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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: The ucu

The Ucu, also known as Ucumar or Ukumar-zupai, is Bigfoot-type creature reported as being seen in the Andes range of mountains in South America particularly in Chile and Argentina. The Ucu is said to be the size of a large dog and walks erect. Unlike the Yeti it prefers the more tropical regions of the Andes mountain range, rather than snow-covered peaks. The locals say the Ucu likes to eat payo, a plant similar to cabbage, and emits a sound like uhu, uhu. It is not just locals who have reported hearing or seeing the creatures.

In 1956 geologist Audio L. Pitch, while walking on the Argentinean side of the Andes, found footprints 17 inches long (about 42 cms) at a height of about 6000 feet (2000 metres). Some reports say 16000 feet (5333 metres), which sounds a bit high up.

In 1957 similar tracks were reported in the province of La Salta, Argentina. The same year residents of Tolor Grande told journalists about a nightly chorus of eerie sounds like calls of an animal, emanating from the near by Curu-Curu Mountains. The cries were attributed by the locals to the Ukumar-zupai and the community remained frightened for some time afterwards. Anthropologist Pablo Latapi Ortega wrote that traditional stories of these giant ape-like creatures continue to be told today.

In May 1958 a group of campers in Rengo, 50 miles from Santiago, Chile, reported that they saw an apeman. Police were called and they took statements from the witnesses.

Carlos Manuel Soto gave this statement to the police: “I saw an enormous man covered with hairs in the Cordilleras”.

The stories sound very similar to traditional bigfoot and yeti reports. There appears to have been no recently reported sightings. As always the similarity of sightings and creatures in different parts of the world does make you think, could there be a population of unknown hairy bipeds still alive in the world today. Well, gorillas were considered a myth at one time; now they are on TV documentaries, so maybe not as impossible as some sceptics would have us think.

4 comments:

Dale Drinnon said...

This is another sticky one. Ucu or ucumar does not refer to any one thing but it names a broad category of bearlike creatures. Its usual meaning is the spectacled bear of the Andes, hence the description of being the size of a large dog. It als means the Mono Rey and anything that might be considered a monkeylike bear, bearlike monkey, or ape or ape-man that is somehow bearlike. Some of the reports are definitely of the Mapinguari type but others could be the large bears rumored in South America (otherwise much like brown bears over much of the rest of the world. But it is also used to name Bigfoot-type creatures or "Walking Trees" in the region. "Walking Trees" I take to be a metaphor for great height, but some Folklore takes the metaphor literally and says that they are sorts of Ent creatures.

There are many kinds of manlike creatures in Southern South America under a wide variety of sizes, shapes and names. Some of the earliest "Patagonian"(Big Foot) footprints on record are much the same dimensions as the more common Northern Bigfoot. That means specifically barefoot "Human" tracks eighteen inches long in this case.

borky said...

Lindsay: "The Ucu is said to be the size of a large dog and walks erect."

Lindsay, don't you find that slightly odd they should compare it to a dog and yet speak of it as walking erect?

Dogs aren't exactly famous for walking like people, so why not a bear or a sloth or, indeed, anything that's actually known for walking upright?

What I'm getting at is doesn't this suggest there's something distinctly dog-like about it, say its ears? Because I'm pretty certain I can see a nice pair of werewolf style pointy ears on Patterson's Patty, pulled in close to her head.

Even some of the myths about people being transformed into wolves seem less to be describing wolves as very hairy hominids with very pointy ears.

Indeed, why werewolves at all? Why not werebears or - horror of all horrors - 'curbears'?

alanborky

borky said...

Dale Drinnon: '"Walking Trees" I take to be a metaphor for great height'.

That's an interesting image, Dale - I've never encountered it in this context before.

I'm wondering if it might be due to cultural contamination from Europe: many European images of wildmen - possible 'Bigfoot' candidates, of course - depict them hoisting whole trees around with them as if they were their walking stick.

There's a sense of the dryad about those images, i.e., as if the tree and the wildman were interchangeable, and some tree-free depictions do render the wildmen's heads and loins covered in profuse foliage, almost inviting us to view them as weretrees, so to speak.

alanborky

Dale Drinnon said...

Well, the simplest and most pragmatic explanation of Wildmen shown holding up leafy brances and with leaves woven in their hair, etc, is that they are doing it for camafloge. There is also the "Old Red Indian Trick" of holding a small tree or shrub in front of yourself and crouching down, and thus creep slowly foreward by stages under cover.

And yes, the earliest colonial-European depictions of these South American Wildmen (all sizes) show them with the usual twined-twig leafy headbands and belts or loincloths. That and possibly clubs or bows and arrows, exactly like the European Wild Men (Wudewasas)