Megalonyx reconstruction large

An Iowa reconstruction of the Jefferson's ground sloth, Megalonyx jeffersoni. This model was identified by an eyewitness as the Mapinguari.

Other names: Mapinguary, Cape-Lobo, Isnashi, Juma, Ow-ow, Mao de Pilao, Pe de Garrafa, Segamai[1]
Country reported: Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru

The mapinguari is a large ape- or sloth-like cryptid reported from the deepest portions of the Amazon Rainforest. The natives there describe it as a bipedal ape-like animal with long red hair, a foul smell, a single eye, and a mouth in its stomach.[1]

Many cryptozoologists, and some mainstream zoologists including David Oren, who is best known for his research on the mapinguari, believe that it may exist as a relict ground sloth or an undiscovered hominid.[1][2] Like many other cryptids, what is called the "mapinguari" may be two animals, a ground sloth and a great ape.[3]



The Mapinguari is described as a fairly large animal, covered with long, shaggy reddish brown hair. It has very large claws, similar to those of a sloth or anteater, and allegedly leaves bottle-shapes footprints, suggesting an odd foot shape. Notably, the Mapinguari is said to possess only a single eye, in the centre of its ape-like face, and to have a mouth in its stomach instead of its head. When confronted by humans, Mapinguari may attack, or may simply display. If they choose to spare the human, they will simply rear up onto their back legs, like a grizzly bear, seemingly as a form of intimidation. If they attack, they will slash with their claws, and give chase on all four legs.

Sightings report that Mapinguari stay around herds of wite-lipped peccaries, and are sometimes followed by beetles.

Although purpoted to be aggressive and carnivorous, there is an account of two baby mapinguaris being captured by natives and fed on bananas and milk for over a year.[1]

Physical evidenceEdit



Audio recordingsEdit



Around the turn of the 20th Century, Percy Fawcett described large footprints being found in the Amazon, and referred to "primeval beasts" being disturbed in swamps.[4] David Oren has collected over ninety accounts of the animal,[5] and as of 2002 had interviewed seven hunters who claimed to have shot specimens.[1][6] In 1994, Oren was attempting to mount an expedition to search for the mapinguari.[6]

Bullyland Megatherium

A Bullyland Megatherium toy used by Oren to interrogate eyewitnesses.

A native hunter named Manuel Vitorino Pinheiro dos Santos shot four peccaries before hearing the call of the Mapinguari. He fled to the river as the second call shook the trees themselves, and hid under the water. The calls became muffled as the animal seemed to move deeper into the jungle, but Manuel remained hiding for hours.[7]

A man named Edinalo worked for an oil company putting pipelines through the Amazon. When he got off his boat onto dry land, he was attacked by a large, smelly, hairy animal which broke his jaw. Overwhelmed by the smell, he blacked out, and was later found by more people.[5] The encounter was so terrifying for him, he quit his job and refused to enter the forest again.

Two men were driving in their car when the Mapinguari came out of the forest. They hid, and it spared them.[5]

A native woman was gathering fruit near her house when she was disturbed by a Mapinguari. She fled back to her house[8].

A native hunter was stalking peccaries when a Mapinguari emerged from the trees. The man fled[8]

A man was cooking dinner inside his hut when the entire straw roof was torn off. He fled outside, only to be attacked by a Mapinguari[8]


In 1930, an explorer named Inocêncio or Inocèncio was exploring the Urubu River with ten friends[1], but became lost in pursuit of a troop of black monkeys which he intended to shoot.[2][9] He became seperated from his friends and was spending the night in a tree[1] when he was disturbed by the sound of heavy footfalls, and saw a large, manlike figure lurking in the shadows. The animal roared and Inocêncio fired his rifle at it:

"I could wait no longer and fired without even troubling to take proper aim. There was a savage roar and then a noise of crashing bushes. I was alarmed to see the animal rush growling towards me and I fired a second bullet. The terrifying creature was hit and gave an incredibly swift leap and hid near the old samaumeira. From behind this barricade it gave threatening growls so fiercely that the tree to which I was clinging seemed to shake. I had previously been on jaguar-hunts and taken an active part in them, and I know how savage this cat is when it is run down and at bay. But the roars of the animal that attacked me that night were more terrible and deafening than a jaguar's.
I loaded my gun again and fearing another attack, fired in the direction of the roaring. The black shape roared again more loudly, but retreated and disappeared ito the depths of the forest. From time to time I could still hear its growl of pain until at last it ceased.
Dawn was just breaking."[2]

After spending the night in the tree, the next morning Inocêncio disovered broken shrubs, splashes of blood, and a strong, sour smell permeating the whole area.[2]


A 1937 report from central Brazil claimed a Mapinguari had gone on a three-week rampage, killing over 100 cows and ripping out the tongues from their carcasses.


