The Minhocão , giant worm or folktale?
Anyone who has seen the film “Tremors” will be thinking is there some truth in this ?
The Minhocão is a creature similar to a huge earthworm that is rumoured to live in the forests of
South America. The creature , according to reports, has scaly black skin and a pair of tentacle-like structures protruding from its head. The size of the creature has been reported as being 25 meters (82 ft) long and a meter (3.28 ft) thick. It is supposedly capable of overturning boats, capturing livestock and dragging it under the water, and leaves enormous subterranean trenches in it’s wake.
An article by Auguste de Saint-Hilaire in the American Journal of Science was the first published reference to this creature of southern
Brazil. Its name, he said was derived from the Portugese minhoca (earthworm). Sainte-Hilaire recorded several instances, usually at fords of rivers, where livestock were captured by one of these creatures and dragged under the water. Instances he recounted took place at the Rio dos Piloes, Lake Padre Aranda, and Lake Feia, all in the . province of Goyaz
In 1877, when another article appeared about this giant worm, this time for the German publication Zoologische Garten by zoologist Fritz Müller. He provided further information about the creature , including accounts of trenches dug by the subterranean creature which were so large as to divert rivers, and which destroyed entire orchards. This article also included this sighting which took place sometime in the 1840s near the Rio dos Papagaios in
. Paranà State
A black woman going to draw water from a pool near a house one morning ... saw a short distance off an animal which she described as being as large as a house moving off along the ground. ... In the same district a young man saw a huge pine suddenly overturned ... he found the surrounding earth in movement, and an enormous worm-like black animal in the middle of it, about twenty-five metres long, and with two horns on its head.
In the same area of the Parania State, the author also noted a testimonial of a boy who stated that he saw a huge worm-like beast about twenty-five meters in length. The boy said that as the worm beast moved along the ground, the surrounding earth shook as well and trees were overturned.In the same article he related that in 1849 Lebino José dos
Santos heard tales of a Minhocão which had been found dead near . The creature was found lodged between two rocks. It was reputed to have skin "as thick as the bark of a pine-tree" and was armored with "scales like those of an armadillo." Another was reported to have been seen near Arapehy, Uruguay in approximately 1870. Lages, Brazil
Francisco de Amaral Varella ... saw lying on the bank of the Rio das Caveiras a strange animal of gigantic size, nearly one metre in thickness, not very long, and with a snout like a pig, but whether it had legs or not he could not tell. ... whilst calling his neighbours to his assistance, it vanished, not without leaving palpable marks behind it in the shape of a trench ...
It was also reported an 1878 issue of the Popular Science Monthly that Müller had been told that a fish three feet across was spotted along a river in
Brazil. While the person who saw it went to get help, the animal disappeared. The party that rushed to the scene only saw the burrow the animal made in its efforts to escape. Similar disturbances of the soil were later seen about six kilometres away, but this was an anecdote Müller had received from another German who lived in the area. Reports of churned soil and immense burrows had been reported in the region by others and Müller came to the conclusion that they were made by a gigantic lungfish.
The last account of a Minhocão appears to be from an anonymous newspaper story in 1899:
"A Binghamton (N.Y.) soldier, who enlisted in a regiment that was before , wrote home to his family that a Cuban scout told of a wonderful monster he had encountered in the mountains in the extreme eastern part of the island. It lived near a water course, he said, and burrowed through the earth beneath the stream like an earthworm. It was timid, and when he came suddenly upon it through a jungle of undergrowth it hurried away. In a fleeting glimpse he saw it had a snout like a hog, was covered with scales and, as near as he could judge, was 3 feet in diameter."The Cuban's story was looked upon as a Spanish dream, and no attention was paid to it, though the scout was vehement in his declarations of truthfulness and his statements were backed up by comrades whose homes were near that section and who, while not having seen the animal, had witnessed its trench like burrows. This tangible evidence in the shape of burrows is enough for a claim that dragons are among Uncle Sam's new acquisitions." Santiago
Montenegro in 1866 described a creature in the folklore of Nicaragua called sierpe. This animal was described as "like a large snake," and lived in ponds called chaquites. It sounds very similar to the Minhocão.
No recent reports seem to have been recorded. So is the creature now extinct or was this just another folktale? It sounds like a scary beast to come across but it would be great to have some evidence of it’s existence.