Giant Snakes in South America

In yet another amazing report from Reuters, a ‘black boa constrictor the size of two passenger buses slithered by’ the Peruvian village of Nuevo Tacna, deep in the Amazonian jungle. This creature was allegedly 40 metres long and about five metres in diameter, felled trees, and left ‘a ditch wide enough to drive a tractor through’. There were five witnesses, and three hundred people felt its passing as it made for the river Napo. The reports were treated with skeptism by Peru’s national radio stations, and it was suggested that heavy machinery was misidentified. This idea was dropped when the local authorities pointed out that the jungle in the area was far too dense for such mechanical goings on. The mayor of Mainas 170 miles (270 km) from Lima, Jorge Chavez reckons that ‘there really is something to the villagers’ versions’ of the story.

As far as I know, boas and, for that matter, anacondas, are not black, although admittedly, in the unlikely event of the existence of a snake of such extreme and unprecedented proportions, then I could probably believe that it was clad in pink paisley pyjamas.

What the Reuters report didn’t mention, however, was that this was not the first report concerning huge serpentine creatures in South American forests. I consulted Karl Shuker’s excellent ‘In Search of Prehistoric Survivors’ (ISBN 0-7137-2469-2), and Bernard Heuvelmans ‘On the Track of Unknown Animals (ISBN 0-7103-0498-6) and found mention of the minhacao, a creature reported from Brazil and Uruguay in the last century, a mysterious serpentine creature which was blamed for huge anomalous furrows, often close to rivers or lakes. The name ‘minhacao’ is a derivative of ‘minhoca’, Portugeuse for earthworm. It has been claimed that the minhacou is an extinct heavy armoured armadillo-like creature known as a glyptodont, which is thought to have died out around 10,000 years ago. Another theory concerns a giant lungfish, which Professor Auguste de Sainte Hilaire put forward in the American Journal of Science in 1847, which brought the minhacao to the attention of the scientific community. Shuker wonders if it could be an exaggerated, but still enormous caecilian, a limbless segmented amphibian carnivore which looks for all the world like a worm, but has a visible mouth and a pair of horn like tentacles on its head. They are smooth and slimy to the touch, yet some variants have scales in the their skin. However, the largest known caecilian, ‘Caelicia thompsoni’ is not known to exceed 2 metres in length. A giant caecilian would fit the profile of the minhacao, a creature reputedly capable of carrying off livestock, and grabbing swimming animals from below.

Curiously, Europe has its own version of the minhacao, the ‘Tazelworm’, a large wormlike creature with a distinct mouth and horns, reported many times over the last few centuries from Switzerland and Germany, with not dissimilar reports coming from Sicily. Unpromisingly, it doesn’t seem to be as gargantuan as the minhacao, the reports indicating that it may be about the same size as the Caelicia thompsoni.

In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (

Ghostly Jaywalkers

In Blather 1.4 I mentioned the exploits of one Sandra Ramdhanie in the Galway Poltergeist case. Well she’s back in the news again, exorcising ghosts which are being blamed for a series of road deaths between Navan and Dunshaughlin in Co. Meath (Ireland).

‘Survivors have claimed they saw babies’ faces pressed up against the windscreen and that the steering wheel was pulled and the car went literally off the road as if unseen hands were pulling the steering wheel.’

Ms. Ramdhanie says that there are energies in certain areas which can affect people’s driving. She may be correct in this assertion, but I’m inclined to blame the roads themselves and the people using them. Ms. Ramdhanie, however, is linking the deaths to the alleged burial of foetuses in the area by the ‘backstreet abortionist’ Nurse Cadden, who was hanged in 1956 after the death of a woman. She has apparently noticed a lot of ‘spirits’ when visiting the area, and has resolved to carry out a ceremony to help the local residents, which I see as possibly a placebo – a cleansing ritual as such. In principle it’s not a bad idea – but it does depend on a lack of cynicism on those for which it is performed, and surely takes away from the real issue – road safety.

[Note from daev, 18/6/2001 – according to an email received from Caroline Lane, who says that Cadden was her father’s aunt, Cadden died in prison, and wasn’t hanged as reported by The Irish News.]

According to the local parish priest, Fr. Kerrane, Ramdhanie has her information rather confused. According to him, the road deaths occurred 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from Dunshaughlin, while Sandra Ramdhanie is investigating an area some 4 miles (6.4 km) from the village. He attributes the deaths to black ice, and says that the only association that Nurse Cadden had with the area involved a child she abandoned there, which lived and was adopted. He also reckons that no one in the area had previously linked the road deaths with the Cadden case. (The Irish News)

Let (s)He Who Hath Not Considered the ETH Cast the First Stone

The Freedom Writer of July/August 1997 tells of a pronouncement by the U.S. Television evangelist and head of the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, who recently launched a diatribe against those who have even pondered over the existence of space aliens or ‘UFOs’. Robertson said that if space aliens exist, then they are demons trying to lead people away from Mr. J. Christ. In fact he sees this as such a serious problem that he advocates death by stoning for those who believe in space aliens.

He quoted from the Bible:

‘If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing His covenant, who has gone and served other gods and worshipped them, either the sun or moon or any of the hosts of heaven which I have not commanded you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and stone to death that man or woman with stones.” (Deuteronomy 17:2-5, NKJV)

Well this is all very fine, but I wonder has he spoken to the eternally charming arch debunker Philip Klass regarding cannabis usage amongst ETH (Extraterrestrial Hypothesis)?

‘Can a demon appear as a slanty-eyed, funny-looking creature? Of course he can, or it can. Of course they can deceive people. And if they can lead somebody away from the true God, or away from Jesus Christ, anyway it happens, it doesn’t matter, you will lose your salvation. It doesn’t matter how they get you. The question is, did they get you, and under what guise?’

I still can’t believe people like this get past security, never mind on television.

Dave (daev) Walsh

11th September 1997

Chief Bottle Washer at Blather
Writer, photographer, environmental campaigner and "known troublemaker" Dave Walsh is the founder of, described both as "possibly the most arrogant and depraved website to be found either side of the majestic Shannon River", and "the nicest website circulating in Ireland". Half Irishman, half-bicycle. He lives in southern Irish city of Barcelona.

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