In 1975, a mine worker named Mário Pereira de Souza claimed to have come face to face with a Mapinguari in a mining camp in Rio Jamauchim. He heard a screaming noise, and the animal charged at him, unsteadily, on its hind legs.[1]


A colleague of David Oren encountered a mapinguari in around 1977.[5]

circa 1980'sEdit

One group of Kanamarí Indians living in the Rio Juruá valley claimed to have raised two infant Mapinguaris on bananas and milk; after one or two years their stench became to much to bear, and they were released.[1]


In September 1981, in Valeria, a woman named Lydia was at the edge of the forest near her house at night, when she was startled by by a howling noise. She fled to her father, Teofelo, who grabbed a gun and went to untie his cow. He saw the Mapinguari, and shot at it before fleeing back to his house. The next day, all of the villager's moved, and settled by the edge of the river[5]


Glenn Shepard Jr., an American ethnobiologist and anthropologist based in Manaus, said he was among the skeptics until 1997, when he was doing research about local wildlife among the Machiguenga people of the far western Amazon, in Peru. Tribal members all mentioned a fearsome slothlike creature that inhabited a hilly, forested area in their territory.

Dr. Shepard also said “the clincher that really blew me away” came when a member of the tribe remarked matter of factly that he had also seen a Mapinguari at the natural history museum in Lima. When Dr. Shepard checked, he realised that the museum has a display featuring a model of the giant ground sloth[10]

circa 1990'sEdit

Sometime in the late 1990's Dutch primatologist Marc van Roosmalen heard that a tribe along the river Rio Purus found Mapinguari footprints near their settlement, and moved their houses to the other side of the river out of fear. When asked if he believed the Mapinguari really existed, Van Roosmalen answered: "I'm not going to say it's not possible," he said. "Who am I to say that?"[1][11]

circa 1993Edit

70-year old Joao Batista Azevedo was working by a river when he heard a Mapinguari scream. It came out of the forest, but neglected to approach or attack him[12].

2004 Edit

Ground slot model at Iowa

A different view of the sloth model identified as a Mapinguari by Geovaldo.

In 2004, a Karitiana man named Geovaldo was hunting wild pigs when he was attacked by a Mapinguari. He fired at it multiple times before loading his gun with a lead slug, and firing at the animals face. The Mapinguari stopped and screamed in pain, and the hunter escaped.[5][13]



2008 (Destination Truth)Edit

In a 2008 investigation for Destination Truth, Josh Gates travelled to the Amazon to interview eyewitnesses, including Geovaldo. He and his team carried out a nighttime investigation, where they heard the snapping of trees, and found torn-apart palm trees. They also recorded an animal call which a former Los Angeles zookeeper was unable to identify.[13]

2011 (Beast Man)Edit

Pat Spain's 2011 investigation came up with evidence of the Mapinguari being a giant sloth. He blasted a call and got a respose; both calls sounded like deeper sloth shrieks. He interviewed Geovaldo, who identified the animal he saw as a giant sloth.[5]

2011 (Man V Monster)Edit

An investigation by Richard Terry found a large shape on the night-vision camera. The animal was unable to be identified.


Giant ground slothEdit

The most common theory regarding the identity of the Mapinguari is that it is a giant ground sloth, a diverse family of mammals that lived from the Oligocene to the Early Holocene, for millions of years. Mylodon, Glossotherium and Megatherium are the three giant sloths variably named as the culprit, although Megatherium's immense size is not consistent with the more conservative size reported in Mapinguari encounters.

Megatherium at London

A fossil replica of Megatherium, one of the largest mammals, at the Natural History Museum.

This theory is backed up by a number of facts. A member of a tribe visited by Glenn Shepard Jr., claimed that a museum he had visitied had a model of a Mapinguari; Shepard checked, and the museum had a model of a giant ground sloth.

In Pat Spain's investigation, a slowed-down sloth call was blasted in the rainforest. Pat got a vocal response which sounded similar to his modified sloth call; a large sloth would sound like a slower, deeper normal sloth.[5] Glossotherium also had large ear ossicles, suggesting that it was adapted for long-range communication[14]. This makes Glossotherium the most likely culprit.

In Spain's investigation, eyewitness Geovaldo was shown images of various animals, both South American and African. Geovaldo identified the South American animals, but not the African ones, as would be expected. When an image of a ground sloth was shown, Geovaldo identified it as what he had seen.[5]

Unknown hominidEdit

Confusion of identityEdit

Similar cryptidsEdit

  • The curupira, a cryptid primate of the Amazon, also described as having shaggy red hair and backwards feet.
  • The didi, a large cryptid hominid or ape of the Amazon.
  • The Ecuadorean ground sloth.
  • The Mono Grande, a large cryptid hominid or ape of the Amazon.
  • The sisemité of Central America, a cryptid usually described as a dark shaggy humanoid, although one eyewitness thought it looked like a ground sloth.
  • The ujea, another ground sloth-like cryptid reported from Ecuador.

Further cryptozoological readingEdit

Notes and referencesEdit