Mapinguari : Mystery Primate or Sloth of South America.

Variant names:

Capé-lobo (“wolf’s cape”), Juma, Mão de pilão (“pestle hand”), Mapinguary, Ow-ow, Pé de G arrafa.

Physical description:

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.

Significant sightings:

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.

Possible explanations:

(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;
  • 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



Mysterious Creatures – A Guide to Cryptozoology written by George M. Eberhart – Copyright © 2002 by George M. Eberhart

The issue of South America’s unknown primate population is confused by credible reports of giant Bigfoot-like beasts from the Andes, the Ucu, as well as by accounts of Giant Monkeys. Even so, a number of sightings as well as other evidence keep the question of human-sized and smaller ape-like creatures very much alive in the various regions of the continent. Some are called Mapinguary, a term that merges with another local moniker, Didi.

The Didi is a site-specific name for a red-haired bulky anthropoid restricted to a narrow strip of northwestern South America. It appears to be shorter than the Mapinguary of Brazil, but both are unknown hominoids, and both sometimes are described as having red fur. For hundreds of years, native peoples in the Guyanese montane forests from the highlands of Brazil over through Suriname and Guyana have reported encounters with little hooting creatures they call didi, dru-di-di, or didi-aguiri. Once they had penetrated these areas, Westerners heard and recorded comparable accounts. In the course of the European discovery of British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1596-97, Sir Walter Raleigh and Laurence Keymis recorded rumors of the creatures. In 1769, Dr. Edward Bancroft, Benjamin Franklin’s friend and later a British spy in Paris, took note of stories of what he assumed were five-foot-tall apes with short black hair.

In 1910, the resident magistrate of British Guiana, a man named Haines, saw two Didis along the Konowaruk, near the junction of the Potato River. Eight years later the guide Miegam and three others were up the Berbice River, a little beyond Mambaca (in what was then British Guiana), when they spotted two figures they first took to be men on a beach. Soon, however, they “were staggered to find that the footprints were apes’, not men’s.” The Didi and Mapinguary, it seems, have similar feet, more anthropoid than human. Both also reportedly emit a similar range of whistles and sounds.

Typically, the Mapinguary is described in native traditions throughout southern Brazil as a mostly red-haired, sloping, bipedal, long-armed giant ape associated with unique “bottle” footprints. Most cryptozoologists, including Bernard Heuvelmans, Ivan T. Sanderson, and Loren Coleman, have written of the Mapinguary as a form of primate. But biologist David Oren told The New York Times in 1994 that Amazonians were in fact seeing supposedly extinct medium-sized giant Ground Sloths. Though some ostensible Mapinguary sightings may be of such an animal, others clearly are not. Mark A. Hall has written, “The popular discussions of David Oren’s research have done nothing to clear up the picture [regarding Mapinguary], They may have only confused the issue all the more for the time being.”

Likewise, Sanderson found the Didi a confusing creature to classify. He wondered if it was a regional version of the Mapinguary. But the Didi are smaller and usually darker than the Brazilian rainforest-dwelling Mapinguary. So we are left with questions. Are the Didi a small, dark, localized montane population of apes—or are they Proto-Pygmies?


The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark

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