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Cryptozoology

Taking the Bait: The Weird Worminess of the Brazilian Minhocão

If I was a cryptid, and opinions vary as to whether this is actually the case (just ask my wife, previous girlfriends, psychologist, accountant, and lawyer), and I needed a nice ecological niche to inhabit that limited my contact with the human race (which incidentally, is another important life goal of mine), it seems like the Amazon would be a good choice.  Pencil-necked naturalists, and I say that with all due respect since I actually associate the occupation of “naturalist” with the esteemed fictional scientist and super-spy Stephen Maturin of Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin Napoleonic naval warfare series (the source material for the Russell Crowe movie Master and Commander for you uncultured heathens out there—and don’t worry, I also have great fondness for uncultured heathens), estimate that there are still at minimum, some 30,000 undiscovered plants alone in the world’s rain-forests, of which the Amazon represents a full 50%). The long and the short of it is that scientists corner me at parties and tell me that we have identified some 1.9 million species on Earth, but nonetheless estimate, which is what scientists are really good at, that there are probably at least 8.8 million species limping around on the planet.  I had to reach for my calculator, which I rarely believe under the assumption that the National Security Administration can feed it any answer that provides an adequate cover story, but this suggests that some 3.45 million undiscovered species are probably lurking under the shade of Amazonian forest canopy.  Consequently, we should probably take Amazonian monsters seriously, particularly monsters like the Minhocão, the giant worm of the Amazon.  No doubt there are countless other awful creatures lurking in the jungle waiting to devour us, but frankly, I like most of my fellow Homo sapiens, am exceedingly suspicious of worms, particularly gigantic ones.

Fear of snakes and worms (and legless land critters in general) is not uncommon, but snakes, despite being all slithery, fangy, and sometimes venomy at least have the decency to put on some skin before they leave the house. Worms look like they’re wearing their guts on the outside. Personally, my verminaphobia is well under control, so I have no problem baiting a hook with one of those little bastards, but it’s hard not to recognize that worms have a number of character flaws that are naturally suggestive of monstrosity, particularly to the vertebrate crowd (among which I sometimes number myself). First, although we give a pass to those unfortunates burdened with an exoskeleton, humans seem to believe that a proper living creature that isn’t a plant should have bones. We like bones. If you have no other redeeming qualities, at least you have a skeleton.  Second, worms ignore us. They come creeping out after a rain en masse, completely oblivious to and uninterested in humans. This not only offends our mammalian vanity, but because we project our own plans for world domination on every other living thing, makes us worry that humans will be incidental or irrelevant to any worm agenda.  We resent being ignored.  Third, worms are the closest living thing we have to a zombie.  One of the most terrifying aspects of zombies is that they keep coming.  Cut off its arms and a zombie merrily continues to try to bite you. Remove its legs, and it will crawl after you.  The mere fact of serious bodily trauma and a dead brain doesn’t phase them.  This is unpleasant to us, as we have a certain expectation that things of the natural world will eventually cease forward motion if you remove enough pieces of them.  Cut a worm in half, and the two distinct pieces just go about their business as if this sudden change in stature meant nothing, which we find inherently disturbing.  And this is true even when the worm in question is only a few inches long.  A monster worm represents all these creepy aspects writ large.  Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that even the small ones eat us when we’re dead.  Obviously, this has me concerned, particularly when encountering stories of gargantuan worms hidden in locales where I’ve been assured that there are millions of unclassified species.

Jules Verne mentions the Minhocão in a story called Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon (although he calls them giant reptilians, artistic license and all), and while plainly a fictional plot device, let’s not forget that the good Mr. Verne was writing about submarines before anybody thought about building them.  Luckily we have no shortage of ostensibly non-fictional accounts of the Minhocão from numerous adventurers in South America, many of which made it into relatively reputable 19th Century science journals.  Renowned French botanist Augustin François César Prouvençal de Saint-Hilaire (1779–1853) spent a lot of time in the backwaters of Brazil in the early 19th century cataloging thousands of flora and fauna, and made note of the local reports of a giant worm in the Amazon.

