The Mapinguari is a legendary ground-dwelling sloth-like creature resembling an ape which is reported to still roam the jungles of Brazil and Bolivia.
Description of Mapinguari
The Mapinguari is thought to be a relative of a type of giant ground sloth (possibly a Megatherium) that is generally believed to have died out some 10,000 years ago. However, some think these sloths may have survived and could be living in the jungles of South America.
These sandy-haired beasts first appeared over 30 million years ago and fossil records reveal they inhabited North and South America, the Caribbean and Antarctica.
The sloths weighed approximately 500 pounds and stood 9 feet tall on their hind legs. This big marsupial was a quadruped with long claws that curled back under its feet and faced backwards when it walked.
It is thought that these sloths may have been raised for food in the same way cattle are today.
“Mapinguari” translates to “roaring animal” or “fetid beast”.
The Mapinguaris of local folklore have some disturbing characteristics (possibly exaggerated over the years as the legend grew), including having only one eye and having a second mouth on their stomachs.
Local stories also describe the beast as being slow-moving but ferocious, and able to move through the vegetation without making a sound.
Its smell is putrid and its skin is seemingly impervious to arrows and bullets.
The legendary Mapinguari’s only known weakness is its aversion to water. It is thought that it cannot move very easily in water, so tends to avoid it whenever possible.
Another feature of the Mapinguari is that it is believed to be carnivorous, although there are no accounts of it ever eating humans. They tend to attack cattle, killing them and ripping out their tongues with their sharp claws.
Other descriptors include long, powerful arms that could tear down a palm tree, and thick, matted fur. The creature is also said to emit a terrifying shriek.
The Mapinguari seems to look like Bigfoot but retains certain sloth-like features. This leads scientists to believe that, if the creature does exist, it is probably some form of giant sloth.
One of the most reliable early sightings was made by Ramón Lista in the late 19th century. While riding in Santa Cruz, he saw a shaggy red-haired creature run across the road ahead of him.
He shot at the animal and was amazed that the bullets bounced off its skin.
In 1975, a miner named Mário Pereira de Souza claimed he saw a Mapinguari at a mining camp along the Rio Jamauchím south of Itaituba, Pará State, Brazil.
He says he heard a scream and turned to see a huge creature advancing towards him on its hind legs. He remembers the creature’s awful stench.
A group of Kanamarí Indians in the Rio Juruá Valley state that they raised two Mapinguaris on bananas and milk. They say they released the creatures after about two years because their stench had become too much to bear. No one seems to know what happened to these Mapinguaris.
In 1994, biologist David Oren spoke to The New York Times about the fact that Amazonians were reporting sightings of Mapinguaris. He organized a trip to the Amazon, however this expedition failed to uncover any evidence.
This lack of evidence meant that the scientific community had no cause to revise their opinion that the Mapinguari is extinct.
Discover Magazine ran a story about a Brazilian man who had supposedly encountered a Mapinguari. Manuel Vitorino Pinheiro dos Santos, an experienced hunter, heard a blood-curdling scream while moving through the Amazon. Hiding in a river, Manuel heard the scream a further four times as the creature slowly moved away.