Gorp

A trail camera photograph believed by a minority of people to show a ground sloth. The subject is widely regarded as a diseased bear.

Category Living fossil, white thing
Proposed scientific names
Other names Beasts of Sherman, Beast of Boonville, big bear, hodag, Ruby Valley beasts, slothfoot, swamp beast, Virginia quadruped
Country reported United States
First reported 1935 or 1970
Prominent investigators • Robert Kline

The gorp or slothfoot is a ground sloth-like cryptid reported from the United States, principally the Ozarks and the Appalachians. As with the South American mapinguari, all alleged cryptid ground sloths reported from North America—including from Nevada, California, and Georgia—are sometimes referred to as gorps.

Sightings

Undated

In 2011 a man named Henry claimed that he...[1]

...caught sight of a large animal moving through the cypress trees of the swampy area that borders one of the fields I work. I live in Ware County, Georgia. I was working the field at the time and noticed the movement. It was late afternoon and still light out. The animal was huge, hairy and walked on all fours but I did see it rear up once. It reminded me of a black bear but much larger and lighter in color. I was about 200 yds. away from it but I still had a good look. I know for a fact that this was not a bear. I've seen black bears in the Okefenokee and this didn't look like one of those at all. I later saw a picture of an animal, a mapinguari, that is supposed to be a legend. I swear that is what I saw. Have you heard of this animal? I haven't seen it since but there have been a lot of cypress trees tore up lately and I'm wondering if it has been causing it. Some people have said for many years that there's a swamp beast in Ware County but I never paid it no mind until now.

~1965-1966

An unidentified teenager wrote to John Keel claiming to have seen white-furred giant sloths in New York State during around 1965 to 1966. He wrote that...[2][3]

... three or four years ago, I saw a white monster in a swamp beside our house. I have been seeing these things ever since then and close to our house. One night it came down in our yard. [...] It stands between twelve and eighteen feet high, it has a long tail between six and eight feet long. It is all covered with hair. They are always white. I have seen them alone or two at a time. It can walk on two feet or four feet. It is almost a double for a Prehistoric Sloth. My whole family has seen this thing and I know of two more men who have seen them… I am fifteen years old and I am not kidding. I have seen these things and they are real.

1985

According to Bigfoot investigator Don Peterson, in 1986 a caller on a Minnesota radio chat programme claimed that they had driven "something that sounded like a South American ground-sloth walking upright" out of a wooded area in the previous year.[4]

2002

Robert Kline connects the cryptid with a 2002 Florida sighting of what the eyewitness believed was a skunk ape. While driving through an area of swamp, an animal ran across the road which she said looked like a giant sloth, except it was running quickly. It galloped on all fours like a dog, but when it jumped the arms came up, and she saw that it was not a bear.[5][6]

circa 2010

In 2019, a woman wrote to Lon Strickler claiming to have seen a giant sloth-like animal in San Jose, California, some nine years perviously. Through a sliding glass door, she claimed to have seen...[7]

... an animal about 6-7 feet tall. It had two eyes, on its hind legs with an arched back, it had long claws on it's paws. It's hind legs were short. It was a few inches away from the glass just looking in at me. I screamed! It turned around slowly got down on all fours and left.

At the time, the eyewitness thought the animal could have been "some giant monster raccoon," but she later found a description of a giant ground sloth, which she said was the closest thing she had found to the animal she saw.[7]

Supposed captive ground sloths

According to an 1864 issue of Reese River Reveille reprinted in Henderson Home News Nevada on 20 February 1964, the Territorial Enterprise claimed to have received an unusual animal from Indians near Silver City. According to the report, "when standing upright it is about three-and-a-half feet high and greatly resembles a baboon or a gorilla; though its head is more like that of a rabbit than any other animal. Its tail is like that of the coyote. It looks more like a species of kangaroo than anything else.Indians say it inhabits the highest peaks of the mountains". Richard Muirhead writes that the closest match occuring to him is a juvenile ground sloth.[8]

In 1935, a rancher in the Casa Grande Mountains, Arizona, named Dan Kinser, captured an unknown animal regarded as a "hodag," which he kept caged at the Pinson ranch, south of Casa Grande. The animal was three times the size of a fox, with a peccary's snout, a a bear's feet, a mouse's ears, and a tail "half again the length of its body and heavily furred". As locals were unfamiliar with the animal, they assumed it had wandered up from Central America.[9][10] A valley rancher named Lynn Morrill, who had spent some time in South America, suggested that the animal "may be a ground sloth, common in South America [sic] [...] The cry of the animal, described as similar to that of a baby in distress, first suggested the sloth to him, and recalled other similarities". The animal's captors consulted the term "ground sloth" in Webster's Dictionary, and eventually came to the term "Edentata," which featured "the picture of an animal which some of those who saw the beast declare is an identical picture of the animal," with a peccary-like snout, bear-like feet, mouse-like ears, and a long bushy tail. However, the captive animal did not have long claws like the animal in the picture, leading to one man suggesting that the claws had been worn away during the animals supposed "long trek from South America".[11]

