The Mapinguari is a cryptid said to roam the deep jungles of Brazil. It appears to originate from local tribal lore. Eyewitness reports, which derive almost exclusively from loggers and tribe members, describe the animal as significantly taller than a normal person, hairy, clawed, often aggressive, and possessing a foul odor as well as a disconcerting ability to tear up trees. Tribal folklore, less mired in reality, speaks of a creature with one eye, two mouths (one on the stomach), alligator-like skin so tough that it stops all weapons, and a serious attitude toward anyone who dares harm its jungle home. The legend of the Mapinguari is not an obscure one; it has made its way into the mythology of every Amazon tribe as well as Brazilian pop culture, and one town has even erected a statue in its honor.

Legends are one thing, but what about modern sightings? Some scientists have speculated that the Mapinguari could be a relict giant ground sloth, an animal that is thought to have gone extinct about 10,000 years ago. Recorded reports of possible relict giant sloths in South America go back to the 1890s. This is somewhat plausible — or at least more likely than a vengeful, indestructible cyclops — because the Amazon is such a huge and still to this day somewhat unexplored region. A large animal could easily hide in its thick jungles, but could an entire population of giant ground sloths really survive for so long without leaving behind any physical evidence? Where are the stool samples or skeletal remains, and why hasn’t anyone ever found any? This is the question that keeps drawing researchers back to the area, but so far they’ve collected nothing but eyewitness accounts and a few unverifiable sets of tracks.

New York Times
Destination Truth, Episode “Flying Dinosaur and Swamp Monster”
Beast Hunter, Episode “Nightmare of the Amazon”

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