Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Mapinguari

Mapinguari Beast Hunter
Yesterday we talked about the second episode consisting of the legendary Mapinguari. Here is some info on this bizarre creature.

Facts Behind the Mapinguari
Deep in the Brazilian Amazon lurk tales of a massive one-eyed monster. With slashing claws, savage howl, noxious stench and a gaping mouth in its body, the locals tremble to repeat its name: Mapinguari. For some it exists only in the spirit world, but for those who've been attacked it is brutally real. On his search for the truth about the Mapinguari, Beast Hunter Pat Spain interviews natives who claim to have seen the beast, and investigates potential biological connections with other known animals. Below are some interesting facts related to his hunt.

In 1937, there was a report from Central Brazil that claimed a mapinguari had gone on a three week rampage killing over 100 cows and ripping out the tongues from the bovine carcasses.

In 2005 scientists used radiocarbon dating on bones found on Cuba and Hispaniola to prove that ground sloths, although not giant ones, were present on the island as recently as 4,400 years ago and have speculated that their demise and extinction coincided with the arrival of modern humans on the islands.

One of the largest giant ground sloths found to date is the Megatherium americanum which was one of the largest mammals of its time. Growing up to 20 feet long and weighing over three tons, it used its huge and powerful claws for tearing down leaves and branches.

Sloths move so slowly that green algae forms on their fur which helps to camouflage them from predators. In fact their fur provides an entire ecosystem to many creatures, including beetles and moths.

There are both two-toed and three-toed modern-day sloths. They are built for a life almost entirely in the trees, where they mate and even give birth. On the ground, they are awkward and clumsy, making them vulnerable to predators. In fact they are better swimmers than walkers.

When sleeping, sloths often curl up in a ball in the fork of a tree.

Sloths eat, sleep, mate, and give birth all while hanging upside down.

Tree-dwelling sloths have extra vertebrae in their neck enabling them to rotate their head an incredible 270 degrees. They also have a famously high pitched call.

The pain caused by the bullet ant's sting is ranked the highest on the Schmidt Pain Index being described as: "Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel."

For a vertebrate, it has been estimated that about 14 bullet ant stings per pound is enough to kill.

Giant anteaters are found in Central and South America from southern Mexico to northern Argentina and prefer grassland, savanna and tropical forest areas.

Anteaters have no teeth, which is known as being edentate; however they use their long tongues (up to two feet long) to transport the insects into their mouth.

Anteaters can eat up to 30,000 insects in a single day.

The Karitiana tribe of the Porto Velho region in Brazil experienced a dramatic decline in their population after they were first contacted by the outside civilization, through contracting new diseases for which they had no immunity or medication. This is still a major threat to un-contacted tribes today. The Karitiana tribes drop in numbers became so severe they were considered extinct in 1957. A program of vigorous re-population was adopted to ensure the tribes survival.

Brazil’s Amazon is home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere in the world. The Brazilian government department (FUNAI) specializing in protecting the rights of the indigenous tribes has estimated there could be up to 70 isolated groups in the rain forest.

Here is some information from Wikipedia as well
Many cryptozoologists are intrigued by reports of this creature, though some have dismissed it as a folkloric/mythologic creature, or a long-preserved folk memory of the giant animals that existed in South America in the Pleistocene, in particular the giant ground sloth Mylodon.

Among the many researchers who have tried to find evidence for the existence of the Mapinguari is the ornithologist David Oren. During his various expeditions, he has collected a range of material some of which was later shown to be agouti fur, anteater feces, and casts of tracks that were inconclusive. Nevertheless, Oren still considers the creature to be real, but highly elusive, and nowadays extremely rare, avoiding contact with humans whenever possible.

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