The Minhocão is an amphibian creature similar to a huge earthworm that reputedly exists in the forests of South America.
Minhocão is derived from 'minhoca' meaning 'earthworm' in Portuguese.
The aborigines call it Mboi-assu, Boitatá, Baitatá, Batatá, Bitatá, Batatão, Biatatá, M'boiguaçu Mboitatá and Mbaê-Tata. Mboî tatá comes from the Old Tupi language and means "fiery serpent". Anaconda, the giant snake, is called "boa" or "mboi" or "mboa".
According to legend, Boi-tatá was a big serpent which survived a great deluge. To save itself, it entered a cave and rested in the darkness for centuries, so that its eyes grew. After it left the cave, it went through the fields looking for the bodies of animals to eat, but also sometimes attacked people and animals.
Description / Morphology
The beast is said to have the appearance of a giant worm, with scaly black skin and a pair of tentacle-like structures protruding from its head. The length of the creature has been reported as being as great as at least 25 meters (82 ft) long and a meter (3.28 ft) thick, capable of overturning boats, capturing livestock and dragging it under the water, besides digging enormous subterranean trenches.
The Minhocão is commonly blamed for houses and roads collapsing into the earth. It is also said to frequently visit the local lakes and rivers of the areas in which it's reported.
Sightings of the Minhocão were mostly reported fin the 19th century with emphasis in the 'São Francisco' river region. The first published reference to the Minhocão appeared in the American Journal of Science in an article written by Auguste de Saint-Hilaire. In the article Saint-Hilaire stated several instances where a Minhocão was seen near fords of rivers. All of instances he reported took place in the Brazilian province of Goyaz.
Publications regarding the Minhocão ceased until 1877, when zoologist Fritz Müller wrote an article on the beast for a German publication Zoologische Garten. Müller's article included new information on the Minhocão, including reports of huge mysterious trenches that were so big they'd divert rivers and destroy orchards. Unlike Saint-Hilaire's article, Müller's included actual sightings of the Minhocão. The following is of one of these sightings, which took place in the Paranà State in the 1840s:
A black woman going to draw water from a pool near a house one morning ... saw a short distance off an animal which she described as being as large as a house moving off along the ground. ... In the same district a young man saw a huge pine suddenly overturned ... he found the surrounding earth in movement, and an enormous worm-like black animal in the middle of it, about twenty-five meters long, and with two horns on its head.
Müller also mentioned a story told by Lebino José dos Santos who had heard tales of a dead Minhocão being found near Arapehy, Uruguay. According to the tale the creature was found lodged between two rocks, the reputed skin was said to be "as thick as the bark of a pine-tree" and armored with "scales like those of an armadillo". A sighting of a live Minhocão near Lages, Brazil in 1870 by Francisco de Amaral Varella, he said he:
... saw lying on the bank of the Rio das Caveiras a strange animal of gigantic size, nearly one meter in thickness, not very long, and with a snout like a pig, but whether it had legs or not he could not tell. ... whilst calling his neighbors to his assistance, it vanished, not without leaving palpable marks behind it in the shape of a trench ...
With the end of the 19th century also came the end of Minhocão sightings. There are still large mysterious trenches from time to time, but no actual sightings.
Theories about existence
Some researchers believe that the Minhocão, sadly, went extinct, while others think it is more likely that Minhocãos are still seen, but end up being reported as giant anacondas.
- Some researchers take into account that it is said to be a giant earthworm. There are giant earthworms, but these species don't grow over 12 feet and are only native to Australia. Also despite their large sizes, these giant earthworms are only about an inch thick. Another fact that may debunk the giant earthworm theory is that earthworms are not predators like some reports state the Minhocão may be.
- Noted cryptozoologist Dr. Karl P. N. Shuker has suggested that this animal may be an example of a giant caecilian, which fits the description of the Minhocão. However, known caecilians do not even approach the supposed size of this animal. This creature is often classified as a cryptid, a type of creature studied in the field of cryptozoology.
- Some researchers say that the Minhocão are surviving glyptodont, a large armadillo-like animal believed to have gone extinct in the Pleistocene. Researchers say that the glyptodont would be capable of digging the mysterious trenches and burrowing underground, it also had and armored shell over its back.
- Yet another theory goes on to say that the Minhocão is a lepidosiren (serpentine South American lungfish). If a lepidosiren were to grow to a large enough size it could explain the sightings of Minhocão near waterways. The large trenches could also be caused by a lepidosiren when it unburrows itself from the ground and returns to the rivers.
- One of the most likely theories of the Minhocão's identity was proposed by cryptozoologist Karl Shuker. He believes that the Minhocão may be a form of caecilian, a worm-like burrowing amphibian. Caecilians are native to South America and correspond to the description and lifestyle of Minhocão, only in a smaller form. The largest of the caecilians only gets up to 5 feet. If one species does grow to enormous lengths then the Minhocão mystery would be solved.
- Last not but least, some skeptics pretend that sightings were a misinterpreted natural phenomenon that happens when some biological gas expands from the ground and burns in contact with the air similar to the Will o' the wisp.
- Shuker, Karl. In Search of Prehistoric Survivors. Blandford: 1995