Megalonyx reconstruction large

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

Vital statistics

Kind Other
Hominids and primates
Country Amazon Rainforest, Brazil
First documented sighting Unknown
Latest documented sighting Unknown
Other names Mapinguary
Mao de Pilao
Pe de Garrafa

Scientific information

Recognized by science? No (accepted by some[1])
Proposed species name
Major investigators David Oren

Popular Culture

Episodes featured in Destination Truth: Flying Dinosaur & Sloth Monster
Beast Man: Nightmare of the Amazon
Pop culture references TMNT
AdventureQuest Worlds
Once Upon a Time
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We know that 96% of this last great wilderness remains unexplored. We also know that 1/3 of all mammals declared extinct in recent centuries have been found to still exist.

Add this to what I've learned out here, and there's only one conclusion: although as yet there's no smoking gun we need to take David Oren's theory very seriously indeed.

Pat Spain,
Beast Man: Nightmare of the Amazon.

The Mapinguari, Mapinguary or Isnashi is a large cryptid which is said to live in the deepest portions of the Amazon Rainforest, a place which remains largely unexplored.

The natives there describe it as a bipedal ape like animal with long hair, a bad smell, a single eye, and a mouth in its stomach. Most cryptozoologists - and even some 'real' zoologists - believe that it exists as a relict Ground Sloth.

Name etymologyEdit

Mapinguari - pronounced "mapin-gwah-ree" is usually translated as “the roaring animal” or “the fetid beast”.

Physical appearance and biologyEdit

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.

Behaviour and traitsEdit

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.



Mentioned here are only the encounters known to have occured, since sightings or phenomena apparently happen to tribal members in the Amazon often.

Undated sightingsEdit

Around 1977, a colleague of Dr. David Oren encountered the Mapinguari. Oren himself has collected over ninety accounts of the animal[1].

Bullyland Megatherium

A Bullyland Megatherium toy used by Oren to interrogate eyewitnesses.

At an unknown time prior to 1999, 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[2].

At some point, 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[3]. The encounter was so terrifying for him, he quit his job and refused to enter the forest again.

At some point, two men were driving in their car when the Mapinguari came out of the forest. They hid, and it spared them[4].

At some point, a native woman was gathering fruit near her house when she was disturbed by a Mapinguari. She fled back to her house[5].

At an unknown time, a native hunter was stalking peccaries when a Mapinguari emerged from the trees. The man fled[6].

At another time, 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[7].


In 1930, an explorer named Inocèncio was exploring in the Amazon with ten friends when he got separated from them, and ended up lost. Whilst he was sleeping in a tree that night, he heard a terrible noise, and a shadowy bipedal figure came through the trees. He shot at it, and it fled, leaving behind a trail of blood.


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.

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.


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[8].


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[9]

circa 1990'sEdit

Sometime in the late 1990's Dutch zoologist 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.

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[10].

2004 Edit

Ground slot model at Iowa

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

In 2004, a hunter named Geovaldo Karitiana 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[11].

2008 Destination Truth investigationEdit

Main article: Flying Dinosaur/Sloth Monster.

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 heard an animal call, which a former Los Angeles zookeeper was unable to identify.

2011 Beast Man investigationEdit

Main article: Nightmare of the Amazon.

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.

2011 Man V Monster investigationEdit

Main article: Brazilian Bigfoot.

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

Cryptozoological explanationsEdit

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. Glossotherium also had large ear ossicles, suggesting that it was adapted for long-range communication[12]. This makes Glossotherium the most likely culprit.

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

Unknown hominidEdit

Much less often, the Mapinguari is believed to be an unknown hominid.

Image galleryEdit

Physical reconstructionsEdit

See Mapinguari image gallery.

Artistic reconstructionsEdit

See Mapinguari image gallery.

Physical evidenceEdit

See Mapinguari image gallery.

Further cryptozoological readingEdit

This section is incomplete. It requires expanding.

Notes and referencesEdit