Minhocao (minhocão) is a huge hypothetical worm, a cryptid (secretive, unproven animal science), supposedly inhabited in Brazil before the XX century.
Zoologist Fritz Muller once wrote that the stories about Minhocha look so incredible that it is tempting to treat them as fabulous. Like, who could have kept a smile when he heard adult people talking about the worm about 45 meters long and more than 4 meters wide, covered with bones like a shell?
Moreover, if this worm is able to uproot the mighty pines, as if they were grass, to divert the rivers into new channels and turn the land into a bottomless swamp?
And yet, after careful consideration of the messages about the Minhochao, one begins to believe that these huge creatures really existed in the middle of the XIX century.
Outwardly, the Minhooo is like a huge earthworm. Actually, its name comes from the word “minhocha” – “worm” in Portuguese. The Indians of Brazil call it bitata, mboi-assu or mboi-tata. The name mboi-tata, for example, comes from the old Tupi language and means “fiery serpent”.
According to legend, mboi-tata was a great serpent that the World Flood experienced. To save himself, he crawled into the cave and rested in the dark for centuries, from which his eyes became blind. After leaving the cave to eat, mboi-tata began to crawl through the fields and attack people and animals.
In most cases, observers determined the length of this outlandish creature about 25 meters, and the thickness – 3 meters. Minhooao has scaly skin and a pair of tentacular growths protruding from the head.
A giant worm is capable of overturning boats, grabbing cattle and dragging it under the water, besides, it digs huge underground passages and trenches. He is sometimes blamed for the failure of houses and roads to fall under the earth, and it is also believed that the appearance of this monster foreshadows a rainy season.
The vast majority of Minhocha observations occur in the 19th century. He was first mentioned in 1847 in the American journal Science in an article written by Auguste de Saint-Hilaire. It described the cases when Minhochao was seen near the river fords and when he was dragging livestock under the water.
These cases took place on the river Rio dos Pilóles, where the monster not only fished, but also hunted for the wading of the cows, mules and horses, as well as on the lakes Padre Aranda, where he lived in the deepest part, and Feya – all in the Brazilian province of Goias.
Almost simultaneously with the Brazilian monster in 1866, Paulino Montenegro described a very similar monster, the Chacquites, inhabiting the lakes of Nicaragua.
EYE VISITOR’S EYES
In 1877, the most significant article about Minhochao, written by the zoologist Fritz Müller for the German edition of Zoologische Garten, was published. Müller’s article included new information about the monstrous worm, including the mysterious huge trenches, so large that they diverted the rivers and destroyed the gardens.
Actually, there were not very many cases of direct monitoring of Minhocha. So, in 1840, a Negro woman living near the Paraná River was going to draw water from the pool next to the house, when she suddenly saw a huge animal, like a house, a short distance away.
In the same area, the young man saw how, in the complete absence of the wind, huge pines were swinging. Looking closely, the eyewitness noticed among them a black vermiform animal, about 25 meters long, with two horns on his head.
A certain Francisco de Amaral Varella told me that in 1870, on the banks of the river Rio-dos-Caveiras saw a lying strange creature of giant dimensions, about one meter thick, with a muzzle like a pig. The witness could not say for sure whether the creature had legs. The observation did not last long. The monster crawled away, leaving a trail in the form of a broad trench.
Mueller also gave the story of the rich planter Lebino Jose dos Santos, who heard about the dead minhochao found near the Arapeha River, in Uruguay. In one case the creature was found sandwiched between two rocks. It had a thick skin like pine bark, something resembling the armor of a battleship.
Much more often eyewitnesses have seen traces of the activity of worm-like monsters. For example, a week after the observation of Francisco de Amaral Varella mentioned above, the trenches, probably abandoned by Minhocha, were sighted about 6 kilometers from their meeting place. Eventually, the pathfinders came to the roots of a large pine tree, where traces of the giant worm were lost in the marshy soil.
A certain Antonio José Branco, returning home after an eight-day absence, found a section of the road riddled, with piles of land thrown upward and crossed by large trenches. These trenches began at the source of the stream and ended at 700-1000 meters from there in the swamp.
The width of the trenches reached 3 meters. From some trees, Minhoacho casually tore off part of the bark and wood. Hundreds of people later visited there to see this wonder, and the residents of the nearby village claimed that they heard strange sounds at night.
In the vicinity of Rio dos Papagayos, in the province of Paraná, one evening in 1849, after a long period of rainy weather, one could hear the sound of rain falling heavily in the forest, but it was on this night that bright stars shone in the cloudless sky. The next morning it turned out that a large piece of land on the other side of the nearby hill was badly damaged. On it appeared deep trenches, which led the curious villagers to the stone-covered naked plateau.
A large pile of clay was found in this place. Already familiar to us the pathfinder Lebino Jose dos Santos after a while visited this place and found that the land is still turned upside down and on the rocky plateau the clay mountains are visible. The douche Santos and his companions came to the conclusion that only two giant worms could do this work, the diameter of which was supposed to be from 2 to 3 meters.
In his research Fritz Muller found that in 1856 the press reported that the fishermen from the Araguaia River and its tributaries told that a snake, similar in shape to a earthworm, reaching in length from 30 to 40 meters, roars so that it is audible for many leagues aside. They call it minhochao. The fishermen were so scared that they refused to catch in several fish-rich lakes just because they were visited by this horrendous snake.
Since the end of the XIX century, the observations of the Minhochao have ceased, although some trenches left by them are still intact. Some researchers believe that these monsters, unfortunately, have died out. Others believe that they are periodically observed and still are described as giant anacondas. As for the nature of Minhochao, there are several hypotheses.
On the surface, it would seem, lies the assumption that Minhochao is really a huge worm. Giant earthworms really exist in nature. They live in Australia and have a length of up to 3.5 meters. But at such an impressive length their diameter does not exceed one inch. In addition, earthworms are not predators, like minhochao.
There is also a hypothesis that minhochao are surviving glyptodonts, large armadillians extinct in the Pleistocene. Supporters of her note that the glyptodonts would be able to dig trenches and possess an armored shell over their backs.
More Auguste de Saint-Hilaire suggested that Minhochao is a giant variety of lungfish lepidosiren. Ordinary lepidosirenes with external resemblance to acne have a length of up to 125 centimeters, are unusually gluttonous and prefer water reservoirs with standing water, primarily dry and swampy.
Supporters of this hypothesis believe that if lepidosiren had grown to a sufficiently large size, it would indeed have lived near the waterways and would have been able to dig large trenches.
But the most plausible is still the hypothesis of the British cryptozoologist Karl Shuker, who in his book “In Search of Prehistoric Survivors” suggested that Minhochao may be a kind of Caecilian – worms, or otherwise, cecilia, a family of legless amphibians. These creatures, according to paleontologists, appeared on our planet 170 million years ago and now live in the tropics.
Outwardly, the cecilia really resembles snakes or worms. They live mostly hidden in the earth. Worms have strong skulls with a sharp muzzle, which is convenient to loosen the ground. They are light, but the skin is also used to absorb oxygen.
The family of worms includes 96 species distributed in South and Central America, Africa and Asia, but it is in South America (in Colombia) that their largest species is found – the Thompson worm or the giant worm. In length it reaches 117 cm (there is information and about 1.5 meter specimens).
Some members of this family are well adapted for swimming in water, have a large fleshy fin in the back of the body.
What is especially interesting is that all worms have a pair of tentacles located between the eyes and nostrils, which play the role of additional sense organs of smell. And it is precisely these tentacles that sharply distinguish minhochao from the anaconda.