Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Cryptids of South America

South America is the world's 4th-largest continent in terms of land area. However, it has only the 5th-largest human population of all the continents on Earth. This means that there are still numerous wilderness regions on this amazing continent that are not yet explored, and might offer some incredible new zoological discoveries in the future.

All kinds of cryptids reportedly live on the South American continent. Among these are creatures which resemble dinosaurs. As I wrote about in my last post, one of these dinosaurs is a theropod-like beast which has occasionally been sighted in the deserts of northern Chile. However, there are also many other reports of dinosaur-like creatures coming from this area of the world.
Like the mokele-mbembe in Africa, a few people have reported seeing long-necked, herbivorous creatures resembling sauropod dinosaurs in the jungles of South America. For example, in 1946, a traveller named Leonard Clark was sailing up the Perene River in Peru, when he met several Indian tribes who told him stories about gigantic, long-necked plant-eating beasts which very closely resembled the sauropod dinosaur Diplodocus.
Also, on December 17, 1919, the infamous British explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett wrote a newspaper article about a close friend of his who had seen the head and neck of a creature resembling an Apatosaurus emerge from a river along the border between Brazil and Bolivia. After a while, the creature plunged back into the water, and disappeared. Col. Fawcett also claimed that his friend was a very honest man, and that he would not make up a story like this.
Most recently, in early 1995, a group of geology students studying quartz deposits in the Sinorca Mountains of eastern Brazil spotted two strange dinosaur-like creatures in the Paraguaca River. The eyewitnesses described both of the creatures as being around 30 feet long, with a very large and bulky body, a long neck that was about 6 feet long, and an 8-foot long tail.

In addition to what appear to be living dinosaurs, many other notable cryptids are also reported from the South American continent. Some of the most interesting are gigantic snakes reported from the rainforests of the Amazon. For the past 500 years, eyewitness accounts of enormous snakes similar to the anaconda have come from the Amazon. Once again, Colonel Percy Fawcett is involved in these stories, as well. In 1906, Fawcett wrote that he had shot an anaconda which measured about 19 meters (62 feet) from nose to tail. Immediately after Colonel Fawcett's story was published, it was ridiculed. However, many decades later, Belgian cryptozoologist Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans defended the veracity of the story. Heuvelmans argued that Fawcett's writing was usually honest and reliable, so there was no reason to doubt the integrity of this one.
Ever since then, numerous other people have also come forward with accounts of them seeing gigantic snakes in the Amazon rainforest. However, until now, no body has been found, which means that this remarkable creature still remains in the realm of cryptozoology, waiting to be discovered.

One more notable South American cryptid is the Mapinguari. This strange beast is a creature resembling a prehistoric ground sloth with red fur. It is reported to live in the Amazon rainforests of Brazil and Bolivia. There are many theories regarding the possible origins of the Mapinguari. Some dismiss it as pure myth, or as a folk memory of the giant megafauna that once existed in South America during the Pleistocene epoch. Other cryptozoologists have compared it to large, bipedal primates, such as the Sasquatch and the Yeti. Others think that it might be a relict population of ground sloths that survived extinction.
In any case, the Mapinguari is obviously a weird and fascinating beast, whatever it turns out to be.

These are just a few of the many amazing cryptids and unknown creatures reported from South America. In conclusion, South America is home to many remarkable cryptids, and it is an incredible place for cryptozoologists to investigate, in their search for new species.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Living Dinosaurs of Northern Chile - Part 1

South America is home to many very unique cryptids. One of these amazing creatures is a dinosaur-like beast that was seen numerous times near the town of Arica, Chile in 2004.

The first sighting occurred at around 9:40 p.m on Thursday, July 29, 2004. Dario Riquelme was driving a vehicle from Iquique to Arica. Chilean Army official Hernan Cuevas, his wife, and his two young children were with him in the car. The sighting took place about 17 kilometers South of Arica.

Riquelme and the Cuevas family had left Iquique at about 6:00 p.m. They were only a few minutes away from arriving at Arica, when something strange darted across the road in front of their car. Riquelme then stopped the vehicle.
A few minutes later, a second one crossed the road. This time, Hernan Cuevas and his 12-year-old daughter, Tania, could clearly see the creature. They estimated that the creature’s height was around 2 meters.

Riquelme stated that the creature “looked just like a dinosaur, walking on two legs”, and that it had “very large and noticeable thighs”. He also described it as being “grey and hairless”.
Cuevas’ description of the creature was very similar to Riquelme’s. 12-year-old Tania said that the creatures were very similar to dinosaurs, and that they had relatively short arms.
All of the witnesses were amazed at how fast the creatures crossed the road, and the length of the strides that they took as they walked across. All of the witnesses have yet to find a satisfactory and logical explanation for what they saw on that day.

In addition to this sighting, several other motorists have also come forward to report encounters with strange creatures resembling bipedal dinosaurs in late July 2004.
For example, about 2 weeks before this incident, the Abett de la Torre Diaz family also had a similar strange encounter of the cryptozoological kind. They were driving on the exact same road, at around the exact same time of day, when they had a similar sighting. This sighting apparently involved a group of 4 creatures.
At first, 2 creatures jumped over the car. Then, a few minutes later, 2 more creatures ran across the road in front of the car. The eyewitnesses described the creatures as "dog-faced kangaroos" which closely resembled "gargoyles". One eyewitness, Carmen Abett de la Torre Diaz, said that she wasn't sure if the creatures had wings or legs, but that the appendages were angled towards the back.
At first, the family kept their sighting a secret, in order to avoid humiliation and ridicule. However, after the Riquelme & Cuevas sighting was reported to the press, they decided to report theirs, as well. 

These sightings soon became so popular that, in 2009, the Syfy show Destination Truth launched an expedition to search for these creatures. The team interviewed the local eyewitnesses, and talked to a paleontologist at the University of Tarapaca named Caodero Santoro. Santoro has been investigating accounts of these strange creatures for years, and he feels that a large predator could remain relatively undetected in the caves and canyons which dot the Atacama Desert, as long as there is vegetation, prey, and a source of water. Afterwards, the team went out into the desert, looking for evidence of this creature. However, their findings were inconclusive.

My hypothesis about these remarkable creatures is that they are not native to the Arica region. This is because they were only sighted for a brief 2-month period in 2004. I haven't heard of any other reported sightings either before or after. Also, there is probably not enough food and water in the Atacama Desert to support such large creatures. Therefore, what I think is that these cryptids probably live in the forests and canyons of northern Chile and southern Peru, and that a small population travelled to the Atacama desert of northern Chile in 2004. Afterwards, this population either died out, or moved on to someplace else.

When it comes to the identity of these animals, I cannot think of any other creature that would fit the bill  besides a theropod dinosaur. The bipedal stance, the large, muscular thighs, the sharp teeth, and the reported speed and methods of locomotion remind me very strongly of these prehistoric creatures. I know that many people would consider this idea to be unlikely and somewhat far-fetched, but to me, it appears to be by far the most logical explanation.

As you can clearly see, South America is a very interesting place to visit, in pursuit of wonderful cryptozoological mysteries such as this. In my next post, I will write about some more South American cryptids. See you then.