sloth. Therefore, cryptozoologists who are investigating this creature usually think that if it exists, it is really a giant sloth.

Ornithologist David C. Oren is the researcher who is most strongly associated with the theory that mapinguary legends represent sightings of living giant sloths who survived the Ice Age extinctions, but there are many other scientists and adventurers who have looked into the problem. Charles Fort was perhaps the first to suggest the survival of giant ground sloths in South America, in reference to legends about the "blonde beast" of Patagonia.

-----

Sloth Scares the Boonville Natives
Hammond Times, Hammond, Indiana
Wednesday, August 18, 1937

Boonville, Ind., Aug. 18. [1937] – (U.P.) – A stranger who declined to identify himself strolled into the newspaper office here today and declared that the weird, mysterious beast whose screams and prowlings have terrified residents of the Ohio river valley is simply a giant sloth.

The man said he and his uncle were returning home from Mexico two years ago with the sloth, which they had captured on a game hunting expedition. He said they lost it near Evansville and never had found a trace of it since. He was uncertain if it was two-toed or three-toed, but averred that sloths came in both varieties.

When a sloth is hungry and frightened, he said, it will give vent to blood-curdling shrieks and yells such as terrified river valley residents have reported they have heard intermittently since Friday night [August 13].

At that time Mrs. Ralph Duff reported she caught a fleeting glimpse of the animal and said it looked like an ape.

Posses, according to reports here, are searching the river bottoms cautiously in the hope of tracking the beast to its lair.

River folk said today that they had seen an empty circus truck in the vicinity, and assumed that animal experts are endeavoring to capture the alleged monster also.

-----


A Huge Amazon Monster Is Only a Myth. Or Is It?

Perhaps it is nothing more than a legend, as skeptics say. Or maybe it is real, as those who claim to have seen it avow. But the mere mention of the mapinguary, the giant slothlike monster of the Amazon, is enough to send shivers down the spines of almost all who dwell in the world’s largest rain forest.

The folklore here is full of tales of encounters with the creature, and nearly every Indian tribe in the Amazon, including those that have had no contact with one another, have a word for the mapinguary (pronounced ma-ping-wahr-EE). The name is usually translated as “the roaring animal” or “the fetid beast.”

So widespread and so consistent are such accounts that in recent years a few scientists have organized expeditions to try to find the creature. They have not succeeded, but at least one says he can explain the beast and its origins.

“It is quite clear to me that the legend of the mapinguary is based on human contact with the last of the ground sloths,” thousands of years ago, said David Oren, a former director of research at the Goeldi Institute in Belém, at the mouth of the Amazon River. “We know that extinct species can survive as legends for hundreds of years. But whether such an animal still exists or not is another question, one we can’t answer yet.”

Dr. Oren said he had talked to “a couple of hundred people” who had said they had seen the mapinguary in the most remote parts of the Amazon and a handful who had said they had had direct contact.

In some areas, the creature is said to have two eyes, while in other accounts it has only one, like the Cyclops of Greek mythology. Some tell of a gaping, stinking mouth in the monster’s belly through which it consumes humans unfortunate enough to cross its path.

But all accounts agree that the creature is tall, seven feet or more when it stands on two legs, that it emits a strong, extremely disagreeable odor, and that it has thick, matted fur, which covers a carapace that makes it all but impervious to bullets and arrows.

“The only way you can kill a mapinguary is by shooting at its head,” said Domingos Parintintin, a tribal leader in Amazonas State. “But that is hard to do because it has the power to make you dizzy and turn day into night. So the best thing to do if you see one is climb a tree and hide.”

Geovaldo Karitiana, 27, a member of the Karitiana tribe, claims to have seen one about three years ago, as he was hunting in the jungle near an area that his tribe calls “the cave of the mapinguary.”

“It was coming toward the village and was making a big noise,” he said in a recent interview on the tribe’s reservation in the western Amazon. “It stopped when it got near me, and that’s when the bad smell made me dizzy and tired. I fainted, and when I came to, the mapinguary was gone.”

Mr. Karitiana’s father, Lucas, confirmed his son’s account. He said that when his son took him back to the site of the encounter, he saw a cleared pathway where the creature had departed, “as if a boulder had rolled through and knocked down all the trees and vines.”

Though the descriptions of the mapinguary may resemble the sasquatch of North America or the yeti of Himalayan lore, the comparisons stop there. Unlike its counterparts in the Northern Hemisphere, the creature is said not to flee human contact, but to aggressively hunt down the hunter, turning the tables on those who do not respect the jungle’s unwritten rules and limits.

“Often, the mapinguary gets revenge on people who transgress, who go where they shouldn’t go or harvest more animals or plants than they can consume, or set cruel traps,” said Márcio Souza, a prominent Brazilian novelist and playwright who lives in Manaus, in the central Amazon, and often draws on Amazon history and folklore in his works.

Amazon folklore, in fact, is full of fanciful creatures that are used to explain unwelcome or embarrassing phenomena. The boto, for example, is a type of dolphin that is said to be able to transform itself into human form, wearing a white hat to cover its air spout, and seducing and impregnating impressionable young virgins.