Luiz Antonio da Silva e Souza, whose acquaintance I made during my travels, and to whom we owe the most valuable researches on the history and statistics of Goyaz, says, in speaking of the lake of Padre Aranda, situated in this vast province, that it is inhabited by minhocoes; then he adds that these monsters—it is thus he expresses himself—dwell in the deepest parts of the lake, and have often drawn horses and horned cattle under the water. The industrious Pizarro, who is so well acquainted with all that relates to Brazil, mentions nearly the same thing, and points out the Lake Feia, which is likewise situated in Goyaz, as also being inhabited by minhocoes. I had already heard of these animals several times, and I considered them as fabulous, when the disappearance of horses, mules and cattle, in fording the rivers, was certified by so many persons, that it became impossible for me altogether to doubt it. When I was at the Rio dos Piloes, I also heard much of the minhocoes; I was told that there were some in this river, and that at the period when the waters had risen, they had often dragged in horses and mules whilst swimming across the river. The word Minhocão is an augmentative of minhoca, which in Portuguese signifies earth-worm; and indeed they state that the monster in question absolutely resembles these worms, with this difference, that it has a visible mouth; they also add, that it is black, short, and of enormous size; that it does not rise to the surface of the water, but that it causes animals to disappear by seizing them by the belly. When, about twenty days after, having left the village and the river of Piloes, I was staying with the Governor of Meiapont, M. Joaquim Alvez de Oliveira, I asked him about these minhocoes: he confirmed what I had already been told, mentioned several recent accidents caused by these animals, and assured me at the same time, from the report of several fishermen, that the Minhocão, notwithstanding its very round form, was a true fish provided with fins (de Saint Hilaire, 1847, p130).

Andrew Wilson, a 19th Century lecturer on zoology, physiology, and comparative anatomy at the University of Edinburgh gathered a wealth of accounts of the Minhocão, which he identified as a gigantic earthworm inhabiting the highlands of southern Brazil, and reasonably pointed out (demonstrating remarkable open-mindedness for a Victorian professor) that there were in fact so many people reporting encounters with the Minhocão, from indigenous Brazilians to travelling Europeans, that while he would be unwilling to definitively conclude what the critter was, there certainly seemed to be something big and wormy in the neighborhood.  For you Frank Herbert fans out there, Wilson also mentioned the physical evidence of worm transit left in the form of deep trenches carved into the ground where the massive creature slithered by, or in other words, “worm sign”.

About eight years ago a Minhocão appeared in the neighborhood of Lages. Francisco de Amaral Varella, when about ten kilometres distant from that town, saw lying on the bank of the Rio das Caveiras a strange animal of gigantic size, nearly one metre in thickness, not very long, and with a snout like a pig, but whether it had legs or not he could not tell. He did not dare to seize it alone, and whilst calling his neighbors to his assistance, it vanished, not without leaving palpable marks behind it in the shape of a trench as it disappeared under the earth. A week later a similar trench, perhaps constructed by the same animal, was seen on the opposite side of Lages, about six kilometres distant from the former, and the traces were followed, which led ultimately under the roots of a large pine tree, and were lost in the marshy land, Herr F. Kelling, from whom this information was obtained, was at that time living as a merchant in Lages, and saw himself the trenches made by the Minhocão. Herr E. Odebrecht, whilst surveying a line of road from Itajahy into the highlands of the province of Santa Caterina, several years ago, crossed a broad marshy plain traversed by an arm of the river Marombas. His progress here was much impeded by devious winding trenches which followed the course of the stream, and occasionally lost themselves in it. At the time Herr Odebrecht could not understand the origin of these peculiar trenches, but he is now inclined to believe that they were the work of the Minhocão (Wilson, 1882, p26).

English geographer and explorer Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890), best known for travelling in disguise to Mecca, took a break from his obsession with the sexual practices of indigenous peoples, and mentioned the Minhocão when relating a tale of his adventures in Brazil, although he was fairly skeptical about the existence of the monster.

On the south appeared three long terraces curving into several bays; below the horizontal surfaces of the upper heights long white lines of perpendicular wall, like sea cliffs, capped their slopes, regular as if laid out by the hand. Descending the hill, we found the wind breaking the current into backward-rolling yellow yeast. Occasionally taking shelter under a Girao of four posts with fascined top, we collected the zebra’d snail-shells scattered over the fields. They were met with chiefly in the Maniba, the dwarf manioc, which ripens in six or seven months. At 2:30 we embarked, but shortly afterwards an opalescent “Olho de boi,” crowning a thin column of rain which was falling in little sheets all around, drove us to an anchorage under “As Queimadas.” Here the bank, twenty-two feet high, is cut into broad steps by the floods which spread two miles into the country. The people attribute the extensive caving in of the side, where, by-the-bye, the river forms a gut, to the gambols of the monster” Minhocão” in the days that were. No one, however, would affirm that he had seen the “Worm” (Burton, 1869, p351).

