Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 11th, 2007
Photographs of the replicas under examination, in most cases, are generously shared by Dave Plenn of The Dinosaur Farm, who retains all copyrights to the images.
Today, at Replica Cryptia, the representations examined are those of the Giant Ground Sloth or Megatherium. In recent years, replicas of this species of Amazonian megafauna have become significant in the search for the Mapinguary.
The Mapinguary has been discussed cryptozoologically since the 1950s-1960s, for instance, by Frank W. Lane in Nature Parade, by Bernard Heuvelmans in On the Track of Unknown Animals), and by Ivan T. Sanderson in Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life.
Larry Rohter’s Sunday New York Times July 8, 2007 article about the Mapinguary, detailed the work of David Oren in his quest to discover more about and find the Mapinguary.
“It is quite clear to me that the legend of the mapinguary is based on human contact with the last of the ground sloths,” thousands of years ago, said David Oren, a former director of research at the Goeldi Institute in Belém, at the mouth of the Amazon River. “We know that extinct species can survive as legends for hundreds of years. But whether such an animal still exists or not is another question, one we can’t answer yet.” from the July 8, 2007, New York Times’ article, “A Huge Amazon Monster Is Only a Myth. Or Is It?”
Biologist David Oren was first noticed by the media in 1994, when he told the New York Times, Discovery magazine, and a televised documentary that Amazonians were, in fact, seeing supposedly extinct giant ground sloths (maybe the Mylodon or perhaps even the Megatherium).
“In the 1980s and 1990s, David Oren conducted 50 interviews with Brazilian Indians, rubber planters, and miners who know about the animal. 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 unbearable and they were released,” George Eberhart wrote in his Mysterious Creatures. “The ape-like variety is more often seen in Mato Grosso and Pará states, Brazil; and the sloth-like variety has been reported in Amazonas and Acre states, Brazil. Possible evidence also exists in Paraguay.”
What was unique about the Discovery Channel documentary was the footage of Oren interviewing the locals. He was using a Megatherium replica for this talks and interviews, to gather more information about their sightings.
I was able to track down the model he was using, and soon after his mid-1990s’ expeditions, obtained a copy for my collection. Oren and I have been in email contact since that time, and he carries on his research, although the frustrations have been many for him.
Oren was using a Bullyland Megatherium, shown below. (The kind of replica that Oren employed reportedly has been discontinued, but it can sometimes be found at online auctions.)
The special appeal of the Bullyland Megatherium, at 6.25″ tall, is its upright stance and a generally active appearance. The locals in Brazil responded positively to David Oren’s use of this replica during his rainforest interviews.
There are other Megatherium replicas available. Two that are relatively easy to obtain are produced by Wild Safari and Schleich. I have examples of all three at the museum.
The Wild Safari Megatherium, as with all “Wild Safari” replicas, is mini-sized at 4″ tall. Nevertheless, the appearance is detailed and it is bipedal, mirroring the position of the Bullyland model. If shown with any of the larger ground sloth replicas, at the same time, the illusion would be that this smaller ground sloth could stand in for a Mylodon, in field identifications.
The Schleich Giant Ground Sloth may be one of the sleepiest looking replicas I’ve seen in a long time. For fieldwork use, it might be the perfect extra ground sloth replica to take with you as you trek into the jungle. At 6.5″ by 2.5″ and shown walking on all fours, it might be in a position that was more common for the traveling Megatherium than the upright, apparent feeding position.
For a replica example of South American megafauna, you can’t go wrong with a Megatherium. (For instance, I highly recommend these models – and for comparison, great ape and Bigfoot replicas – for use by the chaps from the CFZ looking for new information from South America during their upcoming trek there.)
Also, in this series, see:
Appreciation to The Dinosaur Farm for permission to use their copyrighted photographs of various replicas. If you decide to shop there, let them know in their “comments” box that you heard about them from Cryptomundo, so they understand the impact of cryptozoology ~ and continue to supply these replicas to the world. (We get no financial benefit from such a referral, btw.)
Please donate to the International Cryptozoology Museum by sending your financial gifts, unwanted or extra replica animals, and/or cryptozoology artifacts to Loren Coleman, Director, ICM, PO Box 360, Portland, ME 04112, or any fiscal contributions via PayPal to LColeman@maine.rr.com
Photo by Amber Waterman.