Right after the sightings occurred, there was a popular theory reported in the newspapers that the creatures were rheas. The rhea is a large, flightless ratite bird, similar to the African ostrich, which lives in South America.
I disagree with this theory. First of all, the creatures are described as having leathery skin, without feathers or hair of any kind. Also, size is a problem; the largest male rheas can barely reach 6 feet tall. And the strange beasts which were sighted by eyewitnesses were reported as being more than 6.5 feet tall, in one sighting. And finally, rheas, like most birds, have short, stubby tails. And the creatures which were seen in northern Chile's Atacama desert had long tails.
If I examine the eyewitness descriptions, the only creature which comes to my mind is a non-avian theropod dinosaur. However, I am very skeptical of the idea that a population of medium-sized theropod dinosaurs could survive undetected in the Atacama desert. You see, the Atacama desert is one of the driest places in the whole world. There is very little water and vegetation. Therefore, there is not a lot of prey available to such a large predator.
This is why I have come to the conclusion that these cryptids probably live in the canyons and forests of northern Chile and southern Peru. In 2004, a small population of these creatures probably wandered into the Atacama desert, and were seen by several unsuspecting motorists driving across the road from Iquique to Arica.
This is my modest attempt to clear up the confusion surrounding this very peculiar cryptid. However, there are still many questions which remain unanswered, and until we can prove for sure that these creatures really do exist, this will always remain the case.
In my next post, I will write about the mokele-mbembe, and other alleged living sauropods. Using logic, and the information from eyewitness anecdotes, I will attempt to come up with the most satisfactory explanation, for these intriguing cryptids.