Interestingly, observers appear to agree that the Minhocão had an affinity for water, which does seem to be a standard worm preference.  In fact he noted that an alternative name for the Minhocão was “Mother of Waters”, as the monster was believed to be so large that the water level of rivers rose or fell as the worm passed by.

Another fabulous aquatic monster, in all likelihood a near relation of our celebrated sea-serpent, is the so-called Minhocão (big worm), a snake of such immense size that the riverines assert with all seriousness that the river rises or falls as the monster either enters or leaves it. It is also called mac d’agua (mother of waters), which name it shares, though, with a sort of Brazilian Lorelei, haunting the picturesque fall of the Taruma, a little influent of the Rio Negro (Keller, 1874, p83).

We don’t relate well to worms, as Franklin D. Roosevelt pointed out when he said, “I think we consider too much the luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm”.  Next time you go fishing, take a moment to honor your bait, as you thoughtlessly offer him up as a sacrifice to the fish gods.  If and when the Minhocão come creeping out of the Amazon to assert their rightful place in the natural order of things (that is, on top of the food chain), his older, meaner brother may come looking for a little payback.

References
Burton, Richard Francis, 1821-1890. Explorations of the Highlands of the Brazil: With a Full Account of the Gold And Diamond Mines. Also, Canoeing Down 1500 Miles of the GreatRiverSão Francisco, From Sabará to the Sea. London: Tinsley brothers, 1869.
De Saint Hilaire, M. Auguste.  “On the Minhocão of Goyannes” (1847). From YaleUniversity. Department of Geology and Geophysics. The American Journal of Science, Ser. 2: Vol. 4. New Haven: J.D. & E.S. Dana, 1880.
Keller, Franz, 1835-1890. The Amazon and MadeiraRivers. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874.
Wilson, Andrew, 1852-1912. Facts and Fictions of Zoology. [New York,: J. Fitzgerald & co., 1882.

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Cryptozoology

Bigfoots attacked tourists in the Ozark National Park, Arkansas

Fort Smith native Ellen (not her real name) tells us a thrilling and frightening encounter with Bigfoot in the Ozark National Park – outside Campbell Cemetery on Tuesday night. According to Ellen, she and her husband Robert decided to find a secluded place to live a couple of days far from civilization and even so that numerous tourists were many miles away.

Therefore, they chose the area of ​​the old abandoned Campbell cemetery, where no one had wandered in for about a hundred years. And now, according to Ellen, she and her husband heard something like an animal growl, permeating the air and coming from somewhere in the thicket. After a few minutes, the growl intensified and seemed to be closer.

“It sounded like some hefty creature had found its lunch,” says Ellen.

However, what slightly frightened Ellen was that their dogs, which always bark at the approach of predators, suddenly shrunk, huddled near the tent and began to whine. Then Ellen and Robert, in order to somehow cheer up the dogs, got out of the tent and also began to growl. But the joke failed.

In response to their voices, the growl from the thicket became really aggressive and began to spread around, from which Ellen and Robert realized that there were at least two creatures. Ellen did not even think about some “Bigfoot” and assumed either large wolves, or even bears, when suddenly hefty sticks and stones flew into the tent.

This infuriated Robert and assuming that some hooligans were hiding in the bushes, Robert gave the command to the dogs to teach the offenders a lesson.

“It was the biggest mistake of our life,” says Ellen and begins to cry.

According to her, when the dogs disappeared into the thickets from there, at first the sounds of a struggle were heard, then one of the dogs uttered such a monstrous cry that Ellen had never heard anything like it in her life. After that, everyone began to howl, whine and scream, and pieces of dogs flew towards the tent.

At first, Ellen and Robert thought that these were big stones again, but when they saw that a dog torn in half had been thrown at them, they came into indescribable horror and, leaving everything, rushed to run. Ellen and Robert went to the police first.

