Does the Legendary Mapinguari of South America Exist?
All over the world there are tales of legendary creatures — sometimes magical and mischievous, such as fairies, sometimes ferocious and deadly, like yowies. Within these creatures’ respective cultures are numerous people who not only believe in them, but are positive that they’ve seen them firsthand.
Deep in the Amazonian rainforest lurks one of these creatures — the Mapinguari, which is often referred to as a “sloth monster.” It’s a popular figure within Brazilian culture, and tales of how fearsome it is have persisted into modern day, where reports of sightings continue to mount, as does evidence of the destruction left in the Mapinguari’s wake.
According to most legends, the sloth monster began its life thousands of years ago, as an Amazonian shaman who stumbled upon the secret to immortality. Because of his findings, however, he became smug, an attribute that angered the gods. As a punishment for his hubris, they transformed the shaman into a giant, sloth-like creature and left it to wander the forest for eternity.
Description: The Sloth Monster
When people think of sloths, they generally think of sweet, peaceful, slow-moving creatures that delight in hanging from branches and delicately eat flowers. It’s hard to imagine a fearsome sloth.
But the mapinguari is giant, exceeding seven feet in length when it stands on its hind legs, which it apparently does, on occasion, though it is said to travel on all fours. And when it assumes this posture, the unfortunate person beholding it can bear witness to its second mouth, located on its belly.
The description grows more bizarre, depending on who gives it. From its backward-facing feet protrude sharp claws. Some say it possesses only one eye, which is centered upon its head, and that its thick skin is akin to that of a crocodile — so tough that arrows would bounce off of it.
Unlike the common sloth, mapinguaris are reputedly greedy carnivores that will consume any living thing in its path — including entire herds of cattle. Regardless, no reports have been made of any human ever being eaten by the creature. But that may be because of the mapinguari’s stench, a foul-smelling warning said to cover a large radius and be so potent that it could render a person unconscious.
The Amazonian rainforest contains numerous indigenous tribes, many of whom have not had contact with one another, and they all believe in the mapinguari, have their own names for it (often translated as “the roaring animal” or “the fetid beast”), and have personal accounts of it. One member of the Karitiana tribe, Geovaldo Karitiana, recounted his story to the New York Times, explaining that he was hunting in the forest near what his tribe refers to as “the cave of the mapinguari.” He’s quoted as saying, “‘It was coming toward the village and was making a big noise…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 mapinguari was gone.”
Geovaldo’s father explained that his son showed him the path of destruction left in the sloth monster’s midst, that the creature’s trail was obvious from the number of felled trees and vines that were trampled and strewn about.
David Oren, a well-known scientist and skeptic-turned-believer, has been pursuing the beast for years. In his quest, he has collected stories from more than 50 other eye witnesses who have come forward with their stories. Discover Magazine shares the story of Mário Pereira de Souza, one of the witnesses who met with Oren: “His encounter with a mapinguari took place in 1975, when he was working as a hunter for a mining camp along the Jamauchim River, which flows into the Tapajós, just south of Itaituba.
De Souza said the long-haired creature screamed and came staggering toward him on its hind legs, swaying and unsteady. But what he remembers most, and the reason he claims he has never set foot in the rain forest again, was the stench. ‘The horrible smell entered into me and made me dizzy,’ he says. ‘I was not right for two months.’”
Ground Sloth Facts — Evidence of Existence
Despite their best efforts, numerous scientists have had a rough time disproving the existence of this giant ground sloth. Even though its description seems so far-fetched, many researchers have reason to believe the creature is a relative of a certain species of giant ground sloth called the Megatherium.
The Megatherium is believed to have gone extinct sometime during the 16th century and is described as walking on four legs, but capable of standing on its hind legs, measuring at least nine feet in length. It’s said to have had huge claws that appeared to be backward to dig up vegetation. There’s even evidence of massive scent glands on its stomach that may have been mistaken for a second mouth. Perhaps it would explain the creature’s token horrific stench. Unlike the mapinguari, the Megatherium was said to be a vegetarian.
The world is replete with strange, wondrous, and fear-provoking creatures, and the Amazon is no exception. Of course, there is no telling what the mapinguari actually is, but like so many of the wild and elusive monsters of legend, its unfortunate reputation — and stench — precedes it. Jungle explorers would be best served to retreat at the first malodorous hint, and taking the advice of tribal leader Domingos Parintintin who said that “…the best thing to do if you see one is climb a tree and hide.” And, you know, take a few photographs while you’re up there.
