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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dog-headed monsters


Piri Reis map and the dog-headed Patagons.

dog headed man
Medieval monsters. Note the cynocephali on the right.
From: [1] Münster, S., Monstra humana. pp. 1080.

Detail of Piri Reis 1513 World Map.
From: [2]. Piri Reis. The World Map. Library of Topkapi Palace Museum.

There is evidence regarding dog-headed creatures in an early map of Patagonia dating to six years before Magellan’s official discovery; it was drawn in 1513 by Turkish admiral and cartographer Piri Reis who compiled it based on information garnered from Portuguese sailors.[3][4]

The South American coast though distorted is shown to a latitude beyond 50°S; a fact that, though disputed by some scholars, is taken as proof that Magellan was not the first European to sail along the Patagonian coast and that a covert Portuguese expedition had been there before him.

A mid sized bipedal animal is depicted close to the Patagonian Andes in Piri Reis’ map. It is dancing, clasping hands, with a monkey (see image above). It appears to be the rendering of a “dog-headed” being, a cynocephalus (Greek for “dog head”). It may have been drawn just to embellish the map, or it may represent some unknown Patagonian animal.

It is a remarkable coincidence that Magellan named the native Patagons after a fictional dog-headed monster "Patagón" (see my post on the origin of the name Patagonia Here).

Also see my other posts on Piri Reis map Here (Unicorns) and Here (Giant snakes).

Perhaps he had also seen the original Portuguese charts on which Reis based his map, and noticed the dog-headed monsters years before he embarked on his circumnavigation voyage.

The map is not our only source on these beings, cynocephalic giants were sighted in Patagonia in 1592 by John Davis (a member of Cavendish’s expedition) who fought at Puerto Deseado with “a great multitude of Salvages [sic] […] leaping and running like brute beasts, having vizards on their faces like dogs faces, or else their faces are dogs faces indeed”.[5]


[1] Münster, S., (1552). Monstra Humana. [Engraving] Cosmographia. Book V.Basel: Heinrich-Petri. pp. 1080.
[2] Piri Reis. The World Map (1513) [Map]. Library of Topkapi Palace Museum. No. H. 1824.
[3] Leman Yolaç, Ayşe Afetinan (1954). Life and Works of the Turkish Admiral Pirî Reis: The Oldest Map of America. Ankara. pp. 28-34.
[4] Dutch, S., (1997). The Piri Reis Map. Online.
[5] Davys, J., (1970). The voyages and works of John Davis, the navigator. New York: B. Franklin. pp. 121.

Copyright 2009 by Austin Whittall ©

Patagonian Monsters


  1. hola austin,
    puse un link a esto desde mi blog.
    ya que estaba hablando sobre patagones y haciendo un trabajo textil con un detalle sobre ellos.
    soy una artista textil argentino/austríaca.
    saludos, sara

  2. Great job!
    I was looking for mythical monsters and legendary beasts to my paperwork and here i'am!
    Greetings from Poland =)

  3. Welcome and thank you!

  4. very interesting, many unsolved mysteries of the world, nice to meet you


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