The police found a tent and equipment, but there were no pieces of dogs there, so the couple announced that they were crazy. However, friends told Ellen that something similar happened in the national park last month and we just reported about it.

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Cryptozoology

What aliens are doing at Loch Ness

What connects aliens to the Scottish lake monster? And why did many eyewitnesses say that a mysterious force prevented them from taking photos or videos of this monster? There are no answers to these questions yet.

Loch Ness, located in Scotland, is primarily famous for its mysterious monster, nicknamed Nessie, which according to various theories is either a huge eel, or a seal, or a prehistoric dinosaur. In turn, some associate the appearance of Nessie with the activities of aliens, and not from scratch.

It is true that strange lights or disc-shaped UFOs are regularly seen over Loch Ness, but there is also an eyewitness story about how aliens landed on the shore of the lake. This happened on August 14, 1971, when the eyewitness Jan Ove Sudberg (now deceased) was 23 years old. Early in the morning, between about 8:30 and 9:30 am, he was on the shores of Loch Ness in the Foyers Bay area.

Suddenly he stumbled upon something amazing and it was not a monster. Sudberg saw a clearing ahead, on which stood an unusual large object, shaped like a huge cigar. It was about 10 meters long, and at the top there was something like a cockpit. Near the object were “pilots” – humanoid creatures.

There were three of them and they were dressed in tight suits, similar to diving. When they entered the object and the object then rose high into the air, then Sudberg realized that he was observing aliens. As the ship gained altitude, it began to slowly fly over the hills towards the nearby Loch More Lake.

The story doesn’t end there. Sudberg was not a Scotsman, he came to Loch Ness as a tourist and flew back to his native Sweden shortly after seeing the aliens. And there a new stage in this strange story began. In Sudberg’s house, unusual phenomena began to occur, a poltergeist, he began to receive mysterious phone calls, and later even Men in Black came to him.

Soon Sudberg contacted the British researcher of anomalous phenomena, Ted Holiday, and told him his story. He also complained to him that he could not photograph UFOs and aliens in the photo, although he had a camera with him. He felt as if some force paralyzed his will and did not allow him to do it.

It is curious that Holiday later repeatedly encountered a similar phenomenon from Nessie’s eyewitnesses. All of them, when they saw the monster in the lake, for some unknown reason, either could not photograph it, or tried, but they did not succeed.

He also found out that much earlier eyewitnesses of Nessie faced this phenomenon. On November 12, 1933, eyewitness Hugh Gray captured a photograph of Nessie, which is considered the first 100% authentic photograph of the Loch Ness Monster.

Gray’s photo shows something serpentine floating in the water. However, few people know that when Gray saw this creature in the lake, he took as many as five pictures before it went under water.

However, only one out of five photographs showed the monster, the rest of the negatives for some reason turned out to be empty.

The conclusion seems to be obvious: the monster in Loch Ness is more than just a large eel, it has some powers to protect it, and in some way it is connected with UFOs and aliens.

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Cryptozoology

A Briton captured on camera a creature similar to the Loch Ness monster

A resident of British Southampton Steve Challis, during a vacation in Scotland last year, photographed a creature in a lake that looks similar to the famous Loch Ness monster, reports the Daily Record.

Photos were taken during a trip to an excursion to Arkart Castle on the shores of the famous lake. A man photographed the opposite shore when he noticed a ripple in the water. He took some pictures, and then the creature itself appeared out of the water for a moment. 

After that, it disappeared and did not appear again. As a result, the camera recorded the animal in only one frame, which Challis discovered a few months later, when he looked at the quarantine pictures taken during the trip because of the coronavirus.

After the Briton shared a strange picture on the Internet, users suggested that it was the famous Loch Ness monster. However, the photographer does not share this opinion. He does not believe in the monster and believes that the creature he shot was simply a big fish or seal.

Interest in the photograph was expressed by blogger and expert on Nessie Roland Watson, but he suggests that the picture taken by Challis was edited in Photoshop. Challis claims that the photograph is genuine. He drew attention to the fact that the shot he made was completely different from those snapshots of monsters that the network abounds in. At the same time, he is still convinced that he shot just a big fish.

The story of the Nessie creature from the Scottish Loch Ness attracts many tourists who want to see it with their own eyes. According to eyewitnesses, the mythical monster from the urban legend has a long neck and a huge torso. Nessie’s existence is not proven.

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