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.

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