Environmental correspondent Ian Johnston reported that “a new species is being discovered in the Amazon every two days, from fire-tailed titi monkeys and yellow-moustached lizards to pink river dolphins and honeycomb-patterned stingrays. And “the astonishing rate of new finds showed scientists had still only scratched the surface of all the ‘incredible species’ that live there.” Perhaps the mapinguari is next on the list, if the Amazon survives long enough to reveal its secrets.
Countless Bigfoot Sightings in Colorado Tracked at Sasquatch Outpost
If you perform a Google search for the term “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch,” on any given day it’s likely you’ll find at least a few articles published within the past week. Sasquatch has become so ingrained in our culture, arguably more than any other cryptid, to the point that if it somehow isn’t real, we’ve practically willed it into existence.
Beyond its cultural acceptance, there’s actually overwhelming evidence of the reality of such a creature that spans centuries of sightings and lore throughout myriad cultures. Jim Meyers, a professional Sasquatch seeker and owner of the Sasquatch Outpost in Bailey, CO, cites the fact that nearly every Native American tribe has its own epithet for Sasquatch.
The Navajo call it “Ye’ Iitsoh,” meaning “Big God”; the Cherokee call it “Ketleh-Kudleh,” meaning “Hairy Savage”; and the Lakota-Sioux call it “Chiye-Tanka” meaning “Big Elder Brotha.”
Often, Native Americans refer to Sasquatch as another tribe or another people, rather than a species of ape or animal, Meyers says. And this near-universal acceptance of such a creature by indigenous peoples who have inhabited remote areas of the US, centuries before its modern development, is one of the most compelling pieces of evidence for the existence of Sasquatch in his opinion.
Though Sasquatch has assimilated into our modern mythological zeitgeist, it can be found in a number of cultural traditions across the world—on nearly every continent, in fact.
Known as the Yeti, Yeren, Yowie, or the pejorative Abominable Snowman, tales of a large, hairy bipedal creature can be found in Australia, Asia, Europe, and both Americas. Interestingly though, Meyers says he’s not familiar with any instances of Sasquatch sightings in Africa, which is also where he lived much of his life.
Meyers grew up in Africa, as his parents were missionaries—a career path he would follow in his adulthood. Having moved to Kenya at age 11, he went to boarding school before attending college in the US. Feeling a desire to continue his parents’ work, Myers would spend another 20 years working as a missionary in Senegal, followed by a decade spent in France. Eventually, he returned to the states and settled in Bailey.
While he was always fascinated with Bigfoot, ever since he saw “The Legend of Boggy Creek” as a kid, Meyers said it wasn’t until a local businesswoman in Bailey recounted a very credible sighting she experienced in the area. Shortly thereafter, Animal Planet recorded an episode of Finding Bigfoot in Bailey, adding to Meyers’ interest, and the rest was history…
Searching for a new avenue of business to pursue, and hearing multitudes of stories and eyewitness sightings in the area, Meyers decided to open a Sasquatch museum in his small Colorado township in 2014. It’s now become a tourist hotspot with over 36,000 visits.
At the Sasquatch Outpost, Meyers has curated his ongoing research into the Sasquatch Encounter Museum where one finds recordings of the creature’s vocalizations, examples of the ways in which it bends, and snaps tree branches, and plaster casts of its footprints.
One of those casts happens to be from the most famous and credible Bigfoot sighting of all time: the Patterson-Gimlin film from 1967. While some skeptics claim the clip has been debunked and a deathbed confession of a hoax was made, Meyers is quick to correct that as a fallacy, pointing out that he’s talked with Patterson’s wife who said he maintained the veracity of the film up until his death.
And if that weren’t enough, Meyers has also kept a map of various levels of Sasquatch sightings and interactions people have reported experiencing throughout Colorado at the Outpost. On the map are various colored pins based on the type of encounter experienced: red denotes a visual sighting; yellow indicates tree breaks and bends; green indicates a vocalization or tree knocking; blue identifies a rock or item thrown at someone.
If you’ve had a Bigfoot encounter in Colorado, you may be able to contribute to this growing map of over 300 encounters. In the meantime, check out Meyers in the latest episode of Beyond Belief.