Mapinguari : Mystery Primate or Sloth of South America.
Capé-lobo (“wolf’s cape”), Juma, Mão de pilão (“pestle hand”), Mapinguary, Ow-ow, Pé de G arrafa.
Height, about 5–6 feet when standing upright. Weighs about 500 pounds. Long, reddish fur or hair. Monkeylike face. Manelike hair along its back. Said to have another mouth in its belly. Its feet are said to turn backward.
Nocturnal. Avoids water. Descends from the mountains in the autumn. Cry is either a deafening roar or like a human shout. Releases a foul-smelling stench when threatened. Kills cattle by pulling out their tongues. Eats bacaba palm hearts and berries. Twists palm trees to the ground to get the palm hearts. Travels with herds of White-lipped peccaries (Tayassu pecari). Said to be followed by an army of beetles. Cannot be wounded by weapons except around its navel.
Either humanlike or like the bottom of a bottle stuck into the ground. Length, 11–21 inches. Stride, 3–4 feet. Feces similar to a horse’s.
The apelike variety is more often seen in Mato Grosso and Pará States, Brazil; the slothlike variety has been reported in Amazonas and Acre States, Brazil. Possible evidence also exists in Paraguay.
An adventurer named Inocêncio was with ten friends on an expedition up the Rio Uatumã, Pará State, Brazil, in 1930 when he was separated from them and got lost. As he slept in a tree for the night, he heard loud cries coming from a thickset, black figure that stood upright like a man. He shot at it several times and apparently hit it, as there was a trail of blood below his tree.
In 1975, mine worker Mário Pereira de Souza claims he encountered a Mapinguari at a mining camp along the Rio Jamauchím south of Itaituba, Pará State, Brazil. He heard a scream and saw the creature coming toward him on its hind legs. It seemed unsteady and emitted a terrible stench.
In the 1980s and 1990s, David Oren conducted fifty interviews with Brazilian Indians, rubber planters, and miners who know about the animal. He interviewed seven hunters who claim to have shot specimens. One group of Kanamarí Indians living in the Rio Juruá Valley claimed to have raised two infant Mapinguaris on bananas and milk; after one or two years, the creatures’ stench became unbearable, and they were released.
In the late 1990s, Dutch zoologist Marc van Roosmalen heard that people in one village along the Rio Purus, Amazonas State, Brazil, moved their homes across the river after Mapinguari tracks were found nearby.
(1) Unknown ape similar to De Loys’s Ape or the Didi.
(2) A surviving man-sized Patagonian cave-dwelling sloth of the genus Mylodon. All subfossil fur samples are red. Mylodon walked with its clawed feet curved toward the centre of its body. Its dermal ossicles (except around the navel) might protect it from gunfire. The round tracks might be the impression of the heavy tail tip as the creature stands upright. David Oren suggests that the “second mouth” is a specialized, scent-secreting gland.
- Paulo Saldanha Sobrinho, Fatos, histórias e lendas do Guaporé, as quoted at http://www.pakaas.com.br/lenda2.asp;
- Frank W. Lane, Nature Parade (London: Jarrolds, 1955), p. 241;
- Luís da Câmara Cascudo, Dicionário do folclore Brasileiro (Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Nacional do Livro, 1962), vol. 2, p. 456;
- David C. Oren, “Did Ground Sloths Survive to Recent Times in the Amazon Region?” Goeldiana Zoologia, no. 19 (August 20, 1993): 1–11;
- “The Mother of All Sloths,” Fortean Times, no. 77 (October–November 1994): 17;
- Laurie Goering, “Amazon Primatologist Shakes Family Tree for New Monkeys,” Chicago Tribune, July 11, 1999;
- Marguerite Holloway, “Beasts in the Mists