A similar incident, involving an alleged ground sloth from Central America, occurred in Boonville, Indiana, in 1936 and 1937.[12] In 1936, fisherman Ralph Duff of Boonville reported that a large hairy animal had torn his dog to shreds. Duff's wife saw the animal, which ran off when she screamed, and said that it was a "towering monster larger than a bear". Ralph Duff believed it was an ape, and set up bear traps along the river to catch it.[13] On 13 August the following year, Mrs. Duff again saw the animal, which she compared to a giant ape. After that date, residents of Boonville reported hearing "blood-curdling shrieks and yells". Posses began searching the river bottoms cautiously in the hope of tracking the beast to its lair.[14] A police dog was reportedly mauled "so bad it had to be shot".[15]

On 18 August, a man entered the Boonville newspaper office and declared that the animal was a giant sloth which he and his uncle had captured during an expedition to Mexico two years previously. "He said they lost it near Evansville and never had found a trace of it since. He was uncertain if it was two-toed or three-toed, but averred that sloths came in both varieties". Other locals also claimed to have seen an empty circus truck in the area.[14] On 19 August the hunt was abandoned. The next month, a man wrote to The Repulic suggesting the whole story had been made up by farmers to prevent people from picking their blackberries.[15]

Theories

Robert Kline has theorised extensively on North American, particularly Appalachian, reports of ground sloths and white things, which he believes are one and the same. Kline speculates that it is a partially carnivorous animal (possibly feeding on the maggots which are attracted to buried meat), going into a month-long state of hibernation in a burrow after feeding, on account of its low metabolism. To explain the foul smell typical of alleged ground sloths the world over, Kline suggests this is "because fecal matter get caught in the fur and rots and the creature is possibly unable to easily groom itself in that location," or because "the fur simply accumulates sweat and oils throughout the year". Kline regards the cryptid as solitary, rare, and extremely dangerous, and believes it is semi-arboreal.[16]

Five species of ground sloth are known to have existed in North America during the Late Pleistocene: Jefferson's (Megalonyx jeffersoni), Wheatley's (Megalonyx wheatleyi), Harlan's (Paramylodon harlani), and the Shasta (Nothrotheriops shastensis), as well as the much larger and earlier pan-American (Eremotherium laurillardi).

Similar cryptids

Other ground sloth-like cryptids reported from North America include the Canadian saytoechin and "giant squirrels".[4] It has sometimes been speculated that certain sasquatch sightings could be explained by ground sloths, as opposed to a primate.[4] Similar cryptids reported from the Ozarks and Appalachians are called white things, including the sheepsquatch and the Ozark howler. Robert Kline believes this cryptid can be identified with various supposed Bigfoot and skunk ape sightings, and with the beast of the Land Between the Lakes.

Notes and references

  1. Stickler, Lon Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal phantomsandmonsters.com [Accessed 25 April 2020]
  2. Keel, John A. (1970) Strange Creatures from Time and Space / The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings, Tom Doherty Associates, ISBN 9780765345868
  3. Hallenbeck, Bruce G. (2013) Monsters of New York: Mysterious Creatures in the Empire State, Stackpole Books, ISBN 9780811753074
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Roesch, Ben S. "Ground Sloth Survival in North America", Animals & Men 11 (1996)
  5. Anon. Quest For Swamp Ape - tribunedigital-orlandosentinel articles.orlandosentinel.com [Accessed 25 April 2020]
  6. Kline, Robert Terra Forming Terra: Swamp Ape Search Finds Giant Sloth globalwarming-arclein.blogspot.com [Accessed 25 April 2020]
  7. 7.0 7.1 Stickler, Lon Phantoms and Monsters - Real Eyewitness Cryptid Encounter Reports phantomsandmonsters.com [Accessed 25 April 2020]
  8. Muirhead, Richard CRYPTOZOOLOGY ONLINE: Still on the Track: MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: Two Strange American Cryptids forteanzoology.blogspot.com [Accessed 24 May 2020]
  9. "Has Extinct 'Hodag' Been Found?," Casa Grande Dispatch (15 March 1935)
  10. Arment, Chad (2010) Varmints: Mystery Carnivores of North America, Coachwhip Publications, ISBN 978-1616460198
  11. "Maybe It's Only An 'Edentata'," Casa Grande Dispatch (22 March 1935)
  12. Coleman, Loren Cryptomundo >> Giant Sloth in Ohio River Valley? cryptomundo.com [Accessed 25 April 2020]
  13. "Sounds Like a Bear Yarn" Hammond Times (16 August 1937)
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Sloth Scares the Boonville Natives" Hammond Times (18 August 1937)
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Monsters (In Season)" The Republic (16 September 1937)
  16. Kline, Richard Terra Forming Terra: Giant Sloth Life Way globalwarming-arclein.blogspot.com [Accessed 25 May 2020]
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