The Cryptid Zoo: Mapinguary

The mapinguary (also spelled "mapinguari") is a hairy biped reported from the Amazon Rainforest of South America. It is firmly embedded in local folklore, and some legends show characteristics that would tend to classify this beast as supernatural, scaring away researchers who work in the field of cryptozoology. The mapinguary sometimes speaks, likes to punish hunters who violate religious holidays, and is often bulletproof. Certain lore seems to link it with the South American werewolf. The more werewolf-like version of the mapinguary is called the "wolf's cape" and is thought to have originally been human.

Other sightings describe what sounds more like a real animal. The mapinguary looks something like Bigfoot, being a bipedal hairy giant, but it is less human-looking than Bigfoot. In fact, it resembles a giant sloth, an animal that was alive during the last Ice Age. Even its footprints resemble those of the giant sloth. Therefore, cryptozoologists who are investigating this creature usually think that if it exists, it is really a giant sloth. All the weird characteristics are regarded as being added on by superstition.

Ornithologist David C. Oren is the researcher who is most strongly associated with the theory that mapinguary legends represent sightings of living giant sloths who survived the Ice Age extinctions, but there are many other scientists and adventurers who have looked into the problem. Charles Fort was perhaps the first to suggest the survival of giant ground sloths in South America, in reference to legends about the "blonde beast" of Patagonia.

You can find out more about the Mapinguary and/or the Giant Sloth from the following sources:

Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren. Cryptozoology A-Z. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Pages 150-151

Coleman, Loren. Charles Fort and Cryptozoology

Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. Pages 4, 198, 205, 284, 290, 356, 428
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Quest for the Giant Sloth

Shuker, Karl. The Beasts That Hide From Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals. New York: Paraview Press, 2003. Page 289

Smith, Nigel. The Enchanted Amazon Rain Forest. Miami: University Press of Florida, 1996. Pages 53-57

Weidensaul, Scott. The Ghost with Trembling Wings: Science, Wishful Thinking and the Search for Lost Species. New York: North Point Press, 2002. Pages 173, 183-186, 298

Wikipedia, The. Giant Sloth

Wikipedia, The. Mapinguari

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The text on this page is copyright 2005 by Jamie Hall. Please use proper citation if you are using this website for research.