View Full Version : Howling Amazon monster just an Indian legend?

December 18, 2001, 11:21 PM
Howling Amazon monster just an Indian legend?

By Axel Bugge

BRASILIA, Brazil, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Imagine this: a hairy, six-foot monster, howling and stinking of death, crossing your path in the semi-darkness under the canopy of the mighty Amazon jungle.

Among Amazon Indians, legend has it that such a creature stalks the forests like a tropical Abominable Snowman -- never photographed or captured.

The animal species called "Mapinguari," or giant defenders of the forests, by the Indians, is also known to the thousands of hunters that brave the forests every year. One such person, Joao Batista Azevedo, says he saw a Mapinguari 20 years ago after a 45-day canoe ride from the nearest village.

"I was working by the river when I heard a scream, a horrible scream," the now 70-year-old Azevedo told Reuters by telephone from his remote Amazon village. "Suddenly something looking like a man came out of the forest, all covered in hair. He was walking on two legs and thank God he did not come toward us. I will always remember that day."

Veteran Amazon ornithologist David Oren takes such stories very seriously. So much, in fact, that since 1988 he has been on a quest to find one of the creatures in the name of science and has led several expeditions into the depths of the world's largest rain forest to hunt for it.

"It's still being sighted regularly. Several people think they came face to face with the Devil in the forest," he says of people like Azevedo who have helped guide him on his search. He believes there are dozens left.

Oren's theory is that the beast could be the world's last living giant ground sloth -- a distant relative of existing tree sloths -- that became extinct more than 10,000 years ago.

That belief has cost him dearly, he says, in the often conservative scientific community where reputation is everything. The National Geographic Society turned him down and he has funded his expeditions largely with his own money.

Paul Martin, emeritus professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona and leading expert on the theory that humans were responsible for the extinction of such animals as the giant ground sloth, is one sceptic.


"I think he is 13,000 years too late. This sure does sound like the hunt for a Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster," Martin said. "The part of me that is completely romantic is rooting for David Oren. But where the science part of me is concerned I don't give him a chance."

Oren argues that a kind of giant ground sloth could still be alive in the Amazon because the forests offer huge, remote areas providing the necessary isolation to survive. Thick and impenetrable, the Amazon's continuous forest covers an area larger than all of Western Europe and is home to up to 30 percent of the world's animal and plant life.

Scientists say giant ground sloths were in abundance across the Americas, evidenced by fossil finds of such creatures in places as far apart as Patagonia in the south to the northwest of the United States.

The beast could have moved to the Amazon to escape hunting and encroachment of man on its natural habitat elsewhere.

Claudio Padua, a doctor of ecology who teaches at the University of Brasilia, is one of the few scientists prepared to believe Oren because the Amazon is is still hiding thousands of undiscovered species.

"It would be the find of the century, it would have an extraordinary impact" if found, said Padua.

He points out that 10 species of monkeys were discovered in the Amazon in the last decade. "As a scientist I accept that everything is possible until there is proof to the contrary," he said.


Generally a well-respected scientist, Oren is originally American but now carries a Brazilian passport. He first came to the Amazon in 1977 and for years worked for the Emilio Goeldi Museum in Belem -- one of Brazil's foremost Amazon research centers.

While he plugged away mapping the biological makeup of the Amazon, his fame may be best-connected with the Mapinguari.

Oren moved this year from Belem to take up a post with U.S. environmental group Nature Conservancy in Brasilia, thousands of miles (km) from the Amazon, making it very difficult for him to hunt the Mapinguari. So has he lost his belief?

Not at all, he says. Indeed in June, just after leaving, he wrote his second scientific article in a decade on the beast, presenting all his evidence.

"When I wrote the 1993 paper, I had never interviewed anyone who had claimed to have killed one of these supposed animals," he wrote in the newsletter of the World Conservation Union's Edentate Specialist Group.

He has now talked to seven hunters who claim to have shot the animal and another 80 people who have seen it, he says.

"What they describe: a creature approximately two meters (six feet) tall when standing upright; a very strong, unpleasant smell; extremely heavy and powerful build; capable of breaking thick roots with its footsteps," the article says.

Most likely a defense mechanism, the smell is described by some witnesses as a mixture of feces and rotting flesh.

Oren says the beast has long coarse fur, four large teeth and that it moves on two or four legs. It also has an "extremely loud, roaring vocalization ... similar to a human calling loudly, but with a growl at the end."

In fact, on his expeditions, Oren says he himself yelled into the darkness and it howled back to him.

In his Brasilia villa, Oren keeps more evidence that includes a clay mold of a footprint, about an inch deep, with three large toes. The toes face backward because the creature walks on its knuckles, he says.

A series of pictures includes a photo of claw marks on a tree, eight of them about a foot long and an inch deep.

