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- Other names: Boiúba, boiúna, camoodi, cobra-grande, controller, ibibaboka, lampalagua, matatora, sucuriju gigante, yacumama, yaurinka.
- Country reported: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Venezuela
Giant anacondas have been reported from the Amazon region, especially of Brazil, since South America was first colonized, and the maximum size of the anaconda is still a matter of debate. It is additionally speculated that the particularly large giant anaconda called sucuriju gigante (Portuguese: "giant boa") may be an entirely new species of enormous river-snake.
The Marquis de Wavrin wrote that the anacondas generally seen along the rivers measure between 20 and 25 feet long, and he himself claimed to have seen some over 30 feet long. After he shot an anaconda of around 25 feet, which fell into the water, the canoemen refused to stop to pick up the carcass. They said that it was "a waste of powder to shoot such a small snake and a waste of time to stop to pick it up". They also told him that during floods snakes twice the size of the one he shot, as thick as a canoe, are seen.
Up de Graff encountered a gigantic anaconda in shallow water beneath his canoe. He believed it must have measured at least 50 feet, probably closer to 60, and had a relatively accurate method of measurement: he knew his canoe was 24 feet; "the snake's head was 10 or 12 feet beyond the bow; its tail was a good 4 feet beyond the stern; the centre of its body was looped up into a huge S, whose length was the length of our dugout and whose breadth was a good 5 feet".
Colonel John Blashford-Snell recounted that a friend of his named Tom Cochron, whilst working in an area north of Santa Cruz in Argentina, was almost forcibly shown by locals to an enormous snake found in a swamp near the village. Cochran used a tape to measure it as 54 feet long, but as he had little knowledge of snakes, he had no idea that this was an extraordinary size.
Jerome Jennings was told by a Bolivian Special Forces secondment names Johnny that:
- "I was working as a driver to a Captain and had taken him to a meeting at the base near Riberalta. Very dangerous jungle, very wild, and had to wait for him. I knew that I had to hide if I did not want any more work so I climbed a tree at the edge of the camp and tried to relax. The tree was big and I could see over the jungle to a pool. The ground head been cleared to one side and the people who lived there had cows. A small cow, a baby cow, a calf went to take a drink at the edge of the water and a big anaconda came out of the water and takes the calf by the face and drags it into the pool. I nearly fell out of the tree when I saw this. When my Captain had finished his meeting I told him and he ran into the office and grabbed a rifle. We went to the pool and shot the anaconda. The Captain took the skin and put it in his house. It goes around the walls two times.
- "We did not measure it but it was more than 10 metres (33ft). I know this because we saw another big snake outside the camp and it was not as big as the one we shot. The other snake went over the road and went past a low wall. It was night and I was in my jeep and saw the snake in the road but was too frightened to get out so I let it go. When it had gone I measured the wall. The wall was 10metres and the snake has its head and tail past the wall as it went. The snake at the pool was much bigger."
Explorer Algote Lange wrote that a Brazilian rubber worker named José Perreira had been rescued from a 52 foot 8 inch anaconda, which mysteriously attracted or "lured" him to a spot on the river three times, and had him in a "trance", about to swallow him, when three other workers arrived and shot it dead:
- "It was a strange something that called him back to the bank that he had left but a few minutes before. He fastened his canoe again to the same branch and crept up to the same place, feeling very uneasy and uncomfortable, but seeing nothing that could alarm him — nothing that he could draw the bead of his rifle on. Yet, something there was! For the second time he left, without being able to account for the mysterious force that lured him to this gloomy, moon-lit place on the dark, treacherous bank. In setting out in the stream again he decided to fight off the uncanny, unexplainable feeling that had called him back, but scarcely a stone's throw from the bank he had the same desire to return, — a desire that he had never before experienced. He went again, and looked, and meditated over the thing that he did not understand.
- "He had been called to this spot three times without knowing the cause, and now, the mysterious force attracting him, as a magnet does a piece of iron, he was unable to move. Helpless as a child he awaited his fate.
- "Luckily three workers from headquarters happened to pass on their way to their homes, which lay not far above the Creek of Hell, and when they heard sobbing from the bank they called out.
- "The hypnotised seringueiro managed to state that he had three times been forced, by some strange power, to the spot where he now was, unable to get away, and that he was deadly frightened. The rubber-workers, with rifles cocked, approached in their canoe, fully prepared to meet a jaguar, but when only a few yards from their comrade they saw directly under the root where the man was sit- ting the head of a monstrous [anaconda], its eyes fastened on its prey. Though it was only a few feet from him, he had been unable to see it.
