Bahia Photo Solved

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 15th, 2007

Mystery Photo

Click on image for full size version.

The cultural reality behind the above Bahia photograph has been solved, I feel, quite correctly, via new information from a Brazilian, Mori of Forgetomori. This is especially valid, as Mori has clearly shown a good comparison to the area and the practice resulting in what is seen above, in the following images.

Mori wrote me tonight: “It’s just a local covered in mud. The “horns” are his hair.”

manguezal beasts

Mori has noted on the Forgetomori blog, in deeper details, the following solution:

Coleman thinks it’s “intriguing, if not curiously prosaic”, and remarks that “anything is possible as an origin of any new photo”. It turns out that though anything is possible, the most prosaic explanation indeed must be the answer to this. And it’s so prosaic any Brazilian, like me, would find it not only obvious but slightly revolting.

That mud area we can see in the photos is what is called “manguezal“, and it’s a very important ecosystem in Northeastern Brazil, not only for the environment but also for the locals. The image at left of very happy people are some tourists bathing in mud, but the  second and third one are from locals earning their life. They mostly catch crabs in the mud, and end up almost completely covered in mud.

It’s obvious the original photo sent to Coleman is of a local covered in mud, probably a man. You can see that he’s wearing a T-shirt and pants. The “horns” are the same as we can see in the tourists above: it’s just something you can do with your hair when it’s covered in mud.

The “Manguezal” culture was even promoted in the 1990s in Brazil as a nice cultural movement, the “Mangue Beat,” leaded by band “Chico Science”.

Now, Coleman may not be blamed for sharing this pic, warning about it possibly being fake and asking for input. People outside Brazil may not be used to see[ing] Homo sapiens covered in mud — though even Americans my have watched somewhat similar “Give it Away”.

But those who sent the photo and called that guy, very probably a poor local earning his life, a “Beast”… I don’t know which is worse: that they were indeed “attacked” by “it”, and did not realize it was a human being; or if they knowingly called a local a horned Beast., Poor Brazilian, a Horned Bipedal Beast, Mori of Forgetomori, August 16, 2006 (local Brazilian time).

My thanks to Mori for sharing this information.

BTW, the Mangue Beat still rocks Brazil: Recently, Otto (below), formerly the percussionist with the respected Mangue Beat band Mundo Livre S/A, teamed with actress Alessandra Negrini (on the bottom) for his third CD, Sem Gravidade [Without Gravity].



Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

12 Responses to “Bahia Photo Solved”

  1. Richard888 responds:

    Could these be photographs of missing tourists/locals in Bahia? If that’s the case then we know that the beast feeds on people – not just crabs.

  2. Late Night Visitor responds:

    Thanks for posting. This echoes what I had said in that earlier post. But though I maintain it’s clear that it’s a man, it should be noted that the man is wearing a mask, which is why this gets attention at all, and that the horns are part of that mask which is symetrical. Not sure why this important element was ignored.
    See the enlargement/enhancement I created for detail:

  3. dharkheart responds:

    Late Night Visitor is correct. When the photo is enlarged, it becomes evident that there is an alteration in the symmetry of the head: most likely a mask.

  4. Sunny responds:

    Just a thought I had this morning — much has been made of the seemingly-impossible posture of the figure…you know, the one thing that no one mentioned is that it’s entirely possible that the person fell backwards into the mud seconds after this photo was taken!

    Thanks much to Mori for clarifying this picture.

  5. john5 responds:

    When you are knee deep in mud you can bend at impossible angles. Mask or no I cannot believe that the horn-like appendages are hair wrapped up with mud. The points are too fine. Aside from the glowing eyes, that could be an effect from a mask, I can still see the limp body of a (spider) monkey in its arms. These points lead me to think a ritual of some kind is going on here, even if it is just a wash up before dining ritual!

    This picture just does not appear to be a local making a living or of a tourist out for a muddy roll, although I do not doubt these events take place in the muddy flats.

  6. Sunny responds:

    There are many, many photographers making a living out of taking pictures that suggest that some sort of bad behaviour is afoot…you ever have a photograph taken that makes you look utterly and dangerously intoxicated, even though you’re awake and stone sober?

  7. sausage1 responds:

    Sounds reasonable to me.

    It might also explain why the ‘creature’ tried to cover the girl in mud. What would you do if you were there and another person waded in?

    Hey, just a mo. Wasn’t I right in a previous post? Isn’t splashing someone entering the sea or a mud bath a kind of ‘rite of passage,’ or at least ritualistic, a sort of baptism?

    Sometimes I just amaze myself.

