Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ape men and Water Tigers in the 1620s

SSpanish explorers and the priests who accompanied them on their journeys to America, reported strange events and, more interesting to us cryptozoologists, weird creatures in their accounts.

One of these accounts was written by a Spaniard , father Antonio Vázquez de Espinosa:
Compendio y descripción de las Indias occidentales in 1628-1629. It is quite recent as nearly one hundred and forty years had passed since Columbus set foot on Santo Domingo Island. Nevertheless it has two interesting tidbits which I copy below (translation is mine). You can click on the links to go to the original Spanish language texts.

Savage men in Venezuela
This text is from page 92 (item 278) of Vázquez de Espinosa's book. Click to see original version.

Eight leagues [40 km or 25 miles] from this town of Tucuyo, behind the Carora at the mountain of Campuzano, there are some animals called Savages, rare in the world, they have the proportions and disposition of men in all things except that they are covered with hair a span in length, between brown and silver, they do not speak.
The map below shows the location of this town of Tucuyo, in the State of Lara, Venezuela. It was founded in 1545 by Juan de Carvajal.

Map showing location of El Tocuyo.

Enlarge map

Notice that it is quite close to the area where the Loys ape was found (accross the Maracaibo, towards Colombia).

It is quite surprising that the author says they are animals but does not call them monkeys. The fact that he uses the Spanish word "Salvajes", meaning wild, savage, to refer to them, is also interesting, since it was used to describe uncivilized native people. The being is definitively ape like (the hair as a long as a span -distance from tip of thumb to tip of little finger with hand stretched wide open- is very monkeyish). Nevertheless he describes them as human in all other aspects (except the lack of speech).

They are very likely some variety of South American monkey, but, (samall and doubtful but) they may also represent some unknown homind, same as those described in Guyana by Raleigh around this same period of time.

The "water tiger"

The next description is not actually an ape, it is an aquatic creature that captures humans that are crossing rivers using its long tail. The animal is described as tiger-like. Though he reported it in Chiapas, southern Mexico, right beside Yucatan, he also says that they have been seen in Perú.

This animal is very similar to the Patagonian "Water Tiger", and the fact that the myth is so widespread may indicate that the creature actually existed all over Sothern and Central America.

Its hunting method is identical to the one used by the "fox-snake" of Patagonia: wrapping its tail around its victims' legs.

Below is the translation (here is the original text from page 193, item 584 of his book)

There are [on the shores of the Chiapa River] some animals shaped like big monkeys, painted like tigers; they have a very big tail and usually go about under the water, and they wrap and jam the legs of the Indians that pass by, and drown them, though, as they already know that these crafty animals will jam their legs with their tail, they cut it off with their knives and avoid this danger. These demonic monkeys do not eat meat, instead they are inclined to do evil, and have not been seen in other places, though they say that they are, inland, in the mountains of Pirú [Peru].

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2012 by Austin Whittall © 


  1. The Hymché and waters tiger seems to be some kind of otter like the Irish dobhar-chu, the tusks reported on them would be in fact white patterns. Giant Brazilian otters used to grown to 8 feet long, so perhaps at this size they did sometimes attack humans, because otters are said to be bold and smart.

  2. Yes, It is very likely that they are some now extinct species of giant otters. I have posted about them:
    Thanks for commenting.

  3. I have thought about this post and it is very likely that these creatures are spectacled bears. Their range reaches this part of Venezuela.


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