- "One of the men took good aim and fired, crushing the head of the snake, and breaking the spell, but the intended victim was completely played out and had to lie down in the bottom of the canoe, shivering as if with ague.
- "The others took pains to measure the length of the snake before leaving. It was 79 palmas or 52 feet 8 inches. In circumference it measured 11 palmas, corresponding to a diameter of 28 inches. Its mouth, they said, was two palmas or sixteen inches, but how they mean this to be understood I do not know.
Algote Lange also claimed to have himself shot an anaconda which was 56 feet long, with a diameter of 2 feet 1 inch:
- "Running the canoe ashore we advanced in single file. I now had a chance to inspect the object. On a soft, muddy sand-bar, half hidden by dead branches, I beheld a somewhat cone-shaped mass about seven feet in height. From the base of this came the neck and head of the snake, flat on the ground, with beady eyes staring at us as we slowly advanced and stopped. The snake was coiled, forming an enormous pile of round, scaly monstrosity, large enough to crush us all to death at once. We had stopped at a distance of about fifteen feet from him, and looked at each other. I felt as if I were spellbound, unable to move a step farther or even to think or act on my own initiative.
- "The snake still made no move, but in the clear moonlight I could see its body expand and contract in breathing; its yellow eyes seeming to radiate a phosphorescent light. I felt no fear, nor any inclination to retreat, yet I was now facing a beast that few men had ever succeeded in seeing. Thus we stood look ing at each other, scarcely moving an eyelid, while the great silent monster looked at us. I slid my right hand down to the holster of my automatic pistol, the 9mm. Luger, and slowly removed the safety lock, at the same time staring into the faces of the men. In this manner I was less under the spell of the mesmerism of the snake, and could to some extent think and act. I wheeled around while I still held control of my faculties, and, perceiv- ing a slight movement of the snake's coils, I fired point-blank at the head, letting go the entire chamber of soft-nose bullets. Instantly the other men woke up from their trance and in their turn fired, emptying their Winchesters into the huge head, which by this time was raised to a great height above us, loudly hissing in agony.
- "Our wild yelling echoed through the deep forest. The snake uncoiled itself and writhing with pain made for the water's edge. By this time we were relieved of the terrible suspense, but we took care to keep at a respectful distance from the struggling reptile and the powerful lashing of its tail, which would have killed a man with one blow.
- "I proceeded to take measurements and used the span between my thumb and little finger tips as a unit, knowing that this was exactly eight inches. Beginning at the mouth of the snake, I continued to the end and found that this unit was contained eighty-four times. Thus 84 times 8 divided by 12 gives exactly 56 feet as the total length. In circumference, the unit, the palma, was contained 8 times and a fraction, around the thickest part of the body. From this I derived the diameter 2 feet 1 inch.
- "These measurements are the result of very careful work. I went from the tail to the nose over again so as to eliminate any error, and then asked the men with me also to take careful measurements in their own manner, which only confirmed the figures given above."
He and his men then skinned the snake. Willard Price wrote that Lange sent the skin to New York, which is what Lange himself wrote he intended to do in his book, but Heuvelmans wrote that, if the skin had been sent back, it had never been studied.
Percy Fawcett famously claimed to have shot a giant anaconda in 1907, on the Rio Abuna:
- "We were drifting easily along in the sluggish current not far below the confluence of the Rio Negro when almost under the bow of the boat there appeared a triangular head and several feet of undulating body. It was a giant anaconda. I sprang for my rifle as the creature began to make its way up the bank, and hardly waiting to aim smashed a .44 soft-nosed bullet into its spine, ten feet below the wicked head. At once there was a flurry of foam, and several heavy thumps against the boat's keel, shaking us as though we had run on a snag."
- With great difficulty I persuaded the Indian crew to turn in shore-wards. They were so frightened that the whites showed all round their popping eyes, and in the moment of firing I had heard their terrified voices begging me not to shoot lest the monster destroy the boat and kill everyone on board, for not only do these creatures attack boats when injured, but also there is great danger from their mates."