  8. richcap responds:



  9. mrdark responds:

    For once, I’m on the side of the believers: this explanation just isn’t 100% spot-on.

    It doesn’t explain the mask/face/head shape.

    It doesn’t explain the seemingly anguished or enraged look on the face, if that’s his face.

    It doesn’t explain what it’s cradling (dead spider monkey seems about accurate).

    It doesn’t explain the head/horns. (We discounted the ‘muddy hair’ theory quite some time ago.)

    The story of it being a tourist covering themselves in mud or a local making a living digging for crabs make -less- sense than the original story of the teen being attacked.

    This one is still a mystery, as far as I’m concerned. His ‘man, I’m certain this is the answer’ is nowhere near authoritative, and his completely ridiculous sanctimonious decrying of calling this ‘poor man’ a ‘beast’ shows that he isn’t even familiar with what it is you (Loren and CM) do here, and why.

  10. Scarfe responds:

    I don’t totally buy this explanation, although it is a more plausible one than saying the subject of this photo is some kind of demon, monster, or cyptid. That being said, the head of the subject still strikes me as too odd to be a human. Either the low resolution of this image, combined with shadows and light, gave this person what looks to me to be a skull-like face and horns or the person is wearing a mask.

    Don’t call solved on this photo yet, but it is highly reasonable that it is just a person covered in mud.

  11. tlalucky responds:

    I think Mori’s comments are very valuable; his blog is also an excellent source of information. I entirely agree with him, that the photograph is typical of those taken in a “manguezal” on the coast of Brazil. I think this is generally agreed by the commentators. There was considerable discussion as to whether this was a person or a statue, and whether it was photoshopped or not photoshopped. Mori states that it is of a man with mud in his hair, and I am very happy to accept his opinion. It is also true that many poor people collect crabs in coastal swamps in Brazil, as Mori states. I am quite happy to agree that he has an excellent explanation, certainly covering 95% of the elements.

    Even so, there are a couple of anomalies which still need to be cleared up. The man may collect crabs from the swamp, but there is no clear indication he was collecting crabs on the day the photo was taken. Poor people who go crab collecting in coastal swamps take a basket to carry the crabs away. This would normally be a roughly-made basket made from scrap wood and chicken wire (by chicken wire I mean the wire netting used to construct chicken houses or chicken coops). A fisherman’s net or a shopping bag can also be used; the objective is to take the crabs out of the swamp whole and alive. But there is no sign of a basket in the photograph. In fact the man appears to be holding either a baby, or a doll, or a roll of cloth or rolled-up towel (another suggestion is that he is holding a dead spider monkey). None of the objects he appears to be holding combine with the crab-collecting theory. There is no way anybody in a swamp could roll live crabs into a cloth or towel.

    Also, The photograph is carefully, almost artistically, composed, taken by a photographer who seems to be on a raised platform, or ladder, or the superstructure of a boat. It is very different from the photos Mori sent in, where there is little attempt at composition, and where the photographer is clearly on the same level as the people he is photographing.

    One possibly relevant point nobody seems to have made is that the photo was submitted by “Two-Cam McLaren”. According to Google, the same person is linked to UFO photographs.

    I have hesitated to prolong the already lengthy discussion of a photograph which does not deserve such attention. But I have noted that others are also not fully satisfied: “I don’t totally buy this explanation”, “This one is still a mystery, as far as I’m concerned” (Aug. 17); “This picture just does not appear to be a local making a living or of a tourist out for a muddy roll” (Aug. 16).

    I suggested in an earlier post (Aug. 13, 1:06 a.m.) that this could be a publicity still for a Brazilian horror or mystery film, perhaps from the 1980s, taken by a professional photographer with professional equipment (Single Lens Reflex camera). I hope that Mori, who has conducted much valuable research into hoaxes and related phenomena, will be able to bring this image to the attention of a wide range of people in Brazil, in the hope that somebody will recognize it.

  12. martinmystere responds:

    Hmm solved not sure 😉

    i am used with analyzing pictures ….and it seems that our friend likes “bull frogs” for dinner ….
    by the way he wears no shirt or jeans …seems to me he is naked with that frog or toad tied to his waist …
    take a look at this enhanced picture of that devilish looking guy …:

    he seems to be carrying something i hesitate between two things …a fish ! or a baby
    i d rather says a fish look more plausible for me :

    he seem to be carrying a bag to (right side of the picture) and as some kind of wood color thing stuffed on his genitals….

    Looks to me like an aborigen or something like that, this photo is not from bahia i guess the story that goes with the pic is not true …

    conclusion i think its some kind of an indigen with a very cool ritual mask hmmmm

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