Minhocão – Monster of the Jungle

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  • Tuesday, March 12, 2013
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  • Greig Beck
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  • With lidless eyes, forked tongue and muscular torso, the snake has long been seen as the epitome of evil, deception and death. But even before the devil took its form and tempted Adam and Eve, a real monstrous serpentine being ruled the land – and perhaps, in some deep, dark places, it still does. 

    The Amazon jungle contains some of the most inhospitable and impenetrable places on Earth. Areas we could not hope to traverse without local guides, antibiotics, insect repellents, and eyes in the back of our heads. It’s also a place where there is growth so dense, travelling is measured in just dozens of feet per day. 

    In the Amazon, killers lurk under every rock, hang from every tree, or wait in the shallows of every river or pool of water. But there is one there that is feared above all others – the Minhocão or Yacumama, the giant snake. 

    Reports of monster anacondas date back to the time of the discovery of South America when sightings of 100+ foot anacondas started to circulate. Growing to enormous sizes, capable of swallowing jaguars whole, and crushing canoes on the water, the larger sightings of specimens are thought to be untrue, only because they’ve never been hauled back, dead or alive. 

    U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt, a keen hunter, put a bounty of $50,000 on the skin of the first 50 foot giant anaconda brought home. At the time this was an astronomical amount of money, but was never claimed. However, time and again, specimens are reported to have been captured, but never returned. 

    In 1944 a petroleum expedition in Colombia claimed to have measured an anaconda, which was 37 feet in length. In another event, scientist Vincent Roth claimed to have shot and killed a 34 foot specimen, but like most other claims, physical proof evades us. 

    Yet British adventurer Percy Fawcett made another claim of a large anaconda. An officer of the Royal Engineers, Fawcett was commissioned in 1906 to survey the Rio Abuna and Acre rivers by the Royal Geographic Society. During his expeditions, he wrote of the following experience: "We were drifting easily along on the sluggish current not far below the confluence of Tigor and the Rio Negro when almost under the bow 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. We stepped ashore and approached the creature with caution. As far as it was possible to measure, a length of 45 feet lay out of the water and 17 feet lay in the water, making it a total length of 62 feet.” 

    When evaluating the truthfulness of someone’s story, the overall trustworthiness must be considered. Fawcett was known as an honest, pedantic military man who recorded events exactly as they happened. 

    Unfortunately, the monster snake was too big for them to carry out of the jungle - not surprising given it would have weighed over a thousand pounds and they had no means of transporting a giant, immensely heavy, rotting snake carcass back through the thick jungle. So, Fawcett’s claims remain unconfirmed. And on another expedition in 1925, Fawcett himself vanished in the jungle, never to be seen again. Perhaps he found his giant snake after all… or it found him. 

    These monsters would have forever remained myths, if not for a discovery in a coalmine in Columbia, South America in 2008. Fossils of an enormous snake were discovered and paleontologists estimated its length to be over 50 feet. This solid, muscular creature, called Titanoboa, was as thick around as a horse and would have weighed around 2,500 pounds! 

    Living around 60 million years ago during the Paleocene epoch, the Titanoboa would have fed on the last of the dinosaurs. Scientists agree there is no reason for it to have become extinct. They also agree that larger snakes could still exist in the Amazon basin. 

    We don’t need to tell that to the local natives, as for hundreds of years they have reported various encounters with large serpents. 

    The native tribes of the Amazon refer to one legend of the Minhocão or Yacumama, the Mother of the River. This fearsome monster appears during heavy rain, to swallow men whole.

    This and other fantastic creatures, makes an appearance in my forthcoming book called The First Bird (sneak peak below) – A team must trek to the dark heart of the Amazon’s Gran Chaco Boreal in search of a fantastic creature not seen since the dawn of time – but getting there proves dangerous and frightening.

    Matt Kerns, linguist, archaeologist and reluctant explorer from Beneath the Dark Ice and Black Mountain returns in his first full-time adventure. And this time he doesn't have Alex Hunter to save him when the stuff hits the fan.

    When a fame-hungry scientist brings an impossible, living specimen of a creature long thought extinct back from the wild jungles of South America he unwittingly brings along a passenger. Something with the potential to destroy every living thing on our planet.

    The infestation begins, rapidly overtaking medical resources and resisting all treatment. One woman knows the danger, Carla Nero, chief scientist of the Centre for Disease Control. She makes Matt an offer he can't refuse and together they join a team heading to the deep jungle in a desperate race to locate the hidden place where the specimen was taken.

    Only by finding the location of the specimen can the team – and the world – hope to uncover the secret of how to survive the ancient, horrifying parasite that has been released.
    The First Bird Part-1 Release Date: June 1st

    I love the Amazon, and I, like many other authors have found it a rich source of material for stories. It is a dangerous and secretive place, and I often wonder what other secrets could be hidden behind those veils of deep, dark green?

    *Note - not official Book Cover

    Minhocão – Monster of the Jungle by GREIG BECK, Mar 12, 2013


    mike said...


    Great article. I filmed and created this video on youtube of Titanoboa from my trip to DC last summer.

    Greig Beck said...

    Awesome creature!

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