But there are big holes in the story. For one, the hunters who say they shot it did not keep any fragment of the creature, apparently throwing the parts away due to the strong stench.

Oren remains convinced though, arguing that the story needs to be widely published to ensure that if one is shot again its remains are inspected by scientists.

And despite the scepticism of many, there's no doubt scientists are fascinated by Oren's hunt.

"I'd be thrilled out of my mind if he (Oren) succeeded, it would be in my wildest dreams," said Martin. "We (humans) resonate with these large animals, so everybody in town is going to feel the emotion of such a find."

22:02 12-18-01

Art Eatman
December 19, 2001, 11:04 AM
Well, lay in a supply of "Deepwoods Off" and have a go!

I can buy the "big animal". I can go along with some critter standing erect. I have difficulty with a vegetarian critter smelling bad because of feces and rotting meat.

Tree sloths poop on themselves. But a ground sloth? And, why would they roll in feces and dead animals? At least, to that extent? Are there unknown large predators, there, as well? Most predators take easy prey, and I'm just a bit dubious that a jaguar would go after that large an animal in the first place.

Sounds like something the Sierra Club should explore, en masse.

:), Art

December 19, 2001, 06:18 PM
¿ Somebody cloned Bill Clinton's wife ?

Al Thompson
December 19, 2001, 10:55 PM
C.R. - which one? Janet or Hillery?

On a more serious note.......

I've been assured by "experts" that no cougar are east of the Mississippi unless south of Orlando (FL).

Two sightings (one by me, one by father) so far of a beast that dosen't exist



December 20, 2001, 12:24 AM
There have been numerous sightings of cougars in the mountains of northern New England over the last few years. Officially, they dissappeared from NE in the early 1900's. Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire have all had recent sightings including several by a hunting guide I am aquainted with and trust to know the difference between a mountain lion and lynx, bobcat, or other animals in these parts.

There was even a picture of a "mysterious cat" in one of the local hunting publications, The "Hawkeye". A local from two towns over from mine snapped a pic of it crossing a road. There was no official declaration that cougars are back but I hope they really are. There's plenty for them to eat around here so they shouldn't have a problem in that respect.

The Fish And Game Department of NH will probably not admit that they are back until someone comes up with solid proof even though several F&G officers have seen them. That probably means they when someone kills one (illegal here) or gets killed by one they'll verify that wildcats are back.

BTW, the University Of New Hampshire's mascot is the wildcat.

December 20, 2001, 01:22 AM

December 20, 2001, 09:37 AM
Crtters move. We were assured that the Jaguar no longer ranged into NM for years. I have heard spotty reports of sightings for about 10 years now and finally a cat hunter down in southern AZ. near the NM border treed one with his hounds and has the pictures to prove it. Now the biologists are finding out that the Jaguar has been here all along it's just not seen very often. Duhhh!
Keep looking for the first verified Griz sighting in NM in nearly 50 years I think it's coming soon to a theater near you.

Double Naught Spy
December 20, 2001, 10:09 AM
The field of cryptozoology is full of stories like these. There appear to be the traditional cryptozoologists who look for secretive animals such rare cave salamanders in Texas that are now listed as endangered. Then there are those thrill-seeking and glory hungry ones, often not actually scientists, who go out looking for Big Foot, the Legend of Boggy Creek, the Abomidable Snowman, Champ in the Great Lakes, the Lochness Monster, the devil creature down in Mexico and the rest of Latin America known for eating goats, chickens, and dogs (Chupa-something), etc. When famed anthropologist, Grover Krantz, retired not too long ago, I managed to buy a plaster cast of a "female bigfoot" from his collection. Grover and others have speculated that there may be whole populations of giant creatures like bigfoot living amonst us, but they don't like people.

While there are stories, there is no hard evidence and anecdotal sightings, really shaky footage, etc. hardly constitute evidence. One of my favorite arguments as to why we don't find dead animals such as big foot in the woods is that other animals each them, which could be true, sort of. I have found all sorts of dead animal remains in the woods and on the prairies and even their unprotected bones usually survive for at least a few years before the elements claim them.

If anyone asks, I have traveled the world, shooting these animals, just to keep them away from the scientists. I have a stuffed big foot and snowman in my garage. I had to rent a small storage building for Lochness.

December 20, 2001, 10:23 AM
One of my favorites, the Chupa Cabra! Don't forget the Jersey Devil.

December 20, 2001, 10:40 AM

I worked with the guy that treed the Jaguar right after he did it. His is an avid cat hunter and takes his dogs out every week. He has both photos and a video of it. It was southwest of tucson.

You never know what is out in those desolate areas.

December 20, 2001, 06:22 PM
So what was The Beast of Gevaudan?