- We stepped ashore and approached the reptile with caution. It was out of action, but shivers ran up and down the body like puffs of wind on a mountain tarn. As far as it was possible to measure, a length of 45 feet lay out of the water, and 17 feet in it, making a total length of 62 feet. Its body was not thick for such a colossal length-not more than 12 inches in diameter -but it had probably been long without food. I tried to cut a piece out of the skin, but the beast was by no means dead and the sudden upheavals rather scared us. A penetrating foetid odour emanated from the snake, probably its breath, which is believed to have a stupefying effect, first attracting and later paralysing its prey. Everything about this snake was repulsive."
- Such large specimens as this may not be common, but the trails in the swamps reach a width of six feet and support the statements of Indians and rubber pickers that the anaconda sometimes reaches an incredible size, altogether dwarfing the one shot by me. The Brazilian Boundary Commission told me of one killed in the Rio Paraguay exceeding 80 feet in length!"
On 22 May 1922, during a time of floods, Father Victor Heinz was being taken home by canoe on the Amazon from Obidos when he noticed a "giant water snake" at a distance of around 30 yards:
- "During the great floods of 1922 on May 22 – at about three o’clock to be exact – I was being taken home by canoe on the Amazon from Obidos; suddenly I noticed something surprising in midstream. I distinctly recognized a giant water snake at a distance of some thirty yards. To distinguish it from the sucurijiu, the natives who accompanied me named the reptile, because of its enormous size, sucurijiu gigante (giant boa).
- "Coiled up in two rings the monster drifted quietly and gently downstream. My quaking crew had stopped paddling. Thunderstruck, we all stared at the frightful beast. I reckoned that its body was as thick as an oil drum and that its visible length was some eighty feet. When we were far enough away and my boatmen dared to speak again they said the monster would have crushed us like a box of matches if it had not previously consumed several large capybaras."
Father Heinz saw another giant anaconda on 29 October 1929, at the mouth of the Rio Piaba. It avoided them and recrossed the river in less than a minute, which would have taken the boat 10 to 15 minutes:
- "To escape the great heat I had decided to go down river at about 7:00 p.m. in the direction of Alemquer. At about midnight, we found ourselves above the mouth of the Piaba when my crew, seized with a sudden fear, began to row hard towards the shore. "What is it?" I cried, sitting up. "There is a big animal," they muttered very excited. At the same moment I heard the water move, as if a steamboat had passed. I immediately noticed several meters above the surface of the water two bluish-green lights like the navigation lights on the bridge of a riverboat, and shouted: "No, look, it’s the steamer! Row to the side so that it doesn’t upset us."
- "Petrified, we all watched the monster approach; it avoided us and re-crossed the river in less than a minute a crossing that would have taken us ten to fifteen minutes as long. On the safety of dry land we took courage and shouted to attract the attention of the snake. At this very moment a human figure began to wave an oil-lamp on the other shore, thinking, no doubt, that someone was in danger. Almost at once the snake rose on the surface and we were able to appreciate clearly the difference between the light of the lamp and the phosphorescent light of the monster’s eyes. Later, in my return, the inhabitants of this place assured me that above the mouth of the Piaba there dwelt a sucuriju gigante.""
On 6 July 1930, a Portuguese merchant name Reymondo Zima was going up the Rio Jamunda when he noticed a light on the right bank. Assuming it was a house, he steered towards it and switched on his own searchlight, only to notice that the "house light" was charging towards the boat at an incredible speed:
- "On 6th July 1930 I was going up the Jamunda in company with my wife and the boy who looks after my motor-boat. Night was falling when we saw a light on the river bank. In the belief it was the house I was looking for I steered towards the light and switched on my searchlight. But then we noticed that the light was charging towards us at an incredible speed. A huge wave lifted the bow of the boat and almost made it capsize. My wife screamed in terror.
- "At the same moment we made out the shape of a giant snake rising out of the water and performing a St. Vitus’s dance around the boat. After which the monster crossed this tributary of the Amazon about half a kilometer wide at fabulous speed, leaving a huge wake, larger than any of the steamboats make at full speed. The waves hit our 13-meter boat with such force that at every moment we were in danger of capsizing. I opened my motor flat out and made for dry land. Owing to the understandable excitement at the time it was not possible for me to reckon the monster’s length. I presume that as a result of a wound the animal lost one eye, since I saw only one light. I think the giant snake must have mistaken our searchlight for the eye of one of his fellow snakes."
Zima wrote that the animal must have lost one eye as the result of an injury, since he saw only one light, and believed that it had charged after mistaking his own searchlight for the eye of a fellow snake.
