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Replica Cryptia: Giant Ground Sloths

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.)

Bullyland Megatherium

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.

Wild Safari Megatherium

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.

Schleich Giant Ground Sloth

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:

Replica Cryptia: Mammoths.

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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

Thank you.

International Cryptozoology Museum

Photo by Amber Waterman.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. 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.


3 Responses to “Replica Cryptia: Giant Ground Sloths”

  1. Bob K. responds:

    Great article, Loren. The discovery of a living Megatherium would open the floodgates for vigorous efforts to find other supposedly extinct fauna rumored to still exist in South America, such as the smilodon, or the rumored to exist and yet to be discovered, such as el mano grande[hope I got that right].

  2. Bob Michaels responds:

    Some years back the Nat’l Geographic had an article on David Oren’s search. Instead of a Megatherium perhaps it’s a Mylodon? If it is discovered perhaps it will be by Van Rooslaman, not sure of the spelling, he’s the chap who brought the Giant Peccary and the Dwarf Manatee to the attention of science.

  3. Artist responds:

    Excellent piece, Loren ~ please keep these articles coming ~ they are great touchstones to the possible reality of these cryptids.

    Shouldn’t “Replica Cryptia” or “Models” be listed in the sidebar?



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