The beast preferably attacked women and children. It was depicted as a monster on drawings and engravings during the 16th century.
In the early summer of 1764, during the reign of Louis XV, a monstrous creature appeared in Gevaudan, in Auvergne in the mid parts of France. It had been sighted a couple of months prior to this in not far away Vivarais, where it had started its ravages. Nobody knew where it came from before this, but apparently it settled down somewhere near Gevaudan, and for more than three years it would attack and maim or kill the people of Gevaudan and their animals and livestock.
Allegedly it killed more than one hundred humans and wounded at least thirty during these three years. The beast preferred to pray on the weak, and attacked in particular women and children in the woods, the fields or in the mountain passes. A few of the victims got away with their lives, but most of these went mad from shock.
Despite several big hunting expeditions nobody managed to kill the beast (even if it sometimes appeared to get wounded), and this soon turned it into a legend. There was a massive amount of drawings, engravings and written descriptions of it, and when the newspapers picked up the story it spread all over France.
Everyone was suddenly hunting the beast of Gevaudan - representatives of the authority's, noblemen (at first local, but they were soon joined by noblemen from all over the country), professional hunters and even foreigners turned up after having heard of the beast. During these hunting parties several big predators were killed but none of these were the real beast.
In September 1765 Antoine de Beauterne believed he had killed it at last. Antoine was a well known wolf hunter and a game warden for the king. The news that he had killed the beast was celebrated all over France, but some people were skeptical. The animal he had killed did not entirely fit the descriptions of those people of Gevaudan that had actually seen the beast. - And the attacks soon continued.

When reading the different statements from those who were attacked but lived to tell and the descriptions of the wounds the beast gave it's victims, it is easy to understand what a terror it must have been for the people of Gevaudan. - It was much larger than a wolf, almost as big as a cow, and with a huge head. Its nose was long and pointed, sort of reddish in color. It had short ears and very big teeth. The fur was short and light gray in color. The chest was white, and along its back was a black stripe. The big paws had razor-sharp claws, and the tail was as thick as that of a wolf. Furthermore it was very agile and extremely strong. It was sometimes sighted in locations very far apart on the same day. When hunting it crawled almost with its belly to the ground. One shepherd claimed it could stand up on its rear legs and was strong enough to lift a full-grown sheep with its arms. Dogs fled in terror from it as most other animals. The only animals strong and big enough to make a stand against it were bulls. It was also said that it was afraid of firearms. Maybe because it had been shoot a couple of times.
Things got only worse. The whole district around Gevaudan was paralyzed with fear. No one dared to go into the woods to get firewood and the shepherds didn't dare to take their herds out to graze. They tried to use wolf traps without any success at all. They left poisoned meat out in the fields and in the wood and lots of predators died from this, but not the one it was intended for.
Everyone who had seen the beast - hunters as well as victims, and also many scientists of the time had different theories on what the true identity of the monster could be. At first most people considered it a huge wolf which had come down from the Alps, Then it was a hyena, a bear, an ape, the bastard offspring of a lion and a tiger. Among the common people many seriously considered it to be a werewolf.
In June 1767, a local farmer, Jean Chastel, at last managed to kill the beast. Just as the animal killed by Antoine de Beauterne it actually looked remotely similar to a wolf, but it was very much bigger than any local wolves ever heard of.

The animal Jean Chastel had killed was embalmed and taken from town to town so people could have a look at it after paying a small amount of money. The king however wanted it to be exhibited at the royal palace, so Jean himself went to Versailles with the body. Unfortunately the embalming wasn't to good so at the time they reached the palace all that remained was a stinking corpse. The king got upset by the smell and ordered it buried at once.
One week after the killing of the creature, during a hunting party led by marquise Labesseyre-Saint-Mary, one of the hunters, Jean Terrisse killed a giant female wolf, and it was considered that this was the mate of the monster. After the killing of these two animals no more attacks were reported.
The legends of the beast of Gevaudan lived on however and many people still doubted that the animal that was killed was the real beast. Rumors spread that the killings were made by men. Some sort of secret cult blaming their criminal activity's on an animal. There were also rumors of a man in Gevaudan dressing up in wolf furs to scare people. But there are no more records of killings, so probably one or both animals killed really were responsible. And due to bad embalming we will probably never know what kind of animal this creature really was. In those days wolf and bear were very common all over Europe so I strongly doubt anyone would have paid to see a dead wolf or bear.

an 8 foot weasel?

Art Eatman
December 21, 2001, 05:08 PM
Giz, add south Jawgia to the non-existent habitat of the non-existent cougar.

My wife knows what they look like, from sitting on the cougar-skin rug in the house. She's seen one crossing the road near her house; other sightings along the upper Ochlochnee River...

:), Art