On 27 September 1930, on a river leading from Lake Maruricana to the Rio Iguarape, a Brazilian named Jao Penha was cleaning the bank to make it easier for turtles to lay their eggs when he noticed two green lights, which he took to be fishermen coming to poach eggs, behind a floating "barrier" of vegetable matter and branches. Suddenly the "barrier" shook and a foaming wave 6 feet high struck the bank. Penha called to his two sons, and all three saw a giant snake emerge from the water and push the "barrier" in front of it some 300 yards upriver.
In 1932, the Brazilian Boundary Commission is said to have killed a 98-foot snake with a diameter of 2 feet with machine guns on the banks of the Rio Negro. The snake had apparently risen up some 30 feet as it died, smashing bushes and small trees under its 2-tonne bulk. Four men were unable to lift its head. The animal was photographed, and the picture was developed in Manaus and later tracked down by Father Heinz, who was told that the negatives had not been retouched.
In 1947, following a Chavante massacre of Brazilian officials, a peacemaking party was sent up the Amazon by the Service for the Protection of the Indians. Whilst hunting capybaras in the swamps between the Rio Manso and the Rio Cristalino, a party of seven or eight men encountered an enormous anaconda asleep on the ground. They fired on it, and pursued it for 20 or 30 yards before it died. One of the men later said that "when we walked along the whole length of its body it seemed as if it would never end":
- "The guide pointed out an anaconda asleep on a rise in the ground and half hidden among the grass. We approached to within 20 yards and fired our rifles at it several times. It tried to make off, all in convulsions, but we caught up with it after 20 or 30 yards and finished it off. Only then did we realise how enormous it was; when we walked along the whole length of its body it seemed as if it would never end. What struck me the most was its enormous head, which was like this. [He stretched out his arms in front of him with his hands together, thus forming a triangle with 2-foot sides and an 18-inch base.]
- "As we had no measuring instruments, one of us took a piece of string and held it between the ends of the fingers of one hand and the other shoulder to mark the length of 1 metre. Actually it could have been a little less. We measured the snake several times with piece of string and it always made 24 or 25 times as long as the string. The reptile must therefore have been nearly 23 metres long (75ft)"
Its head was around 2 foot long. As they had no measuring instruments they used a piece of string to estimate that the anaconda was around 23 meters, or 75 feet long, with a diameter of around 18 inches. The group carried no cameras, as they would be liable to scare the Chavantes and prompt another massacre, the the snake was too large for them to take its skin. None of the group, which included Brazilian officials and explorers, realised at the time that the snake was anything special, or even particularly large.
In 1948 Paul Tarvalho, an old pupil of Father Heinz, saw a giant snake emerge from the water some 250 or 300 yards away, in the same place on the Rio Jamunda as in the 1930 Zima sighting. He estimated it was about 150 feet long. It followed the boat, which made off at top speed, for some time.
Also in 1948, a snake said to have been 115 or 147 feet in length crawled ashore an hid in the old fortifications of Fort Tabatinga on the River Oiapoc or the River Abuna. It was machine-gunned to death, taking 500 bullets. It was pushed back into the stream and photographed; the picture was developed in Manaus and later tracked down by Father Heinz, who was told that the negatives had not been retouched.
In 1977, Amarilho Vincente de Oliveira saw a giant snake with horns and greenish eyes on a tributary of the Rio Purus, Brazil.
In 2001, a man from a remote Bolivian village named R. Sanchez claimed that:
- "A very unusual sized animal has been found in our country and we think you might be interested due to its extraordinary characteristics; it could be a world record. It is a very large anaconda that measures about 16m (52.8ft) and has a body width of 2m (6.5ft) and an approximate weight of 4 tons. It had to be pulled into captivity by 14 ox."
- The minhocão, an enormous burrowing snake-like animal with armadillo-like scales, reported from the Central Amazon and Central America.
- The sachamama, an enormous snake-like animal with a snail-like shell reported from Peru.
Further cryptozoological readingEdit
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Eberhart, George (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 Heuvelmans, Bernard (1955) On the Track of Unknown Animals
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 The anecdotal anaconda | Jerome Jennings: Amazon Explorer
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Lange, Algot (1912) In the Amazon Jungle
- ↑ Fawcett, Brian & Fawcett, Percy (1953) Exploration Fawcett