When a hunter or woodsman gets lost in the jungle, he often blames the curupira, a mischievous red-haired elf who has feet that face backward and takes delight in making trails that lead travelers astray. And when an experienced navigator inexplicably disappears or drowns in calm waters, he is usually said to have fallen victim to the iara, a cross between a siren and a mermaid.

Scientists link the current mapinguary legends to the Megatherium, one of the largest mammals ever. It vanished thousands of years ago.

“If you’re a rubber tapper and you’re returning to camp empty-handed, you’d better have a pretty good explanation for your boss,” said Marcos Vinícius Neves, director of the government’s department of historical and cultural patrimony in Acre State, where a statue of a mapinguary has been erected at a public plaza here in the capital. “The mapinguary is the best excuse you could possible imagine.”

Mr. Souza, the writer, counts himself among those who believe the mapinguary is a myth. The deforestation of the Amazon has accelerated so rapidly over the last generation, he argues, that if the creature really existed, “there would have been some sort of close encounter of the third kind by now.”

Partly for that reason, most zoologists scoff at the notion that it could be real.

The giant ground sloth, Megatherium, was once one of the largest mammals to walk the earth, bigger than a modern elephant. Fossil evidence is abundant and widespread, found as far south as Chile and as far north as Florida. But the trail stops cold thousands of years ago.

“When you travel in the Amazon, you are constantly hearing about this animal, especially when you are in contact with indigenous peoples,” said Peter Toledo, an expert on sloths at the Goeldi Institute. “But convincing scientific proof, in the form of even vestiges of bones, blood or excrement, is always lacking.”

Glenn Shepard Jr., an American ethnobiologist and anthropologist based in Manaus, said he was among the skeptics until 1997, when he was doing research about local wildlife among the Machiguenga people of the far western Amazon, in Peru. Tribal members all mentioned a fearsome slothlike creature that inhabited a hilly, forested area in their territory.

Dr. Shepard said “the clincher that really blew me away” came when a member of the tribe remarked matter of factly that he had also seen a mapinguary at the natural history museum in Lima. Dr. Shepard checked; the museum has a diorama with a model of the giant prehistoric ground sloth.

“At the very least, what we have here is an ancient remembrance of a giant sloth, like those found in Chile recently, that humans have come into contact with,” he said. “Let me put it this way: Just because we know that mermaids and sirens are myths doesn’t mean that manatees don’t exist.”

Even so, the mystery of the mapinguary is likely to continue, as is the search.

“There’s still an awful lot of room out there for a large sloth to be roaming around,” Dr. Shepard said. - The New York Times

-----


A July 2007 report from Rio Branco, Brazil states that a creature with one eye, like the Cyclops of Greek mythology, as well as a gaping mouth was seen wandering in the deep jungle. The creature was tall, seven feet or more when it stood on two legs, that it emitted a strong, extremely disagreeable odor, and that it has thick, matted fur.

Geovaldo Karitiana, 27, a member of the Karitiana tribe, claims to have seen as similar creature in 2003, as he was hunting in the jungle near an area that his tribe calls “the cave of the mapinguari.”

“It was coming toward the village and was making a big noise,” he said in a recent interview on the tribe’s reservation in the western Amazon. “It stopped when it got near me, and that’s when the bad smell made me dizzy and tired. I fainted, and when I came to, it was gone.”

Mr. Karitiana’s father, Lucas, confirmed his son’s account. He said that when his son took him back to the site of the encounter, he saw a cleared pathway where the creature had departed, “as if a boulder had rolled through and knocked down all the trees and vines.”

Source: Witness accounts to reporter

NOTE: The mere mention of the mapinguari, the giant sloth-like monster of the Amazon, is enough to send shivers down the spines of almost all who dwell in the world’s largest rain forest. The name is usually translated as “the roaring animal” or “the fetid beast.” Though the descriptions of the mapinguari may resemble the Sasquatch of North America, the comparison stop there. Unlike its counterparts in the Northern Hemisphere, the creature is said not to flee human contact, but to aggressively hunt down the hunter, turning the tables on those who do not respect the jungle’s unwritten rules and limits. Here is an interesting link - On the trail of a man-eating megatherium...Lon

Sources:
Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren - "Cryptozoology A-Z" - New York - Simon & Schuster - 1999
cryptozoology.wikia.com
Hammond Times, Hammond, Indiana
Newton, Michael - "Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers" - Jefferson, North Carolina - McFarland & Company - 2005
www.newanimal.org
www.nytimes.com

2 comments :

Jeffrey Long said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeffrey Long said...

I always love these stories the best. Jungles have always captivated me, and the stories involving them and extinct or unknown animals living in them, are my favorite. Not sure if you haven't done it yet, but I'd LOVE to see a post one day on Mokle-Mbembe(sp?) and the other supposed-living dinosaurs in the various jungles. As much as I love aliens and UFOs and those posts tend to be my favorites normally, lately the ones on the Giant Anaconda, and this one have taken the First Place for me, lol. And of course any posts on jungle expeditions for Bigfoot and Bigfoot-like creatures.

Please help support
'Phantoms and Monsters'
Thanks!


Amazon.com - Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices


 photo stricklerbanner-animate_zps7808a06b.gif


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...