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Thursday, January 07, 2016

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: Indian beliefs regarding the tapir in North America

There is an interesting though racist article in the Amador Ledger of July 7th 1905 titled Indian Superstitions, which however contains two cryptozoological snippets which reflect upon a completely separate cryptozoological story I found relating to a national park near Santa Barbara on the coast of California.

INDIAN SUPERSTITIONS

The Indian believes there are boa constrictors in the streams of North America and also that the South American tapir lives in North America. He calls the boa constrictor the iste-ach-war-nayer and calls the tapir nocas-ohmer.

The Indian believes he has a cure and preventive for rabies, or hydrophobia. He also believes he can cure any snake bite on earth, from a ground rattler to a velvet tail or diamond rattler. An Indian never was known to go mad from dog bite or die from a rattler`s bite, while other races succumb to the venom of a snake or go mad from the bite of a rabid dog.

The Indian when in battle and fatally wounded believes that if his medicine man can reach him with his bitter medicine before he dies it will give him instant relief and he will be able to escape from the battlefield. He thinks every man is honest until he finds him out, in which event he loses all confidence in him and never gets over it. The Indian never makes up after falling out with any one. He may speak to an enemy as he passes, but dies with the hatred in his heart.


Now casting the racism away, I found an intriguing story in the The Milwaukee Journal  February 20th 1943

Santa Barbara, California.  One more strange animal has been added to the long list of odd ones that have been trapped or otherwise captured in Los Padres national forest. The list includes a wild boar with a  snout like an elephant`s trunk, white coyotes, snow coloured deer and even an all-red blackbird. The latest capture in the forest was that of a monkey - and a tame one at that. Foresters are trying to locate its owner.
Someone on the Zombie Mammal Society Facebook group pointed out to me on December  13th that the animal with a trunk sounded like a tapir and interestingly fossil tapir have been found in California. Wikipedia says:
Tapirus californicus, sometimes called the California tapir, is an extinct species of tapir that inhabited North America during the Pleistocene era. T. californicus went extinct about 13,000 to 11,000 BC at the end of the last ice age.[1]
Tapirs have a long history on the North American continent. Fossils of ancient tapirs in North America can be dated back to 50 million-year-old Eocene rocks on Ellesmere Island, Canada, which was then a temperate climate.[2] By 13 million years ago, tapirs very much like extant tapirs existed in Southern California.[3]

I contacted Chad Arment about this and he told me that there were a lot of big snake stories in the south-west of the U.S. and boas specifically in Mexico.

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