On the Trail of a 40-Foot Anaconda
The fifth hidden wonder of South America.
By Joshua FoerPosted Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011,
PACAYA SAMIRIA, Peru—Of all the crazy mythical creatures that starry-eyed monster hunters have gone in search of—the Yeti
, the chupacabra
—South America's giant anaconda would seem to be the least implausible. None of the Amazon's early explorers dared emerge from the forest without a harrowing tale of a face-to-face encounter with a humongous snake. In the 19th
and early 20th
centuries, it was practically a requirement of the jungle adventure genre. English explorer Percy Fawcett (of Lost City of Z
fame) reportedly shot a 62-foot anaconda in 1907 while on a surveying mission in western Brazil. Cândido Rondon, who led Teddy Roosevelt's famous journey down the River of Doubt
, claimed to have measured a 38-footer "in the flesh." In 1933, a 100-foot serpent was said to have been machine-gunned by officials from the Brazil-Colombia Boundary Commission. According to witnesses, four men together couldn't lift its head. The photos, of course, were lost.Had they been captured alive, any of these giants would have merited the $50,000 bounty that the New York Zoological Society (later the Wildlife Conservation Society) offered for much of the 20th
century to anyone who could bring a 30-foot snake back to the Bronx Zoo. Though thousands of anacondas have been caught, measured, and released by scientists over the years, few have ever surpassed 18 feet. Still, stories of Amazonian megasnakes continue to surface every few years, and they continue to inspire credulous souls to set off into the jungle. People like Dylan and me.
Mystery photo of 'English Loch Ness Monster' taken in Bowness
A MYSTERIOUS 'monster' - dubbed Bow-nessie - appears to have been caught on camera for the first time. A shape claimed to be a giant beast — said to be up to 50ft long — was spotted emerging from the depths of Lake Windermere near Bowness in Cumbria, last week. In the grainy picture, which is eerily reminiscent of classic snaps of the famous Loch Ness Monster, an animal's humped back seems to be visible. Enormous rippples can be seen in its wake as the dark shape passes in front of foliage growing from the misty lake. But can it really be the beast of legend? Kayakers Tom Pickles, 24, and Sarah Harrington, 23, who took the picture, told today how they were left "petrified" and quickly paddled to the safety of the shore after encountering the monster. IT graduate Tom said: "At a distance I thought it was some sort of large dog then I realised just how long it was. There was no way a dog would be out that far in any case. "Each hump moved in a rippling movement and it appeared to have a huge shadow around it suggesting it was much bigger underwater. "Its skin was like a seal's but its shape was completely abnormal. We watched for about twenty seconds before it plunged out of sight."